Casshan

Tagged: Film | TV

Japanese animated tv series (1973-1974). Original title Shinzō Ningen Kyashān; vt Neo Human Casshern; vt Casshern. Tatsunoko Productions. Created by Tatsuo Yoshida. Directed by Hiroshi Sasagawa. Writers include Tadashi Fukui, Akiyoshi Sakai and Jinzo Toriumi. Voice cast includes Ikuo Nishikawa, Emiko Tsukada, Kenji Utsumi and Masato Yamanouchi. 35 25-minute episodes.

A cliff-top castle is lit by lightning, imagery doubtless intended to evoke thoughts of the Frankenstein Monster, whilst the narrator tells of the creation by Professor Kotaro Azuma's (Yamanouchi) of four sentient Androids. Intended to help humanity, one, BK-1 (Utsumi), is prematurely activated by the lightning and announces he will conquer the human race. The Professor and his family flee (though later the Professor is captured) and the castle becomes BK-1's headquarters. Renaming himself Braiking Boss, he and the other androids create an army of Robots: the Andro Force.

When his dog, Lucky, is killed the Professor builds Flender, a robot dog with an electronic copy of Lucky's brain (see Identity Transfer). Seeing this, the Professor's son Tetsya (Nishikawa) demands the same be done to him – to make him a "newly built man" to fight Braiking Boss. He is combined with an android to become Casshan: his surface appearance is unchanged, but he is now indestructible, athletic, strong and clad in lycra. Flender lacks the fourth attribute, but can transform into assorted vehicles. Childhood friend Luna Kozuki (Tsukada) has a robot-destroying MF Rifle (see Weapons) and fights by Casshan's side. Both Casshan and Braiking Boss have a weakness: the former is solar-powered and liable to suddenly run out of energy; the latter has a pet robot swan, Swanee, that contains Casshan's mother's consciousness and keeps Casshan informed of his enemy's plans.

The episodes usually have Braiking Boss targeting a City, Invention or resource, often so he can produce robots to replace those destroyed by Casshan (though sometimes he is simply indulging in cultural vandalism). His plans are frustrated by Casshan, who might have a moment of self-pity or worry – either concerning his own perceived lack of humanity or from meeting people who are bigoted against all robots: he hopes that one day humans and robots can live together in peace.

A few robots side with humanity – when Braiking Boss makes an android who looks human, this similarity is seemingly enough for it to declare robots should serve people. A city's authorities decide they have no chance of beating Braiking Boss, so opt to submit, to be humiliated by the robots – nonetheless, the honourable pacifist mayor is portrayed sympathetically. In the end Braiking Boss is defeated – believing Swanee to be held hostage by Casshan, he swaps Professor Azuma for her. The Professor promptly makes use of the conveniently arriving Halley's Comet, whose elements are harnessed to produce robot destroying sprayser rays (see Imaginary Science). The Andro Force is wiped out, with Braiking Boss killed by Casshan: subsequently robots work happily for the human race.

In this show for fans of exploding robots, the Angst-ridden Casshan worries about his Identity, telling Luna "You must forget about me ... I am not a human being". He keeps his android nature secret, afraid of how people will react: the conflict means the worst and best of human nature is seen. However, the characterization of Braiking Boss is one-dimensional and his sentimentality towards Swanee unexplored. The vulnerability of the Andro Force fluctuates – sometimes only Casshan, Flender and the MF Rifle can destroy them, while at other times they are surprisingly fragile.

There was also an OVA, Casshan: Robot Hunter (1993-1994; original title Robotto Hantā Kyashān; vt Robot Hunter Casshern; vt Casshern; 4 episodes); a live action film Casshern (2004; original title Kyashān); and an Anime Television series, Casshern Sins (2008-2009; original title Kyashān Shinsu; 24 episodes). Another anime television series, Infini-T Force (2017; original title Infinitī Fōsu; 10 episodes) featured Superheroes from Tatsunoko Productions' 1970s shows – as well as Casshan there was Gatchaman G-01 from Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, (1972-1974; original title Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman; vt Battle of the Planets; vt G-Force: Guardians of Space; vt Science Commando Gatchaman; 105 episodes); Tekkaman from Tekkaman: The Space Knight (1975; original title Uchū no Kishi Tekkaman; 26 episodes) and Hurricane Polymar from Hurricane Polymar (1974-1975; 26 episodes). The series also had a spinoff film, Infini-T Force the Movie: Farewell Gatchaman My Friend (2018; original title Gekijōban Infini-T Force: Gatchaman Saraba Tomo yo). [SP]

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