Mad scientist, dead soldiers and girl's in peril...Casshern gets the live action make-over and does it in style.
2004 seemed to be the year for anime remakes. Several anime classics, such as Devilman, Cutie Honey, and Casshern were remade into live action versions of their anime counterpart. One that was successful was the remake of Casshern, or Casshan the Robot Hunter, as that’s what many US anime fans know the series as. Casshern marked the debut for director Kazuaki Kiriya, and he did not disappoint with the visual aspects of the movie.
Based off of the 1973 anime, Casshern is about Tetsuya Azuma, son of the famous scientist Kotaro, who dies during the alliance wars, but is later reborn into a robot suit to help fight against a new threat to mankind: the Neo Sapiens. The world they live in has been devastated by fifty years of battle between the Greater Eastern Federation and the Europa Alliances. Finally, the Greater Eastern Federation wins the war, but the outcome of years of battle has taken its toll on the world, as it’s now virtually inhabitable. All the nuclear and chemical battles have poisoned the waters, and have left the remaining survivors with almost no chance for survival.
Tetsuya leaves the luxury of his family riches and enlists in the war against the Europa Alliance. During the fighting, his father Kotaro proposed a theory called 'neo-cell.' The neo-cell theory was intended to rejuvenate the body and regenerate any body parts that have been lost due to war or illness. Professor Kotaro’s theory would save mankind from the diseases that the war has caused, and create a better world to live in. The politicians deny his request for funding for research, in fear that the new theory would threaten their powers. However, the military finds the theory interesting, and secretly, they offer the professor funding for his project.
With his father’s project in the works, Tetsuya is experiencing horrors beyond his imagination as he sees the senseless killing of innocent people. During one skirmish, Tetsuya is killed. His mother is told by the military and collapses in disbelief, while Kotaro tells his friend and the father of Tetsuya’s fiancée of his son’s death at the lab. Luna, Tetsuya's fiancée, on the other hand, does not know, while she waits for her father to return from the lab.
Tetsuya’s body is returned and is to be given a military burial ceremony. The ceremony is held in front of the lab where his father works. During the ceremony, lighting strikes the lab and sends a bolt of energy to the neo-cell pool. To the amazement and shock of Kotaro, his test subjects begin to revive. One by one, each subject awakens and begins to escape from the lab, only to be killed again by the military. One of the test subjects lands on top of Tetsuya’s coffin, and sees Tetsuya’s spirit as Tetsuya looks at him in a state of shock. Tetsuya’s mother arrives to see her son’s coffin, only to be abducted by one of the test subjects.
Luna finally sees Tetsuya’s body and cries over the loss of her loved one. Kotaro, learning that his wife has been taken, goes mad and takes the lifeless body of his son and drops him into the neo-cell pool, and Tetsuya is revived. Kotaro informs Luna’s father to watch over Tetsuya. The test subjects make their escape, and one by one, each continues to die. Only four remain, and they discover an abandoned castle in the mountains outside of the city. One of the test subjects, Burai believes that Man needs to be cleansed, and that their objective is to eliminate mankind. He and the remaining three mutants declare themselves as the Neo Sapiens. They create various types of robots to unleash a devastating counter attack on the Greater Eastern Federation.
During the attacks, Luna’s father, who is in care of Tetsuya, puts Tetsuya in a body armor that he was creating. Since Tetsuya was reborn, his muscles has become overly developed, and it was the only option to keep Tetsuya from tearing himself apart. During the process, Luna’s house is attacked, because the Neo Sapiens are taking scientists and forcing them to work in the robot factory. Their attempt to kidnap Luna's father fails, as the attack releases Tetsuya from the chamber, who immediately fights the Neo Sapien.
Tetsuya is confused and still fragile from being in the chamber, and he leaves the house with Luna. They end up in the streets of the city, where Tetsuya sees Burai, the mutant who kidnapped his mother, and he finally awakens. Tetsuya fights the robots, and goes after the leader of the Neo Sapiens, Burai. Thus Casshern is born to save mankind from their extinction.
Casshern heavily uses CG. The robots, some of the background, and of course, the fight scenes are all in CG, but they are very well done. The movie is very symbolic, as director Kiriya does not hold back on many of the issues that relate to our world today. The actors and actress are just fantastic. Yusuke Iseya, who plays Tetsuya/Casshern, is perfect, and Kumiko Aso, who plays Luna, is just the same. Akira Terao, who plays Kotaro, could not have played a better role as the loving and mad father who only cares for the well-being of his wife.
The music for Casshern is wonderful to listen to. The rock music blaring in the background when the fight scenes begin is wonderful to the ears, and it gets you into the fighting spirit. The soundtrack also includes the wonderful voice of famous J-pop star Utada Hikaru, who just happens to be the wife of Kazuaki Kiriya. Utada delivers a powerful ending theme to the movie, and it is a worthy track to listen to over and over again.
The movie was estimated to cost ¥5,000,000,000, or roughly forty-five million dollars. Although the budget was high, when ompared to many movies made in Hollywood today, the CG effects throughout the movie are simply amazing. Casshern has been in the top ten of the Japanese box office at various times throughout the year, and brought in a lot of money. The movie has done so well in Japan that Dreamworks acquired the movie rights, and they will be distributing the movie either straight to DVD or with a limited theater release.
Casshern is a visually well-made movie. There is never a dull moment, because the CG is stunning and will always have viewers in awe. The movie may have numerous post-war references and political ideas, but the movie is still wonderful to watch. From the cool fighting scenes to the more dramatic scenes, it delivers a powerful punch. The best way to watch Casshern is to sit back and relax, and not think, and take in the beautiful cinematography and the wonderful music. It does not matter if you have seen the original anime series or even the OVA that ADV Films released, this film will still be very appealing to the general audience.