DearS Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, December 02, 2004
Release Date: Sunday, January 30, 2005
What They Say
Takeya Ikuhara attends high school all day to come home to his own apartment, where Neneko, the landlady's daughter, provides him with an allotment of money. One day he encounters a DearS, an alien who crashed-landed on Earth, and his daily life becomes far from routine...
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Takeya is a senior in high school. He's not terribly bright or motivated. He lives on his own and likes it that way. The apartment landlady's daughter, Neneko, is his classmate and looks after him in a caustic, yet big sisterly way. Their teacher is the awesomely endowed and dangerously oversexed Miss Mitsuki. The world in which they live has been changed by the arrival of a spaceship that crashed landed in Tokyo Bay just a year ago. Inside were 150 aliens of extraordinary beauty. The people of Earth have named them "Dears", and they are trying their best to live up to the name. They've all recently been granted citizenship as Japanese citizens and are trying to assimilate into society through something called the "Homestay" program. They are all gifted linguists, it's just adapting to everyday living in modern society they're lacking in, so they're being sent out to specially selected regular families to learn. One of them, as part of the homestay program, will be attending Takekya and Neneko's school, which has their classmate, Oihiko in a swoon, as he's a big Dears fanboy.
On the way home, Takeya's in a foul mood as usual, when he notices someone wrapped in a blanket under a tree. He tries to ignore it, but even jerks can have a concience, so he stops to help. What he discovers is a gorgeous naked babe, and she's shivering. She follows him home, much to his dismay. She speaks a language he can't understand, and suddenly kisses him. Now he's got a hot naked babe living with him, and he's not happy about it at all. He does his best to hide her from Neneko, who has a habit of using the master key to come in and wake him up, but eventually she learns the truth. She realizes it's a Dears, and helps Takeya help teach Ren, which he's named her, to read and speak Japanese.
The three of them go on a shopping trip to find Ren some clothes. They're interrupted by Miss Mitsuki, who thinks Takeya's got a girlfriend and demands to know all about it. Takeya tries to get Ren out of there before it's discovered she's a Dears, and accidentally tells her to get lost. Ren refers to Takeya as her master and claims she's his slave, so his word is law. After much searching, Takeya finally finds her and brings her home.
A couple days later, Ren decides to do some shopping, wearing her alien space suit and the cleaning apron Neneko helped her to buy. She's distracted by melon bread, her new obsession. She buys a huge bag of melon bread and decides to bring it to Takeya's school to share with him. While wandering the halls, she's mistaken for the Dears student who's supposed to start soon, and is quickly processed into school and given a uniform, just in time for the real Dears exchange student to show up.
(Note this is a review copy, so I can only comment on the content and art style)
Take Chitose from the Happy Lesson anime and make him even more of a jerk. Give him a hot babe who's a cross between Chii in Chobits and Shao Lin from Guardian Angel Getten and stuff all that cluelessness into an impossibly lucious body. Throw in a cute landlady's daughter who's a cross between Kasumi from Hand Maid May and Hajime Yagi from World of Narue. Finally, give them a teacher so totally oversexed, Miss Shikijo from Mahoromatic would be embarrassed for her, and you've got DearS.
DearS is from the manga team known as Peach-Pit, who are Banri Sendou and Shibuko Ebara. Now a popular anime, Tokyopop has licensed the manga and is sending all this shonen overload our way. So does DearS stand on it's own, or is it simply derivative of everything that's come before? Both. It seems like Peach-Pit tried to throw in every popular theme in recent anime and manga history, from sci-fi to maids to finding a not quite human girl on the way home. On the other hand, they've given the story enough of it's own spin that it's actually engaging to read. The Master/Slave issue appears to go much deeper than just Ren's devotion to Takeya, with a backstory beginning to develop in this first volume. Takeya, though, is in the running for the most annoying male lead in all of manga. About 3 or 4 times each chapter, I wanted to step inside the book and punch him in the throat. He's angry, stupid and very, very loud, which makes him not too different from most people I meet in internet forums (not the AoD forum, of course.) He's got a long ways to go before anyone's going to believe he deserves to have a couple of girls like Ren and Neneko in his life. Ren is actually quite intelligent, it's just that she doesn't seem to have existed before Takeya found her. Her love of melon bread is rather cute, and makes for some great fun when she goes shopping. I especially enjoy Miss Mitsuki. Her wild antics are borderline pornographic, and she's got the body to back up her hyperactive libido. Interestingly, it looks like Tokyopop is using the ploy of changing her from an English teacher to a Spanish teacher. I would have thought after the highly negative response from fans when ADV Manga did the same thing to Miss Yukari in Azumanga Daioh, manga publishers would have learned better. I guess not. Hopefully they will correct this bad decision. Other than this mistake, the adaptation is quite good. There are some great lines, but nothing seems out of place or forced.
Peach-Pit's art style is attractive. The characters are well-designed with a unique look. The backgrounds are mostly non-existant, giving the book a lighter feel. I like the composition of pages with panels placed in and around unpanelled art that flows nicely. The women are all gorgeous. The Dears are lushly sexy, with soft, pliant breasts (personally tested by Neneko herself) that seem to want to overflow their alien suits. The suits are revealing, but they're all different from Dears to Dears. Peach-Pit needs to learn, though, that when you have a two page spread of a character's nude transformation scene, don't put the girl in the fold of the book!
Despite my reservations, I found myself really enjoying DearS. Yes, it reads like a catalog of every shonen romantic/comedy produced in the last 10 years, but it still manages to stand on it's own. DearS is fun, engaging, and fan-service friendly, with a deeper story waiting in the shadows. Give it a try.
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: n/a
Text/Translatin Rating: n/a
Age Rating: All
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Orientation: Right to Left