Casshern is a 2004 Live-Action Adaptation of the Tatsunoko Production anime Neo Human Casshern, directed by Kazuaki Kiriya and starring Yusuke Iseya.In this version of the franchise, Doctor Azuma is researching artificial stem cells, or "Neo Cells", that can be used to create replacement organs; the cells can only be found within the "original humans" in Zone 7 of Eurasia, recently conquered by the Eastern Federation after it defeated "Europa".Afterwards, Azuma's son Tetsuya is assigned to a hellish mission in Zone 7 that ends in his death. Meanwhile, Azuma is unable to create limbs from the Neo Cells that can be used by humans.Suddenly, a lightning bolt — a giant stone lightning-bolt symbol strikes the lab, causing the limbs to quicken and recombine into Artificial Humans. The Federation military quickly attempts to massacre them, but a quartet escapes, taking Azuma's wife as a hostage; they find an abandoned Europan factory, dub themselves "Neo-Sapiens", and decide to Kill All Humans with the Mecha-Mook army they manufacture.Shortly after the kidnapping, Azuma resurrects Tetsuya within the vats the Neo-Sapiens arose from. Inevitably, Tetsuya comes into conflict with the Neo-Sapiens and their leader, Burai.The film drew international attention as soon as footage was released for its stylized visuals and impressive action scenes. The themes of the futility and dehumanization brought about by war added spice. However, the Darker and Edgier tone, shameless use of Deus ex Machina to move the plot, and esoteric ending dimmed enthusiasm once the film was released.
Casshern contains examples of the following tropes:
- Came Back Wrong: Tetsuya's ghost was literally pleading for his father not to resurrect him; after his rebirth, he had to be encased in experimental Powered Armor to control his new strength, and struggled with a Damaged Soul. Similarly, each of the named Neo Sapiens has only vague visions of their former selves. And when Luna is resurrected with Burai's blood, she is possessed by his hatred.
- Darkerand Edgier: It's a significantly more bleak, moody and somber take on the concept than the original anime, comparable to the anime reboot that did much the same thing years later.
- Cloning Body Parts: Dr. Azuma's plan for the Neo Cells.
- Human Resources: The Neo Cells were harvested from residents of Zone 7; the Neo Sapiens were reborn versions of some of the victims.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Tetsuya joined the Asian Empire military to prove himself, and was killed in action by a booby trap. After being revived as Casshern, he experiences post-traumatic flashbacks to his wartime experiences, including the atrocities he committed.