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Casshern Sins Part 2 UK DVD Review

7 min read

A really in depth, intelligent series which asks as many questions as it answers, but the second half of the series develops really well and ends in a questioning but overall, satisfying finale.

What They Say :
Casshern – a cybernetic assassin with no memory of his past – awakens in a corrosive wasteland where nothing survives for long. A plague known as the Ruin sweeps across this once-vibrant world, reducing everything in its path to rubble and scattering any chance for salvation. Robots and humans alike – or what little remains of them – seek vengeance against Casshern for the life he took and the role he played in their Ruin. A machine built to kill, Casshern murdered the last hope for this world, but now, lost in a future he does not recognize, he will fight to save the dying.

The Review:
Audio:
For the 12 episodes, I alternated between English and Japanese – the English audio track is in 5.1 Dolby whilst the Japanese is in 2.0 Stereo. The Stereo track is good and overall flows well with the nature of the show – the English track is obviously more powerful though and definitely felt it was a good release in both languages, but felt was better than the first release as I had problems at timing hearing the Japanese track which was quite muffled, and for both tracks, no problems regarding transition between audio and subtitles so it’s a very solid release.

Video:
The video quality is superb, as mentioned above no problem between audio and visual when subtitles was involved, and the effect I got from the first set continues here as the gritty animation on the HDTV still seems to flow through really well, giving it both an old-school feel with a new age taste. The animation flows through well, no notice of water marks or transition problems, and overall it’s a great show to watch, and as long as you don’t mind the shades a bit darker than you may expect from other releases, you’re in for a treat, as whilst the animation is dark and somber, it’s very clear.

Packaging:
No packaging was brought with this test disc.

Menu:
The show is presented on the menu with clips to the left of the title card, with your standard selections of Play All, Episode Select, Set Up – 4 episodes per disc, with no scene selection whilst you can choose between English/Japanese – with or without subtitles, and either all subtitles on or non-dialogue subtitles off. The setting is the same for all three discs with the same basic set up.

Extras:
There were no extras on this release.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Casshern Sins was a decent surprise so far, with its real gritty atmosphere, old school style of animation but still giving it a modern look, with a real torture soul looking for a purpose of life, wondering if he has caused the destruction of so many lives. This second half brings all the little niggles of the first half full circle, and everything manages to become clear with an interesting ending.

The main niggle I had with the first part was that there were so many characters linked with Casshern and they hadn’t really been brought in well enough so you didn’t know much about their relationship with him and how they were going to effect the plot. Fortunately, this half answers most of the questions…whilst still asking more even as we get near the end. In the first episode of this half, we learn about this and also are introduced to another key character, Casshern’s old leader Braiking Boss, which brings unpleasant memories as Casshern begins to bring back his thoughts. We get the two opposing sides – as Casshern is now joined fully by Lyuze, who sees that it isn’t the same man who killed Luna as he is now, against his opposite Dio and his confidante Leda – with Ringo, the cute little android and her grandfather Ohji following Casshern’s group when they can. (And adds some real tear jerking moments with some flashbacks and when Casshern temporarily goes mad…)

There are several moments that lead up to the big plot, like an old enemy of Casshern’s named Dune who had been defeated by Dio as well prior to fighting him, Braiking Boss joining forces with Dio and Leda almost killing Casshern but in a true spirit of the moment Dio declares that only he is allowed to kill him, in a worthy opponent style. There’s also a nice episode which focuses on Lyuze, as I said before this set really bringing in all the characters linked with Casshern really well, and Lyuze’s development wondering why she follows him after he may have killed her sister and Luna shows how she realizes the amnesiac isn’t the same person anyway, and that she has fallen in love with him. Her realization to her new path is quite a nice one as the show really delves into her trauma, denial and hope.

However, the main plot hits us with the last 6 episodes when they reach the supposed Luna’s castle. Almost immediately problems occur with Casshern/Lyuze being attacked, and Lyuze panicking that she is beginning to ruin as the signs begin to show that she will be effected by the end of the series, how the price of immortality through the eyes both of an adult (Lyuze) and a child (Ringo) showcase the complex nature the characters have, when Dune returns to join up with Luna but instead Luna lets him die. Luna’s character is a real biggie for me because throughout the series she has been brought forward as this benevolent goddess who is a healer for all robots, and can disperse the ruin and could bring the world back to its original state before Casshern’s supposed murder of her. However, the character shift of what we are brought to believe shows that there is definitely more than meets the eye. The suspicions that this maybe a fake were obvious, but at the same time she still has the apparent powers of Luna, it’s her change of behavior and outlook of life which shock everyone as her outlook of death really causes real questions for everyone.

They reject this Luna at first, but then decide to try and convince her to heal Ringo – where Ohji explains the true origins of this Luna and how Braiking Boss links with her. The story is told in a very graphic way which is definitely worth the story telling and just how well this series holds for me. It leads to the finale, with Casshern being captured, Leda and Dio wanting to be healed, and how Luna’s ‘healing’ really works…the end is a number of battles, between Dio/Casshern physically, and Leda/Ryuze mentally. The last episode is basically answers and questions with the conflicts between Braiking Boss/Casshern and then Luna/Casshern, with some sad and happy finales for some of the characters with the ending very satisfying in one respect, but still has a lot of questions regarding Casshern…which can be seen as both a sequel hook, but also a bit of a cop-out, as Casshern himself is never really discovered if he was the original cause of the Ruin or not, his interactions with Luna at the end are left open-minded, and the look into the future just raises more questions…

However, in terms of story-telling, this is one of the strongest I’ve seen in a while. Characterization is really good as well, as all the main characters get their moments in and how they link in with Casshern. There is a lot of flashbacks, involving Ringo (and her last part in the final episode is very heartwarming despite everything that went on in the series) usually – how Dio sees Casshern and when he teams up with Braiking Boss – who I felt was the least developed of the characters, as he showed mainly as another foil of Cassherns but with a different agenda, he was more of a typical ‘take over the world’ villain than trying to have any intention of stopping the Ruin, which is probably the main reason why this show just misses out in grade A territory, because there are a few character blemishes (Dio is nowhere as well developed despite being the main bad guy compared to Leda, Luna and Ryuze – even Ringo is more developed) and not all of them hold as much interest. However, it’s still a well told story with great animation, characterization and a real question and answer anime. If you are into shows like Kino’s Journey or Kaze No Yojimbo, this is right up your alley.

Overall
Casshern Sins ends in a very worthwhile note, as whilst a good show at first, really hits it’s mark by pulling away from the episodic nature of the first half, makes uses of the characters that appears in the first half and fully drawing them out with their relationships with Casshern, albeit some far better than others. It had a really feel to it, with some tear jerking moments, great battles and dramatic story and finale which draw you in and keep you hooked. It’s not a show for everyone, but it’s one that makes you think, one that makes you feel for these characters, and you just pray there is a happy ending for them. Well worth a check out.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: July 18th, 2011
MSRP: £24.99
Running Time: 288 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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