Casshern Sins – Episode 6

I think we may be in it now. Last episode saw Casshern Sins embracing narrative continuity for the first time, bringing back a handful of characters from earlier episodes in order to answer a couple questions and set up some dramatic dominoes. The nature of Luna is still unclear, but Casshern’s nature is becoming a bit more concrete – he was used as an agent of violence, he could not necessarily control his actions, and his tendency towards violence seems to take over his body altogether.

That episode also saw Casshern represented as a figure of both ruin and salvation, bringing Ruin upon this world but also standing ready to sacrifice himself to pay for his crimes. This show’s symbolism often feels more concrete than its narrative, so I’ll be keeping an eye on everything I can as we continue our adventure into ruin. Let’s get to it!

Episode 6

Luna outright warns Casshern that her death will commence the world’s “downward spiral to Ruin.” He says that’s not his problem, and he must kill her, as per his orders

Casshern Sins

Red scraps of fabric blow in the wind, scattered from the coat of the new arrival. This show is so slow and deliberate about every single one of its actions, but those actions are so often obscure, melodramatic, or just plain strange. Casshern Sins’ style works for its narrative, but I can see why this director might have trouble finding places to apply his style elsewhere

The stranger’s profile is similar to Casshern’s, but with a broken headpiece

Yeah, like this very slow buildup of the stranger’s approach. We have absolutely no context for assigning any meaning to this character, but Casshern Sins presents his arrival as the most profound of dramatic turns. Casshern Sins exists in one of the most relentlessly theatrical worlds I’ve seen. It’s basically the visual version of Mari Okada’s writing

Casshern Sins

“Reunited with Fate”

“You were created in order to kill every last being on this planet.” It’s a rough gig

“You’re not a robot and not a human either”

“For today is the day you die, at my hands!” This guy’s a pretty fair avatar of this show’s theatrical leanings in general

“Me?” Even these assaults by desperate robots have achieved a sort of ritualistic repetition. Again Casshern is challenged, again he destroys his attackers, again he is left alone, questioning why. The narrative cycles reinforce the hopelessness of this world

Casshern Sins

The show’s wild camera angles can feel kind of purposeless for the character closeups, but they really facilitate some creatively storyboarded fights. And this ruined courtyard feels far more like a tangible space because of how many angles we see it from

Very unusually thick linework for the outlines of the main characters in some of these shots. They often look like still posters or comic panels

The stranger’s fighting style is not savage like Casshern’s or beautiful like Sophita’s. When fighting these drones, he looks bored – few unnecessary motions, using their own energy and weight against them

“I harbor the same powers as him. But he lacks the knowledge to use them”

Casshern Sins

“With these powers, we can rule everything. Just like Braiking Boss once did.” The contrast between this show’s somber, myth-making style and classic children’s show names like “Friender” and “Braiking Boss” is something. One of anime’s most consistent qualities is how it draws emotional resonance out of fundamentally goofy variables, and this is a very focused expression of that

I’m pretty sure Casshern’s only contribution to this conversation has been repeating names in a confused tone

Apparently this man and Casshern once knew each other

JoJo is basically “what if the action shows you saw as a kid were actually as thrilling and creative as you remember them being.” Casshern Sins is “what if the action shows you saw as a kid carried as much emotional baggage and big picture significance as you saw in them”

Casshern Sins

Six episodes in, we have successfully established that Casshern doesn’t remember things

I like that the conquering of humans by robots is relayed in a single offhand line

Braiking Boss was the king when Luna was assassinated

He claims he can stop the Ruin, and will grant robots eternal life once again

“In exchange for your life, this world can be saved.” Emphasizing his Christlike nature from last episode. Kinda hard to avoid that reference point now

Casshern Sins

“Please save us.” Once again, harmless and innocent robots turn potentially violent at the hope of salvation

At last, an actual reason for all these dutch angles: conveying the horror-film unease of these robots dragging themselves towards murder

“If you die here, every single robot afflicted by the Ruin will be saved.” ‘Saved’ really seems like it’s being used for its religious significance here. The Ruin is not a scientific process, it’s the reality of living in a world that has fallen from grace

