Casshern Sins – Episode 23

And so we approach the end of Casshern Sins. With Leda seemingly destroyed and Dio having embraced his chosen purpose, we’ve arrived at the final battle between Casshern and his brother, a clash in the rain that, no matter what happens, will certainly provide Dio with the closure he seeks. Meanwhile, Luna’s healing gift has proven to be a lie in more ways than one – not only is her blood a fickle power that doesn’t seem to permanently heal people, but too much of it can actually destroy someone. With Lyuze having entered the castle to rescue Casshern, that presumably leaves Ringo with Ohji, and I’m seriously hoping he has enough sense to keep her away from Luna. The pursuit of eternity has become a cursed thing in Casshern Sins, but I still feel these characters deserve some kind of salvation. Let’s see what the end of everything brings.

Episode 23

Beginning with the crumbling metal of Braiking Boss’s graveyard. Braiking Boss has become one of the more interesting characters in this series – though I suppose that’s not actually true. “More interesting” would imply he’s above the rest, but Casshern Sins has applied significant complexity to basically all of its key players in its last few episodes. Even the seemingly single-minded Dio has become a sympathetic figure at this point, while Leda has hovered between villainy and tragedy ever since her focus episode

Someone asks Braiking Boss if he’ll stop the Ruin. He responds with “I’ll never dig someone’s grave again.” Him digging graves was a symbol of his responsibility to those who served him – they had given him their lives, and he had to honor that service. But now he does not believe he is worthy of being followed, and has nothing to offer these poor robots, and so he cannot give them false hope or ask for their loyalty. He has arrived at a very mature outlook

And the battle continues. Dio and Casshern rage along the walls of a canyon, their acrobatic styles perfectly suited to this infinite wall jumps fight

This long shot down the canyon does a great job of portraying their speed – we can see a great distance into the canyon, so portraying the distance between each of their landings demonstrates how far and fast they’re moving with each strike

“If you deny Luna – if you deny survival – then why do you fight?” Ohji’s words ring in his head

Oh god Ringo’s gone noooo

Luna looks down on the ragged, huddled masses with no emotion on her face. “I shall heal you all”

“Those Who Return”

I love the trumpet accompaniments in this song. It’s like a song from a Sergio Leone movie

Casshern sees Dio approach as if in slow motion

“There is meaning in the fight I wage now. Dio lives by fighting. And I do, too.” Embracing your purpose has been seen as a tragic thing in the past, so this is an interesting development

Crumbing in the abyss, Leda hears the voice of her absent child, and is briefly content

Then she sees her own reflection, and is brought back to her current, empty self and her unhappy goal of personal perfection

Oh god Ringo what the fuck are you doing down here this is the worst person for you to meet

Leda can’t bring herself to kill this child, this reminder of what she’s lost. And Ringo extends her usual sympathy. My god, this is actually a perfect meeting

Lyuze finally appears, and Leda flees

Leda cuts through all the robots awaiting healing. She may be tragic, but she’s still far from a hero, and pretty much wholly dedicated to herself. Even her attachment to Dio only came about because she wanted to have another child

The show’s consistently shifting color palette often frames Luna in blue or red, but her naturally pure white outfit is equally striking, and reflects her dislike of anything impure or decaying

The linework of the Dio-Casshern battle sure is something. In extreme closeups, the solidity of their lines frays into loose scribbles, making it seem like they’re vibrating as they approach

Dio… wins?

We finally get a good look at Leda’s distorted form

Luna cowers as if she’s frightened, but it’s only to hide the fact that she’s grabbing a weapon. She smiles as she stabs Leda through the gut. Man, Luna sucks

Leda complains bitterly about Luna betraying her. “I, too, tried to bring forth new life!”

And Casshern arrives. My assumption is that he gave Dio the solace he craved just before Dio would die, but we’ll see

The three of them are framed in the narrow band we can see from inside Luna’s tower. This episode has framed a significant number of its scenes in the context of narrow canyons, creating artificial canyons with Luna’s tower if no real one is present. It certainly creates a sense of entrapment, but I wonder if there’s more to it than that

Casshern actually embraces Leda

Luna’s eyes are as cold as ever. She cannot understand compassion

“Dio said he wanted me to save you.” Awww

Yeah, as I expected. Dio dealt what would be a killing blow to any other foe, but of course, Casshern cannot be killed. Satisfied with beating Casshern in the only way he possibly could, the Ruin immediately began to take him. After having lived a full life and accomplished all he wanted, his last thought was for Leda. Dio fully validated and redeemed

Luna sees a kindred spirit in Casshern, another figure overflowing with life and beauty. I can’t imagine Casshern feels happy at the comparison

And here’s her “we are alike, you and I. Join me” moment

“Even if there’s life, no one is living it.”

“The others I met… they were like flames of life, burning bright!” Again, I don’t exactly agree with Casshern Sins’ philosophy, but it’s certainly articulating it pretty consistently. My general perspective is “come to terms with death and embrace your life, because there is beauty in life, and it’d be a terrible shame to waste it.” That doesn’t mean I’m actually against eternal life, given the option, and it doesn’t mean I feel the need to frame eternal life as eternal undeath

“But flames will one day die out.” “I think that’s why they were strong and beautiful”

Casshern has finally come to terms with his past actions. He could not control his actions, and he does not regret the world he has created, but he is a sinner nonetheless

So Luna was essentially containing death within herself. The world before Casshern’s attempt to kill her was a kind of Eden, where there were no consequences for anything – killing her released regret and death into the world, but Casshern Sins does not believe that is a bad thing. A life spent entirely inside a pristine, unchanging garden is no life at all

“I don’t want to take anyone’s life, ever again. I’ll never fight again.” An interesting declaration in the same episode he declared that he and Dio were both born to fight. I think Casshern undersells how much meaning he has found in this world, and how much he is truly living

The others agree with Casshern, and the palette shifts to a rich blue. Blue has been a color of fear, but now it is a warm thing

“If you can smile, that’s proof I’m alive”

Aw, this final shot of Dio and Leda is so sweet

And a flower petal drifts across the frame, returning us to Luna and… Braiking Boss!

He claims to have come to revert the Ruin, though I don’t know if I can trust those words, given everything he’s said and done. Still, the palette returns to the sickly red and green of Leda’s transformation

And Done

Well, that played out pretty much perfectly. This episode specifically ran through a number of plot beats which were almost inescapable, given the setup so far. Dio had to fight Casshern, find his solace, and then crumble. Leda had to be redeemed by her relationship with Dio, and also find some peace in her feelings towards children. Casshern had to reject Luna, and continue wandering. The fact that these things “had to happen” didn’t make them boring or unsatisfying in any way – Casshern Sins is resolving in a very tightly scripted way, and that’s a sign of a good story. But with basically every plot thread resolved, the show’s finale now truly is an open question. I’m ready to see where this strange, sorrowful tale comes to an end.

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