Casshan Robot Hunter

Starring (voice): Takeshi Kusao, Yumi Tôma and Kenji Utsumi
Manga Entertainment UK
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: 12
Available 31 October 2005

In the near future the inhabitants of Earth have become enslaved by the Neoroids, an army of rebellious super-robots originally designed to help human civilisation avert a complete ecological cataclysm. Now, Mankind's only hope lies with Casshan, a legendary hero dedicated to waging a solitary war against the Neoroids in the hope of restoring the Earth to its rightful order...

This Casshan series was originally released in 1993 as a four-part story. Manga have released this in a two-disc set, so you can either watch the original tale in four parts, or the full-length feature that is was eventually edited into.

The irony of the tale is a little like that embedded in Appleseed. Here, Casshan's scientist father was responsible for engineering the Neoroids that are now threatening to destroy the human race. To clear the name of his father, Casshan must sacrifice his own humanity in order to attain the powers he needs to defeat the powerful Neoroids. But Casshan's power does not come without a price. Haunted by the memories of his murdered mother and forced to deal with a super robot that has absorbed, and now manipulates, the consciousness of his father, Casshan must put aside his own emotions and fight to preserve the survival of the human race.

There's a very good chance that the first time you watch this DVD the whole way through you'll have questions, like who is the spirit trapped inside the robot swan? (I originally thought it was an old love interest of Casshan's but that's not the case). Some of these will be answered by the fantastic audio commentary included on this release (more of that later).

The story itself has a number of western influences. There is some subtle use of Christian imagery (one scenes sees one of our heroes fixed to a cross) and there are more than a few homages to various Hollywood movies - principally The Terminator.

The audio options are also interesting. You can either listen to the original Japanese soundtrack (in stereo, 5.1 or DTS) for the four part version, or the English track (in stereo, 5.1 or DTS) for the feature length version.

As with the audio commentary on Appleseed, there is another quality offering by Jonathan Clements. Not only does he inform, he also entertains - a very rare quality in the majority of audio commentaries.

Thank goodness Manga have spent the time and effort to produce a collection that Japanese animation fanatics will want to add to their library.

Nick Smithson

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