Needless Collection 2 (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, April 14, 2011
Release Date: Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Filled with fights, Needless spends some time with the exposition but more time with the fists.

What They Say
Adam Arklight and his band of super-hotties are ready to take over the world, but not if the macho, mutant hero Blade has anything to say about it. Still, it's tough when your opponents are ridiculously cute girls in really sexy school uniforms. But with this much at stake maybe even Blade can keep his mind on the job and his eyes on the prize. (Yeah, right.) If you're looking for most action-packed and wackiest comedy anime adventure this year, you just found what you need - Needless!

The Review
Audio:
The audio presentation for the series has the Japanese and English tracks in stereo using the DTS-HD MA codec with a near-constant bit rate of 1.8mbps. The show has a pretty good forward soundstage mix to it as it uses a fair bit of action to complement the dialogue and it's very expressive at times with the way it gets almost wacky with it. The fighting sequences is where it stands out the most outside of the music when it gets to the hand to hand sequences as it has a nice bit of impact. The dialogue for the series is strong with lots of characters that are talking a lot, and fast at times, and it has a good warm and rich feeling to it. It's got some directionality to it that works nicely and some depth and overall it's a solid and clean mix with no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
 
Video:
Originally airing in the second half of 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the VC-1 codec. The twelve episode release is spread across two discs in a nine/three format with the second disc being a single layered disc. The show has an average bit rate in the high twenties which works well with the very bright colors that it has, especially the rich blues of the sky backgrounds. Needless has a very raw feeling to it with a lot of angular line work and detailed edges to it that gives it a rough feeling. The action to it is definitely exaggerated and the fast movements are well handled by the encoding. The colors are very rich and appealing and the transfer avoids problems like cross coloration and aliasing.
 
Packaging:
This release is presented in a standard Blu-ray keepcase though the artwork for this is different than how the DVD release is. The cover art for this installment uses the white background again that works well as it lets the schoolgirl trio shine as they expose their midriffs and torn skits and tops, providing for plenty of fanservice. It also provides a bit of shine with the silver metallic style logo along the bottom. It may be busy but it's also pretty appealing with its distinctiveness. The back cover's not as busy to be sure as it's blocked out well to allow for a section that has some shots from the show and character artwork as well as a brief tagline just above the summary. The summary is very minimal which isn't a bad thing and there's a good listing of what extras there are on the disc. Add in the production information and the technical grid which breaks everything down accurately and you have a decent cover overall. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
 
Menu:
The menu design for the release is pretty good overall as it has a very large yet personal feel to it. The main menus for each disc has a different piece of character artwork with Blade on the first and Eve on the second where they have a dark and almost concrete feeling to the background which gives it a hard feeling. The navigation strip along the bottom doubles as the pop-up during playback as well as it uses the same kind of color scheme but has primarily the episode number selections which is designed in the cross form from within the show itself. It lists it by number and title which is a nice touch. The layout is very simple and quick to use but language selection continues to be a problem because it's not terribly clear based on the icons used within it what the actual selection is. And when you're in there, you have to select something in order to get out, making it easier to just select on the fly and avoid the whole section altogether.
 
Extras:
The extras are all available on the second disc and there's a couple of things beyond the basics to be had here. The core things come in the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences which are always welcome and they have a good encode here of it with a high bit rate at times. One extra here is called The Secret of Saint Lilly Academy which has its own submenu that brings up the separate segments to check out. This is a collection of comedy shorts that puts the characters in a very different setting and has a whole lot of fun with it. It's the kind of omake that's generally a lot of fun no matter what, but even more so when the show already has a strong comedy angle to it since they take things even further. In addition to that we get a really nice and fairly detailed liner notes section that covers a number of the gags and comedy bits throughout and some of the subtler pieces that helps to flesh out things nicely. The last extra on here is a series of production sketches that's done as a video which has lots to it, but like the first, watch it only after you finish the series. 
 
