**THIS REVIEW MIGHT CONTAIN A FEW SPOILERS**
IF YOU DON'T LIKE:
-Cheesy 70s action
-Saturday morning cartoon level of plausibility.
then this is not for you.
-If you're looking for a coherent prequel that connects the stories of "Casshern Sins" & "Casshan Robot Hunter"
Look somewhere else.
But if you'll like to see the 1st time these characters were all brought together then keep on reading.
To say that Shinzou Ningen Casshern ( or Neo Human Casshan) is an overlooked title is a understatement. The very fact that there's only 1 review for this show on MAL and sometimes no episode discussions should already say enough. But even more surprising is that this title, which has been covered up by the passage of time, has a relatively successful reboot called Casshern Sins. And for those reading this review, Casshern Sins is more than likely the only reason you're here to begin with. However is it a bad thing that SNC is a title that not even retro anime fans discuss? Well..... not really, as SNC falls victim to one of the main reasons these relics of anime's past are lost and forgotten, and that's because it's outdated.
From the time SNC was conceived to now, many other anime titles came along and took it's concepts and greatly improved on it. From the questions brought up regarding android and human integration, to the post apocalyptic setting, everything SNC tried to tackle has been better explored and refined to better effect. So when it boils down to it, the real reason for watching this isn't for any pioneering idea or to see a show that "revolutionize" the industry but rather to see the humble beginnings of Casshern Sins.
The story is straight forward and one you've undoubtedly seen countless of times: Save the world from the great evil that wants to take it over.
We follow Tetsuya who is the son of a great scientist named Dr. Azuma. Dr. Azuma is well known for his robot creations, which he makes to better human lives. However after a freak accident, one of his robots named BK-1 became self-aware after being struck by lightening. This robot renamed himself Braiking Boss and waged a full on assault against mankind.
Backed against a wall the only option left to combat Braiking Boss was to turn Dr. Azuma's son Tetsuya into a powerful android. And so Casshern was born.
NOW In order to enjoy this show you need to suspend your disbelief, since the episodic stories can range from somewhat plausible to plain ludicrous. You can go from a straight forward fight against robots to something obscure like puppies seeking revenge. Because of this the tone of SNC is all over the place. Despite the inconsistency, the show still tries to be serious, which in turn makes it rather comical or painful to watch depending on your mindset. With no consistency between the episodic structure, it feels like there's a lack of progression. Being episodic isn't necessarily a bad thing, but with little to no variation to the plot it feels like you're watching the same setup over and over again. The episodes seem to always run along the lines of: A city becomes under-attack by the Android army, Casshan steps in to fight them, android army retreats, rinse and repeat. It takes 26 episodes for an actual plot to take place and even then it's still in an episodic format. You can literally watch the 1st 5 episodes, watch episode 26, then last 4 episodes and you won't miss anything. And the final nail in the proverbial coffin is that SNC have an anticlimactic conclusion, which is unsatisfying to say the least.
If there's one area that SNC can be respected in is its animation. As some of the action sequences are on par with the 1st Mobile Suit Gundam, despite it being made years ahead of it in 79. But it still falls behind similar super hero shows like Hurrican Polmar which was made in 74 and showed greater fluidity and aesthetics. This places SNC above expected standards, making it above average for it's time. With that said the show has aged well given that it's 40+ years old. You can tell they placed alot of effort into Casshern's acrobatics and combat sequences as it can be impressive when the time calls for it. The color pallet presented were a trademark of the 70s with brightly colored robot designs and nicely textured backgrounds.
The character designs had very nice features, note worthy designs being the variation of robot baddies, from the endless drones to the occasional special bots.
Where the animation falls short is it's excessive use of still shots and reused footage which becomes apparent very fast. Also when there isn't any action going on, the animation becomes extremely stiff. However this inconsistency is to be expected given the time period it was made.
Also expect explosions, lots and lots of explosions. As it seems like every fodder robot is made of TNT and flimsy parts that blow up just for the sake of blowing up.
There's very little to say regarding the soundtrack and sound effects of SNC. There's only a instrumental of the opening played during fights and less than a handful tracks played throughout the series with very little variation. The opening however is unbelievably cheesy and will surely bring a chuckle, just try not to laugh when the singer yells "FRIENDER JETTTTT!"
The voice actors all fit their roles well, most notably Braiking Boss for sounding menacing and childish.
Casshan, our protagonist is your "fight for whats right" MC. He's very one note and fits the respective archetype fairly well. There isn't much layer characterization but that is sufficed with moments where he has internal strife regarding his position as an android/human hybrid. Unfortunately this topic is never fully explored but rather skimmed over.
Luna, his childhood friend, is simply treated like a sidekick. Very little screentine is given to develop her. However she is never relegated to being a damsel in distress and holds her own in a fight which makes her a welcomed addition. She also provides moral support for Casshan when needed.
Braiking Boss, our main antagonist, is your typical Saturday morning cartoon brand of villain. He's evil solely for the sake of being evil. This caricature depiction is further escalated when he's portrayed as a tyrannical ruler.
It can also be speculated that they took the inspiration from the Stalin era and Khrushchev era of the Soviet Union as well as Adolf Hitler's radical idealism as inspiration for Braiking Boss's characteristics. May this be a direct social commentary or just the creators trying to make a really 1 sided villain, its up for you to decide.
All the other supporting characters are not worth the mention due to the episodic structure. But they're given enough time to have a sense purpose. The robots all seem incompetent however, as they fall for petty tricks
and are easily outwitted. This in turn makes it hard to take their presence seriously.
The biggest problem with these characters is that they remain stagnant.They never show any sign of development nor do they receive extra characterization during the 35 episode runtime.
Despite this show's numerable problems I found moments of enjoyment while watching. It's easy to see the love and effort the creators placed in it and because of it's ridiculous stories it made for good B-Movie entertainment.
Even disregarding superficial things like animation and sound, SNC is a fundamentally flawed show in many ways. It tries to be taken seriously but is too nonsensical and juvenile to allow the viewer proper immersion. It was onto something but didn't quite live up to it's own ambitious goal.
Unless you're a hardcore Casshern Sins fan or like retro B-Movie entertainment this title isn't a necessary watch. If you're not interested after 5 episodes in then the rest of it will do nothing to impress you.