Robot Wars – Casshern Sins Part 1 Review

Casshern

Title: Cashern Sins Part 1 (Episodes 1-12)
Certificate: 12
Special Features:  Textless Opening and Closing sequences, Footage from a Pre-Air event involving interviews with the Director and some of the Voice Actors.

Rating: 4/5

Warning This review may contain mild spoilers and references to events that occur in the anime.

“Ruin is the salvation of man and machine.” A snappy tagline to accompany the title of Casshern Sins, a reboot of 70s favourite Neo-Human Casshern. The new series follows a different story line to its inspiration, however contains reincarnations of the main characters from Neo-Human Casshern and some small references to the events that drove it.

Image from 70s "Neo-Human Casshern"

An image of Casshern from the 70s anime "Neo-Human Casshern".

We begin, as each episode does, with a mini flashback to the past, where a manic-looking Casshern announces his intentions to kill “Luna”. Luna (also occasionally referred to as “The Sun Named Moon”) is the harbinger of life in this world, she appears to maintain the balance between robot and human, and her death unleashes an unforgiving curse on the world: The Ruin.

The Ruin transforms the world into a barely liveable desert of solitude, and causes robots to slowly fall to pieces and wither into dust.

In our first encounter with Casshern, he dispatches a number of enemies intent on killing him to gain the “eternal life” that his death is rumoured to provide. And fans of fighting will be relieved to know that this becomes an ongoing theme throughout the anime, with each episode providing some form of enemy or group of enemies to confront him, turning the series into an apparent “One ‘man’ against the world” story.

After emerging victorious, it is revealed that Casshern remembers nothing of his past, just that people say he destroyed the world.

There is something out of the ordinary about the way Casshern Sins presents itself, the combination of emphasising shadows,a tendency to employ the use of grey and monochrome colour scales in the backgrounds or scenery, and the subtle use of a slow, foreboding score as a soundtrack all merge seamlessly to create a melancholy, desperate feeling atmosphere. (Incidentally, this “ambience” is also mentioned by the voice actors in the Pre-Launch event)

It’s a strong foundation to build a series on, and serves to heighten the emotion of the tragedies that unfold.

Unfortunately, Casshern Sins chooses to follow a very episodic format. With each new episode comes a new antagonist, and a new enemy, which whilst giving a chance for us to explore the harsh conditions of the ruinous worlds, and the different approaches to accepting (or denying) inevitable destruction, also slows the plot’s development and drags the series out to a length it need not be.

In fact, whilst we gain a little knowledge of Casshern’s past and present, and the fate of the world, it isn’t until episodes 5 & 6, that we are treated to any real history of Casshern himself, and even then it is only a snippet of informations that teases and frustrates.

It is this slow pace that proves the downfall of Casshern Sins, 12 episodes (halfway) into the series, and I still feel I know nothing about Casshern except my conjectures, and the oft repeated fact that he: “Killed Luna, the Sun named Moon, and caused the ruin and destruction of the world”, which I find somewhat infuriating; but not as infuriating as the fact that he is yet to use the bad-ass pistols that hang by his side.

Having said that, I still think Casshern Sins is well worthy of watching. I enjoy the story, I enjoy the ‘ambience’, and the dialogues often throw up interesting ethical and psychological viewpoints. It demands patience, and it demands attention, and so far I believe it deserves both.

Casshern Sins Part 1 was released by Manga Entertainment on 9th May, with the second and final instalment to follow in July. This review was of the Bluray version, which impressed me with its visual clarity, particularly the atmospheric scenery.

What do you think of this review? What do you think of Casshern Sins Part 1?  Share your opinions with us!

Try this if you liked: Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Shikabane: Corpse Princess

Casshern

On landing, Casshern instantly adopts a fighting pose.

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