Casshan: Robot Hunter Special Edition -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: F
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 115
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Casshan: Robot Hunter

Casshan: Robot Hunter Special Edition

By Chris Beveridge     December 29, 2003
Release Date: December 23, 2003

Casshan: Robot Hunter Special Edition
© ADV Films

What They Say
Enslaved by an army of rebellious super-robots originally designed to help civilization avert a complete ecological cataclysm, mankind's only hope is Casshan, a legendary hero who wages a solitary war to defeat these Neoroids and restore the Earth to its rightful order. Ironically, Casshan's father is the same scientist who engineered the race of super androids now threatening to destroy all of mankind.

On a crusade to clear the name of his father, Casshan must sacrifice his own humanity in order to attain the powers he needs to defeat mankind's powerful enemies. But Casshan's power does not come without a price. Haunted by the memories of his murdered mother and forced to deal with a super robot that has absorbed, and now manipulates, the consciousness of his father, Casshan must put aside his own emotions and fight to preserve the survival of the human race. An extraordinary tale of science fantasy and social relevance, Casshan is a story of man's best laid plans paving the way to potential destruction.

Contains all 4 individual episodes of the Casshan: Robot Hunter series!

The Review!
After a dub-only version was released, a “special edition” volume is released with both language tracks on it.

Since the dub-only version was previously reviewed, we opted for the Japanese language track for this. The mix is pretty standard for an early 90’s OVA release and has some seemingly minor directionality across the forward soundstage, but the bulk of the dialogue and action effects are center channel based. Dialogue was nice and clear throughout and we noted no dropouts or distortions during regular playback on either track.

Originally released to video in 1993, the series looks to have had a good budget with some solid animation for a good part of it, resulting in a very pleasing transfer here. The source materials look to be in excellent shape with no nicks or dust/dirt visible throughout. Some of the usual problems from earlier releases aren’t apparent here, such as cross coloration being pretty much non-existent. There’s a touch of aliasing during a few panning motions, but it’s minimal for the most part and doesn’t detract in the slightest. While this obviously won’t compare with OVAs released today, this one holds up well for its tenth anniversary.

Differing from the regular edition release, the cover for this release has the muted image of Casshan in his full outfit with mask covering his face standing dead center with bits of technical document style imagery behind him that’s more obscured by the orange mist effect. The cover looks decent but not terribly enticing, but certainly could have been worse. The back cover provides a few shots from the show as well as more orange mist obscured artwork. The production credits for both languages are rather prominently placed here with the summary at the bottom as well as an erroneous information box as it lists English as the only language available. The time is probably off as well as it says 105 but retailers seem to list 115 as well as the press materials. All in all, it looks like a poor cut and paste of the regular edition with inaccurate information on it. The insert provides an action shot pose of Casshan on the front while the reverse side has a snip of animation from the opening sequence alongside a listing of what previews are on the disc.

The main menu is a very simple static piece done in the same curved style as the cover but horizontal. The artwork section has an outline of Casshan but is mostly just orange covered background imagery. Selections are listed along the bottom with individual episode selection, all of which is set to a brief segment of the opening theme song. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is minimal but functional as there’s almost nothing here besides the show.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After releasing the Streamline version of Casshan in the first half of 2003, ADV opted to do the Special Edition release of the uncut show with both languages. While I think it may have been better to have both on the same disc, I can see the perspective of people who wouldn’t want to even own the cut version, so there can be some justification for dual releases. The lack of notice about it is bothersome though and turned a fair number of people off of the release.

What I find particularly bothersome about this special edition release really comes down to the packaging. Since this has been listed as a Special Edition in every mention I can find, the lack of that notice on the cover is going to cause confusion. Retailers who carry both versions will have them together, and looking at each will definitely be confusing. Both say English only, but they have different running times and different artwork. Is it the same thing? Or is it two continuous volumes? Since the bulk of the market is supposedly the casual fan, I’d gamble they’d put both volumes back down.

As for the show itself, I went into it with something not quite dread, but I wasn’t expecting much to begin with. This series is a four-part OVA update/revamp of the original 70’s series that ran thirty-five episodes. So obviously things are going to be lost in it, plus it’d have the addition of a 90’s mentality and the influence of a number of high profile science fiction movies since. Having not seen the original, I have no idea how it compares, so we’re basically looking at it as its own piece.

The story is straightforward and to the point; Dr. Azuma developed the most intelligent AI in the form of a robot called BK-1. Of the directives given to it, one was of course to protect the Earth and all that fun stuff that it includes. Since humanity is obviously detrimental to the survival of the Earth, BK-1 begins a sweeping campaign of destruction against all humans as he renames himself to Black King, affectionately referred to as “boss” by other robots that come up under him as he builds his empire. Over the course of three years, humanity is driven off of most lands and is hiding undersea in waiting or in camps where the robots put them to work.

Since the robots have become so powerful, enough that the usual armaments no longer work, something new must take its place. This comes in the form of the MF gun, a weapon created by an associate of Dr. Azuma’s, who has passed it onto his daughter named Luna to protect and to try and give to the military so they can gain some advantage. Luna’s been sprinting across the wasteland trying to make her way towards a rendezvous point where she can bring the gun to those who can make more. But also along the way, she’s intent on finding her true love, the son of Dr. Azuma, Tetsuya.

Tetsuya’s not who he used to be though. Over the course of the three years, something of a legend or myth has been spread about a human that can defeat a robot with his bare hands and fights for the justice of humanity, someone called Casshan. Luna is convinced its him (good odds there I’d say) and searches for him as she also tries to rally various humans to fight for themselves along the way. When she finally catches up to someone who fits that description, she learns of what really happened to Tetsuya, where he gave up his humanity to merge with a robot body so he can take down the robots. So we get the cyborg running around in all of this whose only goal is to defeat robots. But can he find true love along the way?

Casshan is a very predictable OVA series, but I found that it’s a rather competently done one. Some of the nods are obvious, but they try to avoid presenting a completely Terminator-like future for the world. On the downside, there are some plain goofy things; some of the Black King’s underlings are simply annoying and take on something of a mafia/yakuza feel. The Black King also tends to be a bit out of place with his design, something I can’t put my finger on, but doesn’t really work well. Toss in a robot swan that contains the essence of Casshan’s mother and then give his father one of the fugliest hair/beard designs ever, and it’s no wonder that you start thinking Luna’s the most attractive character in the entire show.

Heck, she even gets a naked shower scene, complete with feeling herself up. I be that wasn’t in the original.

In Summary:
While the show is a formulaic piece about humans trying to regain control after their tools overtake them, complete with family issues and all, it’s told rather well and doesn’t try to be something completely epic. Casshan himself does stand out as an anachronism from the 70’s with the design given to him, but with so many updates on other 70’s shows done where they change the designs so much that you no longer recognize them and then lose the core fans, this probably wasn’t too bad of an option. And again, when you consider how bad the father looks, this is probably the best he could have made. Casshan’s not bad, it’s just mediocre. For those that loved the Streamline version, this “special edition” release is the one to own though, especially if you’ve still got the tapes.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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