Yep, it’s that little show that’s been compared to Gurren Lagann more often than a dead horse gets beaten on. After watching the first two episodes numerous times, I can say with confidence that I was one of those people who made the Gurren Lagann connections… AND I’m enjoying it just as much as I did Gurren Lagann at the start. Bold statement? Yes, but I’ll continue sticking with it until this series falters. Better late than than never, so let’s get into what I thought of the first episode.
Before we get to the actual episodes, let’s start with the Opening and Ending. The Opening is ｢modern strange cowboy｣ by GRANRODEO , and the Ending is ｢Aggressive Zone｣ by the NEEDLESS Girls. I have to say that the show is a good mixture of manliness and fanservice, and the OP and ED are very good representations of that. The opening song and video is overflowing manliness, and it does a damn good job of getting your blood pumping and connecting you into their gritty world and zany characters. I wouldn’t expect anything less than a manly song with manly lyrics though from KISHOW, as he’s the same guy who voiced Kittan from Gurren Lagann and Seiji from Midori Days. The ending however, is quite possibly the furthest thing from manly, but I’m sure it will make you wet your pants just as much. It’s a really weird choice too, as the ending is just the NEEDLESS girls getting very… familiar with each other in borderline hentai methods. I’m not complaining about the ending by any means, but I wonder what compelled them to give you over the top fanservice after twenty or so minutes of GAR… and I’m also wondering what they’re thinking by not putting Eve into the pit of lesbianism…
EPISODE 1 – Adam Blade
In the year A.D. 200x, the third World War was about to begin. Many cities were victims of bombings, and amongst them was Tokyo. Half a century later, the epicenter of Tokyo has become a giant, contaminated hole known as the “Black Spot”.
Switching the the present time of 2013, a fancy vehicle is seen being let through a gate labeled “666”. A very large man is staring nonchalantly at the building titled SIMEON that he vehicle is driving to, but the char explodes, and a bunch of men are seen firing their machine guns towards the vehicle. They quickly stop in shock when a very busty woman stops their bullets in their tracks, and greets them with a simple “it’s been a while, resistance members.” Before they could even get over the shock of psychokinesis, a giant rock falls from the sky and crushes some of them, and from above that a small child dressed as a magician floats in the air claiming IT’S A MAGIC~! He then proceeds to turn his hat into bullets and fires at the resistance members.
In another battle, many resistance members are being frozen from the legs up, and another very large man wrapped in bandages blasts fire at them from his Mega Buster. The woman and the magician meet up with him in front of his inferno, as all three of them stare up at the final very large individual (the man who was in the car at the start) standing atop a mountain of bodies and laughing insanely. He takes one good slurp of the blood covering his hand, and he comments on how pitiful weaklings are.
Two resistance members and siblings are seen running away from a battle robot known as a “Testament”. The younger brother Cruz trips over a rock as he’s running, and apparently that was enough to make him lose all hope on surviving, claiming that they don’t stand a chance against they guys who killed so many of their comrades. The Testament eventually catches up to them during Cruz’s little trip of realization, but the older sister who doesn’t seem to have a name at the moment tells Cruz to escape down a nearby manhole. Cruz worries about his sister, but she says she’ll be find because she has the “fragment”, and then proceeds to run towards the Testament and blast him with a silly named attack. I don’t know if it was because of the actual attack or the fact that Sister was cheesy enough to name her attack “Heat Explosion”, but the Testament explodes when the attack connects, taking Sister with it. Cruz yells out for his sister in a very dramatic fashion, as the tears stream down his face.
Cruz quickly attempts to make his way through the dank sewers, the pain of his sister’s noble sacrifice still heavily affecting his heart; however, before he has any time to cry a river, the same Testament (or a different Testament… who really knows) bursts through the ceiling and confronts him once more. Realizing that there are no longer any well-endowed C.C. look-alikes that are willing to sacrifice themselves for his puny self, he calls upon the next best thing… GOD. Next thing you know, a very ripped individual appears from the heavens in a radiating white light, sexy pose and all. He also found it necessary to dramatically punch the water and prove without a shadow of a doubt that he is the epitome of GAR, but he’s voiced by Takehito Koyasu so he can do whatever the hell he wants and I won’t complain. God asks if the puny child is a NEEDLESS, but their conversation gets cuts short as the Testament moves in for an attack with turret guns. Even God fears bullets it seems, so he tells Cruz to run… but five seconds later, he stops running and decides to face a MISSILE head on. Okay, so he runs from bullets, but when the Testament fires a Missile at him, he doesn’t even flinch? Sure, it would have been cooler in the missile didn’t miss and God punched it or something, but he totally makes up for it with his next little stunt. He jumps on top of the Testament… PULLS OUT A FREAKING GRENADE THAT HE HIDES IN HIS BIBLE… and proceeds to shove said grenade into the Testament. Sweet mother of mercy.
