At the onset of World War III, nobody could have predicted the effect it would have on Japan. While it had officially ended fifty years ago in 2150, its battles still persist. Large, mysterious areas known as "Blackspots" appeared across the country, filled with the contaminated ruins of cities and countrysides. Those inside were trapped to halt the spread of contamination, and their powers began to mutate—be they shapeshifters, pyromancers, or controllers of gravity itself—they all became known as the Needless.
Adam Blade is one such Needless, possessing remarkable regenerative abilities and incredible strength. In order to restore peace to a war-torn Japan, he and his allies must fight together to rise against a heinous research group by the name of Simeon.
Typically shounen style action series are not usually my thing. I find them to be completely silly and juvenile and cater to a demographic that I am just not a part of. The posturing and trash talking, the ridiculous reversals of fortune, and the long drawn out nature of the fighting usually cause me to lose interest. Honestly I am surprised this appeals so much to teenage males, who typically have the attention span of a goldfish. However, initially Needless seemed to be different, and appeared as more of a parody and comedy with an extremely enjoyable female lead. Eventually though it loses its way and falls victim to the things that doom many of its brother anime; trying to be and do too much instead of sticking with what was working.
The plot, initially is about as basic and nondescript as they come. Needless is set in a post apocalyptic world in which a new race of super powered humans have emerged, possessing fragments of power that give them mastery over a certain skill such as fire, gravity, and magnetism. These fragments apparently have all come from a common source, a god-like being known as the Second. These altered humans are known as Needless. But there is a hard and fast rule however, while some fragments are more powerful than others each Needless can only possess one. It all sounds like it an interesting take on the superpowers genre, and it a lot of ways it is though the way that the powers are used begins to get annoying after while (more on that later). All is not well in the world of the Needless though as they are threatened by the extremely powerful Adam Arclight and his followers in which they face extinction from his scheming. Only the mysterious Adam Blade and his band of resistance fighters stand in the way.
Needless is chalk full of slapstick comedy, action, blood and death, explosions, fan service, and machoism. Fans of these are likely to find plenty to like. The real problem with the series as a whole is the pacing of its storyline. Things move along quickly in the first 1/3 of the series. Perhaps a bit too quickly, which may have lead to the problems it suffers from for most of the middle and late portions of the anime. The heroes find themselves trapped in a room where they must do battle with Arclight's strongest followers. The battles are action packed but they drag out...forever. The story comes to a crawl and these battles seemingly go on forever as almost half the anime is taken up by this one fight and set in this same room. The shocking plot revelation made during this arc is obvious to anyone with any degree of sophistication. Once our heroes finally manage to get out the rest of the series is almost completely taken up with flashbacks, plot building, and adding a conspiracy arc. While this made Needless' story infinitely better and more complex it again felt to me like a complete reversal once again in the theme. To me it was like the director couldn’t make up his mind. Did he want to create an echii action parody, a straight shounen fighting anime, or a complex story about genetic research and political intrigue?
A small rant is in order on the battles. I know that it is a staple of this kind of series to yell out and name all of your attack moves and special abilities, but really is it that hard to come up with some names that make some sense? After hearing "Little Boy" or "Dean Drive Fox Hound" uttered for the billionth time I just wanted to shove a pair of scissors into my ears. And seriously what the hell does Dean Drive Fox Hound supposed to fucking mean anyway? It’s nonsense!
The real tragedy is that what they were doing at the start was working. The best part of Needless is the characters, in particular Eve Neuschwanstein (try saying that ten times fast). She’s got all the body measurements to make her a fan favorite, but she has a hilarious and quirky personality to go along with it to make her memorable. She stupid, can’t remember anyone’s name which leads her to "shorten" people’s names into nonsensical words. She has a really cool special ability called Doppelganger, which allows her to change herself into basically anything of the same mass as she is. Unfortunately as the series progresses she tends to disappear more than a main character should from the action, thus taking away a lot of the appeal for the show for me since I really enjoyed her. Also her Doppelganger ability is used in ways over the course of the series that seem to be inconsistent with what the ability should really be able to do.
As for the other leads, Adam Blade and Cruz Schild the results are not as good. Blade is a silly and typical shounen male with an over-the-top character design complete with an unoriginal and clichéd personality (basically think TTGL's Kamina). Unless you love 12 pack abs and these kinds of stereotypes or this is the first anime you have ever seen, then you’re unlikely to be impressed by him. That being said he does have his moments of comedy gold and he is not completely without merits. Cruz is also a typical anime boy who reminds me of another TTGL character, Simon (the young version) in both looks and personality. Though he seems to have more sense than most of his shounen brethren, and stays out of trouble for the most part and leaves the fighting to those with powers. His greatest attribute is that he’s probably the only person in the show with a brain.
The rest supporting cast is a mix of some very entertaining and memorable characters and more shounen stereotypes. With the exception of Disc, the rest of Blade's team of resistance fighters is uninspired. The ones who really shine are among Arclight's subordinates. This starts and ends with the Pretty Girl Squad of Mio, Setsuna, and Kushinashi. I found their antics to be the most amusing of any of the characters in the series. They are probably the objects of the most fan service, next to Eve, but for the most part it’s all pretty funny and just doesn’t feel as pointless as it usually is in other shows.
