By John Rose
August 25, 2010 Release Date: August 17, 2010
“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
What They Say Casshern, a cybernetic assassin with no memory of his past, awakens in a corrosive wasteland where nothing survives for long. A plague known as the Ruin sweeps across this once-vibrant world, reducing everything in its path to rubble and scattering any chance for salvation. Robots and humans alike - or what little remains of them - seek vengeance against Casshern for the life he took and the role he played in their Ruin. A machine built to kill, Casshern murdered the last hope for this world, but now, lost in a future he does not recognize, he will fight to save the dying.
Contains episodes 1-12.
For the purposes of the review the Japanese track was used. The track is a 2.0 track that uses the side speakers for most of the voices and sounds and produces a rather full sound in this manner. Dialogue is clear and there are no instances or dropouts or distortions noticed. The center speaker gets some of the dedicated music work which helps that seem a bit fuller as well without drowning out the focus driven parts from the sides.
Originally airing in 2008 the video is presented in 16:9. The video is very good as the colors are rich and vibrant and the blacks are solid as well. There is some minor noise but it is often hard to pick up given that the animation style can waver a bit between very solid to a softer look giving the series an almost ethereal look at times.
The set comes in the FUNimation standard two slim cases with a thin cardboard outer wrap box. The outer box features a close up of Casshern with his helmet on that sort of melts into the Ruin looking background. The back features a silhouette set against a bleak background along with six still from the series. FUNimation does a nice job with the cardboard by having it be a rougher type rather than a slick material they sometime use which adds weight to the images used. For the interior art the first case features a helmet less Casshern and Friender against a red background. The second discs features a close up of Dio with Leda standing behind him with a dark purple hue on them and a dark green background at the far right.
The menu screen is a rather basic affair with the title and catch phrase for the series in large letters posted above some smaller text stating that the disc is Part One Disc One and contains episodes 1-6. This text is over what appears to be a very close up shot of Casshern’s chest with the “ruin” effect in play. The bottom quarter of the screen has the options for play all, episodes and audio. A fairly somber piece plays in the background. The audio screen has a different close up of Casshern’s chest with a far more up tempo track in the background. The episodes screen has a close up of the crest of Casshern’s helmet with a slow and slightly sad track playing as its background.
The only extra is an almost twelve minute video from the Japanese preview event where some of the voice actors and the director have a panel introducing the show and some of their character’s role in the beginning of the production.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The feature opens with Casshern confronting a young looking girl named Luna and proclaiming that he is going to kill her. It is a quick piece before the opening song and becomes a common thread through this set as the scene appears at the beginning of all the episodes with some of them giving more detail into the progression of this event. The story then shifts after the opening with Casshern fighting a robot and winning with little effort. A cloaked figure crossing the dessert has a monologue explaining that the world started down the path of destruction from the moment Casshern killed Luna. From there the story returns to Casshern who is facing an army of robots who all want to kill and devour him. His battle is watched by Lyuze who has an agenda of her own and a score to settle with Casshern. Casshern confronts the last enemy robot facing him and learns that the robots are affected by something called “Ruin” which will eventually destroy them. There is a rumor however that devouring Casshern will grant eternal life which leads into the main focus for the story as Casshern is confronted on almost all sides from those who want him dead for causing the ruin to happen and those who believe the rumor that devouring Casshern will save them. Casshern also demonstrates that his grip on reality may be a touch tenuous as he has a wound that appears and disappears and he then seems to be warped out of shape and screams in agony.
His cry is heard some distance away as a young girl named Ringo is awakened from her slumber and questions her guardian Ohji who sends her back to sleep. At the same time the figure that has been walking through the desert comes across the scene of the battle. One of the robot heads still functions and is still obsessed with devouring Casshern though the figure knows this rumor to be a lie. He then engages in some talk with Ohji who has driven up nearby and they speak on how Casshern has awakened and Ohji’s business will pick up. The next morning as Ringo is playing in the shallow part of the shore collecting seashells she spies Casshern sitting alone and staring at the horizon. When she questions him if he is a human or robot he replies with he doesn’t know.
Casshern’s looks will cause him trouble throughout the set as he doesn’t look human but a robot that contains no sign of Ruin attracts no small amount of attention. When talking with Ringo it becomes apparent Casshern doesn’t remember anything-he only knows his name because the robots trying to kill him kept repeating it. Ringo talks about how she is a robot and starting to show signs of Ruin but Ohji has put a band around her head to cover it. As Ringo hugs Casshern before leaving him Casshern has a flash back to Luna. Before Ringo can make it back to Ohji she is assaulted by a robot necessitating Casshern coming to her aid. The aid proves a double edged sword as despite Casshern saving her she saw something dark in him during his merciless fight with the robot. After Ringo and Ohji have left Casshern is confronted by Lyuze who tells him in the past he killed the sun named moon and brought about Ruin.
As Casshern wanders the wasteland that remains of the world he runs into various survivors who are confronting their inevitable demise. Some try to meet it with grace while others try to instill hope and many others have abandoned themselves to fate but see Casshern as a chance at eternal life by eating Casshern. With this rumor swirling through the wasteland Casshern will discover that he has few who do not seek to either punish him for his past deeds or to use him as a tool to obtain eternal life. Casshern starts to believe he is a curse and try to keep others from being near him and inflicting pain on them. Despite this he has a number of encounters from learning what humans are like to gaining a not always consistent traveling companion who also has so far escaped the effects of Ruin. Along the way he will also encounter robot’s just looking to fight, stories of the former ruler of the world Braiking Boss and an opponent who wishes to replace him-and wants Casshern’s head to help him do it.
As he travels the wilderness he will discover that even among despair there are some who hold out hope and he takes on the burden of trying to find the rumored to still be living Luna and bring salvation to the land he visited destruction upon while also fighting a dark portion in his soul that takes over during battle. The series does a good job of portraying the emotions of many of the characters in a wasteland where death appears inevitable and how different personalities deal with this dire outlook. The mystery surrounding Casshern and his attempt to piece his past together along with the viewer is a nice touch. The visuals are top notch though can vary a bit throughout perhaps signifying the transient nature of the current reality. The feature is more than a little bleak and nihilistic which may not appeal to everyone and at times does feel like it is trying to manipulate the audience and their reactions with some of the stories and characters found within.
In Summary: Casshern Sins part one is a dark look at a bleak environment which follows the character that supposedly brought the destruction. Watching the robots act in a very human manner to their impending death serves as a stand in for the mostly absent humanity as the nature of how one deals with the knowledge they have a fatal disease-and the distance between those who decide to accept fate, those who just give up hope and those who refuse to just go quietly into the good night. Casshern sins is an interesting look at how one person tries to deal with the knowledge he brought about the downfall of all around him while also having to deal with the reactions of those who can see right away he is different and the strains this and the knowledge of his actions place on his shoulders.
Features Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Pre-Air Event, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Samsung 50" Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony
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