So Chrome Shelled Regios was off the table, as was the vast majority of the shows I was planning on getting around to at some point. But as luck would have it I came across Needless. In fact I actually started watching Chrome Shelled Regios on accident because I thought I was watching Needless (I got their cover art mixed up). So maybe I got f**ked but, at the time, I figured it would all work out the way it was meant to.
We’ll get to how well that worked out in just a minute.
In any event Needless is based on a manga by Kami Imai. It was adapted into an anime by Madhouse in 2009 and licensed for North America in 2011 by our pals at Sentai Filmworks. Like most of the anime I review I knew pretty much nothing about this show going into it. It’s been referred to as “s-CRY-ed meets Gurren Lagann” and those are two of my favorite anime ever. That’s a good sign, right? Right? Hello?
Full review after the jump.
[WARNING: There are some spoilers in this review so read at your own risk]
|Our "heroes" so long as you use a loose definition of the word|
If I had to name one aspect of this show as being the best it would easily be its first opening theme song “Modern Strange Cowboy” by GRANRODEO. I loved this song and it was always the highlight of watching any given episode (until they changed about halfway through). Interestingly I despised both ending songs, which are a far cry from the fast paced J-Metal of the opening.
Everything else was pretty terrible.
Let’s start by talking about the plot. It’s not particularly original; the whole “In the future Japan will have superpowers” scenario has been done before though technically so long as it was done well that wouldn’t be a huge issue. However Needless does not succeed at that. In fact it flat-out fails. First of all this show is an over-the-top comedy but really just comes off as unfunny and juvenile. As far as it’s story about as deep as a flatbread pizza as the premise is flimsy and has a ton of holes. Worst yet it drags so f**king much. Yeah I know; this is a fighting anime and that’s pretty common but Needless is only 24 episodes, way less than something like Soul Eater (or Dragon Ball Z, or One-Piece, or Naruto, or Bleach) and long ass fighting takes up a lot of episodes. For example the longest fight in the show is easily Blade taking on the Girl Squad in a giant room that lasts TEN EPISODES which is a huge chunk for a show of this length. Now granted a huge amount of characters jump in and out of the battle during this so it’s not just the same four people going back and forth but it’s still the same fight in the same exact location for more than a third of the series. That’s a lot of time we could have used to, oh I don’t know, DEVELOP THE F**KING CHARACTERS!
|Cruz, who spends most of the show narrating to his dead sister|
However Adam Blade is a terrible main character. He’s not particularly heroic but also doesn’t have the right combination of swagger and likability to work as an anti-hero lead. He’s portrayed pretty much from the beginning as an unstoppable and unkillable badass (think Wolverine from X-Men meets Sylar from Heroes) so a lot of the show lacks tension. He’s not particularly deep, just like the rest of the cast, and there’s just not a whole lot to like about him. Oh and also he’s a pedophile. Yeah, you read that right: the main character of Needless is a fucking pedophile. It’s established that his attraction to underage girls is “his only weakness” and it’s always played for laughs but the fact is he repeatedly fawns over and occasionally fondles various younger women in the show, including one that is no older than twelve (or at least looks and acts no older than that)! It’s gross and the fact the cartoon just turns it into a joke really bothered me. How the hell can I get behind a protagonist if he wants to have sex with a nine to twelve year old? That’s like trying to have a superhero comic where the title character is a serial rapist; I don’t give a shit how many people he saved from that burning building, he’s still a goddamn serial rapist!
|Pictured: The best characters in this show|
Too bad dick all is done with them
As for villains...meh. The main antagonist Adam Arclight is a mustache twirling stereotype with lame motivation and most of his underlings are little better. Saten was the sole exception partly because of the fact he was cool and the plot twist near the end made him a much more interesting enemy than Arclight…but then the show zigs when it should have zagged and blows it by killing him off without a true resolution to his plot. Great. [NOTE: Saten’s plot twist is anime only and doesn’t seem to appear in the original manga].
|A cool looking villain with a sympathetic back story?|
Better kill him off!
|Oh, it gets so much worse|
This is the kind of show that explains why so many people look down on anime fans. If I had never seen a Japanese cartoon before watching this one I’d think pretty little of the industry and the people who feed it. The fact is that this series lacks pretty much any redeeming qualities and the few times it succeeds at anything it ruins it by going a different route making us hopeful that things could potentially get better but in fact they never do. In that regard watching this show felt like being in an abusive relationship (which is why it took me so many months to watch it). A lot of people favorably compare Needless to Gurren Lagann but the latter show had a great (main) cast, a good balance between action and comedy, an exciting plot and a style that accentuated these positives and made you forget about its many flaws. Needless has…a good theme song (and even then only for half the show) and nothing else. It’s not in Gurren Lagann’s league and is easily the worst anime I’ve ever reviewed. Okay, maybe it can be viewed as parody but it’s not particularly well done parody and doesn’t really say or deconstruct anything. I was going to sneak in a passing grade but after writing this review I think we all know what it has coming.
|Fathers, lock up your daughters (for their own safety)|
-Has a good opening song
-Some characters were actually pretty cool (if horrifyingly underused)
-Has an enormously unlikable protagonist
-The rest of the cast is flat and uninteresting
-A very weak plot
-Has a constant stream of fan service
-Completely wastes it potential at every available point
Well that sucked. Thanks for nothing, Netflix. If you have any anime you’d like to me to review or just a suggestion of what to check out next shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com or send me a tweet. The next time I'll review an anime it will be one that's been requested of me for a long, long time.