Artistically Needless is an uneven experience. The animation of the fights, action, and special effects are all topnotch. The service is well done, at least amongst the females, and they are cute and not too ridiculously proportioned. However the men are awful. I am on record as being a firm hater of bishies and effeminate men. While the men in Needless are certainly manly, they basically look like bishies on steroids. The fact that all of them looked pretty much the same (does anyone in the future wear shirts?) and the silly looking cartoonish muscles and impossible body builds took away from the art overall.
The absolute worst thing about this series is the music. The first OP "Modern Strange Cowboy" is without a doubt the silliest song I have ever heard and the worst example of Engrish lyrics gone wild. The second OP is not near as bad but still not that good and both the ED themes are average at best. Also the commercial break teaser halfway through is laugh out loud silly with the retarded sounding "Needless" being overacted by various male cast members. The acting overall is decent, but again the male voice actors over play their parts so much that they just sound silly.
Overall my final opinion on Needless mixed. I did enjoy many aspects of it, but it had more potential than it delivered. The schizophrenic direction and pacing are too much for me to ignore. Your enjoyment of Needless is likely to depend on your own personal tastes. If you love shounen action then you might want to give this a chance. I found it to be an average series at best. read more
Needless is not for everyone, but it is a fantastic show as long as you watch it for what it is and are able to enjoy it for what it is. Still, while it was still airing I got the feeling that most people had misconceptions.
First of all, Needless is not a shounen. Needless is a shounen-parody. Or actually if I stick to proper genres I would agree that it's a seinen, and the reason why it is "full of shounen clichés" is because it makes fun of those classic elements by overacting them till they reach grotesque levels. It's important to understand that that is the basis of the show.
Muscular machos? Naturally. Battles that last for eternity? Most of the anime is set in a single room. Fighters with named attacks or techniques? In Needless they not only shout them all the time, they also write them on the screen with huge flippin' letters to make sure you remember!
I admit though that throughout the anime adaptation there are points when the show turns into the very thing it pokes fun of, but I'll get back to that later.
The second popular misconception is that Needless is a Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann ripoff. Which would be hard considering that the Needless manga started years before TTGL. I won't stick my head into the sand and deny the similarities, I compare Needless to TTGL in this review on a few occasions myself, but while TTGL builds a strong coming of age story over the top of making fun of old school mecha anime, Needless stays in the sandbox where it feels safe but pushes its limits further there.
As you can kinda expect from this type of show, the story is almost non-existent. A mash of dozens of old concepts thrown into a bowl to create a frame for the action, humor and nonstop manliness. What comes as a result is somewhat interesting, but it's kept on minimal complexity so it doesn't get in the way of the "important" elements of the show. On the other hand, the author had some fun with the character's special attacks and you can find quite a few references there. Naturally I'm not talking about "Mio-chan hip attack", but things like "Little Boy", Dean Drive" or "Agnischwattas". I won't call it deep but it's still a bit more layered than people would think.
When it comes to characters, Needless has a huge list of archetypes, and this is also the point where TTGL fans start coughing blood. The "main" hero who likes to solve every situation with his fists (Blade/Kamina), the main heroine who's also a little ruff around the edges but makes up with bust size for lack of braincells (Eve/Yoko), a useless wingman for comic relief (Uchida/Kittan) and the timid kid who grows into a man (or not) (Cruz/Simon). The difference is that Needless really goes beyond the limits and centers the characters around their most basic trait, pushing that one aspect as far as possible. It also adds things like pedophile priests, bold old scientists and most importantly an army of lolis ranging from lesbians to androids. And yet, despite being this bottomless pool of one-dimensional fan service sources, there is not a single character in the show who is unlikable and every viewer can find one or two who they truly love. Even the one who was annoying in the anime gets cool later on in the manga. This palette of characters is what really makes or breaks Needless.
The graphics are hardly anything special: the character designs are a nice recreation of the manga, while the animation is mostly fluid but not really homogeneous. The music on the other hand is quite worthy of praise. I would be the last person you could call a metal-fan, but the hard hitting power metal BGM of the show is just amazing. Taken from e-Zuka's "I got you under my skin", from "Raging Flames" to "Elephant's Scream" every track is a perfect match to its respective scenes and gives them the necessary boost.
I think that just proves that Madhouse was the right studio for this show. With that said however, it also entails the consequence that Madhouse fans are all too familiar with: abrupt original ending. This case is not nearly as bad as for instance with Claymore, but the changes at the end, along with the severely toned down gore (compared to the manga), resulted in the anime sometimes coming through as more of a shounen than a seinen.
