It’s time to return to Casshern Sins! We’re nearing the endgame now, with the long-awaited arrival at Luna’s sanctuary raising more questions than it answered. After an entire show of seeking, Casshern seemed unhappy with the salvation provided by Luna, now having come to believe that death is actually an integral part of life. That philosophy makes sense of both his own unhappy invulnerability and the many lives he’s had to watch end, but it’s cold comfort to the robots who’ve spent all this time fleeing from Ruin.
Their counterpoint was directly articulated through Ohji’s harsh words, as he lambasted Casshern for idealizing the “beauty of death” even though he’d never had to fear it himself. Ohji’s counterpoint shook Casshern’s own confidence in turn, and so he essentially threw himself to Dio’s wolves. Casshern Sins’ thoughts on living and dying are only growing more complex and urgent by the moment, and this show could still end any number of ways. Let’s get right to it!
Ringo uses her face as a sled to slide down a hillside, which is extremely adorable but also a little worrying
Is this place filled with… actual grass? That’s really unusual – pretty much all we generally see are lifeless rocks and occasional, incongruous flower patches. Perhaps the area around Luna is naturally more fertile
I really like the colors that prompts! We’re getting some nice rich greens here
It takes a special show to make two dozen types of desolate wasteland visually interesting
Dio without his mask on, a rare sight
And it looks like they’ve claimed Luna
“Now the Ruin will stop.” So are they actually going to go through with it?
“Why do you not heal everyone?” “There’s no point if everybody’s the same. Beauty exists only when some are favored. Without jealousy and hatred, how are they to know their own worth? And their worth is what makes plain the splendor of the one who granted it to them.” Such a sad philosophy, but it fits Leda very well. Having lost her true happiness, she craves at least clear distinction, something she can assign meaning while justifying her bitterness towards others. It’s not an uncommon perspective!
Dio claims he doesn’t need Luna’s healing
Leda looks in the mirror. She seems like a cruel fairy tale queen here
Leda claims Dio is “not a kid anymore,” but then says his perspective is fine because he’ll “feel differently soon.” She still treats him like a child – and given what we know of her past, it makes sense that he is a replacement for the children she lost
“A Drop Called Eternity”
Leda confronts Luna in front of a wall that looks like a giant clock face, above a shallow pool of water. Two clear signifiers of the power of Ruin, implying she is the lord of these elemental forces
“I merely eliminate the death in front of me.” Luna is heartless, but she’s heartless in the way a storm or a fire are heartless. She is treated almost like an elemental force, and the fact that she saves people does not mean she cares about them. Just like how the other robots must obey their programming, she must obey her nature
“Are you one of the chosen ones?” I doubt she’s even trying to get a rise out of Leda, but this is one good way to do it
“From now on, I will be the one giving the healing through you.” Such an empty piece of symbology. Leda is just as childish as Dio
Like the scenes between Casshern and Lyuze, the closeness of the shots here creates a sense of sexual intimacy
And there’s also a religious element to this. Casshern Sins has leaned on Christian symbology often enough that I don’t think the idea that Luna represents the “body of Christ” was lost on these creators, nor the fact that her chamber here feels like an altar
“I can no longer see death”
Luna in deep red against the blue of the clock
And her blood forms a transition, as we jump to the bleeding Casshern
“Recover and fight me!” Dio has realized that he never cared about eternal life. He only wants to fight Casshern – everything else was Leda’s wish
“We’ll save him.” A quest for the last act! Casshern’s never lost a fight when he actually tries, so it’s nice that this conflict is coming down to the support of people who are actually fallible
The gravekeeper: “I can’t run. I’d feel like I was losing to the Ruin.” That’s a pretty sharp observation, given the thematic nature of the Ruin means it really does claim anyone who gives up on their quest
“Things to do in life…” Yeah, he’s got the crux of it. If your life has purpose, or you have faith in what you’re doing, you survive
Leda admiring her unbroken beauty. This episode’s reflections are gorgeous
When Leda speaks of the “great heights” she’ll achieve, her hand naturally strays to her belly. The one joy that was stolen from her, the great goal of these special robots
Leda raises her dream to Dio, but he recoils from her, and says he only cares about fighting Casshern
“Everything that I don’t control merely impedes me!” Leda is such a sad character. She’s lost everything, and the tighter she tries to grip at what remains, the more it slips away
Aw shit, Leda’s eye shatters. The healing was a lie after all!
Or it was her own forsaking of Dio that got her hurt. The specific push-pull of Ruin as thematic point versus Ruin as narrative instrument can make it hard to parse the actual mechanics of the drama in this last act
“You don’t want to give your beauty to others, do you?” Leda can only see Luna’s actions in terms of her own philosophy, as is so often the case
Leda takes the blood from Luna’s bleeding hands. More Christ imagery
Luna’s emotionless eyes are so perfect for her essentially primal force character
In contrast with Leda’s rapturous happiness, healing is presented as something incredibly painful for Casshern
“I’ve survived this far. Now it’s your turn.” A surprisingly endearing moment for Dio. He is extremely vulnerable this episode
Oh my god, what did Luna’s healing do to Leda
“Perhaps I overhealed you a bit.” This is horrific. Leda looks like she’s crumbling to pieces already, making these awful, inhuman noises
And Luna actually cries at the “beauty” of Leda’s condition. From cool blues and reds, the antechamber has shifted to harsh crimson and sickly green
Dio waits for Casshern in the rain, content to hasten his own end if it means he can still fight with his rival
Both Casshern’s posture and the water on the ground once again form a cross
“There is no meaning in fighting me.” “There is. You just don’t understand it.” Anyone’s personal meaning will be incomprehensible to many others
“The reason doesn’t matter anymore. I want to fight and defeat you. That’s all.” That actually seems like a very healthy approach
If he gained eternal life, he’d lose the hunger of his current purpose
I kinda fundamentally disagree with what Casshern Sins seems to be thematically positing. I don’t think eternal life would mean we lose all sense of urgency or purpose in our lives – I think we tend to believe that because the alternative is acknowledging the world is very cruel, and death is very frightening. But I don’t feel the need to venerate death to enjoy my existing life
“The robots and humans I’ve met. They lived as hard as they could. Much more than Luna or myself.” Yep. Now Casshern articulates what he’s come to believe about death after all this journeying
Well that sure was a climactic episode! After twenty two episodes, I’m finally starting to like Dio, and just in time. Leda’s material here was equally strong, successfully mirroring both the urgency and desperation of Dio’s struggle while also offering parallels with Casshern’s own actions. Those scenes between Leda and Luna were some of the most tense of the entire series, and the show’s visual composition and background art are as strong as ever. We’re on track for a terrific final act.
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