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This is a series (the “new” OVAs released in 2002) that would be simply, impossible to make in America, unless you had a guy who was financially well off as a labor of love. Yes, I know a lot of anime` falls into that category, but this one exceptionally and especially so. Why?

The series is a very fragile, wistful, yearning, slow-paced slice-of-life story that requires you to be patient. It’s that last part that really strikes me; it’s like going tubing on a lazy river in slow motion. But it’s not plotless and you are rewarded for your effort. That’s the problem with many so-called slice-of-life series; there is no plot and there’s no payoff. Here, there is — if you are willing to wait and find the treasure in small things, that taken together, say much.

The story revolves around a robot maid who is keeping her owner’s cafe` going while he is away. The setting is after a world-wide war in the near future; humanity has endured but now lives quietly admist the ruins instead of rebuilding. Some artsy nudity in the second half is really about the only objectionable material here, and that’s not really objectionable.

The first episode is great; the second, not-so-much, mainly because there are things which are never resolved. It doesn’t help that two episodes are all they produced. Oh well. The first episode is good and about half of the second one is. It makes you wish that there were more. In all, it serves as a teaser for the manga, which I think was probably the point of it all.

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Casshern: SINS is a tale set in a robotic dystopia. Humans are few; robots are everywhere, and the slow and sure hand of ruin breaks them down a little each day until they finally die. The world is a wasteland, filled with decayed structures, cliffs, and deserts. It is a beautifully gothic landscape, drawn and animated with care and skill. The plot, however, wanders, lurches, and doesn’t build on what happened in previous episodes. (The animation/artwork is top-notch because it’s from MadHouse studios, the same folks that brought us Gunslinger Girl v1).

* 1-2 Awesome
3 A low point. Profanity and possibly moral relativism, but it’s still gothic-esque.
4 Dumb, but not as dumb as 3. Some arguably risque` material. I’m getting sick of each episode not being connected with the others. What happened to Friender, anyways?
* 5 Epic and beautifully dark. Here we find out more about Casshern. We see Apple (Ringo) again from episode 1, and also the mysterious chick in ep 1 and 2. Friender returns and the relationship between him and Casshern gets more depth. Several things are tied together, and why Casshern enters battle lust is hinted at. One profanity.
6 Very good, but the questioning about Casshern’s nature is getting kinda old by this point. The relationships of various people to Casshern is explored a bit more.
7 Pretty much the same as 6.
8 Boring. Geez. Where is the continuity between episodes? Every episode is the same recently, where Casshern comes to a new place, finds a new person, and then leaves at the end. It’s become a formula.
9 Starts off boring, but gets better when Ringo, Boulden, and Lezko show up, tying together some plot threads. Now Casshern has a purpose. Amazing artwork, as usual.
10 Odd. Casshern doesn’t show up until the end and then he just walks — no speaking part at all. Beautiful gothic scenery, but the plot is glacial. One or two profanities. I still don’t get why everyone trusts in the rumor that Luna is alive — isn’t that just as unreliable as the rumor that killing Casshern will give you eternal life?
11 It’s ok, but the formula is wearing thin. Casshern meets people, they discuss eating him, and they decide not to. One or two profanities.
12 Same as 11. Forgettable.
* 13 Excellent. More is revealed.
14 Ok. It seems to be a rehashing of previous themes, but something very important is revealed.
15-17 Nothing special.
* 18 What the heck? This is the strangest episode — deep, and bizarre. There’s also some sexual references that are wildly out-of-place for this series, though it’s not crude, but earthy, and about as tasteful as you can get. I’m still shocked and more than a little surprised by that, but the rest of it is completely weird, on a level like TZ or Twin Peaks.
19 Ok, semi-strange. The ending conclusion tanks, though. If that’s all you have to live for, that’s really no reason at all.
* 20 Bizarre, disturbing, and has an epic feel. There’s got to be more to the story; I can’t buy that that’s really Luna. Excellent music.
21 Typical Japanese mental head-games. Totally unnecessary episode and what Casshern does at the end doesn’t even make sense.
22 Forgettable
23 Decent. Some deep stuff here. Apparently when Casshern went to kill Luna, that action changed them both. That’s the only thing that makes sense when I look at Luna, especially given her actions. It feels a little bit odd, somehow. I guess the next episode will be the last.
24 Eeh. I can’t deny that the artwork and animation are fantastic and gripping, emotionally. But the plot founders and the resolution is weak. The whole problem is that Casshern’s decision isn’t really backed up by everything he’s experienced and the important stuff isn’t even hinted at until this episode. Plus, Lyuze dies without ever saying how she feels about Casshern, and he never tells her. Even Ringo’s parentage is left up in the air. The last minute or so tries desperately to save the ending, but it’s just not enough.

So is it worth watching? About six episodes are, yeah, but when a series sets its sights high and doesn’t deliver, it’s much worse than a lame series that doesn’t try. Casshern is a tragedy by that measurement. It promised great things and delivered them only occasionally.

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