So after all that, what makes this mixed bag of shallow elements so special in the end? The entertainment value. The indescribable energy that flows from every scene and gets multiplied by the music to the point that you clench your fist, jump out of your chair and yell "F**K YEAH!". The bursts of laughter you get every time said scene gets interrupted for a second with a crazy one-liner. The brainless fun you get from the painful lack of logic in the show. And I think that's the keyword, Needless is brainless fun. If you are looking for something more or different, Needless is probably not for you. But for what it is, Needless is perfect.read more
While Needless bears many similarities to a previous anime, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, I feel that these comparisons are unfair and often lead to many people rating this series down. Comparing one's work of art with the Mona Lisa is an unfair one, after all.
Needless begins off on a very good note, full of high-octane energy and very manly characters. While it is admittedly similar to Gurren Lagann, it really stands in a class of its own. The story... what story? Fans of this series aren't really interested in the story, or at least in my point of view. Its a generic setting with generic characters. A badass hero, a moe heroine, a kid, an old guy. The characters don't exactly set themselves apart either, with very unoriginal backgrounds.
Now that the bad parts are out of the way, let's talk about the good. Where do I start? Needless is full of incredibly good stuff, with fantastic art (although there are some dips in quality here and there, but little enough to ignore). The music, is brilliant. While pretty much unnoticible in most parts of the show, it is when the action kicks off that the music really gets going. Heavy metal riffs with fast beats really serve to get your heart racing during the epic battle scenes. The visuals are good, with a suitable style for a show of its type. They really don't spare on the blood either, which is a good thing (for most people, I trust).
Ultimately, NEEDLESS is a series that really focuses on what its good at, and cuts away pretty much else. And what its good at, is providing ENJOYMENT. Yes, the slapstick humour, funny (though not very interesting) characters, the epic battle scenes and heavy metal guitar all combine together to provide an extremely enjoyable series. If you want to have a good time, and aren't really interested in heavy plots, emotional baggage, and complex character development, then NEEDLESS is for you!read more
NOTE: I have not read the manga, so manga readers can go to the manga page for this show and talk about it there. This review is for the anime only.
Although I've only seen 3 episodes at this point, I think I've seen enough to write a fair review. I'll update it later of course to reflect the future scope of the story, because at this time it's still not completely clear what's really going on. Besides the fact that we know Simeon is evil, what the Needless are, and that they are after Adam Blade.
STORY: 7 (Good)
The story so far is typical of a shounen, with nothing really outstanding to set it apart from the rest. It's not overly simple though, so I believe it's worthy of being called "Good".
The evil organization, Simeon, is out to exterminate the Needless, which are a sort of "super-human" who possess varying abilities (usually one per Needless). One of the main characters, Adam Blade, possesses the strange ability to copy the powers of other Needless he comes in contact with (think Sharingan), and use them all at his leisure. Eve has the Doppleganger ability, and can take the form of others using either a picture, description, or by coming in contact with them. So far, we don't know much about Cruz (such as whether or not he may be a Needless but just doesn't know it yet), so for now, he plays the part of the currently-weak, developing character that might turn out to be more useful later on.
Throw in a couple of thought-provoking elements such as the Black Spot and Adam Arclight, and the stage is set for (potentially) a moderately interesting shounen.
ART: 8 (Very Good)
While the art isn't really top-notch, it's well done, and there's not much to complain about. Some found that in episode 2 the special attacks were rather bland, due to reused animation and the fact that each character took longer to "call out" their attack rather than to actually do it... But I found this little problem less obvious in episode 3. It seems like they cleaned up their act a bit. Episode 3 bumped up my judgement to "Very Good".
SOUND: 10 (Outstanding)
Let's face it, the OP rocks. I like the rock music played throughout other parts of the show as well. It's nice. I'm a bit WTF'd by the ED though, I actually find myself skipping past it every time due to it making my IQ take a temporary plunge, but I won't take points away for that... It's at the end anyway.
CHARACTER: 7 (Good)
It's about what I'd expect from a show of its genre. Each character has room to grow, so it has potential. I liked Adam right off the bat, and Eve is definitely doing a good job of keeping the show fun. I'm not partial to Cruz at all but maybe that will change. As I said, they have room to grow, but by the same token, they're nothing special at the moment.
ENJOYMENT: 9 (Great)
At the end of the day, I enjoy watching this show. This is not the kind of show I have to force myself to get to watching, unlike some other shows I'm watching at the moment (*cough* Haruhi S2 Endless Eight *cough*). Seeing Adam kick some ass, I'll admit, is mindless, plain-old fun. And you're always curious as to what Eve will do that episode. Curiosity is a big part of what keeps me coming back for more.
OVERALL: 7 (Good)
This show has room to grow, and for those of you who judged it after episode 2, at least give it one more. Episode 2 didn't sit well with me either particularly, but I found the third episode redeemed everything a little. And after all, who knows where it's really going yet?
I'll keep watching it for sure. I vastly prefer shows that are more thought-provoking, have deep stories, and well developed characters, but to be honest, this show is just fun in it's own way. Sometimes it's good to throw away the rules and rock out to some over-the-top action.
Go watch the OP. I bet that'll have some of you at least trying it out.read more
A perfectly-timed gust of wind. A low camera angle. Once in a while we get a peek under a skirt. And sometimes, just sometimes, we get a glimpse of the legendary striped anime panties that are shimapan.