Monday, March 11, 2013


"It was the dark ages when Braiking Boss and his robots ruled the Earth. Some found the courage to resist this tyrant. Among these freedom fighters, one stood out above the rest."

Tatsunoko Productions is a famous animation studio that is probably most recognized for its many superhero characters created during the 1970s. Among them is the Neo-Human, Casshern (romanized as "Casshan" in the original Streamline Pictures release of this series), who was the human son of a scientist that developed androids to try to benefit humans' needs, only to have them turn on their masters. In the wake of this worldwide catastrophe, the boy, named Tetsuya, volunteered to be turned into a cyborg so he could defend humanity. Together with his girlfriend, Luna, and his transformable robot dog, Friender, Casshern wanders post-apocalyptic landscapes, saving villages and fighting the robot armies of the android who originally started this rebellion, Braiking Boss ("Black King" in the Streamline release).

In this iteration, Casshern is portrayed as an amnesiac Jesus allegory whose strength is determined by whatever the writer feels will prove more exciting at the time. Unfortunately, the big problem with this incarnation is that it never actually does feel exciting. Even with an endless supply of exploding robots and a theme song from Mr. Exciting himself, Hironobu Kageyama (Dragon Ball Z/M.D. Geist), this miniseries was unable to elicit any sort of reaction from me. I say this because it just feels like there's far too much emphasis on providing exposition than giving me a reason to care about these characters and why their struggle is so important. Too much tell, not nearly enough show.

The backgrounds and character designs are all really good, but it becomes hard to care once you realize that Casshern has only slightly more fluid animation than a motion comic. The animation was another reason I couldn't get absorbed in any of the fight scenes. There was very little movement during the action, and the fights were kept very short, presumably due to budget constraints.

What could have been a cool, action-packed series about a cyborg superhero karate-chopping robots in half turned out to be surprisingly dull. Casshern: Robot Hunter is a story with a lot of potential that was ultimately squandered by its tendency to put world-building before anything else and its lame animation. I spent most of its run time wanting to just stop it and pop in The Terminator instead, since it explores very similar themes without making me constantly want to check the clock. For a far less mediocre take on this character and his quest to save mankind, I would recommend you watch the original series. The more recent remake, Casshern Sins, is also pretty good, if a fair bit melodramatic.

Casshern: Robot Hunter is based on the 1973 television series, Neo-Human Casshern, created by Tatsunoko Productions.


  1. Fascinating. So if I wanted to get into the Casshern series, where should I start?

    1. Either the original series or Casshern Sins. For a good introduction, the first episode of this series might be pretty good. Avoid the live-action movie at all costs.