The continuous and sophisticated details about Cruz for the past 100 chapters have allowed his character to progress efficiently, logically, and for him to become the hero we see before us. This style of character development is among the best for developing a protagonist and Chapter 101 is a prime example for how it should be done.
Character development is often one of the most challenging aspects of a story to do properly. Often times a character will need to overcome an obstacle or change in some way to satisfy some task and do so on the spot, summoning strengths from within or recalling on their past which explains their ability. This style, however, often feels substandard or boring since it feels sudden and without proper build-up. How exactly does this power manifest, how is it controlled, and, perhaps most importantly, why now? It often feels like a deus-ex-machina for the author to add such significant change in a sudden manner and then solve the issue without anything that feels like authentic character development or that it changed the character in any meaningful way. This style is employed in numerous manga and anime because it holds an immediate heroic and gratifying aspect to it but it feels empty or shallow. Among character development styles, it is among my least favorite.
Thankfully for Needless, Cruz has had ample time for his heroic nature to blossom, explicitly explained throughout this chapter. The bulk of information from this chapter carefully dissected every amazing detail about Cruz’s life and disproved his misconceptions on each of these events. With examples from the very beginning of the manga with his fight with Kafka, to momentous scenes such as stopping Aruka in the Third Shelter, to surviving the fall into St. Rose Academy, to numerous recent events such as surviving in the City, Setsuna’s onslaught, and now a mighty Agnishwattas, Cruz’s growth throughout Needless has outstanding. All these examples have explanations to them to reinforce his current state, yet at the time of these miraculous moments, Cruz and the audience would fail to notice. Well, maybe not the entire audience but there were examples that were so minute and trivial that turned out to be among the most significant and telling of Cruz that were missed, such as Hatfield’s Rain Laser attack. And we can apply these details further to other examples that weren’t covered, too, such as Strom’s Vajra Cruel Fist, surviving Mengroze’s experiments, and rescuing Eve from the Underground City. Cruz’s growth throughout Needless has been ubiquitous throughout yet it was always done in a subtle manner.
Rather than openly point out Cruz’s development at these moments, Needless decided to let the moments happen and then use it as a means to show Cruz’s growth. Had Cruz had his progress pointed out to him during each of these scenes or had it been focused on more closely, then Cruz’s personality and relationships would have been stunted and his heroic and courageous nature would have never blossomed the way it has. Rather, by developing the way he did throughout Needless and learning about everything in Chapter 101, Cruz was able to develop as a character in multiple ways without seeming sudden, empty, or irrational. Seeing Cruz go through everything all over again in this chapter and pointing out the significance at each moment is a true testament to all the development Cruz has shown throughout Needless. It has become one of my favorite styles of character development and has been an essential part to my enjoyment of Needless. And now that it has been pointed out, we shall see what Cruz does now that he realizes he has become so much more.
Sorry for the delay on getting this post out but here are my thoughts on the chapter. First, the amount of detail and information is amazing. That information answered a number of questions and suspicions throughout the manga which is always rewarding since every chapter it feels the manga creates more questions than provides answers for. The chapter did raise a number of new questions, though, but the number of answers, clarifications, and material that I missed was really appreciated. The remaining bit of the chapter seemed to progress rather nicely with the party already heading to their next destination. I suppose there will be a transition back to the other battles going on since it’s been a few chapters since we’ve seen Seto and Solva (been almost too long, hasn’t it?).
Also, this chapter felt like the most ecchi in a long time, especially with the amount of fanservice Yamada provided this chapter. I don’t ever recall seeing that many panty shots in one chapter of Needless before but I suppose it’s realistic given that Cruz’s and Disk’s skirts are essentially destroyed and no one has ever cared about their panties being visible in Needless in the first place. It was a bit shocking at first but after a second or third read-through of the chapter, the sheer number of panties and other fanservice seemed to be less shocking and more typical. The amount of comedy was also lacking though that’s a given with this arc and the nature of this chapter. I suppose the gags will be limited during this stretch which makes the 4-koma Needless Gaiden comedy side-story all the more valuable. Still, there were a few gags in this chapter though they seemed to be more related to fanservice than humor. Still, the best one led to a number of laughs, so that’s enough given how serious this arc is supposed to be. I always hope the comedy will return soon but that might not happen given the desperation for the characters and the number of serious battles going on.