"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Sunday, December 29, 2013

35 Episode Box Set from Sentai Filmworks!

出た!『新造人間キャシャーン』米国DVD&BD発売 2014年3月!

Final package art for the long-awaited release of Tatsunoko's classic!

Hallelujah! It's a great time to be an American fan of classic Anime — after years of hoping for various titles would be picked up as they only went from a few years old to decades old, and the only resort seemed to be sticking with the Japanese releases, that weakening hope suddenly became a beacon over the last couple of years. Some labels, such as Discotek Media, and Japanese companies such as Toei Animation, have been looking back to find a different demographic. The younger American fan seems to exclusively want the latest productions out of Japan, but don't want to pay for it. But, there are older fans who aren't satisfied with the current output, but some younger fans are also curious about the roots of the genre. And they should be.

Dynamic 1973 promotional art designed by the great Tatsuo Yoshida.

Recently, we've had long-awaited premiere releases of PRINCESS KNIGHT (1967), the original LUPIN III (1971), GATCHAMAN (1972), CUTIE HONEY(1973), CAPTAIN HARLOCK: SPACE PIRATE (1978), THE ROSE OF VERSAILLES (1979), as well as English Dubbed, compilation films of GAIKING (1976), STARZINGER (1979), and DANGUARD ACE (1978), with complete series editions of MAZINGER Z (1972) and DEVILMAN (1972) waiting in the wings. And now, the original CASSHAN (1973)! As a diehard fan of '70s Anime, it's about time, and I'm loving every release that has been announced — all of them being must-buys in my book (although I'd prefer the complete series with Japanese language tracks).

1973 45rpm Single (music Shunsuke Kikuchi/vocals Isao Sasaki).

One of the biggest points I like to impart is that the during the '70s, the creators and producers were opening up new frontiers, so the originality was thriving, before the toy companies began to dictate content and style. The plotting and writing, while less complex than some today, was also less convoluted and contrived, and the writers were all veteran, professional scribes of feature films and television shows of numerous genres (while today's writers became such largely because they were Anime fans). And least we forget the music — such memorable, beloved music from the batons of such legends as Hiroshi Miyagawa, Takeo Watanabe, Shunsuke Kikuchi, Michiaki "Chumei" Watanabe, and featuring goosebump-inducing vocals by Isao Sasaki, Ichiro Mizuki, Mitsuko Horie, and Hide Yuki!

Preliminary package art from Tatsunoko's promotional portfolio.

Tatsunoko Productions' CASSHAN is one of those standout series of the '70s — spawning remakes and sequels, which made it to our shores, while the original 1973 series was left to flounder. Until now! Produced during the second year of GATCHAMAN (which was just going into overdrive), CASSHAN features a dark story story — set in their retro-future European-esque world typical of the time — with several concurrent subplots and a generally downbeat atmosphere, but with plenty of exciting superhero action! Like GATCHAMAN, the character designs bare some inspiration from the American comic books that creator Tatsuo Yoshida grew up on, with stylized art direction by Mitsuki Nakamura (SPEED RACER) and impressive character designs by Yoshida and Yoshitaka Amano (VAMPIRE HUNTER D).

Facing the legions of Buraiking: If Casshan won't do it, who will?

From the Sentai Filmworks press release: When lightning strikes the prototype android BK-1, a new horror is unleashed on the world as the resulting monster Buraiking begins taking over all other robots on Earth, setting them against their creators in a massive orgy of planet-wide destruction! With humanity helpless in the face of the new Neoroiders and their mechanical armies, mankind's only hope may lie in the hands of Tetsuya Azuma, son of the creator of BK1, who transfers his consciousness into an android body to become a Neoroider himself. the ultimate robot fighter: Casshan!

Back cover for the DVD of the upcoming Sentai Filmworks release.

At this past year's Anime Expo in Los Angeles, Sentai Filmworks announced that it had signed a deal with Tatsunoko Productions for the original GATCHAMAN, CASSHAN, and nine other titles — could we hope for GATCHAMAN II (1978), GATCHAMAN FIGHTER (1979), TEKKAMAN: THE SPACE KNIGHT (1975), HURRICANE POLIMAR (1974), TIME BOKAN (1975), and GORDIAN (1979) to be among them? In any case, their Blu-ray release of CASSHAN will feature all 35 episodes (approximately 875 mins.), 1080p HD (4x6), Japanese lossless audio (DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0) with English Subtitles on three discs for $59.98. The NTSC DVD release will come with six discs with 2.0 Dolby Digital audio with an MSRP of $49.98. Special features and bonus materials have not been listed. Street date was originally January, but has been pushed back to March 4, 2014.

"Abandoning his mortal life, he gained an immortal body. Allowing him to combat the iron fiends and crush them into the earth. If Casshan won't do it, who will?"


Chris Sobieniak said...

I see they're going with "Casshan" and not that "Cashern" nonsense!

Kristofer A. Curtis said...

August, I love your informative articles on tokusatsu, and Japanese media in general. I've been building a collection around lesser-known works of Noriaki Yuasa, among others. I see that Casshan is listed in Yuasa's IMDB profile, but I know this info can be suspect--and I've found no other citation of his work with this series. I believe it was partially financed by Daiei, but perhaps you can settle the question for me. Did Yuasa serve as a director, or in any other capacity, on this classic animation? Thank you in advance!