Scene switch. The token fanservice characters is conversing with Dr. Wily, asking whether or not Blade came back and saying she was on her way home. On Dr. Wily’s side of the phone, God (now Blade) regains consciousness on his bed, and we find out that Cruz carried him all the way over here. I mean, Cruz is like the size of one of Blade’s nipples, so where did he suddenly get the strength to carry around a man who looks like he weighs over 5000 pounds. especially since he’s been portrayed as a useless wimp this whole time? Something tells me the “Simon Effect” is happening here, and Cruz is going to end up being the embodiment of manliness by the end of the series. Anyways, Cruz is seen outside of the Church he dragged Blade to, pondering over whether Blade was a normal Father or not.
He keeps a grenade in the secret compartment of his Bible… do you really need to ask?
After contemplating the obvious, he stares at the picture of his unnamed sister in the locket he keeps around his neck, and he begins to mourn once more. Blade will have none of it though, and he joins Cruz outside to be all tsundere. I… honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen the combination of GAR and tsundere ever before in my life (it’d be greatly appreciated if anyone can point me to a character that IS both GAR and tsundere, otherwise I won’t be able to sleep at night)… Blade just continues to be more and more awesome. Their bonding moment doesn’t last very long though, as the token fanservice motorcycle riding girl arrives from the depths of the desert, and casually runs over Cruz like he wasn’t even there. Blade makes sure to punish Eve’s idiocy with a kick to the face (another reason why Blade is awesome, his GAR doesn’t even hold back for women), and they all return inside the church to properly introduce one another after a little more silly banter and strange hallucinations.
God himself Blade, the token fanservice character Eve Neusch Von Stein, and the scientist Gido. The three of them not only give Cruz a new nickname (Yamada), but they also begin to question why Cruz was being chased by a Testament. Cruz reveals that he was one of the many people who attacked SIMEON, a pharmaceutical organization who built their HQ in the very center of the BLACK SPOT, and is led by a very large individual known as Adam Arclight. Switching over to inside the Simeon HQ, the very large individuals tell Adam Arclight that one of the Testaments was destroyed by a man of equal manliness down in the sewers. Seething with jealously at the thought of someone manlier than he, Adam tells the very fabulous individual that he wants the father dead… immediately.
Back at the Church, Cruz begins to tell his life story and the reason why he hates SIMEON so much. Turns out SIMEON has been murdering NEEDLESS, and so Cruz and 400 other resistance members decided to do something about that. Their revolt didn’t work out so well though, as he was the only survivor. Eve walks up to Cruz before he can start mourning again and punches the living daylights out of him, blaming his resistance mates for making the Testaments wander around burning areas in Japan. She also went the extra mile and gave Cruz a guilt trip over being weak and leaving his comrades to die, which didn’t bode well with Cruz and caused him to bolt out of the church crying. He hides out in some ruins, bawling about his dead sister, but the very fabulous individual from SIMEON arrives and slices up his locket with his fingernails, stating that all those who oppose SIMEON must die.
Back at the church, the three have a brief history lesson on SIMEON. They apparently gained the trust of the people with charity actions, but there are also rumors flying around of human testing to develop eternal life medicine, which in turn they sell to the nobles of the city. They also burn down cities that attempt to extend into the black spot, and have also been called out for murdering NEEDLESS. Gido examined the contents of the Testament brain Blade destroyed a while back, and found out that it sent its position and video of Blade before it was exterminated. With this information, Gido believes that SIMEON will send someone far stronger than a Testament after them (oh, if only he knew how right he was, as Cruz is getting attacked as they speak). Blade and Eve come to the conclusion that a NEEDLESS is coming after them, and they walk off with glee.
