Casshern Sins – Episode 12

So here we are, just approaching the halfway point of Casshern Sins. So far the show’s stuck to a pretty reliable formula, slowly building up both Casshern and Dio across a variety of melancholy adventures. Casshern is still bound by his violent programming, but he has purpose beyond that now, and seems to be growing more comfortable in his role of potential savior. And even if Casshern’s still not the most reliable of heroes, he’s at least got Friender there to keep him on the straight and narrow. Let’s see what wacky, desolate adventures these kids get up to next!

Episode 12

A couple new variables in the cold open. We see Luna fall, and the camera emphasizes a pool of liquid that’s presumably her blood. Her blood seems directly tied to her immortality in some way. Then there’s a new figure we haven’t seen at all, with stern features and brilliant green eyes. Casshern doesn’t seem to know him either, since he opens with his name

Ah, a classic shot. Snow falling into the city, framed looking up into the sky from between the buildings below

“This city paints over its past. When the king changed, the town’s history was changed with it, and the town was redone to please the new king.” This feels like a Kino’s Journey premise

I’d first thought this was a human speaking because of the lighter, but it seems that the old man robot smokes cigarettes? I don’t think that was revealed before

As always, there’s a natural contrast in this bright-eyed girl scampering over ruined landscapes

The city architecture makes for some fantastic layouts. It feels like a labyrinth, where you can never really see more than what’s around the next corner. Of course, that’s how Casshern Sins frames all of its objects – its shots are often too close to key objects to give a sense of overall definition, and instead you get evocative segments of larger edifices

“There was a queen here known as the Goddess of Healing”

“This world is getting quieter and quieter.” Appropriate phrasing for an episode taking place in the snow, which feels like it dampens sound even in a visual sense

Also a very peaceful way of framing the death of all creatures. It’s not some tragedy that must be prevented, it’s just the long, peaceful quiet

“Turn the Time Lived to Color”

The episode proper opens with a robot literally painting over a wall, echoing the old man’s words

Casshern walks with purpose through populated areas now. You can see the difference a goal makes in his stride

“The goddess who overcomes death, Luna. It would have been better if I’d never heard of her.” Hope is crucial, but false hope is more devastating than acceptance

“I could’ve given up.” Yep

“This spring which once healed us has become our grave.” Another classic fantasy device, the fountain of youth

Tons of shots framing these characters as dwarfed by the city, often by positioning them at the bottom of deep alleys. They’re both overwhelmed by the space and hemmed in by the walls

A new character, with purple hair. He seems to be the painter

This character’s expression work is more lively than basically anyone else so far. He’s very excited by Casshern’s new appearance

“Your body is a piece of art! Art is wonderful!” After the singer and the architect, I guess we’ve met the painter

“You haven’t give up on the future?” “Artists don’t give up easily, you know. And, they want to leave something of themselves to time.”

“I want to leave my own colors on the end of history.” A reasonable hope. And even a small hope in the face of inevitable ruin seems to give this guy far more life than the rest of the cast

“You who fear death… would you like to go see what it means to live?”

Casshern seems almost happy following this artist

“These colors are the proof that the kings of every era repainted the city in their colors”

“Even if their color was painted over, they really existed.” Artistic proof of existence framed in the specific context of that proof being painted over – even though our artistic legacies crumble, the remnants reflect that we were here

“We shouldn’t grieve over the Ruin. We should think about how to live right now!” This guy has a remarkably healthy attitude

Braiking Boss was apparently one of these kings. From a mythological figure, he’s now being put in a specific historical context

Even some sepia flashbacks!

This man can find beauty even in an oppressive era

After the painter mentions how the current era is painted in sand, we see the effect of the Ruin on his body for the first time, making for an emotional link

The painter’s hair shifts to cover the scars of the Ruin, as if his own body is trying to paint over the Ruin in his chosen colors

Casshern seems intrigued by the specter of Braiking Boss

“I must leave right away to find Luna, but I want to see the repainted town more than anything.” A dramatic declaration for Casshern. A single sentence that contains two deeply felt personal wishes – his overall goal, and his personal investment in this man’s quest. From a man without purpose possessed only by guilt, he’s discovered both duty and passion in this world. Casshern is overcoming the Ruin in his own way

“I’ve completed the path that goes to the sun.”

Casshern’s joy and wonder at this man’s accomplishments resemble the feelings of the little girl

“Just as you’ve repainted over the eras past, I must live and go on.” Interesting parallel. Presenting the act of living as itself a defiance of the past – the past is not destiny, and we repaint it with all our actions

Margo is his name

The robots who’ve abandoned hope refuse to accept his embracing of it

They destroy his path of hope. Its presence is painful to them, reminding them of what they’ve abandoned

“We cannot ignore someone who disrupts our order.” They cling to something themselves – their own fatalism. Someone who still has hope disrupts their certainty of death, which is a comfort of its own

This is terrific. You can see Casshern struggling desperately against his own programming. Even against these robots destroying something he finds beautiful, he’s working harder than ever to stop himself from hurting them

As he destroys the robots, he also destroys the painting

Even as his eyes glow, he’s still partially in control now, fighting back. The show has firmly established the inherent tension of his programming, making his internal battle very satisfying to see in action

“This is my fault.” “It’s nothing. I just need to repaint it”

Margo literally paints over the scars Casshern scratched in the walls. They’re a good pair

Margo wonders whether the painting is actually prompted by the violence of history – that it’s our desire to cover up the ugliness of the past that provokes the beauty of our art

Luna wanted this town to have its natural color. Considering how the painting metaphor has been used, perhaps that implies she intended the Ruin to happen

“Would you paint me in my color?”

“You said you have no memories, but memories are made day by day. Your encounter with me is one of them.” Margo actually consoling Casshern regarding his own death

“Don’t forget me. Being forgotten by everyone is just too sad.”

Hah. Casshern asks the same question regarding Luna and the Ruin. He’s as aware of his story as we are now

“Luna, who are you?” A question that feels laden with new significance. Casshern keeps learning more, and at this point, he’s beginning to question the assumptions of his assigned origin story. What did Luna really represent? Did he actually kill her, and what did killing her truly do?

“Margo, I won’t forget you.” And he gladly accepts another duty

And Done

What a terrific episode! As far as new variables go, Margo was easily one of the show’s best side characters so far – his mix of philosophical reflections, history lessons, and general companionship felt like a welcome breath of positivity that offered some intriguing context for this world. The setting of this episode was also great – I loved the spiraling architecture of this old city. And even Casshern was newly compelling this episode, acting on both his duties and passions with a fire we haven’t seen yet. After a full season of wandering, it’s now richly satisfying to see Casshern grow from his experiences. I can’t wait for the next one!

This article was made possible by reader support. Thank you all for all that you do.