It's quite difficult for me to write an unbiased opinion of Needless. This is the first time in some years i've been going fanboy all over the place about something anime related. And what saddens me is that the general impression you get on the internets is that this series is completely overlooked by anime and manga fans alike. So today i'm not going to make a critical review, and instead I am gonna try to convince you why you should give the Needless anime and manga a chance.
But first things first: What's this about?
Needless is set in a post apocaliptic setting. Well, kinda. Japan was bombed during world war 3 by heavy weaponry of unknown sources, causing enormous devastation circular areas with high degree of contamination. Those abandoned areas where commonly known as Black Spots. Cities recurred to the Black Spots to throw their unwanted trash, and soon homeless and lowlifes began intruding in the black spots to make a life from the trash in there, eventually stablishing towns and cities inside the blackspot.
|A Black Spot: Going Fallout in the middle of Japan|
The radiation inside the Black Spot caused this people to mutate and gain strange abilities. Fearing the possible spread of the mutation, the government walled and sealed the blackspot deeming the inhabitants as Needless. Years after though, the powerful Simeon farmaceutical company stablishes on the black spot and starts hunting down the Needless for unclear purposes, which rises a rebellion against them.
Main character Cruz Schild (though most usually called Yamada) is the sole survivor of a Simeon ambush on the resistance. While fleeing he is saved by a strange priest with a ridiculous strenght (Adam Blade) who offers him shelter in a tiny church. It doesn't take too long before him and the other residents of the church are targeted by Simeon's Needless sent off to finish the job. Unluckily for them Adam is a Needless too, with the ability to memorize other abilities and use them on his own behalf.
It won't take long for Simeon take interest in Blade, and a lot of powerful needless to start gathering around both Blade and Arclight, the powerful president of the Simeon Black Spot branch, which for some reason holds quite a resemblance to Blade.
|Adam Arclight and Adam Blade, on one of their friendly chats.|
I guess until here you might say... Well, nothing that original. And you might be true. On my opinion, what i like the most of Needless is how the series excels in maximizing it's three main focus points: Action, Humour, and Fanservice.
One of the reason this series is so cool is because is an old style shounen: it has manly men, great combat action and power escalation.
Lately, most shounen protagonist tend to be wimpy losers with no personality at all. Long gone are the days of the muscled hero fighting for justice. With the notable exception of legendary Kamina and his underling Simon, the last years hace been quite devoid of powerful manly presence on the anime scene. On Needless however, all the guys show a proud bodybuilder body, and an aura of cool awesomeness. Seriously, even the soon overpowered Teruyama Momiji's glance seems to be saying: "I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome i am!". "Manly" is the first word of a Black Spot resident dictionary.
|And girls, despite being cute, can also pack quite a punch.|
Combat in Needless is also cool as hell, for as any good shounen, the important thing is not to beat your opponent but to boast how awesome you are while you are beating the living shit out of him. And for this there is nothing that says Shonen better than... Called Attacks!!!
Each Needless one and only ability, which he/she usually names on something short and autoexplanative just to have something to call it when you explain your enemy in detail how you are going to anihilate him without mercy (Graviton, Magnet or Raindancer). But also, they name their attacks on the most awesome names they can find around, and that's when fun starts. Some of those attacks become terror itself and in special cases define the character itself (In the end of the series i couldn't help but to scream "Daionhadou!!" each time Saten released his "Fourth wave").
Additionally power scalates almost evenly during the series, so even if some character seems weaker during a fight, he will surely come stronger on the next. Even when in some moments it seems some character is so powerfull that will overshadow the others, the author just cuts him away from the spotlight for some time and sidestoring with the rest of the team.
One of the main selling points for me in Needless was the absurd amount of jokes. Characters are sometimes driven by primary emotions and end up quarrelling and fighting even for absurdities with their own teammates, which remind me a lot of the Straw hat pirates.
|Humour, Action, and Fanservice, all in just one scene.|
|Anime Version of the PedoBear exterminator.|
There's a certain popular phrase in Brazil that says: "prefers losing the friend than losing the joke", and that applies to Needless too. Characters are amoral enogh to put their friends in mortal danger just for laughs sake. They can pull jokes even in the most dramatic situations, and the situations tend to easily escalate from funny to hilarious.
No matter your preferences, Needless will satiate them. You have lots of lolis offering pantyshots and damaged clothes. You have macho guys with toned up muscles. You have busty woman, yuri, and even quite an high amounts of crossdressing (in the manga).
They event went as far as to create the most yuri ending of all times, featuring the Simeon Pretty Killer Girls Squad getting down and dirty with very little clothes (by the way, only Kuchinashi is lesbian on the story)
|Not even Setsuna managed to withstand the ending.|
Overall, this three points and a compelling story are enought to provide a good shounen, but Needless exceeds that with a cast of characters with unbounded charisma.
The main characters Blade and Eve are very cool and hilarious, and hold a lot of secrets that keep them interesting through the story.
Cruz, adds the drama factor to the story. From the very beggining you understand that he is the true hero of the story despite being useless. He is the one that despite not being a Needless, will learn how to stop being needless by exploiting his natural ability for logical reasoning and investigation. As the story goes he will start going Detective Conan in the midst of battle to find flaws on enemy abilities and help his group to succeed against all odds.
|Cruz, the young detective, and Yamada, his girly alter ego in the manga.|
The enemies are all well designed and have interesting powers and great deal of secrets themselves: The best of Needless is that the enemies are not just evil, but instead they are just pursuing their own objectives, so you can simpatize with them and even cheer for them. The author sure knows that the Simeon faction must have lots of admirers so many times former enemies will turn to be allies for some time, and then turn to be enemies later on, raising a lot the fan factor. This is the particular case of the Killer Girls, Saten (or even Kafka).
|The Killer Girls are constantly switching from friendly to assassin mode.|
Well, I hope this has served to caught your interest and you will give this series a try.
The anime covers the Simeon story arc with an alternate ending (and Saten stealing the scene as final boss for some chapters). But the anime left me wanting for more so i went head on to grab the manga, currently being scanlated by PewPew fansubs. The series at the moment spans 100 manga chapters and is still ongoing, and has introduced a lot of new characters and situations.
So if you like shounen in the line of one piece, with tons of humour and awesome battles, you should definetely give Needless a try. I myself i'm glad that I decided to follow my brother's recommendation, as i discovered one of my favourite series from all time.