Casshern Sins – Episode 9

And we’re back to Casshern Sins! Last episode presented one more glimmer of hope, in the form of the singer Janice. More than just giving Casshern something new to care about, Janice offered him something he’d never had before – a reason to fight. Janice’s questions solidified one of Casshern’s core contradictions: he is designed to fight and destroy, but he has no interest in doing such things. Because of this, Casshern’s natural programming only tends to kick in when he’s in such personal danger his circuits won’t allow otherwise. But if Casshern could actually find something worth defending, something to fight for that could last like he does, he might arrive at some sort of peace.

That said, we’re only eight episodes in, so I’m expecting a whole lot more suffering before Casshern finds anything that might fit the bill. So let’s get right to it!

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Casshern Sins – Episode 8

And we’re back with more Casshern Sins! The show’s last episode was one of my favorites so far, offering the most evocative setpiece yet in the form of that lonesome belltower in the sands. “Evocative” is really the word when it comes to Casshern Sins – the show is layered with vague thematic and visual ideas that gesture towards greater meaning without entirely solidifying into clear messages. The result is an anthology of melancholy fairy tales that perfectly strike at the show’s intended tone, vignettes instilled with biblical significance. Let’s see what this new episode brings!

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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!

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Casshern Sins – Episode 6

I think we may be in it now. Last episode saw Casshern Sins embracing narrative continuity for the first time, bringing back a handful of characters from earlier episodes in order to answer a couple questions and set up some dramatic dominoes. The nature of Luna is still unclear, but Casshern’s nature is becoming a bit more concrete – he was used as an agent of violence, he could not necessarily control his actions, and his tendency towards violence seems to take over his body altogether.

That episode also saw Casshern represented as a figure of both ruin and salvation, bringing Ruin upon this world but also standing ready to sacrifice himself to pay for his crimes. This show’s symbolism often feels more concrete than its narrative, so I’ll be keeping an eye on everything I can as we continue our adventure into ruin. Let’s get to it!

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Casshern Sins – Episode 5

Let’s dive into another episode of Casshern Sins! I should be a bit more familiar with the show’s style at this point, given the gap between watching episodes has shifted from around ten months to about six hours. The last episode offered perhaps the first glimpse of lasting hope for the series – in contrast with the doomed church of two and dying human of three, Sophita provided both friendship and hope to Casshern, giving him someone to return to in this wasteland. Given that dash of optimism, I’m expecting this episode to counterbalance with some oppressive, beautiful sorrow. This world won’t decay into forgotten tombstones all by itself, so let’s get right to it!

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Casshern Sins – Episode 4

Hey everybody! Casshern Sins just got a huge boost courtesy of one generous, beautiful, intelligent patron, so we’re back on for the rest of the ride. I’m very happy to be back on this one – Casshern Sins is a unique and compelling production, and the most fully realized statement of purpose by one of anime’s most underrated directors. Shigeyasu Yamauchi turns up from time to time to direct an episode or a beautiful ED sequence, but Casshern Sins is basically his only “original” production, and the first three episodes have been excellent. Let’s get right into it with episode four!

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Fall 2015 – Week 9 in Review

This week in anime was really good! Super good, in fact! It wasn’t just held up by one or two shows – almost every show I’m watching (aside from Beautiful Bones, but that doesn’t really count) either held strong or pulled off one of its best episodes, and a bunch of these episodes even demonstrated strengths their shows hadn’t previously exhibited. The Perfect Insider was full of strong character moments, Owarimonogatari returned to the beautiful art designs of arcs long past, and One Punch Man succeeded not just as an animation showcase, but as an emotional drama. I’ve got all sorts of good things to say about these episodes, so let’s get right to it and RUN ‘EM DOWN!

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Casshern Sins – Episode 3

The third Casshern Sins contained a slower, smaller story than the second, more reminiscent of the first episode’s long walk on the beach. Though it wasn’t as rich in character or narrative, it did fill in gaps in the story so far; Casshern met his first human, and that experience lent a necessary warmth to counterbalance the show’s usual solemnity. We’re still wandering through archetypal vignettes in a desolate wasteland, but Casshern’s cumulative experiences are slowly building him into a person worth following on this journey.

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Casshern Sins – Episode 2

In my first writeup on Casshern Sins, I worried that the show’s distant and deliberately mythic tone might prevent it from succeeding on a personal, emotional level. That issue remains a possibility, but this episode certainly didn’t reflect it; it was sad and intimate and remarkably successful, maintaining the sense of inevitability the show consistently demonstrates while offering up enough personal moments to make the Ruin succeed as small-scale tragedy. Things are still progressing as an intentionally archetypal epic story, but intimacy of telling and strong execution could make that work as well here as it does in something like Madoka Magica.

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Casshern Sins – Episode 1

Casshern Sins is a weird one. Coming out in 2008, it got in at the front end of our recent “heavier reinterpretation of classic cartoon” trend, which has more recently given us Gatchaman Crowds and Yatterman Night. Casshern Sins takes off a ‘70s anime about the android Casshern, who fights evil robots; this new version seems more focused on ambiguity and melancholy than justice. The writer, Yasuko Kobayashi, has a resume that mixes a bunch of tokusatsu shows and recent hits like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and Attack on Titan (as well as 2014’s Garo, which splits the difference). The director Shigeyasu Yamauchi’s credits are more scattered – he’s handled a number of DBZ and Saint Seiya movies, but beyond that it’s mostly episodic directorial work, including the, er, Ami/Mami Detectives episode of Idolmaster. Perhaps his most notable credits I’m familiar with are two of the most visually compelling episodes of Shinsekai Yori – the controversial fifth episode, where people originally complained about the divergent visual style, and the transcendent tenth, where his evocative interpretation of Saki and Shun’s conversation represented one of the clear highlights of the series overall.

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