The Longevity Thesis Book Video

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Casshern - The Guardian Spirit of Humanity

When it comes to visual storytelling (among other things) the Japanese have got style. Casshern (2004) is a live action retelling of an anime (big surprise) originally released in 1973.

Basic Premise:

In a near-future dystopia, the world has been torn ragged by war. For some reason, the Japanese are living in Russia, and have just finished a major battle with Europa, who fought them with a massive robotic army, which now lies dormant. They are still battling with the denizens of Zone 7, which at the outset of the movie is shrouded in mystery, however these people are thought to be freaks and outcasts. The Zone 7ers are later revealed to be the "original humans" and the only ones who possess "neo cells" which can alleviate the spread of radiation-based sickness which is slowly killing the Japanese Russians. These "neo cells" sound a lot like stem cells, with profound regenerative abilities and can differentiate into any body part you like. The ruling council, influenced by the military, reluctantly overcome their prejudices and agree to allow research on neo cells from Zone 7, as they are in desperate need of replacement body parts. The movie becomes unintentionally funny at this point, especially when one considers recent advances in stem cell research, because the science is still back in 1973 and goes to LegoLand in a big way when the cultured body parts are shown. Anyway, the son of the lead scientist had gone to the front lines and died while the organ culture systems were being set up, and his body had just been returned to his father in a casket, followed by his largely unseen ghost. The presence of Tetsuya's ghost acts as a catalysts for some sort of weird techno lightning strike, and the body parts in the culture tanks suddenly pull together into Frankensteiny people covered in grey goop who get up and walk out of the tanks. The army freaks out and decides to get rid of these newly born "Neosapiens", and forces them to flee towards the Zone 7 border. Tetsuya's body is dunked in the neo cell tank by his father, which resurrects him, but of course, the process gives him superpowers. The Neosapiens don't handle rejection well, and revive the robot army of Europa to exact revenge. Tetsuya stands between them and the annihilation of the human race. Mayhem ensues.

The not so good:

The opening of the movie is rather ponderous, and the story is a bit clich├ęd. However, considering when it was written, that's forgivable. If I had a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture and symbolism, I would probably find a lot of hidden meaning in the opening sequences. But I rented the movie because I wanted a slick action film and wasn't really in the mood to look or think very hard. At certain points in the movie, it seemed that having the story make sense was not important – like the stuff with the stop-motion little guy in heaven. I didn't get that at all.

The really good:

The colour and costumes are fantastic. The European robot army brought back fond memories of Terminator, and the voices of the actors are wonderfully reminiscent of anime voice acting. So are the poses taken on by the actors during the endless dramatic sequences and during the fight scenes. When they story moves, it moves fast, and the viewer is treated to a plethora of how-many-cool-images-can-we-stuff-into-a-two-second-interval of artistic eye candy sequences worthy of some of the best mecha anime around. There are a lot of explosions, some katanas, funky spaceships and motorbikes, and the soundtrack kicks butt. On the DVD case, the movie is compared to The Matrix, but I don't agree, aside from some of the robots having red bug-eyes. I'd say it's more like Flash Gordon, and some of the shots of Tetsuya jumping up into the sky during an attack reminded me of Bleach, and the gratuitous techno stuff was a teensy bit like Hellsing or Tank Police. Some of the soundtrack is exactly the same as Bleach and the non-speaking guy is rather Wonderwice-esque. And in case you're wondering about half-way through the movie, the ending does come together nicely and make a lot of sense.


Definitely worth watching, but maybe rent it first instead of buying it right away.


sfgirl said...

Cool, review, Jen! A couple of things... FINALLY got your book from Amazon and can now read it! WOO!HOO! Also, just got your xmas card. THANKS! And lastly, TAG! You're it again! Have fun!

AMIT said...

Great review made.I have not seen the movie but from the story it is seen that its a good watchable movie.

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