When Judge Paul Pritchard was born to save mankind from destruction. Instead, he just wastes his time reviewing anime. Sorry.
"You are no God of Death, you are my guardian angel."
Casshern Sins: Part Two picks up the story with claims that Luna, the young girl assassinated by Casshern in part one, is still alive. Still guilt-ridden, Casshern sets out to see if the rumors are true, and in doing so runs in to Braiking Boss, his former leader. Braiking Boss isn't slow in revealing his part in the murder of Luna, and at the same time we learn a little more about Casshern's origins and the full extent of his links to Dio and Leda, and their intended purpose. The writers also add to the existential plight felt by the robots, and introduce the concept of machines that can procreate. Though the shows themes stay much the same, there are enough interesting new concepts thrown into the mix to keep the show feeling fresh throughout this final installment.
Thankfully Casshern Sins: Part Two resolves one of my main gripes with Part One, in that each of the twelve episodes is now more interested in progressing the central storyline rather than simply throwing new characters into the mix. This means that more time can be spent developing the ideas, and we get to see each character's plans come to fruition. Dio, in particular, becomes far more important to the story, as his army of robot followers rapidly increases in numbers, while Braiking Boss makes a great addition to the character roster. Casshern also has a more interesting character arc this time out, and finds some purpose by seeking to protect the frail who are moving en masse to find the apparently resurrected Luna, and perhaps offering him a chance at redemption in the process.
The somber mood set out in part one continues unabated in part two. Anyone hoping for a happy ending is likely to be disappointed, as the sense of despair actually seems to swell. Even a pivotal standoff between Casshern and Dio, which is one of the more spectacular moments in the entire series, is full of dialogue that again sheds light on the hopelessness felt by each of the warriors.
Talking of standoffs, the frequent bursts of violence carry much more weight this time around, as instead of random villains popping up to challenge Casshern we now have longstanding characters, whose motivations are already known to us, squaring off. Casshern versus Dune, Luna's guardian, is a particularly brutal encounter, that works all the better for us already knowing both combatants.
Ironically for a show I criticized in Casshern Sins: Part One for being a little too slow, and in need of trimming an episode or two, Casshern Sins: Part Two could have done with another episode (or two) to help resolve the rather rushed finale. Though leaving a few loose ends isn't necessarily a bad thing, a little more time may have allowed for a more fulfilling end to the series.
The final twelve episodes are spread over two discs:
Tech specs are identical to Casshern Sins: Part One, with a choice of English 5.1 or Japanese 2.0 soundtracks. The transfer remains solid, while extras are just as disappointing. This time, in addition to the clean titles and trailers, you get the rock band Color Bottle performing their song "Azure Flowers," which is used as the show's theme tune.
A lot has changed since my first introduction to anime in the late '80s, and in truth I have spent less time with the genre over recent years, but Casshern Sins has whetted my appetite for it all over again. Sure, pacing issues frequently plague Casshern Sins, and some of the philosophical deliberations come across as too strained or have been lost in translation. But it is the show's insistence on putting characters and story first, rather than relying solely on cool action sequences, that make the series one of the better recent anime, and earn it a recommendation.
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