Back near the ruins, Cruz is getting his ass handed to him but the very fabulous individual, who reveals that he has very thin and sharp severing strings attached to his fingernails. He is a NEEDLESS, and his ability is known as “Kandata String”, which he uses to wrap around Cruz and slice him up. Once Cruz is down, Mr. Fabulous asks him where the father is, but Cruz won’t sell him out. Mr. Fabulous doesn’t take too kindly to this, so he decides to kill him if he’s going to keep silent, but the trio arrive with just enough time to strike a pose and give Cruz a lesson on how to be a man.
Blade tells Cruz that if he worships him for life he will save him from Mr. Fabulous. Fabulous finds this amusing, and tosses Cruz aside, ready to face Blade. With one wrap and slice of his Kandata String, he takes down Blade in a bloody mess. He introduces himself as Kafka, and states that the only person who would be able to break the strings would be God. Blade slowly stands up, and breaks free of the strings with a simple flex of his muscles, stating that he is stronger than God (I was actually going somewhere when I was calling him God earlier, I surprise myself sometimes). This act of manliness intimidates Kafka, as he backs up and states that he’ll kill Cruz if Blade gets any closer; however, Cruz easily blocks Kafka’s attack, and turns into the embodiment of manliness and GAR just like I predicted! Well, I was only half right because the real Cruz is all flustered and surprised near Gido, and the Cruz standing in front of Kafka is actually Eve, who’s ability is that of the Doppelganger. She transforms out of her disguise, metalized her fist, and delivers one hell of an uppercut to Kafka.
It’s not over yet though, as Eve tags Blade in to finish the job. Kafka fights back by using his Kandata String once again, but the strings break apart before they even reach Blade. Frustrated that someone is able to break his unbreakable strings, he jumps into the air and uses his new attack “Tempest Shredder”, which had enough force to knock Blade back into a pile of rubble. While Kafka celebrates in ecstasy, the cloud of dust lifts up around Blade, and he has a huge grin on his face. Blade simply states “memorized”, and proceeds to use Kandata String against Kafka. It’s revealed that Blade’s ability is “Zero Memorize”, the capability to memorize an enemy’s ability and use it himself. Blade finishes off Kafka with his own Tempest Shredder, and Kafka realizes that Blade was cutting up his strings with strings of his own. Doppelganger and Memorization, Kafka spends his final thoughts wondering who these two were.
In the aftermath of the battle, Cruz is worshiping Blade like no tomorrow as the sun begins to set. He’s interrupted very quickly though, as he looks up to see his sister standing beside him, telling him to stand straight if he’s a man. Sister returns the broken Pendant to Cruz, and embraces him while he lets the tears start flowing. They have a very emotional reunion, but the fantasy was ruined when Sister blurts out “Yamada”, and Cruz realizes that it was only Eve. Cruz runs off in a fit of sadness and confusion, and both Blade and Gido label Eve as useless.
When dusk arrived, we see two individuals (the very muscular man with bandages and the not so muscular Magician child) standing above the bloody corpse of Kafka. They came a conclusion under the idea that only NEEDLESS can kill NEEDLESS, and they mark the beginning of a NEEDLESS hunt.
It being the first episode, it did exactly what I think all first episodes should do: show me the basic premise of the anime, and draw me in. It most certainly is a show geared towards those who like watching over-the-top shounen series and whatnot, but if that was the only thing this show had going for it then I most definitely wouldn’t be praising it as much as I am now. Like Gurren Lagann, it has a good blend of GAR, comedy, and fanservice… which I want to touch upon specifically in their own separate paragraphs.
For the GAR, as of right now it’s inferior to the GAR that was present in Gurren Lagann. Sure, Blade looks like Hercule’s love child (as done 90% of the cast really), but his actions have failed to get my blood pumping as much as things certain individuals did in Gurren Lagann. I’m not saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but the action sequences compared to Gurren Lagann is lacking. As a stand alone show? I think the action side of this show is awesome from what they’ve shown us so far. Yeah, it’s really cliche, and at the core the abilities and fights and stuff are really generic shounen fodder, but cliche isn’t always a bad thing as long as they made it enjoyable. I’m going to throw a shout out to the music now, because the music is what helped elevate the manliness in those beloved GAR moments from Gurren Lagann, and it’s sure as hell making itself known here in NEEDLESS as well. For the whole episode, I never got tired of listening to the heavy rock and extreme tunes that they gifted my ears with. The music is one of the best things of the show right now, and as long as they keep playing them at the right moments, I’m sure to feel the GAR eventually.