But again, Christianity is a very niche religion in Japan. This doesn’t seem to really echo Buddhist or Shinto philosophy, though – perhaps there’s a little bit of a “cycle of rebirth” here, but it’s mostly just straight-up “Casshern stole the light of the world, now he must die to pay for its sins”

Casshern Sins

“If I kill you and figure out the mechanism that keeps you alive, yes.” Alright, this is far more grounded than the earlier stuff. Casshern isn’t actually the key to stopping Ruin, in this robot’s mind – he simply possesses a personal method of staving it off that this robot hopes to unlock. Very far from “every robot affected by the Ruin will be saved”

“Perhaps I’ve been waiting to meet you all along.” Inevitability is also echoed in most of this show’s variables. Shows with such singular obsessions can build worlds and narratives where every variable speaks in one voice

The white eyes really help the audience keep track of motion during these frantic animation highlights. They form a strong contrast with this guy’s very dark suit, so you can see how his body is turning even when most of him is a blur

Casshern Sins

Once again, Casshern’s body disobeys his will and fights back

More awesome angles upping the intensity of this fight. I like how our tilted view of the stranger sliding down this bluff increases the sense of height and consequence

Holy shit, awesome effects animation for these red sparks

“I refuse to let you kill him.” Casshern has made some unlikely friends

Casshern seemed to be in real danger for the first time this fight. I wonder if we’re supposed to think of him as immortal or not, at least for the sake of investing in these battles

Casshern Sins

These battles are kind of interesting, in that regard. There’s very little tension in them – Casshern’s in even less danger than your usual anime protagonists, he actually wants to die, and nothing else we know of is riding on them. Normally that’s a recipe for boring, pointless battles, but “pointless struggle” is kind of the point of Casshern Sins. And the fights are certainly beautiful regardless, animated and composed well enough to convey clear exchanges of blows

Of course, Casshern’s savior only helps him because “only I can kill you.” How tsun tsun

More light effects animation, this time echoing Casshern’s eyes with some kind of aura

A man named Dio is sulking in a castle. He’s linked to the woman who saved the stranger, or perhaps just is the stranger

Casshern Sins

The old man repaired Friender. Man, the concept of a world where robots are just repairing each other with a dwindling supply of useful resources sure is an inherently compelling one

The little girl admires Casshern’s strength and beauty

“I’ve never asked for this”

“I can atone for the sin I committed by murdering Luna.” Unless that’s some serious subtitler creative license, I think we’re past “hey this show seems kinda dedicated to its Jesus imagery” bet-hedging

The animation for this little girl is subtle but very good. Characters in this show rarely have fluid body language, but you can tell she’s “young” enough to not really be in full control of her body. Kinda interesting to assign such specifically human body language to an unchanging robot character

Casshern Sins

“Rumor has it Luna was also immortal.” The consistent focus on this old man’s intimidating eyes makes me think he knows more than he says

“Perhaps you’ve inherited her curse now.” He’s the one person aside from Casshern who’s framed eternal life as a curse, and not something to be sought as if it’s natural

Of course, he could also just be “wise old man gifted with the authorial voice.” But stories give themselves options through foreshadowing, and this man’s knowledge and framing has opened one more specific door. A story can always choose to turn anyone into a villain or secretly a robot or whatever, but good stories tend to seed these things with details that will pay off in either that or other ways, resulting in more dramatically cohesive narratives that land with more impact and less puzzled audience faces

“What was Luna? And what am I?” Casshern begins to find questions that give him purpose

Casshern Sins

And Done!

Whoof, that was a slow one. This was an exposition-heavy episode, and mixing Casshern Sins’ style with lots of exposition was not a graceful match. Everyone in this show just talks much more slowly and cryptically than characters usually do, meaning conveying “you killed Luna and prompted Ruin, if I kill you I can maybe stop it” took a good ten minutes of dialogue. Slow pacing isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it works better with some concepts than others, and exposition is not a graceful match. Still, we did learn some important stuff, the central fight was gorgeous, and the show overall remains a visual wonder, so I can’t complain too much. On to the next one!

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