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ADV Films presents
Casshan: Robot Hunter (1995)

"Machines will succeed where humanity failed. It is the dawn of a new age."
- Black King

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: May 12, 2003

Stars: Steve Bulen, Jeff Winkless, Michael McConnohie, Mike Reynolds, Melanie Mcqueen, Sy Prescott, Steve Kramer, Richard Allenmichael Sorich
Director: Akihiko Takahashi

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (15+ for violence, brief nudity)
Run Time: 01h:40m:35s
Release Date: May 13, 2003
UPC: 702727055720
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B C+B+A- D

DVD Review

Casshan originated as a 35-episode TV series in 1973, produced by Tatsunoko, creators of Mach Go Go Go (Speed Racer), and Gatchaman (Battle of the Planets). This 1993 OVA remake was brought to North America in 1995 by Harmony Gold, with its English dub under the direction of Carl Macek, who had previously incorporated Tatsunoko's Mospeada into the final segment of Robotech.

In a post-apocalyptic world dubbed the Dark Ages, the Earth is ruled by a bioroid named BK-1, better known as the Black King, whose legions of mechanized soldiers subjugate most of the human population. The bioroids are an artificial lifeform created to help save the plane from environmental catastrophe, but now they are little more than enslavers of the human race. There are, however, humans who have formed an alliance against their robot oppressors, but their means of defense aren't up to their formidable adversaries. legend tells of a warrior named Casshan, who can fight the enemy on even terms. Only with his arrival can the human prisoners summon the will to revolt against their masters.

Luna Kazuki is a member of the resistance, searching the world for the man she loves, who happens to be the son of the scientist who developed the BK-1. When she finally meets up with him, she learns that Tetsuya Azuma has given up his mortal self to become part android to become Casshan, the only force capable of destroying the Black King. With his trusty transforming robot dog at his side, Casshan is destined to rid the world of the Black King, and to return his father's honor. Luna also has a secret up her sleeve. Her father was a friend of Dr. Azuma, and developed a weapon that can destroy the machines, which could turn the tides in the ongoing conflict between man and machine.

With its environmental themes and relatively complex back story, Casshan would probably work well in a TV format, but in this short form, English only version, plays on the weak side. The character development of BK-1 and the Azuma family feels rushed, as does Luna's role as anything other than a requisite love interest or fan service provider. As an old school fan, I have no real complaints about the animation or design styles, which seem based on the original 1970s version, but the dub doesn't add to the fairly trite premise, which may have seemed original in its day, but now feels dated with so many similar themed shows around now. The voice acting is often quite flat, and the condensed storyline requires a lot of narrative explanation to move things along. While there is a fair amount of action, most of it is Casshan easily destroying his adversaries, with little in the way of real jeopardy. Even the climactic scene finishes off with a whimper, only to be followed by a rather stilted epilogue. This one falls in the realm of the mediocre, although it may work better in its original language, which unfortunately isn't provided here.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image quality is very good overall. Colors are vibrant, if a little oversaturated at times, blacks are solid. There is a bit of aliasing, some shimmering on linework in places, and a small amount of racking in the transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The English stereo soundtrack is fine from a technical perspective. The image is reasonably directional, with ambience, primarily echo on the voices, in the extremes of the field. Tonal range is good, with no obtrusive frequencies. Dialogue is clear and easily understood, with no excess sibilance.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Once Upon a Time, Goemon: Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Eden's Bowy, Sakura Wars TV, Full Metal Panic, You're Under Arrest: Mini Specials.
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Extras are limited to previews for Once Upon a Time, Goemon: Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Eden's Bowy, Sakura Wars TV, Full Metal Panic, and You're Under Arrest: Mini Specials.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

The old school design is interesting, but a routine plot and equally mundane dubbing don't go very far. Casshan may be worth a rental for the curious, but I can't really put this in the recommended pile.


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