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of Needless proved to be a pretty fun set overall as it introduced us to a future world where things went to hell but life continued on within the Black Spot where massive amount of destruction occurred. It had a certain kind of energy to it as it introduced us to the setting and the characters of Blade, Eve and Cruz as they battled with other Needless and made some friends along the way too. While it turned into a fairly standard road trip as it progressed, it ended up hitting a pretty significant stumbling block during it as they made an attack on Adam Arklight's Simeon citadel in the Black Spot only to get stuck in an oversized room fighting against his associates.
 
While it had its appeal at first, it started to drag a little bit towards the end. And that's where this set picks up and we get about six episodes worth of the same kind of material. There's something to be said for the variety and intensity of the fights as the unfold, from Eve being twisted to what she is now, but there's a lot of bloody moments along the way as well. Blade himself has a reduced role for part of it as it goes on as the focus is on others involved in the fight, especially as they try to save each other with the way some of them are getting wounded, but eventually it all turns towards the real fight, the serious fight. The fight that has Adam Arklight stepping into the room so he can make things clear with what he wants since he needs Blade's body, though he can definitely bludgeon it a lot without killing him.
 
The extended fight has its moments, but it does bring in a lengthy flashback as well. The first lengthy flashback we get involves dealing with Cruz's past as he learns that not only is his sister Aruka actually alive, but she's one of the Four Great Ones that works for Arklight. The back story for Aruka isn't all that much of a surprise from the first moments we see her even with her mask on, but as it gets into it, the story ties back to the beginning of the series when we saw Cruz and Aruka on the run as the rebellion was being crushed. There's a nice little secret tied into it that helps explains why she did what she did, but also why Cruz has been fairly easy to follow for awhile and the why of following him since he has key information that's being sought after. It does a decent job of bringing certain things full circle, but it's nothing really powerful or revelatory.
 
The other flashback that occurs further in this set involves going back even further, to the time after the world had been ravaged by the creations that the Japanese government had made. They're now involved in figuring out how to create something new and more advanced based off of the one remnant they have from which they pull Eden's Seed. What's interesting about the project and flashback is that it goes to a time when Rikudo, or Gido, was a big part of the Adam project and actually had hair. The story back in 2114 has a lot to offer as we learn about that project and how the Adam's came about, what was thrown into the Black Spot and how Arklight became the power that he is. There are some decent layers to it as it's explored, and we see how Arklight was essentially built, but it's generally filled with the information we need for the final arc of the series.
 
And that final arc is kind of awkward since probably seventy-five percent of this series takes place over the course of what, an hour or two at best? From their arrival at the Simeon building in the Black Spot, it's been non-stop action with the back story filling in things. When it gets to those last episodes, it focuses on the epic scale battle between Adam and Blade with Adam intending to become the god that he believes he is, which has Blade and the others trying to stop him. It's fairly straightforward and it's good to see how everyone comes together to deal with it since they realize exactly what's at stake compared to before. It does bring things to a solidly big level, which isn't a surprise considering what the show has been like, especially at the start, but it lacks a certain resonance to it simply because it's so much in a short space of time overall that it just keeps going, and going and going. It's like an endurance run and you're more just glad to be at the end of it than anything else. It does end well, and the minor epilogue has some smile inducing moments and Cruz himself comes out the best, but it's not anything that really stands out in a powerful way.
 
In Summary:
Needless started with a lot of potential and a great sense of style and power about it, but it felt like it got very distracted with what it wanted to do. In a way, it felt like certain manga series of old where it was just long extended series of actions that kept going and going, building on top of each other as it moved to the next set piece. This set spends about four episodes on back story, but even that has a good amount of action to it as well. The rest of it is action, action and more action, which certainly has its appeal but it's not enough to really carry it as a whole. There are a lot of elements to Needless that I liked, but the show didn't come together over the whole run and this set was nothing but fists and pounding going on. It may work on a week to week basis, but in an extended sitting it was an endurance viewing. 
 
Features
Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD MA Language, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Omake Episode, Sketches

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
 



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: A - N. America, S. America, East Asia
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: 69.98
Running time: 300
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 1080p
Disc Encoding: VC-1
Series: Needless