With the conclusion of the first half of 'Casshern Sins,' I didn't quite know what to expect moving forward. The show began with a bang, then proceeded to finish its first set of episodes with a whimper. Was 'Casshern Sins' going to continue on a downward slide, or redeem itself, a theme found often in 'Part Two.'
The dying world, struck by a cataclysm known as The Ruin, is nothing new. Entire landscapes are barren, humans are virtually nowhere to be found, while robots are rusting and dwindling in numbers. As Casshern, the being blamed for the events that changed the world, wanders, new revelations change the destiny that he and his world will face. Luna, the world's savior who was struck down so long ago, has seemingly returned, and hope can again be found by those whose destinies were only decay and obliteration. But the promise of eternal life has its downside, and those seeking Luna will face hard choices at the end of their journey.
While the first arc of episodes lost their steam, 'Casshern Sins: Part Two' picks the ball back up and runs with it, delivering a satisfying conclusion that at one point felt impossible, unreachable. All the problems are resolved, and the story begins to piece itself together.
Where characters before would appear out of the blue, spend their time, and vanish without leaving a footprint on the tale as a whole, they now linger, and get conclusions, each and every one of them. The pair of assassins that were once Casshern's comrades are explained, and given a solid story arc that paints them in a sympathetic manner. Lyuze, a robot who began the show with nothing but hatred and plans of vengeance towards Casshern (for more reasons than The Ruin) suddenly becomes believable, and the base element for human emotions. Ringo becomes more than just the annoying, screaming child, while her caretaker, Ohji, and his place in the world are finally revealed. Better still, the faceless villain from before, Braiking Boss, the robot who ordered the death of Luna, shows his face, and plays a large role in the events to unfold.
Themes of guilt are replaced, with doubt, and hope. It's intriguing to watch the same characters who once hounded to devour Casshern to gain immortality suddenly realize they have an alternative source for salvation, as the rumors and hunt for Luna bring robot-kind together. It's even more intriguing watching characters as they go through their various phases of accepting and denying the inevitable death that is constantly creeping around them. Those living in the past suddenly have reason to look forward to the future, if they can make it that far, and can chose to embrace their fates, rather than fear them.
Aside from religious parallels that become more than obvious as the show runs through, 'Casshern Sins' becomes more clear as a whole. As anime shows have been traditionally released in numerous volumes on past formats, this release (alongside the shows that are so lengthy they're impossible to release as one package) splits the show in a way that can be seen as detrimental, as it can discourage viewers from finishing the series, due to where the split in the release is found. Randomness is replaced with meaning and purpose, curiosity shelved to make room for certainty. And while 'Casshern Sins' may feel like it climaxes prematurely, as it could easily have ended with the twenty-third episode, the finale shows that the series still has plenty of story to tell, a rarity in shows that have such a strong next-to-final episode.
Luna's reemergence may feel somewhat like a cop-out for those who made it through the first part of this show, but with great depth and some truly inspired writing (including some wicked bits of leading the sheep to their slaughter), the character proves to be a worthy story arc for a show that lost its own way, much like the characters found within. While characters are impossible to associate with, save for their varying views on death, there is a sound payoff to finishing 'Casshern Sins.' With more continuity, better recurring characters, enjoyable side plot climaxes, and still a good share of action for those wanting to see their fair share of carnage, the conclusion to this anime is as good as it could be, based on the steps it took before.
Released day and date with the first half of the show, there is little discrepancy between the releases in their Blu-ray presentations. As such, the majority of the technical portion of this review has been copied over from the review for 'Part One.'
The latter twelve episodes of 'Casshern Sins' are presented with an AVC MPEG-4 (1080p, 1.78:1) codec that has an interesting look to it. One could take this release, and argue artistic intent in order to explain some of the video's shortcomings, but it's also easy to point out specific technical issues that could have been the cause for the situations.