For the humor, this is one of the points in which I believe NEEDLESS surpasses Gurren Lagann. From off the top of my head, there aren’t any specific moments or characters I can think of in Gurren Lagann that made me laugh as much as NEEDLESS did in the first episode. Most of the credit is going to Eve for this one, as she’s great as an individual character and paired up with others such as Blade and Cruz. I didn’t expect her to be a cutesy, humorous character when I first saw her character designs, but after she executes hilarious pieces of dialogue like her introduction, I don’t think I can imagine Eve as any other personality trait. If she keeps this up, I’m pretty sure I found my favorite character of the series.
Eve: I am Eve Neusch Von Stein. It’s long, so you can just call me Eve Neusch Von Stein-sama…
Still not sold on Eve? Then perhaps her coincidentally being the fanservice character (for now, the Ending looks like it has a whole lot of competition out to get her) will tickle you fancy? She’s just a great character overall, and her ability of Doppleganger is quite the interesting one too. Granted, it’s nothing unique, but with her name and ability, I can’t help but think there a small resemblance to a certain other Eve.
She may be the best character right now, but that doesn’t mean the other characters are throw away, in fact they’re just behind Eve. Blade may look like the epitome of manliness, but he’s actually a down to earth kind of guy. He didn’t feel like he was ever on a completely different realm like Kamina did, and that’s something I actually like about him. He has his badass moments, but when the action isn’t flying around, he’s just as crazy as the other characters, and he seems to have some tsun tsun qualities as well, which is something that creeps me out a little bit. For the final mentionable character (Gido didn’t really do much besides be a background character), Cruz was definitely an interesting character. He’s this series’ Simon, but I will stand behind the fact that he’ll go through the “Simon Effect” before this show is over. He’s weak, cries a lot, and can’t see to do much without relying on others… but I think there’s more to him than meets the eye. I mean if it isn’t going to be physical strength (he carried Blade for god sakes), then he’s either going to have the mental or emotional strength that the team needs, and from there he’ll grow to being much more independent and awesome. Who knows, he might even have his own little harem (I’m looking at you again, ending).
For the story, I say it’s the weakest part of NEEDLESS right now. Granted, I wasn’t expecting NEEDLESS to have much of a story at all, but the way they set up the story makes me fear for the future. Right now, it seems like they threw down the basic gist of the story on the table, and they set it up so they can send in a different member on SIMEON each week. It’s the “monster of the week” kind of thing, and that’s not something I’m all too fond of. We’re going to have week upon week of NEEDLESS from SIMEON fighting Blade and his group, they’re going to learn how to work together and use each others abilities to take down the much stronger foe, and in the end they’ll throw in a very predictable plot twist… and maybe a character death or two? I have a couple of assumptions right now, one of them being the obvious in that Cruz’s sister is still alive in some way. She seems like a very important character that drives Cruz’s character, and I think they’ll build up Cruz to the point where he can live without his sister, then throw her back in as an antagonist or something. I mean, she doesn’t even have a name yet… so I’ll be more surprised if she isn’t working for or being forced to work with SIMEON in some way.
I’m also thinking that Blade and Adam Arclight are related somehow, most likely brothers. The title kind of made me suspicious, as they never confirmed that Blade’s first name was Adam’s to my knowledge. Why would they call the first episode “Adam Blade” if there was no real connection between them? Seems kind of fishy to me, unless I completely missed Blade’s mention of his first name. It’s be nice if that weren’t the case, but I can already see a tragic past between the two, where their different opinions caused them to seperate and walk different paths. They could have also been separated at birth, and Blade was picked up by Gido or something. Oh the generic possibilities.
So overall it’s nothing unique, but it’s very very enjoyable for me. I didn’t think I would get into this series as much as I have now, but the fun thing about new anime season’s is that you never know what to expect. Here’s hoping NEEDLESS keeps the same formula it had for this first episode, because then I can garuntee that this is going to be a fun ride.