Casshern Sins – Episode 7

And we’re back with more Casshern Sins! Last episode dumped a fair amount of actual information on us, from the fact that Luna’s death was very directly responsible for the Ruin to Casshern’s “gift of immortality” really just being the mechanical secret locked inside him. That first one was easy enough to extrapolate from what we know, but the second puts Casshern’s importance in a far more realistic context than “kill him and the rest of you can be saved.” It also introduced a pair of new antagonists, and saw Casshern reuniting with most of his prior traveling companions. For all that, it was a mostly expository episode, so I’d be happy to get back to the evocative vignettes that started this show off. Let’s dive right into another Casshern Sins!

Episode 7

Casshern Sins

These opening sequences use shadow so well. This director has a very distinctive philosophy on visual composition, and these opening segments, where one or two objects are highlighted against an overwhelming darkness, are a strong example

And these first shots of the episode proper again demonstrating how well this director uses negative space. A fraying obelisk and what looks like a church tower rising in black against a white sky. A dull red eye shifting in a featureless robotic mask

It looks like some kind of old abandoned factory or refinery. I like the contrast of these almost majestic shots of the black building against the awkward, noisy, too-intimate motions of the robot bodies

Casshern Sins

Looks like we’re back to vignettes territory, with Robots Playing Poker

We open with silly slapstick, but then the robot they’re beating on actually dies. This show

This robot design allows the show to do the Looney Tunes-style “eyes bugging out of your head in surprise” trick using the character’s actual bodily functions

Christ this show’s direction is incredible. Drawing such beauty out of Casshern’s movements, and even the way this grimy pipe bangs against the walls. The sound design here is also key – Casshern barely moves anything but the wind, but every motion of these decaying robots clanks with desperation and gracelessness

Casshern Sins

All the key robots have human designs, but no one really seems to notice that – outside of Casshern, other human-looking robots are treated as if they were any other robot. It’s a Casshern Sins-specific extension of nobody commenting on that one girl’s pink hair

“The Woman of the Tall Tower.” How wonderful it must be to conceive of a show like this. Getting to bring your collection of post-apocalyptic robotic fairy tales to life

“I worked at this factory. Me, and everyone else.” This factory is definitely one of my favorite settings so far. The pipes looming like thick trees, the constant steam, the beautiful contrast between black metal and white sky

This woman wants purpose

Casshern Sins

The high peak from the first shot. A strong distinction between this tower’s design and the rest of the factory – it looks constructed out of loose chalk scribbles

“Won’t you climb it?”

“The world is descending into Ruin, so why is it so beautiful?” One of the show’s key conceits. This woman seems closer to the authorial perspective than anyone before – seeking purpose in hopelessness, seeing beauty in destruction

“What you want to do is make a tower.” So that’s the distinction – this extension of the factory was built by her own hands

Casshern Sins

She wants to put a bell at the top of her tower, ring it, and remind people there is beauty in the world

This really does feel like a medieval fairy tale

As one who once built machines, this woman immediately understands Casshern’s invulnerable nature

Some subtly ominous shots here as they draw apart. There’s always that hunger that appears when robots discover what Casshern is

Casshern Sins

“I hope that I can hear the sound of the bell you make.” Casshern is more like a true child than most amnesiac protagonists – he’s astonished by the lives of everyone he meets, as so much of what they do is truly new to him

The passage of time conveyed through that crumbling wrench

I’m not sure the show’s used this song before, but it’s excellent. Elegiac as ever, but with a hint of urgency in it, perfect for this woman’s quest

Of course, she’ll try to kill him for the parts she covets. There’s a reason those other robots all ran away!

