Casshern Sins is starting to shine, through episode three. Despite being a very quiet episode in terms of action, it makes tidal waves of emotions from the dialogs between Casshern and Akoes, all of which distill themselves to a key decision the former makes and the blunt but yet poetic death the latter arrives at.
For a show whose theme is the end of the world full with last episode full of destructions and deaths, it features some breath taking sceneries in this episode. Even though much of the lighting is still that of dusk, there is a quiet sense of calmness and warmness, which is fitting to bask in the steady buildup of a brief but pivotal fellowship between a mentor and a lost soul.
Their conversations for the rest of the episodes concern two topics: the burden of past sins and the futility of living.
On the first topic of the burden of sins, the key topic of the episode and perhaps even of the entire show, Akoes has a clear answer for himself. What has been done cannot be undone. No one has ever been able to change the past—no matter how much they try to atone for it in the future. The sin is set in stone. In Casshern’s case, no amount of reparation will bring back any of the robots he killed. So, why brood on it?
Then, casshern moves onto the pain of his existence: why does he live to cause destructions to everyone around him? Akoes’s response:
“Who the hell knows? I just eat, shit, and sleep.”
As crude as that sounds, there has to be a ton of gold hidden in that haystack. As much as Akoes’s troubles are different from Casshern, the conclusion is the same. Being human is inconvenient: stop eating, you die; eat, you shit; walk a little, then you need to rest a little; when parts break, there is no replacement. However, at the same time, being able to eat, drink, and have sex is what makes being human worthwhile too. Why? Who the hell knows. As Akoes says,
“Humans are always full of contradiction. Might as well just enjoy it.”
This bring us to the second topic of the futility of living. Why do some people risk their lives to climb what is nothing more than an oversized rock? Again, there is no explanation. However, there is this: Those climbers have chosen to cast aside their fear of death, which, otherwise, they would not even be able to approach the mountain. So the question isn’t why they want to climb the mountain but rather why they are able to do so. Everybody want to run away from their impeding doom, but no one has ever escaped it. Not any one person, not even a proud civilization. But everyone still runs, running to stay alive, staying alive to run again. Life is only made futile by such.
Is this an answer to the futility of life? No. But it does say what one should not do. So, Casshern decides to stop running. He catches up to Friender and offers his life for him. Amazingly, his breaking the chain of violence has also broken Friender’s own thirst for revenge too. Friender stops short of ripping Casshern’s throat apart and becomes his
bitch next best friend.
Akoes, like Casshern, has no answer to the same question. However, his death is so aligned with his conclusion that life is full of contradiction. His search for the village of robots who have chosen to accept death is his way of finding rest from his running and not wanting to die alone. But as soon as he finds Casshern as a companion, he leaves him to die in the dessert—alone. While one may argue that Akoes does not want to further burden Casshern the stigma of being the Grim Reaper—and certainly that is a part of his decision too—I, on the other hand, tend to think that it has more to do with what his last understanding of life is about: that
life is truly full of things we do not understand.
And not being able to find an answer is what makes it worth continuing living.