Casshern Sins – Episode 16

And we’re back with more Casshern Sins! Last episode saw Casshern reuniting with an old foe, while the overarching narrative pulled us ever close to the apparently still-living Luna. Casshern and Lyuze have settled into a solid traveling rapport, and things seem to actually be moving towards a conclusion now. I’m kinda missing the show’s episodic vignettes from the first half, and I feel the show can drag even by its own terms when it hangs too much on the mythic, basic variables of Casshern’s, er, sin, but there’s still plenty to enjoy in this very unique adventure. Let’s get right to it!

Episode 16

No intro sequence at all this time. Just Casshern, Lyuze, and Friender walking in the wasteland

Oh no, Lyuze seems injured again. WE CAN’T LOSE LYUZE

I mean, I guess Lyuze is doing as well as anyone can be in a world where everyone but Casshern is slowly dying. Even Ringo is falling apart at this point. The first half of the show presented the decline of Ruin as something that could be partitioned and almost held at a distance, since it was largely affecting characters we’d only see for an episode. At this point, even those we’ve come to know are in danger, and the fact that they weren’t falling apart in the first half means their current afflictions feel that much more urgent

Jeez these environments are beautiful. What a gorgeous show this is in basically every sense

And we’re back to Ringo frolicking in the flowers

“That’s probably a bug.” Ringo discovers what I think is the first non-human, non-plant living creature we’ve run into in this entire world

Lyuze actually smiles again when they run into Ringo, and even laughs. Please allow these dear robots a little happiness, cruel anime writers

“For the Strength to Believe.” The episode title is accompanied by cries of “Dio-sama!”, reflecting how the people of this world need belief, and choose to believe in either Luna or Dio

Dio begrudges his followers for only believing in him because they want to survive. He wants to worshipped as a god for his own sake

Dio’s accomplice wants him to destroy all hope that exists outside himself, meaning destroying Luna and those who point to her. Dio himself only cares about fighting Casshern

“Ohji polished up a piece of glass that I broke.” Ringo found something beautiful and worth saving in the broken expanse

She also doesn’t covet this beautiful thing she found – she gives it to Lyuze freely, saying she likes the flowers better. A direct counter of Dio trying to destroy all things worth worshipping outside himself

I kinda wonder how episodes of this show were planned and storyboarded. “In this episode, we’re gonna spend twenty minutes standing in flowers and pensively reflecting on impermanence”

“How was there blood coming from Ringo’s arm? Is she human?” I’m glad Casshern is at least following the plot

And Casshern states that he wants to protect both Ringo and Lyuze from Ruin. A very good goal, I would say

Finally, time for Ohji’s backstory! We know he created Casshern, but narrative beats alone rarely cover it in this show. This time we get actual flashbacks, allowing us to witness and feel the despair and shame he felt at simply following orders until he’d led the world into Ruin. His own powerlessness in the face of his crime brought home through his fraying fingers, and the anger that leads him to rip off his own arm

Rain substitutes for tears, a classic trick

“Can there be any hope of salvation in this godforsaken world?” For Ohji, this question is more personal than for most. He could truly see this world as punishment for his own crimes, and not just a reflection of our unsaved state

It seems like the world directly following Ruin was even worse. Our vision of this world takes place some time after the cataclysm, where most surviving creatures have essentially given up hope. In the desperate days following Ruin, there was probably significantly more violence and terror

“I fell into the throes of despair.” Despair represented physically through sinking in water, another classic metaphor

Ohji is given a reason to live through Ringo’s appearance. He clings to it savagely

He breaks open a metal casket to rescue Ringo. The metal shatters and cracks a scar on his forehead, essentially baptizing him in blood. One life for another. This show’s imagery!

“I found her in human-like clothes inside a fallen robot.” Ringo is literally born from a robot body, making her echo the hope of robots that could reproduce that inspire Casshern’s creation

And we get a shot echoing The Creation of Adam as Ohji reaches out to Ringo, and she reaches back

“It was truly a miracle. She had survived in that living hell.” Ringo is hope itself, surviving even in the worst of worlds

“Ringo is special to me as well.” In this, Ohji acknowledges Casshern’s concern for Ringo, and through that acknowledges him as well

Dio and Leda run into Vulcan and Mars, the two strongest robots from the era of Braiking Boss. They unsurprisingly look like episodic cartoon villains, designed to be antagonistic

“Even being such outdated models?” Heh

Leda urges Dio to leave, not trusting his strength

They just want the title of strongest in the world. They don’t care if they die, so long as they can live forever through that title

As usual, when incredibly strong robots fight, it’s moments of ferocious speed scattered between sequences of slow, paused grace

I like that each of these prior champions has a very unique fighting style reflective of their design

Dio is defeated easily, and so Leda offers to serve them in exchange for his life. Dio really isn’t the villain he’s cracked up to be

I mean, Dio isn’t a villain at all – he’s just framed as another damned soul. But Casshern Sins still hasn’t really sold me on him being anything but kinda wimpy and totally self-obsessed – I don’t care about Dio’s issues at all, Dio’s issues are just “I want everyone to think I’m the strongest”

Dio lies abandoned in shallow water, struggling to breathe. Drowning again

Braiking Boss continues in his new role as the show’s theoretical narrator, speaking of how Casshern now wears his heart on his sleeve, and has a clear purpose

The weight of responsibility has made Casshern stronger than Dio. Forced to reckon with his sin, he has become far stronger as a result

“Don’t utter his name in my presence.” Meanwhile, Dio hides away like a child from all of his anxieties. He sits in a tower being coddled by Leda, learning from nothing

Braiking Boss’s speech renews Dio’s anger, and he destroys his enemies. He leaves one of the two to the Ruin, and the moment this robot knows his purpose is unattainable, he begins to decay. Hope is life

“It must have been tough for you. You’ll rest easy now.” Braiking Boss was the god of these warriors

“I wish these peaceful days could continue.” Ohji actually finding joy in the Ruin

And Done

That was a surprisingly uplifting episode of Casshern Sins! Maybe it’s just because the world’s on fire and it seems like everything is falling apart, but that sequence of Ringo cast as hope itself actually had me tearing up a bit. Ohji is one of this show’s most interesting characters, and this episode was very good to him. Even Dio’s material wasn’t so bad this time! And with Casshern and co having arrived at the stone Dio just learned about, it’s looking like things are winding even closer together. Casshern Sins continues on its graceful course.

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