Friday, October 17, 2008
CASSHERN SINS: RETURN OF A HERO?
I was fucking around on YOUTUBE when I stumbled upon this... the trailer for the new CASSHERN series (the first episode of which I have watched). I wish this trailer was a little better so as to visually express how awesome this is to me, but it's a pretty short teaser.
CASSHERN: SINS is a... unbelievably bleak revisualization of the classic 70's anime series, about a young man who becomes a cyborg hero that battles robots that have become self aware thanks to his father, and go to war with humanity. SINS recasts Casshern not as humanities savior as in previous incarnations, and not as a cyborg, but rather as an android mercenary in service of Blaiking Boss (aka The Black King from the previous series), who is assigned to kill Luna, humanities savior, which he succeeds in doing... only to bring about the end of the world. 100 years later, the Earth's enviroment is hostile to both humans and robots alike; the air is poisonous to humans, and corrosive to robots. Humans are all but extinct, and robots are in constant disrepair, having taken to cannibalizing each other for parts. It is now that Casshern, the destroyer of the world, returns, with no memory of what he has done, or where he has been for the past 100 years. Now, in this dark and violent world, all he can do is seek the truth behind his existance, and redemption for his sins.
It's hard to really get an impression of what this series as a whole is going to be like from the first episode... especially if you're already a fan familiar with the previous incarnations of Casshern; that first 5 seconds of Casshern telling Luna he going to kill her is pretty shocking. The fact that the crux of the show is the mystery of what has happened to the world and Casshern's amnesia also leaves your head spinning, as everything is a mystery yet to be solved. All you really get out of the first episode is some amazing fucking action, and an overwhelmingly BLEAK atmosphere. Soooooooooo bleak.
At any rate... I'm in for the long haul. This is the kind of anime I live for... slick animation, cool character designs, awesome robot murdering action, and a conflicted hero more monsterous and violent than his enemies.
I should really write a thesis on the difference between the Japanese idea of what a superhero is VS the North American idea of what a superhero is...
At any rate, here are some clips of the previous incarnations of this robot killing franchise.
SHINZO-NINGEN CASSHERN (Neo-Human Casshern), circa 1973. Unfortunately, beyond this excellent opening, I have absolutely no nostalgia for this show, as it was never licensed in North America. But I've got to say... for 1973, this is a pretty tight looking show. Casshern, even from his inception, has one of the best characters designs I've ever seen; even 35 years later he can still rock that collar, and the helmet/facemask combo is pretty sick, even moreso in that the facemask opens and retracts, allowing him to have expression when not in "MUST KILL ROBOTS" mode. Frankly, the initial setup for the show of a post apocalyptic world where rogue AI's subjugate humanity, and their savior is a cyborg that violently rips them in half, is pretty intense for the 70's. I also like the very 70's anime idea of having a mechanical dog that transforms into a plane and breaths fire and is named "Frienda." Oh, and his mom was a mechanical Swan. ANIME!
I don't know why this opening was never included when this OVA was released over here. Probably because it didn't have an awesome theme song, like the original 70's show (complete with children's choir in the background). This OVA was actually one of the first anime I ever saw, back when SCI-FI Channel was still doing SATURDAY ANIME, in the mid 90's, and was directed by Umetsu Yasuomi, who is still one of my favorite directors/character designers. Casshern gets a pretty sick redesign, which keeps pretty close to the all but perfect original design, as do all the other characters. Having never seen the original show, I can't tell you how faithful a revamp this was, but I have a felling they pretty much stayed true to the original, but condensed the entire thing into an easily digestible 4 episode OVA. Some seriously sick robot killings, and one of the best final battles in all of final battles (though it still doesn't beat the end of NINJA SCROLL).
This is actually probably the only part of this movie you need to see... it was a FUCKING MESS. It was beautiful to watch, and one of the more ambitious Japanese films to be made, no doubt, but that just makes it a beautiful FUCKING MESS. Seriously, I just did not get what it was about. They took a simple, hard to fuck up concept, of a kid inheriting a horrible legacy from his father, forcing him to sacrifice his humanity to become a robot murdering cyborg hero, and they turned it into some psuedo-arty pile of shit. But the above action sequence, where Casshern tears apart an entire robot army by himself? WORTH IT. Just not the rest of this steaming pile.
As an added bonus...
HURRICANE POLYMAR! Also directed by Umetsu Yasuomi, it's probably one of my favorite anime ever... I wish I had it on DVD, so I could rewatch it OVER and OVER and OVER. It was this nice blend of violent superhero action and SCOOBY DOO-ish humor. Plus it has one of the best lines ever, "Cat-Sharks WILL die, and Hurricane Polymar will kill them!" Said completely without irony. AWESOME.