Writer and Director: Kiriya Kazuaki
Iseya Yusuke as Tetsuya
Toshiaki Karasawa as Burai
Terao Akira as Professor Azuma
Higuchi Kanako as Midori
Aso Kumiko as Luna
Professor Azuma researches Neo-cells in hopes of finding a way to cure his wife. His son, Tetsuya, has gone off to war and died, leaving behind his fiancé Luna. As Tetsuya’s body is readied for a funeral, Professor Azuma’s seemingly dead end research is struck by lightning, igniting limbs to regenerate into reborn bodies. With this turn of events, the government quickly decides to gun down the freak creations. All but a handful die, inciting a deep vengeance within the neo-race.
In the aftermath, though Professor Azuma does not understand the why or the how of the sudden regeneration, he understands that there is a chance for his son to come back to life. He places Tetsuya’s body into the pool of neo-cell experiments, causing Tetsuya’s spirit to pull back into his dead body.
The neo-race send out machines to destroy humans as retribution. Tetsuya, in an attempt to both protect Luna and find his kidnapped mother, retaliates against the sudden force of the neo-race.
Movie Type: Action, Sci-fi, War, Romance, Drama, Angst
Strengths: The cast is well-established, and also very pretty. The film is highly stylized, full of dramatic flair and lots of grand-scale music. I enjoyed it the first time I watched it and the second was still pretty.
Negatives: Poorly edited content. It’s passable, but I felt like it was the type of movie that seemed like it was wrapping up, only to go on and on and on. And on. It definitely felt like a marathon. There was quite a large cast, and though I enjoyed the painting of that world, it lacked focus while attempting to ram ideals down our throats.
Review: Casshern is based off of an anime, but is nothing like the anime. It attempts to immediately humanize the neo-race rather than go the robotic route. It truly is a visual treat, and on more than one occasion, I felt like it was similar to the Final Fantasy franchise in how the characters were just so shiny. The movie creates many threads in order to link characters through short encounters, as well as emphasizing on the twisty, bittersweet road of family and war. In the end, Casshern attempts to first say that war is only full of pain and causes a cycle of revenge. For that reason, it’s also important to embrace peace and to reach for that happiness, even if it is an illusion or a distant memory. And then they blow up the world and beam to another planet that looks suspiciously like The Land Before Time. ’cause you you, that’s the only way to find peace again.
The acting was passable, sometimes good or even almost brilliant. But at the end of the day, I felt like the director was trying to manipulate my emotions. Insert music, insert sad face, insert dead person and solution. Since a lot of money was spent and top-billing actors and actresses were hired, there is a lot of excessive content just for the hell of it.
What bothers me more about the film is the parallels that were roughly suggested but by no means were recognized as such. The setting is in Neo-Japan, a strong and proud country at the top of the world after waging war in Asia. The conquered areas and lands are full of rebels, so the government enlists young men to do their duty to the country.
Neo-Japan is all for Professor Azuma’s research, wanting to obtain immortality as well as have an invincible army. In order for the research to be conducted, the government needs the lives of a “minor ethnic group” from Sector 7.
The story is very much a social statement of Japan’s actions during the war. They invaded many countries, slaughtering and horrendously experimenting on many, many people for their own gain in biological warfare.
What the film does explore is the possible retaliation of the survivors.
Although the world is very different from what it was fifty, sixty years ago, the passing of time does not negate the reality of what occurred in the past.
The ending of Casshern pulled me in all different directions, saying one thing and then saying another. Understandably, there is no one answer or opinion about war and what to do or think about war in a post-war society, but I was flabbergasted by the solution.
First it was world peace, followed by the acknowledgement that neo-humans were still human. And then blow up the world and shoot into space, where you can Forget. Start over from zero.
If you understand anything about Japan’s relations with it’s surrounding countries that were formerly colonies of Japan, then you’ll understand the mess of the current politics regarding conduct post-war.
Apologies are issued while textbooks stay mum and politicians continue to assert that the actions of the past were regrettable but don’t give a rat’s ass about delving into building bridges.
I truly was in awe of Casshern the first time I saw it. It’s eye candy. But its political and social message is the reason why so many Asian countries still resent or hate Japan. There’s a heavy-handed double standard. I don’t know what Kiriya intended by making this movie. That peace is only possible by resetting, perhaps. Soldiers are humans that endured the war too? He gave out plenty of answers, but what my question is this: can genocide truly be okay just by choosing to forget it?
Final Thoughts: It’s a long ass movie but there are nuggets of goodness here and there. Barashin and Burai were the standouts to me. If you watch without the historical context, it’s decent. But if you consider the background, it feels as if Kiriya created a movie to congratulate Japan’s stance on not acknowledging war crimes.
6: Promising but sometimes boring. With a little more flair, you would shine.