The world of anime is a fickle mistress. Tons of solid anime shows come out each year, but only a handful of them manage to obtain any sort of relevancy. This is true for many different forms of media, but it especially rings true for anime. I can’t tell you how many times I find a really good anime and find out later that nobody else watched it. Case and point: Casshern Sins.
Casshern Sins is a rather obscure and short-lived anime, but one that has definitely left an impact on me. The show revolved around a robot named Casshern, who wakes up in a post-apocalyptic version of earth. With no memories of who he was or what he did, Casshern finds himself amidst a planet-wide crisis. Most of the human race has died and robots rule the world. However, the robots are dying off as well. Succumbing to a fate known as the “Ruin”, the race of mechanized beings are slowly rusting to death.
Casshern quickly learns that not only was this Ruin caused by him killing a human girl named “Luna”, but also that he is the only one immune to it. With a rumor going around that devouring Casshern will make one immortal, the amnesiac machine must deal with the consequences of his previous actions.
Believe it or not, Casshern Sins is actually a reboot of a much campier and older anime called “Casshern”. That version of the story was an action-based superhero show, which was common for the era it was made in. Sins is completely different, in that it’s more of a melancholic look at how the past can affect one’s future.
Casshern is constantly being torn apart by the pain that comes with the crimes he committed in the past, crimes which he can’t even remember. The show also paints a lot of its narrative in mystery, often making you question whether what you’re seeing is real.
While Casshern’s past is steeped in regret and pain, elements of his past would routinely show up to contradict it. For example, Luna shows up alive and well at one point in the series, despite her apparent demise. The show is full of similar mysterious elements, often creating this surreal atmosphere.
In essence, this show is a complex puzzle that the viewer has to piece together while watching along. As such, it’s not a show that can be watched and enjoyed by everyone. Casshern is not your typical anime protagonist either, he’s an immortal machine with a broken past. He tends to angst over a lot of his past, which can turn off the average viewer.
Regardless of how angst-y are protagonist is, I feel the show is structured perfectly for what it is. For one thing, the show is an “action” show without a lot of action. Each episode has some sort of fight scene, but it’s usually brief and is generally a character-building moment. No fight in the series is there just for the fun of it, with each one showing the futility of fighting and war.
While the show can sometimes be fairly blunt with its messaging, it does it in a way that’s genuine. Character development on this show is fairly strong, which definitely adds to the experience. There’ll be episodes where Casshern bumps into someone in the wasteland with an interesting backstory and adventures around with them for a bit, learning more about himself and his own emotions in the process.
The cast for this show is interesting and all of them have their own unique view-points of both Casshern and their world. For example, you have the character of “Lyuze”. She presents herself as hating Casshern at the start of series, due to the calamity he unleashed upon the world. Seeing that this isn’t the same Casshern that doomed the world, she eventually starts to see him as a friend and something of a love interest.
You also have the robot dog, “Friender”, who becomes Casshern’s travelling companion after his introductory episode. Friender acts as a silent ally for Casshern, often helping him out when he loses control. There’s also a much larger cast of characters that appear frequently as well, who often shake up the show’s rather episodic formula.
In essence, Casshern Sins is a strong show focused on character development and world-building. The show can be slow and preachy at times, but it makes up for it by being an overall entertaining experience. Looking back at it, this show just may be one of my favorite anime of all the time.
The fact that its mostly faded into obscurity at this point is rather disappointing. While people who watched it on Toonami or an online streaming service will remember it fondly, I’m sure many others have forgotten it has existed. It’s a shame, because I’ll always love this show no matter how much time passes.