Friday, March 24, 2006


Wow. One of the most astounding things I’ve seen for sometime. I don’t know how to begin... it’s all over the place, like a crazed music video it dashes from scene to scene in a melange of images and ideas and, certainly to begin with, scant disregard for any kind of coherent narrative. But the energy carries it through, and the incredible visual style.

The only thing I’ve seen before that I can directly compare in look is Sky Captain, which features a similar combination of CG, people and spectacular lighting. That employed a pleasing future-retro noir look, clean-cut heroes in airships partaking in a Boys’ Own adventure with dark undertones. In Casshern the tone is much blacker, the plot much deeper; Sky Captain meets Blade Runner and Brazil crossed with a bunch of anime (bringing to my mind Guyver, Akira and Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky) and a dash of steam-punk styling for good measure. Post-future retro if you like.

Most surprising is the way the film builds. A jumble of scenes flash across the screen, snatches of story-line, dreams, visions, and who knows what. The palette changes frequently, the music throbs in and out, sometimes dialogue is not required at all. But somehow this all comes together. Plot strands start to resolve themselves (mostly – I sense a lot of backstory left out of the source manga here) in your head while the energy of the visuals creates a real visceral rush, the final half-hour becomes an incredibly powerful anti-war statement without preaching and, most unusually, without flinching from the moral/philosophic ambiguities this stance raises.

Brilliant madness.

More info on imdb, (yes! watch the trailer in japanese).


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