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In a world with an alternate history, a great war finally comes to an end leaving the earth diseased and polluted. The geneticist Dr. Azuma vies for support from the government for his neo-cell treatment that he claims can rejuvenate the body and regenerate humankind. The government leaders, guarding their own deeply entrenched powers, turn down the professor. Driven to complete his work, Dr. Azuma accepts a secret offer from a sinister faction of the powerful military. After an incident occurs in Dr. Azuma's lab, a race of mutant humans known as the Shinzo Ningen are unleashed upon the world. Now only the warrior known as Casshern, reincarnated with an invincible body, stands between the Shinzo Ningen and a world on the brink of annihilation.Written by
Frank Tinsley V
In the original TV series, the antagonists were androids brought to life by a lightning strike a la Frankenstein. All were male and bear the same names as in the 2004 remake - with the exception of the Burai. The android Burai is based upon was originally named "Burai King Boss". In the making-of-Casshern DVD, director Kazuaki Kiriya and all conceptual designs continue to use the name "Burai King Boss" until well-over halfway into the shoot. See more »
Extremely enjoyable, but possibly not for everyone
Casshern is a hyper-stylized science fiction with some very strong action elements. If you realize that director Kiriya, who also penned the screenplay, is primarily known for directing music videos you'll have a good understanding of where he's coming from in making this film. Indeed, Casshern is at its best when the on screen action is complimented by the energetic music of veteran composer Shirou Sagisu. Several of the film's strongest segments are montage-like action sequences, yet action is not its primary focus, and action fans may feel a bit let down.
Sci-fi fans, on the other hand, will have much to love. The film's retro-futuristic steampunk aesthetic is appealing and completely realized. The story, while plainly told, is interesting and has that rare mystical quality that leaves you wanting to know more. This film can be described as thoughtful, though this aspect of it seems a bit forced at times. The catastrophic ending with resolution is so common in Japanese film as to be trite, and it appears here as well, is less odious for some reason than it could have been.
A note on subtitles: the American DVD released by Dreamworks comes with subtitles that are grossly inaccurate. Yet at the same time they do a better job of explaining the story than a strict "hard" may have done. Whether this is a positive thing or not comes down to whether your philosophy favors a completely faithful translation or one that better conveys the spirit of the film with clarity. As a proponent of the former, I was a bit disappointed in the subtitles, but those with no understanding of Japanese will not be led astray.
In all, I found Casshern to be an enjoyable film, but may not please viewers who expect more of it than they should.
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