DearS Complete Box Set -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C+

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 79.98
  • Running time: 325
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: DearS

DearS Complete Box Set

By Martin Thom     July 09, 2008
Release Date: March 13, 2007

DearS Complete Box Set
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
One year ago, an alien spacecraft crashed into Tokyo Bay, leaving the entire crew stranded on Earth with no means of returning home. In no time, the aliens are granted Japanese citizenship and begin participating in a home-stay program with the local people in order to learn all about human culture. When one DearS is about to learn things they don't teach you in school!

The Review!
For the primary review session, I listened to the Japanese audio track. Sound came through very clearly, and the stereo was utilized nicely throughout as it often has characters talking from one side of the screen or the other. Voices and music both came through very crisp with no background noise or static sound. I secondarily watched part of the series with the English audio track and, while I did not like the dub voices as much as the original Japanese seiyuu, they did a good job portraying the characters. The English track also had very clear audio without any hiss.

Transferred directly from the digital master, the video came out very clean. There was no noticeable blurring or bleeding of colors, and all of the colors came out very crisp. The scenes involving flashbacks or memories where a slight haze or sepia tone is used still looked very nice, with slightly muted colors but still maintaining a high level of sharpness.

The packaging for the boxed set was done very nicely. Holding to the feel of the series, the box features a picture of Ren with a very disgruntled Takeya on one side, a sexy pose of Miu on the other, and a picture of Ren in her school uniform with the logo on the spine. With the exception of the small pictures on the top and bottom, the illustrations on the box are all by the original mangaka Peach-Pit.

Inside, all four volumes are the same as the original releases - Geneon did not repackage the discs for the boxed set release. Each volume comes with a beautifully illustrated reversible cover in a clear case. The discs themselves are screened in full color with the same illustration as the main cover. Each of the four volumes has an insert which folds out once, the cover of which has an illustration by character designer Ochi Shinji and the inside a miniature fold-out with an illustration by Peach-Pit.

The menus on the discs are very bland and, while this makes them extremely easy to navigate, they are also fairly boring. The main DVD cover picture is used for the background with water bubbles floating up across the screen. The selections are all laid out on the left-hand side with simple up & down navigation with a bit of left & right if you're selecting a specific episode. The extras menus are very similar, and the art galleries included are navigated solely with the arrow buttons on your remote. Practical, but not terribly entertaining.

Especially in comparison with what many series have been getting for extras, this set unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired. While the textless opening and ending are nice, the only other extras included are small art galleries on the volumes, some containing as few as six pictures. While there are a few character reference pictures scattered in, most are taken from the packaging itself.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Go into this series expecting fan service. LOTS of fan service.

Ikuhara Takeya is a second-year high school student who seems to be the only guy around who isn't absolutely enthralled with the DearS, an alien race whose spaceship crashed on Earth about a year ago. Since their ship was totally wrecked and they had no way to get home, they were quickly granted Japanese citizenship after almost immediately learning the language. Aside from Takeya, nobody seems to find this abnormal and eagerly accept the beautiful aliens into their society.

On his way home from work one night, though, Takeya stumbles upon a girl who appears to be about his age. She is wrapped only in a sheet and seems scared and hungry. He can't get an answer out of her about where she came from or where she was going, so he takes her back to his apartment so he can give her something to eat. Fortunately, he happened to have some melon bread with him. Unfortunately, the girl turns out to be one of the DearS that Takeya so dislikes and, not only does she decide to move in with him, she begins following him everywhere, referring to him as "master" must to Takeya's despair. Fortunately again, though, his childhood friend Neneko (who lives in the same apartment complex) assists the naïve Takeya in getting clothes for the lost DearS. Because she has a serial number instead of a name, Takeya says he will just refer to her as "Ren," the first part, because the rest is too much to remember.

