Matt Kamen hunts down other appearances of the anti-hero Casshern.
Any media property that survives several decades is bound to leave its mark on generations of viewers. Sometimes, those influences are easy to spot – the countless mecha shows that owe a debt to Go Nagai’s Mazinger or Yoshiyuki Tomino’s Mobile Suit Gundam, or the enduring international legacy of Astro Boy and Speed Racer, for example. For other series, the impact they have isn’t as easy to spot but is by no means any less important. Such is the case with Casshern – despite only a handful of appearances since his 1973 debut, his legacy extends much farther.
Each of the sequels has adopted a new continuity for the android avenger. First was a 1993 video released abroad as Casshan: Robot Hunter, which saw his father’s consciousness consumed by the villain of the piece. The first step into darker territory for the series, Robot Hunter saw our hero questioning whether to abandon his own humanity to save the world.
A 2004 live action movie, simply titled Casshern, brought the character back to the public eye, fronted by model-turned-actor Yusuke Iseya and directed by music video veteran Kazuaki Kiriya. Unfortunately, the film was an effects-laden case of image over substance, a vapid and vacuous mess with a confusing plot that abandoned almost everything of the character prior to his cinematic debut. While Casshern Sins also re-imagines everything the original series, it does so in a way that pays homage, rather than outright ignoring the source material.
Surprisingly, Casshern’s biggest influence would appear to be in the field of video gaming – surprising because, while the character has made a select few appearances in various titles, he has still yet to star in a game of his own. One gaming franchise that is modelled heavily on Casshern is Capcom’s mega-popular Mega Man. Early games in the series only shared the basic premise – a cybernetic saviour out to rescue humanity from rogue robots – but as Mega Man developed its own rich mythos, it introduced more nods to Tatsuo Yoshida’s 1970s antihero. Where Casshern had his pet robo-dog Friender, the Blue Bomber gained a canine familiar called Rush, who transformed into various weapons and vehicles. Casshern had assistance from the robotic Swanee; Mega Man gained the dive-bombing Beat. The later Mega Man Zero series of games took the Casshern influence even farther – waking up in a future world under robot dominion, Zero was a flashier Mega Man, with moves and design influences taken straight from Casshern.
But what of Casshern himself? Even outside of Mega Man he’s a perennial favourite of Capcom’s, appearing in several of their ‘Versus’ series games, most notably 2010’s Tatsunoko VS Capcom for the Nintendo Wii. His fighting style and elements of his backstory also influenced last year’s sci-fi shooter Vanquish, from Sega – the director of which, Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil fame, desperately wants to make a devoted Casshern game!
While that pipe dream is years away, at lest we have the latest batch of Casshern Sins to satisfy our robot-slaying cravings. And who knows – just like its famous forebear, Sins may inspire a wealth of new spin-offs in its own right…