Stacked up to some previous anime series, 'Casshern Sins' looks absolutely stunning. The picture is often quite dark and dreary, so don't expect to get shiny reds, greens, and yellows, rather various shades of white, grey, blue, and black. There is great detail in backgrounds, plainly visible without strain, though characters obviously aren't too intricate, due to the strain that would be on animation. The coolest part of the video is the attention paid to the show, as in one particular instance, a fight scene extends over a long period of time, and as such, the entire picture darkens, along with the sky, so subtly that it's beyond awesome. It's little things that make this one a pleasure to watch.
The problems with the video are fairly consistent, from episode to episode, and between discs, so they aren't likely to be caused by too much content on a disc creating artifacts (honestly, artifacting is nill). Banding is only lightly present here and there, not a major distraction like it has been in the past. Whites are a bit noisy, as are skin tones, but this is a minor gripe, one of the few that are hit or miss, not consistent. Colors and lines have a slight blur to them, which creates a fairly interesting (in a good way) appearance, but it could be chalked up to digital manipulation, or natural aesthetics. The biggest problem here is edge enhancement. It's in such great amount that it's impossible to miss, regardless of how long one watches this show, be it a minute or an hour. Characters constantly have a grey or blue outline around them that is fairly thick, up close or at a distance, sometimes outlining colors inside a character design. It's fairly difficult to miss. This can be argued as aesthetics, intentional effects, but when the halos are at times double the thickness of what they surround, this has to be noted.
'Casshern Sins: Part Two' is given the same two audio options as found in 'Part One:' the English dub, the default for the set, in Dolby TrueHD 5.1, or the authentic Japanese track in Dolby TrueHD 2.0 with optional English subtitles.
English (4/5) - The default track on this release is an absolute stunner. From solid, powerful bass elements that pop up occasionally, to literal tons of surround use permeating every episode, this mix is active as all get out. Localized effects are spread throughout the room, and find themselves coming in to play quite often, while range doesn't have a single bit of restriction, offering some beaming highs to match the bellowing low ends. Fight scenes have characters or items rippling through the room with superb movement and great volume spikes, and since the first half of this set has plenty of those, fans are in for a treat. Dialogue doesn't stray from the front channel, but it's perfectly clear and concise. Actually, listening to the dialogue in the show can be quite fun, as characters all have some varying level of digitization to them, due to the robotic nature of the majority of the characters, creating some truly creepy moments when machines speak in unison. This mix has plenty of off moments, but that's because there are many scenes purely meant as character builders, rather than non-stop action, but the ability to go from 0 to 10 in no time flat is easily handled here.
So why the drop in score? Simply put, 'Part One' had much more action, particularly in its first batch of episodes, bringing some extraordinary levels of surround use, whereas this portion of the show is more talky, with less focus on fighting, so there is less activity going through the room.
Japanese (3/5) - The Japanese option is obviously less spread out than the dub, but can it hold its own? By comparison, it's pedestrian at best, but on its own, it's fairly enjoyable. Bass levels dip dramatically, while the expansive spreads filling the room in action sequences is dramatically dampened. The score sounds just as solid as it did before, and dialogue is still quite clear, even if it misses a bit of the punch found in the dub (part of this may be the cause of the recordings, with more subdued voices in this version). As much as I hate to say this, I preferred listening to this show in English, due to the sheer amounts of hell unleashed throughout the room, while this natural track doesn't disappoint, it doesn't compare by any means.
'Casshern Sins: Part Two' is the more capable, calmed down, explanatory, human portion of the show. It is no coincidence that it is also superior, removing the focus from single episode characters, focusing on the ones we'll need to form bonds with in order to give a damn about the conclusion. With technical specs that rival, borderline duplicate those found in 'Part One,' this release doesn't pull any punches, presenting a nice anime viewing and listening experience. Sadly, one cannot recommend this part of the show to those who haven't seen the first half, otherwise I would. It would be utterly impossible to truly get a grip on the story without viewing the first twelve episodes, even if they're not as stellar.