Though this chapter did present an enormous amount of thrilling developments, including some inconceivable shocks and heartbreaking twists, its purpose was to serve as a segue to the next story arc which will explore one of the most enigmatic and essential elements of Needless: Cruz’s past. Mysterious and undisclosed up to this point, we will finally discover the history of our protagonist. **Warning: spoilers below**
After learning about Blade’s chronicle and the Adam Project during the decisive Past arc and uncovering Eve’s history throughout the strange Eve’s Story arc, it’s commonsense that we are now directing our focus at the last remaining main character of Needless. Cruz’s secretive past has been highly anticipated for some time with the number of puzzling and significant events we’ve seen throughout the manga. Even more bewildering is he is one of the rare characters who is not a Needless which makes his past considerably more appealing. What seems to point in this new direction in Needless are the surprising occurrences that took place in chapter 99.
What seems to indicate that the story is shifting to Cruz is thanks to Aruka’s and Arclight’s involvements in this chapter. After learning of Cruz’s intrusion into the Simeon HQ in the City, Aruka lured Cruz alone into a secret room where an examination table and surgical instruments await. There, it appears she’s primed to operate on our unlucky lead but not because he inquires about her shady aspirations. But before she can answer this significant question regarding Cruz’s body, Arclight intervenes in the worst possible way. Curious about this situation and not wishing to deal with lies, he quickly handicaps Aruka and uses Blackout Invoke (from Memory Guard, Ishiyama’s fragment) to witness Aruka’s memories. From there, he learns the secret to Cruz that she knows and immediately takes action on our helpless hero.
All these events serve as a set up to establish a story narrating Cruz’s past. One of the few pieces of Cruz’s past that we know are his singular memory of waking up in Mengroze’s examination room which Cruz immediately thinks of when waking up on the examination table. It’s worth noting that the current arc, City arc, began with Cruz waking up bound to an examination table with Mengroze preparing to make an incision on Cruz’s abdomen. Perhaps more concrete is the fact that Aruka was prepared to tell Cruz something crucial to him about his body. It seems about time that both Cruz and we, the audience, are ready to learn the truth behind Cruz’s past and what makes him special. Lastly, Arclight learned of Cruz’s secret through examining Aruka’s memories and thought enough to immediately act on what he learned. This, too, indicates that there will be more developments on Cruz’s character and his past forthcoming shortly.
These developments on Cruz’s history are a welcome change, especially with the manga approaching the century mark with next month’s issue. Finally learning his secrets, along with Aruka’s relation to them and anything Disk knows will help enrich our protagonist and help us understand him better. Needless is always in exhilarating territory but it appears we’re about to witness some of the most central and significant chapter of Needless when the manga reaches chapter 100 next month.
Just some other general thoughts on the chapter before getting into the specifics. Honestly, I thought the chapter felt rushed with these tremendous and shocking developments but I feel it was intended that way. The chapter seemed to flow specifically so that it would end the way it did, which is why it followed Cruz the whole time and everything that happened did so rather quickly. I realize Imai Kami wanted the chapter to end where it did but it made the rest of the chapter feel rushed. I wish the next chapter wasn’t 100 because this chapter could’ve been split in half and give more time on Teruyama’s new power-up and more time with Cruz distressed on the examination table. It’s also worth noting the atmosphere throughout the entire chapter. Unlike virtually every other chapter of Needless, there were no signs or hints of comedy or lightheartedness. Instead, the entire chapter had a dominating, if not overpowering, serious tone that reinforced the importance and influence of these chapters. Of course there were some ecchi elements present but mainly in the form of a few pantyshots and fanservicey armor but it was never a primary focus given the dire situations during most of these scenes. Will be interesting to see if there are any comedy or ecchi scenes when going over Cruz’s past.
The fight between Setsuna and Kuchinashi against Teruyama and Mio was a bit surprising to me, especially with one frame in particular. It’s worth noting that Setsuna and Kuchinashi, who are still obviously friends with Mio even as recent as a couple chapters ago, only targeted Teruyama in the fight. However, it did not stop Mio from punching Setsuna with her Power fragment. I never thought I’d see any of the main trio of the Shoujo Butai (Girl Squad) lay a finger on each other but it happened. A bit disappointed that the fight here was so short but, again, it’s likely because the chapter needed to reach a specific point before it ended. Hopefully something changes here, though, because it looks like my favorite characters are going to quickly lose this one-sided brawl. Really surprised at the three new character appearances this chapter, especially Disk. I realize Disk knows the most about Cruz which could be why she’s here. However, we don’t know what she knows about Cruz or how much she knows and she’s been cautious about Cruz’s information so maybe we’ll learn from her sometime soon. I’m not a fan of gore, so I was particularly disturbed by one scene in this chapter of Needless. Gore through action sequences and battles are generally acceptable since those are realistic outcomes of fights but something like what happened in this chapter was a bit disheartening. It was something I had hoped not to see but I’m not surprised something like this happened. And seeing Blackout Invoke work the way it was intended, unlike what happened in Eve’s Story, is actually pretty awesome. Too bad it was used by the one character we never want to see us it.
Overall, I’m a bit mixed on this chapter. There were some pleasant surprised, some momentous developments, and a number of unpredictable shocks that made the chapter incredibly stimulating and delightful. However, there were a number of aspects that were either a bit disappointing or unwanted that kind of diverted some of my enjoyment for the chapter. Still, I’m happy with where the manga is going now and I’m excited to see what happens when Needless reaches chapter 100.