Casshern Sins – Episode 4

Hey everybody! Casshern Sins just got a huge boost courtesy of one generous, beautiful, intelligent patron, so we’re back on for the rest of the ride. I’m very happy to be back on this one – Casshern Sins is a unique and compelling production, and the most fully realized statement of purpose by one of anime’s most underrated directors. Shigeyasu Yamauchi turns up from time to time to direct an episode or a beautiful ED sequence, but Casshern Sins is basically his only “original” production, and the first three episodes have been excellent. Let’s get right into it with episode four!

Episode 4

Casshern Sins

Alright, refresher time. Opening again with that confrontation between Casshern and the woman in his… past? Casshern covered in blood this time, no longer a spectator, perhaps even losing control of himself

This still image OP. Emphasizing the sharp angles, loose linework, and dramatic profiles of these characters

Sophita, the “angel of ruin”

Yamauchi sure likes these extreme closeups. They feel too close to actually effectively convey emotions beyond extreme distress, like “paranoia” and “claustrophobia” and whatnot. But that’s not the shot’s purpose here – instead, it just makes an odd, foreign landscape of the character involved. Perhaps emphasizing their inhumanity

Casshern Sins

And yeah, Sophita is killing robots and treating it like a playful game. “Who would be kind enough to fight me?”

“So there’s no convincing you?” Sophita’s voice and words seem like those of an innocent pleading for mercy, but her actions frame her as the attacker. Sophita loves to fight. She was programmed that way, that’s just what she is

This show’s character designs really are remarkable. Based on his work on Shinsekai Yori, they seem perfectly designed for Yamauchi’s directorial preferences

“I’m the man who killed the Sun named Moon.” I think I’ve got some catching up to do

Casshern Sins

These red pools on the terrain. Post-apocalypses don’t really get much more post-apocalyptic than this

“Do we need a reason to live or fight?” Casshern is a hero in a world that is already beyond saving, and Sophita is a warrior in a world with nothing left to fight for

Sophita is designed like a ballerina

“Fighting lets you know you’re alive”

Their robot bodies are always already on the verge of collapse. Fighting feels both meaningless and like a dance, lightly touching your opponent and releasing their already pent-up energy, shattering into ruin. These bodies want to die

Casshern Sins

“Why is conflict the only thing that thrives in this land?” ‘Casshern wanders in a desert and makes melancholy reflections on life’ is a pretty weird premise for a show. I have to wonder how this one ever got approved

They continue to contrast Sophita’s violent instincts with her cuteness/innocence. The classic scene of a character hiding from the person they’re tailing, but being incredibly obvious about it – here, the giveaway of Sophita’s location is her long, deadly sword poking up from behind the rock

Fighting allows Sophita to feel something, in a world with nothing else

The inevitability of ruin works well with a world of robots, who are all programmed to inevitably pursue something until their end, with no hope of peace

Casshern Sins

“He doesn’t like me. This is why I hate words. They never express what I feel.” Another interesting refurbishing of genre tools – action shows often present “communication through battle” as this thrilling and uplifting thing, but here it’s Sophita’s only method of communication

Sophita sure does look gorgeous in battle. What a great design

This fight is well-composed. The difference in their styles is clear in how the camera follows Sophita, and the fundamental animation of their movements. The camera jumps with Sophita four times in the time it takes this attacker to perform one massive swing

“All we can do is try to keep on living.” Casshern’s perfect body leaves him with no purpose. These robots who cling to life have no such problem

Casshern Sins

“If I’m going to rip someone to pieces anyway, why shouldn’t I enjoy doing it?” Instead of finding purpose outside of her labor, Sophita chose to turn her labor into purpose

“If the Ruin’s going to claim me anyway, I want to be happy when it does.” Yep, and then that philosophy’s turned towards this world’s overall doom. If they’re all damned, you might as well find some joy in it

“But that means you really can’t die. How sad.” Sophita is great. A shame she’ll almost certainly die here

“I love you. Fight me. It’s the only way I can show you how I feel.” How sad again

“I love you, so I’ll destroy you.” She can’t grant his wish

Casshern Sins

As always, this show’s fighting is beautiful but never “awesome.” It’s an interesting and appropriate balance to strike – you want to convey how these robots are graceful and full of life when performing their actual function, but it’s more mournful than triumphant

“The fact that I didn’t hurt you must mean you never intended to kill me.” It seems like Casshern can’t really control his instinct to fight back, to defend his own body

“You say that, but I felt them. Your feelings.” This is altogether far too uplifting of an episode. Everyone gets what they wants and learns something in the process. I assume Sophita’s gonna die in these last few minutes and make everything terrible again

“I’m leaving. That way we won’t have to fight again.” Fighting framed as an inevitability of prolonged contact between these battle-programmed robots

Casshern Sins

And Done

Damn, that was an upbeat episode! I mean, it was still obsessed with the futility of living in a doomed world, but as far as Casshern Sins goes, “both Casshern and this episode’s focus character leave happily as friends” is basically the height of optimism. Sophita was a very solid character who’s frankly beautiful to see in motion, so I’m happy to see she might actually show up again one day.

This episode did some nice work in applying classic shounen conceits like “communication through battle” to Casshern Sins’ own unique and thoughtful ends. Casshern Sins isn’t just a general-purpose apocalypse; it’s an apocalypse of a super robot universe, where the rules of thematic purpose that once built these characters up are now collapsing beside them. I’m clearly far from an expert on the sentai and super robot works Casshern Sins is assuming as ancient history, but it’s still nice to see the tools of those genres put to these tragic purposes. Casshern Sins remains an extremely compelling show.

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