The third Casshern Sins contained a slower, smaller story than the second, more reminiscent of the first episode’s long walk on the beach. Though it wasn’t as rich in character or narrative, it did fill in gaps in the story so far; Casshern met his first human, and that experience lent a necessary warmth to counterbalance the show’s usual solemnity. We’re still wandering through archetypal vignettes in a desolate wasteland, but Casshern’s cumulative experiences are slowly building him into a person worth following on this journey.
The first new addition this episode came right at the beginning, as the consistent cold open with Luna seemed to shift back a few seconds. All that was added was a shattering object turning into a blue flame, but the implication seems clear that this scene will eventually shift to offer some real context on Casshern’s “great sin.” But for now, standing in the ruins of the church’s congregation, Casshern had much more pressing sins to deal with. Confronted by the dog Friender’s accusing eyes, Casshern first denied his blame, and then accepted it for himself. When Casshern next met a living figure, he had resigned himself to his nature. “Don’t get involved with me. You’ll die.”
Casshern’s unhappiness feels earned now, in the wake of the second episode. He’s no longer just a general morose loner – he’s a confused man who is nonetheless taking in the consequences of his actions, accepting both how others see him and what his own path seems to imply. Fortunately, Casshern’s new acquaintance Akoz wasn’t the type to accept Casshern’s sulking. Presenting himself as the first human so far, his personality exuded energy and life, a strong and welcome contrast to the show’s general tone. “Relax. I know what it’s like to travel alongside an Angel of Death,” he said. In spite of Casshern’s unhappiness, Akoz stuck around.
Alongside presenting a tonal contrast (“being a human is a pain in the ass”), Akoz’s presence also offered some nice reflections on the human-robot divide at the heart of the show. Akoz defined humans as an “inefficient species,” flimsy and hampered by base bodily needs. But later on, he lamented the sadness of robots not having to indulge in things like food, or love. “Humans always contradict themselves,” he said, and that statement played directly to the prior episode’s ambiguous feelings on death. Weakness and destruction are often feared, but they are also what make us human, and likely what lend value to our actions. While Casshern’s robotic perspective makes him see his sins as immovable monoliths, Akoz demures. “We’ve all sinned. There ain’t no one here that’s going to judge you.”
Of course, this is Casshern Sins, so someone as upbeat as Akoz clearly wasn’t long for this world. After Casshern finds himself forgiven by Friender, Akoz makes his goodbyes, saying he’s planning to head for the congregation Casshern has left before collapsing in the dunes (death by blood cough, that most terrible of diseases). His last words, intended to spare Casshern the weight of being an “Angel of Death,” feel like a grim irony – and his desire to find the robotic congregation blur the line between human and robot even further. But Casshern walks on, no longer alone in his sad travels.
If the second episode’s visual style was dominated by intimacy, this episode was consumed by the opposite. A sense of grand space defined all of this episode’s sequences, from shots looming in the rafters of the old church to images embracing the grand desolation of the open planes. Casshern Sins continues to find new beauty in great emptiness, casting the tiny figures of Casshern and Akoz against the sheer drop of a canyon, or the majesty of distant mountains. The show is gorgeous, frankly – its dramatic use of shadows and sparing use of color act as the principal tools augmenting the base material of its beautiful backgrounds, and nearly every scene offers a new visual highlight. Casshern Sins’ emphasis on the inherent beauty of human decay comes through loud and clear in its lovely articulation of a dying world.
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