With word that Luna lives, Casshern sets about to find her to try and understand why everything actually happened.
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 bilingual track here offers up a pretty good experience overall with a pair of Dolby TrueHD lossless tracks. The Japanese track gives us a stereo experience which has a fair bit of depth and impact across the forward soundstage with some nice placement of dialogue in a number of scenes. The English 5.1 mix takes it up a few notches though the rear speakers don't get a huge turnout. There's a definite bump in the overall volume level here but it works well for blending the English voice acting with the background and music track. Of the two tracks, the English track definitely makes out better, but the Japanese track is solid throughout and gives us a good representation of the original mix. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in late 2008 and into early 2009, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is spread across two discs with nine episodes on the first dual layered disc and three on the second single layered disc and is done using a native HD source, not an upscale. And it shows. Casshern Sins has a very distinct style to it with its visual approach where it's a mixture of soft colors that almost feels like charcoal combined with strong line work to give it definition. Colors are really beautiful here as they blend in a rather unique way and the fluidity of the animation mixed with the darkness of much of it really allows the show to stand out as something you don't see. The transfer does a great job of capturing it as this release really stands out.
This release merits a cardboard slipcover which actually does a really nice job of showcasing some of what the animation in the show actually looks like. The first cover was pretty dark in tone with the rust feeling, which is used here again along the Blu-ray logo to good effect, but overall it's a much brighter cover that's very appealing. Most of it is given over to the shades of white with dust and dirt blowing around underneath the logo. But to the right we have a really great visual of a serious Casshern standing stoically. There's something about the artwork and the style of it that is very attractive here. The back cover, which like the front is replicated on the cover within the standard Blu-ray case, has a lot of white space to it as it features a shadowed image of Braiking Boss in the background along the left. The logo along the top is simple and effective and the summary for the show covers things nicely without giving away too much. A small selection of of shots from the show are along the bottom next to the technical grid which covers things well, breaking down the formats for the audio tracks and that it's a native HD release. No show related inserts are included nor is there any artwork on the reverse side of the cover itself.
The menus for the release are par for the course for FUNimation with a large amount of the main menu given over to clips from the show which come across as pretty stylish here. The menu navigation is along the top, which is what doubles as the pop-up menu, and we get something that's very basic with an off white strip that has the very basics of the navigation. Individual episode selection is nicely done with full names besides the episode numbers and the language setup is solid, but the menus continue to be too small when it comes to the font even when it comes to larger setups. The layout is easy to navigate but the discs don't read the player's language presets and defaults to English with the sign/song subtitles.
The second disc contains the extras for this set with the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences as well as a brief live action music number and a quick commercial for the Japanese DVD and Blu-ray release.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of Casshern introduced us to a world where it had ended completely and what little was left was falling to the Ruin. As we learned, the cause of it was the death of a young woman named Luna as once she died, death spilled out from her and ended the world. With Casshern himself being the cause, though his memory is mostly lost to this though he knows it's the truth, he's now trying to understand his role in the world as he watches the few remaining people and the large number of robots out there cope with the end times. While it was a mostly episodic journey, one that lacked a certain amount of heart and humanity for obvious reasons, it was a beautiful and stylish piece of work that was very striking.
The second half thankfully offers a bit more to the story to help bring it all together. The first half certainly had a great look to it and some interesting characters as it brought in the sometime companion robots in the form of the little girl Ring and her elder guardian Ohji, but also Lyuze who intends to kill Casshern since she was Luna's sister. Add in a pair of important robots that worked for the Braiking Boss that ordered Luna's death by Casshern named Leda and Dio and you have a good mix of robots that are trying to either help Casshern understand his place or trying to eliminate him so they can prove who is truly the most powerful or for the sake of revenge.
What makes this set work well from the start is that the very first episode on it brings the Braiking Boss back into the picture as he's been watching Casshern for a bit. He throws a lot of information out there that clarifies a few things, but mainly points out that what he did was for a good reason and that Casshern would still do what he was told because the rightness of it is now apparent. The explanation works well and I do like the approach to it as we learn that because both mankind and the robots achieved immortality, nobody was truly living anymore. The removal of the fear of death and the consequence of it made them less than what they were, and that was the primary reason for what the Braiking Boss did.
That knowledge helps propel Casshern to understand more of what has happened in the world since then. Because of what he learns, he and Lyuze end up in an interesting supporting relationship that comes as they learn that Luna is still alive, or some fake Luna may be out there, and they set off to find her to find out the final truths. They run across a number of robots along the way, including something that's reminiscent of a Trail of Tears of sorts as they find hundreds of robots going towards the castle where they believe she is, but they also deal with Leda and Dio as well. Those two have an unusual relationship and very different goals for what they want out of this world and with Casshern, but they do bring their arc to a definite conclusion that gives each of them a proper showcase that adds well to their overall storyline.
Watching this series in the midst of a few of other end of the world kind of series, notably the fourth season of Battlestar Galactic which covers the whole immortality of robots angle, there is something to definitely like about Casshern Sins when it comes to this angle. As it gets to Luna and deals with what she really is and fleshing out what Braiking Boss revealed at the start, Casshern's approach to dealing with the world makes sense. There are some really neat little revelations along the way, particularly with Ringo and Ohji that builds the mythology of the world nicely, Leda and Dio make out well with their back story getting clearer as well, but I really wanted more of Leda to understand her view of how the world should change. Dio's arc ends well though since his main goal has been to beat Casshern and watching the two of them fight it out is definitely a high point in terms of action and actual emotion.
At the end of the series, I'm really conflicted about Casshern Sins. I love the visual design of it and the choreography of the fight sequences. I'm also really keen on the way they took a classic property and rebooted it in a way that wasn't expected. Considering the nature of the original work, they went in an interesting direction here and played it in a semi-philosophical way about the meaning of life and how critical death is to make it all worthwhile. The problem side to the series is that it takes its time getting to these points, though there's a very definite reason for it all. It's not a series that works well for marathoning but you almost need to do that in order to see how it all flows together well. Casshern Sins is definitely a show that will leave an impression on you but it's one that you have to work through to get to the rich material.
Features Japanese 5.1 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Mini Concert, Original Commercials, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
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