Reviewby Luke Carroll, Jan 16th 2012
Needless - Part 2 (Episodes 13-24)
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!
Picking up right where the first collection left off, Cruz and friends have found themselves locked in a seemingly endless fight against the Girls Squadron in the Simeon building. The cliff-hanger that ended the first half of the series certainly keeps things interesting during the initial episodes. However as things start to drag out and the story moves all but an inch at a time, it becomes considerably obvious just how shallow and structure-less the series actually is under all the wacky cast and flashy effects.
The low level plot very much remains, although the focus this time around is certainly more on describing the back stories of the cast than trying to progress things much further; something the series does surprisingly well. The amount of depth you are taken into is at times both engaging and borderline unnecessary (such as Eve's appearance), however it certainly gives a greater impression of the series and helps to bring things full circle. A number of surprises are given during this second half, however depending on your deduction and prediction skills, they may lack any impact whatsoever (in one case, it is given away on the packaging).
Where things fall apart the most is pacing. The series does well to meticulously explain all the powers and ploys that occur throughout, however these deviations are given at awkward moments, often midway through a fighting sequence. On that note, the fighting in Needless is very reminiscent of the Dragon Ball Z stretch-out style, complete with characters constantly being out of action for periods of time only to be revived in time to save the hero at the last moment. The limited episodes thankfully means that it all doesn't become too stale, but the constant fighting and pausing does noticeably impede on the overall flow of things.
Visually, the series doesn't change at all in this second half. There are a few areas early on where the animation drops a little, however they're short and not too noticeable. The flashy effects are still there, the crazy character designs and open flared jackets remain and the background art if still very much a mixed bag. Once thing that has been toned down
Just as with the first half the series, the audio is very much a hit or miss. We are gifted with a new opening and closing theme in this second half, both are as uninspiring as each other. The opening isn't very much different to it's predecessor, and the ending theme sounds more like a mash up of the brain melting Haruhi and Lucky Star tunes than it does an enjoyable theme; complete once again with a backdrop of fan-service that will pop your eyes out. The voice work this half thankfully remains rather unchanged. Although this does mean the few questionable cast choices from earlier remain, the good still far outweighs the bad.
In my review for the first collection, I mentioned my disappointment in the lack of extras for the release, especially in light of the goodies the US version saw. This time around, Siren have thankfully gone part ways to fix that problem, including on the second disc all 12 episodes of the omake series as well the usual clean opening and closings animations. We still miss out on the translation notes but the omake certainly keeps the mind off it. Each episode is a scantly 2 minutes long and follows the adventures of Cruz as he goes undercover (read: crossplay) at an all girls Academy in search of the whereabouts of his missing sister. As suggested, it's packed full of fan-service, but despite it's abrupt ending, it certainly is fun little piece that nicely breaks from the hot spring norm of these things.
Overall, this second half of Needless is certainly a disappointment of sorts. Whilst not a complete disaster, these 12 episodes do unfortunately fall victim to some odd writing decisions, creating a pace that was too slow for the time limit handed down to them. As a result, the series as a whole suffers. Nevertheless there is still a lot of good to be taken out of Needless; and those looking for some mindless fun could certainly do a lot worse.
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : D+
Animation : C+
Art : B
Music : B
+ Still is some good mindless fun, Omake extra.
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