DearS Vol. #06 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Release Date: Thursday, May 11, 2006
Translated by:Christine Schilling
Adapted by:Peter Ahlstrom
What They Say
The new school term has started for our heroes and between needing to help Ren get changed into her uniform and Hiro-kun still making all the moves on the oblivious alien, Takeya's plate of stress and trouble is nicely topped with a surprise visit from Miu who is desperate to return his sharp-pen to him.
Ren declares her determination to kiss no one but her Master, a lesson in Ren's innate loyalty and Miu's growing affection toward Takeya. We then get a glimpse of what the heck is up with Khi and those constant bandaids on his face. Acne problem?
Bring in the extraneous characters! Peach-Pit takes this opportunity to throw some more DearS into the DearS universe, with mixed results. China, a sassy (annoying) younger DearS, is sent out by unknown scientists to track down Sample A-2, another DearS that has apparently escaped. After she returns empty-handed (and is consequently frozen again) A-2 enters the picture. She's a DearS child, and doesn't speak, and�that's pretty much it. This volume spends a lot of time focusing on both of these characters, but does manage to fit in a chapter about Khi, which is welcome considering how little we know about him and how long he's been around, and a chapter that centers around the old gang and has some more nice Miu development.
The new characters that are rammed down our throats are the main focus here. China appears first, and is by far the better of the two. She may be really annoying, but she's mischievous and energetic and pushy and still manages to be entertaining. She happens to be a Zero Number, and is very jealous of Ren, who has so much more than she does despite also being a Zero Number. China may be a little too similar to Natsuki, personality-wise, but that's ok because she's only around for a chapter and her shtick doesn't have time to grow stale. She even gets a Kun-Kun doll (from Rozen Maiden); it's always nice to see cross-series references. The depressing conclusion of her chapter packs a great emotional impact too, and serves to endear her to us somewhat posthumously.
That leads us to New Added Character #2, Sample A-2. She's another Zero Number DearS child (around five years old maybe?) and can't speak. She's also a walking plot device, and her addition to the DearS cast is almost offensive. Hasn't the �mysterious character that shows up near the end of a series and has some strange connection to a main character that isn't revealed until the end of the series� gimmick been run into the ground already? How many times do we have to go back to the same well? I wouldn't generally mind too much, but she adds virtually nothing to the character dynamic and exists solely to imply an upcoming plotline.
Which is really my single biggest complaint about this volume of DearS: the last two chapters serve to hint at a new storyline, but the hints are obtuse and the storyline honestly doesn't look very interesting. Absolutely no details are given, but with A-2 having flashbacks to groups of scientists talking about Ren, and the DearS ship shutting off all contact with the outside world, you'd have to be clueless to ignore the warning signs of Impending Major Plot Twist. Now that may be fine in other series that jump from story arc to story arc, but DearS has always been more about characters and their interactions than any kind of coherent story. Seeing the foundation for a major story event spring up out of nowhere is extremely jarring, and makes the last few chapters feel rushed and contrived. With all these last-minute additions, the upcoming storyline seems more like a frenzied attempt to throw together a reason to end the series rather than the steps towards a natural conclusion.
This volume really isn't bad, and I don't mean to imply that it is. There are plenty of great comedic moments and even most of the A-2 chapters aren't too bad. If you've been enjoying DearS up to this point then you have absolutely no reason not to get this right now. However, it does worry me when I see some telltale signs of story breakdown; if I may indulge in an analogy, it's like I'm sitting in a plane and just glanced out my window to see a strange shape near the engine. I've closed the blinds, and Volume 7 will be my second glance. Only that will tell if it is just my imagination or a horrifying gremlin bent on destroying us all. Except, you know, in DearS form.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Orientation: Right to Left