Needless Collection 1 (Mania.com)

By:John Rose
Review Date: Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Release Date: Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Needless action. Needless fanservice. Needless fun.  
 
What They Say
They're called Needless-mutants who wield amazing powers such as super speed, the ability to change form, and some, like Blade, the power to "learn" other opponent's powers. It's Blade's greatest ability. But is it powerful enough to overcome his weakness for cute young girls in revealing little skirts? Find out in the craziest action comedy anime of the year!
 
The Review!
Audio: 
The feature contains both English and Japanese language 2.0 tracks. For the purpose of this review the Japanese language track was used. The track is a basic one with the sound being split between the front right and left speakers with no center speaker presence. The track is free from dropouts and distortions. It also lacks directionality for dialogue and effect though they are clear and easily discernable. 
 
Video
Originally produced in 2009 the feature is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation has a number of issues including the presence of noise, occasional blocking with some of the solid colors, jaggies, and some minor ghosting. The video is alright but nothing special on this release though the blacks are largely solid throughout the presentation. It is a bit on disappointing side as the visuals are an interesting mesh that seem to borrow from Gurren Lagann’s mix of bold color, styles and little pop art flavor. 
 
Packaging:
The cover shows off the artistic flair that the series designers chose to run with. A striking image of Adam Blade standing with his trench coat spread in a dramatic way as if it were caught in the wind to give him a heroic look while wearing a grin on his face. There is a large yellow light cross in front of him and both he and it are set against a metallic grey background while the title appears in silver surrounded by bold black lines. The back features an image of one of the characters (Disc) met in the series as well as a jagged series of stills that feature a number of images from the series and a good representation of the action and fanservice to be found within as well as the copy for the series. The spine contains an image of Eve Neuschwanstein in a very fanservice image of her with her torn clothing from the series. The packaging is a two disc set with a flipper in the center. The first disc contains the three members of the Beautiful Girl’s Force clinging to each other while the second features two opponents found later in the series. 
 
Menus:
The menu for the first disc features a close up of the image of Adam Blade from the front cover with six plus shape “x”s in front of him at around waist height each bearing an episode number with the episode title underneath them. The selection of an episode is highlighted by a red dot at each of the four points of the “x” and the special features and language selections that are below those are highlighted by a red underline while a few seconds from the open plays in the background. The language screen includes the shot of the character Disc from the back cover with current selection having a series of half concentric circles on either side of the choice highlighted underlined as a portion from the close plays. The special features screen features the image of Blade from the front with a portion of the close playing and the choice currently highlighted being underlined in red. The second discs main menu matches up with the first disc with the exception that Eve Neuschwanstein in her school girl uniform replaces Blade and the dots that indicate selection are a light shade of green. The language screen replaces Disc with the Beautiful Girl’s team image from the cover of the first disc label and the special features uses the full image of Eve with her torn uniform and drill weapon as the same music tracks as the first disc play on the same screens. The menus are quick to respond to changes in selection and the implementation of them.
 
Extras:
Extras on this set are The Secret of the Lilly Academy shorts, Needless information, character sketches, and clean open and closings. Needless information is a series of translator notes for some of the background information and explanations for some of the editorial decisions on changes made for the R1 release. Also a word of warning is that the character sketches include images that are spoilers for events on the second disc. The Secret of the Lilly Academy shorts are little two minute plus stories that take place in an alternate line time line where Cruz Schild is infiltrating an all girl’s school composed of the young women from the main series and the events that follow him as he attempts to investigate while girls are either in a constant state of undress around him or trying to get him into the same to make she he is a “she.” These shorts crank the fanservice aspect up a few notches and don’t pretend to be anything but an excuse for such behavior. 
 
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers): 
Welcome to the future. 50 years have passed since World War III and the atrocities committed during it. Once such center of atrocity was Tokyo which had a large scale bomb of unknown origin dropped on it. The contamination lead to the area being abandoned by the rest of society and left as a gaping black hole in the recovery that followed that is known as Black Spot. The thing is that even though society may have abandoned Black Spot life didn’t-and life has a way of compensating for the most bizarre conditions in some truly remarkable ways. In this case life gives birth to a population of super powered individuals that the outside world comes to dub Needless.
 
The year is 2130 and a human resistance group that has banded together to fight a group of Needless that are part of the corporation Simeon that has just made a push into Black Spot are the beginning of the show as they attempt to rise up en mass. The resistance move is incredibly short lived as they are almost instantly wiped out by the Needless with only a brother and sister pair managing to get a way though they are pursued by four legged robot hunting machines known as Testaments. The older sister pushes her brother Cruz Schild into the sewer to escape and turns to use her power against the machine pursuing them as she disappears in a fiery explosion along with the robot. As Cruz runs through the sewer trying to come to terms with his loss one of the hunting machines breaks into the sewer and confronts him. With all other hope lost Cruz offers up a prayer to God.
 
It seems that life isn’t the only one not to abandon Black Spot as Cruz’s prayer is answered and he is rescued by a most unorthodox priest who wears a long black coat but no shirt.  The priest then makes a spectacularly heroic but almost fatal stand and brings down the machine with some armaments he carries with him. One good turn deserves another and Cruz drags the unconscious and bloody priest back to his church where an older man named Gido praises the priest (Adam Blade) for having been able to make it back in the shape he was in after he has made contact with Blade’s eccentric partner Eve Neuschwanstein. As Cruz is queried he explains the situation in which the resistance was fighting against Simeon and their leader Adam Arklight (who is almost an exact twin of Blade) and the evils they were believed to have committed. 
 
With the evils of Simeon laid in front of him Blade decides that his sense of justice will not let him sit idly by while the people of Black Spot suffer and Cruz is accepted as a member of the group who will know work to challenge the ruling power of the land. Through their journey the group will meet new allies who will join their cause while also meeting new opponents such as the Beautiful Girl’s Force and may wind up having to fight one of their own. Along the way challenges will be met with power and strategy as well as humor as the characters will display the ability to take even the most series situations with a grain of salt born of bravado or stupidity-and sometimes a combination of both.
 
Needless contains some wonderful designs for the series and characters that make it a really nice break from some of the standard bearers in the shonen action genera. The story is fast paced and at times almost breathless in pace as it speeds along its rails. The story may not be the most original thing ever put to disc but the use of the humor allows for some avenues many in the genera do not attempt and helps create a sense of “new” even in the old. Also the characters are a nice treat with their spinning between brilliant at points and utterly stupid at others that lends a great deal to the fun of them. The biggest negative of the series is that the pace is so important that the quiet moments used to really show off characters personalities when not fighting feel a tad underused. This is a shame as it would be nice to see these characters in a much larger series so that one can get to know them better-though perhaps some of the charm of them is in the limited moments we get to see them and their lack of time to wear out their welcome. 
 
In Summary: 
Needless is an almost frenetically paced series that manages to carefully walk the fine line between both reveling in the stereotypes common to the shonen story tropes but also mocking many of the same. The characters also often switch between modes where there are incredibly clever and outstandingly stupid and the series never really takes time getting bogged down in any given issue. It plows ahead throwing action, humor and fanservice-lots and lots of fanservice-at the audience as it spins its tale of a small group fighting against a large corporation of power users to free the land of their influence, and also to show off fanservice at almost every possible turn. 
 
Review Equipment
Samsung 50" Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B-
Video Rating: C-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: 59.98
Running time: 300
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Needless