Does light need dark to exist and be appreciated? And if so can life truly exist without death?
What They Say In the wake of a devastating plague known as the Ruin, Casshern - a cybernetic assassin with no memory of his past - must fight to save a civilization he pushed to the brink of destruction. He hunts the one they call Braiking Boss, the robotic overlord who ordered Casshern to serve as the executioner of Luna: bringer of salvation.
Surrounded by dying eyes that look upon him with fear and disgust, Casshern walks the wasteland of his own creation, driven to destroy Braiking Boss and remind Luna of her duty. Should she fail to heed his warning, Casshern must assume the specter of death in order to salvage what little beauty remains in a ruined world.
Contains episodes 13-24.
The Review! Audio:
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.
Casshern Sins comes in a typical FUNimation thin pack set of two smaller cases with their own artwork housed in thin cardboard housing. The cover of the cardboard housing features an almost sketched image of Casshern on the far right side and even part of the right side of his body seems to be at one with the background adding a touch of the ephemeral to the cover that the series also contains. The background colors are a mix of white and gray which create a rather bleak landscape with pieces of black floating in front which are physical representations of the effects of the Ruin. The back features a figure in silhouette that will bring a change to the series focus and six stills from the show. A great touch here is that the cardboard used for the sleeve is not the slick kind but a bit of a rougher type that helps add depth to the art and the texture also helps give a bit of weight to the series found within.
The individual thin pack covers feature Lyuze and Ringo. The Lyuze cover has a very sad looking shot of her extending her arm blade with a primarily orange color used in the background and her while the Ringo cover has Ringo clutching some cloth to her chest in with her head down looking like she might be deep in prayer with its deep purples and white coloring. The backs to both list the episodes found within but the covers are also reversible and while the images themselves are the same there is a good deal of black ruin looking effect to add to the weight of the pictures and the placement in the series.
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 part, number and the contained episodes. 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 second sets extras include a mini concert performance of the opening theme song “Azure Flowers” by the band Color Bottle, Original Japanese ads for the first DVD and textless open and closing songs.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The second set opens with a crying Ringo assuring Casshern it isn’t his fault. From here the feature jumps to a camp where a robot arrives to proclaim that Luna has saved him. The hope of salvation begets a pilgrimage of a large number of robots to where Luna is said to be. Among these looking for her is Casshern, who Lyuze confronts trying to find both the reason for what he is doing but also why she walks the path she does-especially if it is true Luna didn’t die the first time. At the same time Dio is trying to come to terms with what it is he truly wants and starts to understand why Braiking Boss originally ordered Luna’s death as the rumors of her existence start to divide his ranks.
The path to Luna is one that Casshern feels he must walk as now that he has seen the effects of Ruin he wants to find some way to stop it and finding Luna may be the first step to understanding why it happened. Along the path Ohji and Ringo are reunited with Casshern, Lyuze and Freinder. As the group takes refuge from the rain Lyuze notices something rather strange about Ringo but before much can be asked a ghost rises from the wilderness to join their reprieve. The figure turns out to know things about both Casshern’s past and Luna. The secret of the figure’s identity starts to overwhelm Casshern and also opens a past between Casshern and Oji.
At last the secrets of the enmity between humans and robots will be laid bare and the hubris designs of some of the robots at the time to become like gods is laid bare. The machinations that lead to the creation of a new type of robot and the connection between Casshern, Dio and Leda are spread out and the reason for the order to kill Luna is also finally revealed. The weight of the past start to weigh even heavier on those involved-nearly overwhelming Casshern. Casshern is now challenged with taking responsibility for what he has done as an old schemer tries to place one last plan in motion.
Casshern is placed on a collision course with Dio’s army as both are trying to arrive at the same goal though for very different reasons. As they travel there will be many encounters including some with past opponents as well as some conflicts that characters will find within themselves. What will be the result when the Sun named Moon is encountered and will she turn out to be far less a savior then advertized. And what will the different characters do when they start to think about the reason for the path they are on and think of changing it.
The second set continues to build on the momentum of the first by creating a rich world where death loams ever closer yet is approached in different ways by the characters in the work. Some fear death more than anything else and in so doing cling to life at any cost. The series nicely balances the ideas of nihilism and hope while walking a fine line not to become overly preachy in its message. On the down side so many characters and ideas are presented that some wind up feeling underdeveloped which costs the series a bit of its impact.
Casshern Sins certainly lives up to its name with a character first bringing death to the world and then struggling with the weight of those actions. It is a very ambitious piece that at times paints a gorgeous picture both visually and with the emotions and growth (or lack of) of the characters it highlights. The message of the importance of death in realizing the meaning of life is on full display but a few of the ideas seem to sadly get underdeveloped or abandoned along the way in order to stay completely focused on the message. Overall it is a work that attempts to move the viewers by connecting with those in the harshest of conditions using a protagonist who appears to be cursed to observe forever and is limited in how he feels he can change it.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Concert Footage, Japanese Ads, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Samsung 50" Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.
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