DearS Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: DearS

DearS Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     October 03, 2005
Release Date: October 18, 2005


DearS Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Like Takeya, even Ren doesn't know that much about the DearS. This fact alone is enough of an insult to the DearS heritage to push Miu over the edge. Miu decides to take it upon herself to properly educate Ren in all that it means to be a DearS; much to Takeya's dismay. Then Takeya's world-travelling sister, Natsuki, stops by for a visit putting her wrestling moves on her older brother. How much physical pain can Takeya endure?


The Review!
The cast expands a bit as the second volume brings in more of the regular lives of the characters and how they adapt to the changes in their school lives due to DearS being there now.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a fairly standard stereo mix for a TV show which means it's all based on the forward soundstage and has a few moments of decent directionality to it, usually some key moments for dialogue and a number of action effects, but is otherwise a full sounding mix. There's nothing terribly outstanding or underwhelming about the mix and it avoids any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Being a recent TV series it's filled with a lot of what makes shows attractive right now with bold colors and very clean lines and backgrounds. The opening half of the first episode or so looks somewhat soft which initially looked like it was due to the fog in the scene but seemed to carry on beyond that for a bit before it evened out. The growing trend of slightly lighter colors in the character skin which obscures some of the details is also done here, so areas like eyes tend to blend a bit more as well. The transfer appears to be pretty much problem free as there's no visible cross coloration or color gradation where there's large areas of the same color and aliasing is very minimal. The transfer for this feels a bit hard to pin down whether the way it looks is intentional or not having not seen the original release.

Packaging:
The US release of the series is using artwork not used for the Japanese retail release (perhaps on the rental releases) and overall it looks much better than the Japanese retail release artwork does I think. This cover gives us a look at Miu in her school uniform and hair flowing all around while Natsuki is in her cat-cap and wrapped around Miu. The two look really cute together here and the soft colors combined with the background just works great. The pale green border around it and the stylized logo all works really well here and provides for a very soft and appealing cover while still providing plenty of detail to the illustration. The back cover goes for more of the same in mixing the two types of colors and artwork. The right side does a breakdown of episode numbers and titles with a shot from each episode while the full summary is in the center. The discs features are easy to find and all the production information is below it. I do still hope for the day Geneon joins most of the other companies in using the technical grid in some form however.

Menu:
The layout for the main menu is pretty simple and gets the job done with a blue background that has floating air bubbles going up while the foreground has a static shot of Ren in her DearS costume leaning against Takeya in his school uniform. The selections are to the left with the basic navigation and easy episode selection as well as the series logo, all set to a brief bit of instrumental music to it. The design and layout is good but it doesn't excite all that much but it works well and is easy to navigate. Once again they've combined the set-up and extras menu though it seems like I'm the only one it bothers but I'll keep saying it since it leads to a cluttered menu. Access times are nice and fast and the disc correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.

Extras:
This installment is fairly meager on the extras with only a textless ending sequence included as well as a brief art gallery that's made up of pieces that are used for the cover artwork.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the introduction out of the way and the basic setting gone over, the show moves into the realm of introducing a few more characters and expanding upon the characters lives with how they deal with all the changes. A lot of the mystery is still here and we get a few more hints about what the DearS are really like and just how ignorant Takeya is about them.

Adjusting to school like Ren does a fairly good job of picking up the curriculum and running with it, particularly with such an oversexed and overly sexy teacher. Her mastery of English is an amusing start to the show as she reads off the smut books out loud but finds herself being corrected by Miu from the next class. In fact, this becomes a heavy recurring theme here as Miu goes so far out of her way since being accepted into the school. Be it Ren doing something in gym class, dealing with food or whatever the subject may be, Miu is there to correct her and put her in her place. Where it gets more interesting is when Miu tries to put Takeya in his place about how he's dealing with his slave and his ignorance shines through which only serves to infuriate Miu more since it means things are not going as they should with Ren.

Miu takes it upon herself to go through the process of getting Ren as educated as possible and this leads to the amusing situation for the viewer of having her being at Takeya's place a lot. After seeing how Miu has lived and existed with the grandparents in town it's amusing to see her deal with the "younger couple" and all the things they bring to the table. All of this plays out in a fairly similar way to how the first episode does with it being school related but now in a more homemaker way or probably more specifically in the master/slave relationship that everyone seems to push the Dears in other than Takeya.

To my surprise, the episode that I thought would bother me the most turned out to be the most enjoyable as Takeya's younger sister shows up in town and is shocked at what she finds out is going on there. Natsuki's a few years younger and with his being adopted there's no obvious similarities between the two but they are close. Natsuki's grown up a lot since he last saw her but she's still at that awkward mix stage and just has a thing for her brother in the more traditional and non-disturbing way – even if she shows off how much her breasts have grown since last they get together.

Natsuki doesn't take much to Ren being there and gives Ren a fair amount of grief and trouble. Neneko's around as always and her commentary is a bit snarky in its nature but she sees exactly what's going on. Natsuki pushes her way to getting everyone to go to the amusement park with her which leads to some minor challenging situations but what it reveals is the real situation behind which Natsuki has come to town as their mother arrives and sets things straight. What works nicely with this episode is that we do get an idea behind what Takeya is like as we see him not long after he came to that family after presumably losing his own and how he dealt with a younger step-sister who was now just all over him. The flashbacks are nice and seeing the interaction among them in the present shows how it's evolved. If there's anything to dislike it's the lack of real communication that's driven by the idea of people having to leave quickly and return overseas. Can't you talk during car rides?

In Summary:
DearS has much the same feel as the first volume which leaves me with a strange feeling. There are some good fun moments to be had and I'm even continuing to enjoy the smutty teacher character but like the first volume it feels like there's something just isn't right or doesn't sit well. A lot of it I think comes down to Ren being such a cipher overall and what little personality she has not being enough to carry her character in the show which leaves it to the others to handle, often thereby causing some overacting. This volume is fun though and what works does work quite well. Miu and Natsuki highlight the cover and also really are the highlights of these episodes.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending,Art Gallery

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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