Casshern Sins

Their white skin is turned sickly green by the candles’ glow

These gears demand the show’s first use of 3D CG, which is certainly awkward

This woman is falling into the somewhat tired pattern of getting a physical thrill out of killing Casshern

“Be my bell! It’s better than ending up as scrap.” Casshern failing to become the hope for one more individual robot

Casshern Sins

“I have killed the Sun called Moon. There is still something I must do.” Casshern only seems to rekindle his purpose on the verge of death – it’s made him fight back in prior episodes, and it seems to be awaking even more fully here. His voice actually shifts closer to the tone of the opening sequence, where he’s fully committed to his programmed purpose

“I want to believe,” “I want others to believe.” This woman’s quest won’t actually change anything about this world, but her emphasis on establishing faith in beauty echoes this show’s general religious symbology

“Even the scrap contains the desire to live within it.” Now he’s moralizing, which seems like a much further step than the commentary he’s provided so far. Casshern Sins’ characterization is generally kinda vague, since basically every character is to some extent a conduit for the show’s overall thematic voice, but that seems more pronounced than ever in this episode

Casshern Sins

The bell is complete, but it sounds ominous and hollow. “This isn’t how it’s supposed to sound”

The other robots condemn her for creating the bell. “Too loud! We don’t need to make things anymore!”

The tower collapses. It’s a beautiful sequence of shots – this decaying factory kinda reminds me of Angel’s Egg

Casshern returns to rescue her. His fundamental nature is the destroyer, his chosen nature is the savior. But he can only rarely help people, and only reach them one at a time

Casshern Sins

“The sound of your bell reached my heart”

“What reached my heart may have been your desire to create something new in this world.” This episode’s a bit more on-the-nose, but I don’t mind it. We’re seven episodes in – the show has to somewhat clarify some of its thematic goals eventually

But yeah, what may define this world even more than destruction is the absence of creation. They can only repair what’s left by consolidating what’s destroyed, they cannot bring something new to this place

Casshern Sins

And even Casshern sees a beauty in the world

The little girl is charmed by the tower, and climbs it. Pretty much the avatar of all that is innocent and new and good in this world

It’s very intentional that the old man is only referred to as an old man. He’s the prior generation, the prior world

“I don’t need a bell anymore.” Through the bell she clung to both hope and life, even at the expense of others. Casshern’s charity seems to have granted her grace

Casshern Sins

And Done!

Welp, that was pretty much exactly what I expected – a return to the show’s original vignettes, given complexity through how much Casshern has changed since the first episode. And Casshern certainly has changed – from an unknowing cipher, he’s started to grow into someone who can actually bring peace to the people of this world. Casshern Sins feels almost like an apocalyptic religious text, where all the “savior” can really provide is closure to the people of a dying land. Its style of dropping all of the thematic subtext right into the text itself can be a little awkward at times, but it’s still a gorgeous and singular production. I still can only marvel that something as slow, melancholy, vague, and generally idiosyncratic as this even exists. Anime is pretty cool!

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2 thoughts on “Casshern Sins – Episode 7

  1. Ah, this episode. That tower was some cool, melancholy stuff. I’m excited to hear what you have to say about episode 8. The show doesn’t let you forget about that one.

  2. One of my favorite episodes of this show. I like how the woman is literally attracted to Casshern, what with all the touching and hugging (like she is trying to insert life/purpose into the plush toy she always yearned for). She is full of “love”, but her eyes are hollow – they are not looking at Casshern as some-one, but some-thing. She loves what he is, but hates the parts of him that she deems unnecessary – his will, his personality, his life – those are parts outside of the function she designated for him.

    Her love is pure and she overflows with charm. Even though it is charm full of vile, it remains beautiful.

    I also like how despite her initial portrayal as a strong and merciless woman (ehm, robot), she became fragile and helpless later on, but somehow even more beautiful. It is almost as if it is exactly because of this – her gaining these human qualities – that she was able to move on.

    As for the ending, her ringing the virtual bell always makes me question her sanity, wondering whether she is not delusional. Wondering, that perhaps it is a sad reality of the Casshern world, that only those who abandon their sanity can ever find gratification in it – in the ever growing ruin.

    The woman however stands atop of the tower as a proof against this. She gained a peace of mind along with realization that the bell she wanted to make does not have to physically exist for it to fulfill its purpose. That is a powerful thought. There is a bell in each of us. And it is interesting that for the woman, sharing her idea of the bell with others became something more important that the bell itself.

    Towards the end, the woman embraces Casshern again, but faces him with completely different emotions than before. And I have to admit how much I love the way this show connects the various characters with Casshern and makes them discover or affirm various forms of meaning, or value – just like Casshern meets these characters and feels connected through them to the world that he himself once ruined. Its a beautiful take on the meaning of purpose and also the purpose of meaning in the face of ever-present void that dawns on us.

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