Reviewby Luke Carroll, Aug 14th 2011
Needless - Part 1 (Episodes 1-12)
IN AD 200X, World War 3 began...
All of the Earth's cities became targets of bombings and were bathed in frightful red flames.
Half a century has passed since then. The contaminated former epicenter is still isolated from the city of Tokyo creating a hole in the middle of Japan commonly known as the Black Spot.
As time passed, people began to inhabit this wasteland. They were deemed unnecessary by those who lived in cities.
Among these people were the ones who could command strange abilities - fire, wind, gravity... they had the ability to control these supernatural powers. Thus, those who possessed Fragments were regarded as....THE NEEDLESS!
Needless is a series of many faces. From action to fan-service, it's over the top in almost every regard. Characters yell out their attacks to each other by name, blood is always on the menu and the fan-service is about as subtle as giant mech waltzing through a drive-thru. This is all bound by a plot that is only a step away from complete unoriginality. However despite this, it just works. To what extent though depends on your tolerance for both flamboyancy and a constant stream of ridiculous gags as this series doesn't give a stuff for being mature in any regards.
But boy is it a fun set of episodes regardless. The plot itself is something of a formality in the overall proceedings. During World War 3, a bomb is dropped on Japan that creates a contaminated wasteland in part of the country. The inhabitants of this contaminated crater begin to wield and control supernatural powers, becoming known as 'Needless'. Soon after a mysterious corporation known as Simeon appears, and many of the Needless begin to disappear. After a large scale resistance attack on Simeon fails, a lone survivor by the name of Cruz suddenly finds himself in the company of an oddball group of Needless living out of a church. When Simeon tries to finish Cruz off however, it becomes apparent his newly found friends are a force to reckon with themselves.
It's all nothing more than an excuse to throw crazy super-power fights at the viewer all the time. However that certainly isn't all the series has to offer. These 12 episodes are awash with constant snappy remarks, pun jokes, and many instances of remarking over the flaws of the cast (Adam Blade's weakness to little girls is by far the most notable of the lot). On top of this, the fan-service quickly builds to levels not seen since Ikki Tousen. Every girl (there is a squadron of them) has a unique panties colour or design which the series isn't afraid to shove in your face at will and their clothes start ripping like they were made from wet paper. The series even forgoes the clothes destruction in one instance, having them strip down to nothing as they are forced to discard their clothes to survive. And yet, like Ikki Tousen, this is all done without a single piece of nudity.
It's hard to deny that animation Studio MADHOUSE have taken a few cues from the Gainax notebook, especially that of Gurren Lagann. The series certainly doesn't try to hide taking cues from many other series either. The attire for the Girls Squadron is nothing less that a set of school girl uniforms, whilst the male leads spout an array of flared open jacket designs that appear to have only one job in life, showing their owner's set of six-packs to the world. They are certainly geared to be cosplayed by the willing. Designs aside, the flashy colour-rich art works well for this series. It certainly wont win any awards but it adds to the overall no-hold-bars atmosphere surprisingly well.
On the audio side of things, everything is very much a hit or miss. The opening “Modern Strange Cowboy” certainly takes cues from the Guilty Gear franchise, spouting lots of rock and electric guitars. The closing however is almost polar opposite, with a cutesy pop-music beat to the backdrop of the girls squadron acting out quite a few of their most provocative poses. The voice work for much of the cast is a pretty standard affair, although there are a few questionable choices in Disc and Solva. The girls squadron are also given the high-school bitchy treatment and many of the narrations by Cruz sounds like it was muffled through a cup. Regardless, the good outweighs the bad, something of a necessity for a series as unoriginal as this.
On the extras side of things, Siren has kept things pretty lean for Needless. Included is a few promos for the Japanese release and a collection of trailers for titles in Siren's catalogue. It's a bit of a disappointment in light of the US version which got some extra 'omake' episodes and a set of translation notes that help explain how Sentai went about the puns and constant jokes that scatter the series. The slip case also oddly features peculiar errors in misprinting both the amount of discs and the region, something the internal case actually has correct.
Overall, Needless is a series that isn't designed to be taken seriously. It throws jokes, flashy moves and ridiculous fan-service at you whenever it can. It's also a series that doesn't really commit itself to any sort of real direction. It has the makings of a super-powered fighting series but it easily gave itself in to fan-service only a few short episodes down the line. In the end, these 12 episodes certainly make for a fun and entertaining romp (and the cliff-hanger it ends on even has me wanting to find out more), but if you're looking for even a spit of sophistication, then you might want to try elsewhere.
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : C
Animation : B-
Art : B
Music : B
+ Knows full well it's mindless fun, good cliffhanger.
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