Ren decides to transfer to Takeya's school, where she clashes with another DearS named Miu who is properly having a home-stay with an elderly couple and filled out all of the proper paperwork to leave their community and transfer into the Japanese school system. Miu seems to view Ren as a rival at the beginning, and even seems to show some interest in Takeya, much to his dismay. Their teacher doesn't assist any, either, as she's extremely hypersexual and has them read "books" which she's written herself (because there's no way what she writes could ever be published without an "18+" warning) as well as "threatening" the students with making her have to strip if they get questions wrong.

Normally, for a full-series review, I wouldn't include that much detail at the very beginning. However, for this series, that's basically the plot for the first three volumes. Ren continues to live with Takeya and follow him around, give people the wrong ideas, make Takeya angry, make Miu and Neneko jealous, and occasionally get him into trouble with his younger sister when she comes to visit for a short period. It's not entirely a comedy as there is a lot of character development and some serious moments, but there is very little meat to the plot for the majority of the show. Some of the things which added to my enjoyment were the references to other anime series, some more obscure than others (two of the Urusei Yatsura ones were among my favorites). In some ways, the series is also reminiscent of CLAMP's Chobits.

Throughout the first three-fourths of the story, some of the most-memorable plot points include Ren's official DearS-style fight with Miu (which results in pain and inconvenience for Takeya, but starts to reveal a little bit more about the DearS' true purpose), Miu's interaction with her home-stay family, Neneko's obvious crush on Takeya (to which he is totally oblivious) and seemingly lesbian tendencies with the DearS, and the few scenes we get to see of the mysterious community itself. That last one turns out to be quite important, as the enigmatic Rubi and Xaki (as well as the more approachable Khi) will become much more important in the final volume.

Once it reaches a point where the dominatrix-esque Rubi (acting as a substitute for Fina, the true leader of the DearS who is not yet awake) can no longer stand Ren's mere existence, the full story behind the mysterious "Zero Numbers" (Ren is one of them) comes to light. Ren finally pushes Takeya too far by announcing her deduction of his taste in women based on the hentai tapes she found hidden under his sink to the whole classroom. Approached by Khi under Rubi's orders, Takeya says he doesn't care what Ren decides to do, thus officially nullifying the pact which was formed between them. We also finally get a partial explanation of Takeya's family situation - why he hates his father and is living separately from his mother and younger sister.

The final episode felt like the creators had tried to take half of the plot and cram it all into that final 23 or so minutes. The full truth of the DearS and the seeming necessity for the community and its rules are announced to Takeya by Khi and Miu. Xaki finally takes action of his own instead of sending the comic-relief character Nia (can a show that's almost entirely comedy have a comic-relief character?) and begins chasing Ren himself as the community's "Biter." Although it goes strictly against their own rules to cause harm to human society, chasing Ren almost causes Takeya to drown, and the only way that Ren herself can be saved is apparently if Takeya will accept her and reform the master / slave pact. Of course, should he choose to do so, he could unveil all of the secrets the DearS have been trying to hide from humanity, not to mention causing his love life to be forever cursed.

In Summary:
The show was fun to watch and made me laugh quite a lot. The most disappointing thing was the execution of the actual plot - the viewer is forced to either assume that the show has virtually no plot or attempt to infer the majority of it from bits and pieces, many of the early-episode ones focusing on Miu and the later-episode ones focusing on Khi, Nia, Xaki, Rubi, and Ren herself. I got the feeling while watching it that there really should be more to it that I was missing that they would surely explain by the end of the series, but I was ultimately left disappointed and forced to fend for myself if I wanted a solid plot.

If you have some spare time or just enjoy watching a VERY ecchi almost harem-style anime, I'd recommend picking up this series. If you'd rather have something deep and meaningful, I'd look at some of the myriad other titles on the market.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art GAlleries,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Panasonic 30" CRT TV, Philips DVP5140 progressive-scan code-free DVD player via composite video cables, Pioneer VSX-D400 receiver with 5.1 channel speaker system.


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