Having been raised in the Christian atmosphere most of my life, I’ve always been taught that death is an unnatural thing in the grand design of God. It had no place in The Garden of Eden). Death is merely the unnatural result of our great, great, great, …, grandfather’s sin. Eventually, one day when God will return to take his people to heaven, there will be no death but eternal life, eternal bliss, and eternal fellowship with each other.
So, the conclusion of Casshern Sins is quite an eye-opener for someone like me. Here, death is not only natural, but death is the indispensable ingredient that preserves life from festering into, well, something other than life, perhaps something worse than death, or perhaps what real death is. The “redeemed” robots in the merry circus town simply drank, played, and laughed mindlessly—like in many Christian propaganda brochures. I wonder if our own heaven will be something like that too.
Coming into this final episode, I had expected Casshern Sins to celebrate death. Make it look good; no, make it look even better than life itself. That would’ve been a glamourous way to conclude its message with an exclamation point. However, I am glad that the writers did not take this route. Rather, they had kept it sober: As much as the result of death can bring meanings and purpose to life, the journey of going through death is damn scary and can hardly be desirable. Seeing Lyuze decayed away and Oji-san stopped moving was heartbreaking. Also, hearing Casshern screamed and Ringo wailed moved my own tears.
Whereas other lesser shows that tried to pretend substance would have ended “open-endedly,” Casshern Sins, instead, took an unequivocal position:
Life is desirable, but death cannot be forgotten.
You can’t have just eternal life. Having an abundance of anything immediately devalues that thing into nothingness. On the other hand, death puts a limit to life. Making it into a scarcity immediately gives it value. So, my dear readers, live a life of value, not a life of eternity.
But then what about Luna and Casshern? Luna cannot die. She’ll just come back again even had Casshern killed her the second time. Casshern, as we all know, cannot die too. He’ll just regenerate himself. They both now serve as two opposing sides whose combined effect is for others to live a meaningful life—others like Ringo, who is the first one intended to eventually die after living.
What a thought provoking series!
P.S. Perhaps the notion of death-motivated living should not have been so foreign in the Western world too. Check out Apple’s and Pixar’s founder Steve Jobs at his 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech, whose main message is “ask yourself what you would do today if this is the last day of your life.”