I actually haven’t paid much attention to Needless so far since it’s pretty much standard fare by Madhouse as they tend to outsource “low priority” shows (usually manga adaptions) to their Korean affiliates, but recently there were two episodes which caught my interest, to be exact #13 and #15.
I checked out episode 13 mainly because of Seiya Numata‘s participation as he’s one of my favorite animators, his very obvious style with much exaggeration, energetic distortions, fancy effect work and somewhat simplified drawings is very appealing and stands out from the otherwise so powerless movement which dominates anime these days. This style is of course not Numata‘s very own creation since he’s a follower of late animator Yoshinori Kanada and adapted this special approach from Kanada like many other animators before and after him, who are the so-called “Kanada school”.
This episode is basically a two-man work, Numata directed and storyboarded the episode and did key animation, while Kyuuta Sakai is animation director and the only other key animator on this episode. It’s no secret that they tend to work together as happend in many cases in the past, especially when Sakai did the character designs (Zoids, Ichigo Mashimaro, Higurashi). They did also the fanservice-y ending for Needless, which has consequently the same kind of drawing style and feeling as #13.
The episode itself is nothing less than a great piece of animation crafted with a good sense for interesting and fun styling and is a very enjoyable watch from the very first second thanks to Numata‘s directing, particularly the mix of blood, gags, action and fanservice works exceptionally well, not to forget the amusing character interactions. Animation-wise it’s very appealing because of the more expressive animation style and varying thickness of the (out)lines as well as interesting morphing of shapes and lines, and most movements feel very refreshing due to their rather unrestrained nature. The framing and use of perspective is also pretty impressive, but things like bending space and so on isn’t that uncommon among Kanada school animators. Following a video showing an excerpt by way of illustration (seems to be mostly Numata’s work):
Episode 15 isn’t quite on par with that, but still has its share of strong points especially concerning the animation. The key animation credits include Hiroshi Ishiyama, Shin’ichi Kurita and Tamotsu Ogawa among others, latter did probably these nice sketchy parts: