Monday, May 25, 2020

Anime Monday - Casshern Sins

When I first heard of Casshern Sins, I was actually pretty shocked. Here I was, thinking I was this huge Mega Man fan who knew nearly everything about the series, and yet I had no idea what Neo-Human Casshern was! At first when I saw the design of the main character from Casshern Sins I thought, "hey, look at this Battle Network like rip off! He even has hair similar to Rock from Rockman DASH!" Then, after I actually clicked on the series, I went on to realize just how stupid I really was. You see, Casshern wasn't a rip off of Mega Man at all. In fact, it's technically the other way around.

While it's obvious that Astro Boy played a huge role in Mega Man's creation, Casshern deserves just as much credit. The story of Casshern revolved around a young boy who transforms himself into an android so that he can fight the rouge robot "Buraiking Boss." Joining him was his robotic transforming dog "Friender," and a female robot by the name of Luna, and together the three would fight against Buraiking Boss, and his army of rouge robots, to protect the world... Sound familiar?

For anyone who hasn't played Mega Man, or it's future series Mega Man X, then this won't be a story you're familiar with. For any Mega Man fans however, you'll realize just how many of the same plot points the series hits. "Rock" was a young robot who transforms himself into the fighting robot Mega Man. He fights to stop his robot friends, who are now under the control of Dr. Wily, and teams up with his sister Roll, and his transforming dog Rush. See the connection now?

Of course, the similarities don't stop there. On top of the plot points, there are many other things inspired by Casshern as well. Mega Man himself is powered by solar energy (which is also Casshern's power source), a dog mini boss named "Friender" appears in Mega Man 2, and let's not forget about the designs. While the original Mega Man and Casshern weren't too alike in their designs (other than their helmets and body suits), future entries of the Mega Man series would change that. Mega Man Battle Network focused on more human like designs, compared to the large legged robots from Mega Man and Mega Man X, and by doing so gave us a Mega Man that was closer to Casshern's style. Taking it a step further, Mega Man also gained a face mask when in battle, which, again, was something that Casshern had used, and was something that had not been seen in a Mega Man game before the new "Casshern" like designs came into play. Really, there's no denying just how much Casshern would be an influence on the Mega Man series, and Capcom as a whole. Even characters like Viewtiful Joe would continue being influenced by Casshern, and eventually Capcom would be a sponsor for the new (at the time) anime project, "Casshern Sins." The very same series that would lead me to discover the truth of the matter.

On top of supporting the anime series, Capcom would also go on to do a fighting game with the animation studio behind Casshern as well. Similar to the Marvel vs Capcom series, Tatsunoko vs Capcom was a Wii exclusive that had characters from both companies battling it out. It's where Capcom first introduced characters like Zero to their fighting game series (as he would later be brought into Marvel vs Capcom 3), and it's also where Viewtiful Joe himself would get to fight Casshern. It was a very interesting game, to say the least, but sadly it's also one that never really caught on. Eventually Capcom lost the rights to continue selling the game, and it faded away into obscurity. But that's besides the point...

What is Casshern Sins:

So, now that you understand what Casshern is... Let's finally move on to Casshern Sins.

Rather than being a sequel to the original series, Casshern Sins is a full on reboot of Casshern. It takes the original concepts of the old series as a base, but ultimately it is it's own show. Similar to how Mega Man X showed a dark future for the Mega Man series, Casshern Sins it's an even bleaker version of a similar theme. In this world, the world is dying. Casshern is the man who "killed the sun called moon" (Luna), and because of that everyone is now dying. And dying horribly they are.

After killing Luna, for reasons that are eventually revealed throughout the series, a broken Casshern wonders the wasteland with little memory of why things turned out this way. The air is filled with poison, the human birth rate has fallen to almost 0, and the self aware machines that rule the world are falling to ruin as well. Nothing can survive in this new age, and it's only a matter of time before death comes for you. It's a harsh reality that Casshern must face head on.

Each episode of Casshern Sins tends to focus on the different people that Casshern meets as he explores the world. While there are recurring characters that are considered "leads," many are ultimately only seen once due to the nature of the series. And if it's not the world that kills these people first, then it's none other than Casshern who puts them out of their misery. It's a very dark show, to say the least, and it doesn't shy away from showing disturbing content. To add to this, the series is actually animated by Madhouse, who was already known for their unique (and sometimes disturbing) style. Due to their animation, and the themes of the series, Casshern Sins walks a fine line between horror and drama, with many of the dramatic moments evolving into full on horrific scenes during their conclusions. Even the more "touching" moments of the series are typically stylized in a disturbing way, so the sense of unease never really leaves you. It's a very bleak series, with no hope in sight.

One episode of the series that really stands out, is one that happens very early on. In this part of the story, Casshern stumbles upon a robotic couple and their dog Friender (yes, that Friender), and is invited by them to come join their "community." Agreeing to follow them, Casshern finds himself at a camp filled with robots who wish to live out their dying days in peace. They know they don't have long to live, but they want to enjoy every minute they have left and live their life to the fullest. They welcome Casshern with open arms, and during his stay there he gets to know them. However this "peace" is very short lived. After one of the robots drops dead in front of the others, panic insures and a strange rumor comes to light... Apparently there's said to be a robot out there who will not fall to ruin. This robot will continue to live on, and his body will remain in perfect condition. If that robot is consumed by others, then those robots too will gain eternal life. Needless to say, that robot is none other than Casshern.

Fearing death, the community turns on Casshern and tries to eat him. With no other option, Casshern activates his "battle mode," and quickly gets to work. He slaughters the entire village, and leaves a horrifying scene in his wake. Body parts are thrown everywhere, and those who once wanted to become his friend, now lie with their heads smashed open, and their robotic internals thrown about. The only robot to make it out of this massacre is none other than Friender, and ultimately he decides to "join" (more like "follow") Casshern on his journey. It's not the happy partnership of the original series, but this is also not that same "happy" world. This episode makes that painfully obvious, and let's us know exactly what we can expect moving forward.

Should You Watch It:

Casshern Sins is NOT for everyone. If you can't handle disturbing content, then even the art style may keep you from even giving this series a chance. Pretty much every single episode is a depressing story, with most of them having a horrible ending. This is not a show for kids, nor is it a show for those looking for a fun adventure. This one WILL make you feel like crap, and it will burn itself into your memory forever. Because of that, you do not want to watch it if you think you'll go on to regret it. It's a very memorable series, but it's also one worth checking out -- if you can handle it.

Originally the show released back before anime became more "mainstream" in the West, and because of that fan subs were the only way to check it out. Since then times have changed however, and Casshern has even received a dub that aired on the rebooted Toonami. Because of this it is much easier to track the series down now days, and that's even more of a reason that you should give it a chance. If any of what I said above sounds interesting to you, then all I can say is.... What are you waiting for!? It's one of the few shows out there, where you can watch only a few episodes, AND actually understand what the series is going to be like. Sure, it does get better as it goes on, but the start of the series sets the tone perfectly. It doesn't sugar coat anything, and jumps right into the "action." If you don't like it from the start, then it's kinda hard to recommend you continue, but I'd still stay to give it a chance either way. It's a unique reboot of a classic series, and it's something that you should at least give a chance.