Sunday, November 23, 2008

Casshern Sins 08: Sheryl @ Casshern

Casshern meets the robot songstress of hope whose song makes the Vajra, err, I mean, Bobs, go wild.
EPISODE 08: The Praise of Hope
More Screencaps from Casshern Sins 08

A red-haired female robot is being chased by a bunch of Bobs (Bob = berserk robots) while also being protected by a bunch of other robots who aren't Bobs. The Bobs manage to corner Red's company. They make short work of the non-Bobs and would have attacked Red too if she hadn't pulled a Sheryl on them. Hearing Red's song, some of the Bobs go even more berserk while the others seem to fall into a trance. One of the berserk Bobs leap towards Red only to be stopped by Casshern.
After Casshern makes a mess of things, Red -- her real name is Janice -- converses with him, in the process revealing that she is born to sing. Casshern is all, "Go on, talk some more. I'm such a dull central character that I need colorful side characters like you to make this series remotely interesting." There's a whole bunch of words being exchanged, mainly from Janice's side as Casshern's responses seem to consist only of monosyllables, but the gist is that while Janice is born to sing and give people in this world hope, Casshern is born to kill and bring ruin upon the world. Oh, the irony! It's so obvious, it's like being slapped in the face.

Later, Casshern and Janice encounter more Bobs. Casshern again leaps to Janice's defense, pulling out the Bobs' robotic entrails and generally causing mayhem and disorder all around him. After the fight, Janice hugs Casshern, comforting him as he is obviously devastated by his own actions. Then, she conveniently faints, forcing Casshern to catch her. In her fainty voice, Janice tells him to take her to the one place she wants to go.
Pink-haired girl, whose name we still don't know, seems to be stalking Casshern. When she sees Casshern and Janice together, she notes the irony of their being together. Meanwhile, Janice and Casshern finally reach their destination. It turns out to be an old opera hall where Janice saw her first opera. That single experience was what inspired her to be a singer.

Apparently, Janice's concert is no secret as several of her fans are already waiting for her there with their instruments and light effects. Before Janice takes the stage, however, she hugs Casshern to her again and says that she hopes that he finds a reason for his own existence.
Ringo and Oji, who have earlier seen trails of Casshern's victims, arrive at the opera hall and witness Janice's concert. While Janice sings and inspires the robots inside the hall, Casshern is outside, fighting the Bobs who come to gatecrash. Pink-haired girl also helps, fighting alongside Casshern.

The next day, Casshern is seen walking in the desert with only Friender for company.

Beautiful art this episode. I'm especially referring to the last fight scene and Janice's character design. Typical anime girl, of course, but I like the classical style they gave her. She reminds me of anime series of old that I loved and which got me into the anime style in the first place (I'm talking about Rose of Versailles and others of that genre and style).

But as for the series itself, I'm sticking to it because I'm blogging it. But it's rarely a pleasure anymore. I don't know. Maybe I'm just dense...but this series is becoming duller by each episode. Even the subtle literary devices don't work for me. Philosophical bullshit I can take. But when you've got a central character who does nothing but alternate between angst and gets tiresome.

Series with a moody atmosphere like Casshern Sins need a more compelling central character. With no plot to draw the audience in and keep them hooked, all focus fall on the central character. So what happens when your central character has virtually nothing to offer? There's nothing about Casshern that moves me anymore. I mean, yeah, he's a sad guy for causing ruin in this world and killing "the sun called Moon" and for not even remembering why he did so in the first place, but other than that, nothing. I don't even feel sorry for him enough to get interested in him and all his inner turmoil.

The title gives me an idea. Casshern Sins is about Casshern's journey to redemption. Even if that seems like a good idea at first blush, whatever, it hasn't turned out that way. The storytellers need to figure out something soon to make this series stick. And I'm not talking, add more side characters! Because while they are all interesting, I don't really want to see more of them.

Take Janice for instance. She is not a bad side character, but songstress of hope? I don't know. Maybe Macross Frontier is still too fresh in my mind to take Janice too seriously. Again, not a bad idea but it feels a little too derivative for me and a little too obvious.

It becomes even more frustrating since the purpose of introducing these side characters is to somehow slowly change Casshern's perception of himself and his past deeds. But I don't see any of those changes. We don't see Casshern processing any of these. I keep waiting for that moment when Casshern would reveal just how deep an impact these characters made on him. It doesn't look like it will happen soon. They just keep dragging the whole thing along. It's annoying and it's tiresome.