DearS Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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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: 24.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: DearS

DearS Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     December 21, 2005
Release Date: December 20, 2005


DearS Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Miu decides to depart her Earthly domicile and challenges Ren to a final duel. The contest seems simple enough, but for Miu, this will mean much more than just a duel. Next up, Neneko needs models for her costumes and she recruits Ren and Miu to do the job, leaving Takeya tongue-tied before the bountiful beauties. And when Miu wins a local contest, everyone enjoys a trip to the hot springs resort, where the water isn't the only thing boiling over.

The Review!
Continuing to go by the standard harem playbook, this set of episodes hints at a few larger story ideas but plays it safe with lots of fan service and non-events.

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:
Keeping to the same style as the previous covers, we get another duo shot here and this time it's a really amusing pairing as we get the slightly outgoing Miu in a skintight outfit with her pushing her breasts out alongside the highly sexualized Mitsuka who is in some very small bits of leather and chains. Mitsuka completely steals the cover with her looks and outgoing nature here. 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. The insert replicates the front cover artwork while it opens up to a very sweet looking picture of Neneko on her knees looking up. The reverse side of the dual sided cover has another good looking piece of artwork with the pairing of Miu and Ren, looking almost innocent, as they wear warm weather clothes but still show plenty of skin, particularly as Miu seems to be grabbing at Ren's tush.

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 image from the reverse side cover of Miu and Ren. 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:
The extras are essentially the same kind as the previous volume with a few pieces of artwork in a gallery that make up what we find on the covers as well as a few basic character shots.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Every time there's a new harem style show I hope against hope that they manage to break the mold and try to do something at least a little bit different. DearS hasn't managed to do that and this volume, as mildly enjoyable as it is, continues to prove just that as it hits up some of the regular themes found in dozens of other shows just like it. It's always the characters that make or break the show though and that helps to soften it up some but not quite enough.

With the next three episodes here, which works against it since if they'd done it by four episodes the show would be over now, there is a bit more focus on Miu for things as she ends up becoming more friendly with Ren and not quite the adversary or outgoing mean type that she had been. So much has been going on since she started staying with her Earth family that she's been contemplating taking everything she's learned and heading back. There's a feeling that she can't learn much else and the problems are outweighing everything so it's time to return. But she can't bring herself to do that until she challenges Ren to a final duel and settles things with her once and for all. The duel itself takes up a large portion of the episode but it's the small moments that matter the most as Miu and Takeya end up together for awhile and Miu realizes that there are bigger things going on than she was really aware of and Takeya now fascinates her to some extent.

Takeya's adjustment to having Miu around a lot more doesn't take long since Miu's shifted from causing problems to just being there and talking a lot though the two do have their issues at times. Takeya in general is adjusting in a fairly apathetic way to having three women around him at all times but a lot of it just because he continues to be oblivious in general, a true requirement of any male lead in a harem show. Miu's being there now adds in a few more things that get said that otherwise wouldn't, such as when in the course of walking home, the DearS talk about love and make a casual comment about Neneko obviously being in love with Takeya. This brings up some images from his past when he and Neneko were in grade school and she was a major tomboy who tried to change but ended up being teased too much about it. It's a simple way of reinforcing the bonds the two though it was Neneko's dream while in the bathtub that really solidified how things may turn out.

One area that's fairly typical in this block of episodes in most harem shows is a trip to either the beach or a hot spring so we get something almost in between as Miu wins a free four person trip to a resort hotel that has plenty of baths throughout it. The newly formed foursome find this to be an ideal thing to go and do together since Miu can't take her foster family with her. The bath setting itself and all the usual hilarity and situations occur while there but it's the time just beforehand that I found the most amusing as Miu comes to Ren and Takeya's place only to find that Ren is watching AV's there during "broad daylight". That Ren is using them as instructional videos to learn what Takeya likes is amusing enough but then the two really get into it in being fascinated by what's occurring. The episode is really filled with lots of high level sexual situations and fan service as the women are constantly undressing or undressed as they get to the resort.

In Summary:
There are certainly some appealing aspects to DearS as a straightforward harem show and it plays up the fanservice very strongly instead of being coy with it like some others. The character designs are attractive for the DearS and I like the dressed down look that they give both Neneko and Takeya though I dislike how many scenes that are done like they're overexposed and details like basic line work is lost. This set of episodes is probably the weakest so far since there isn't a lot going on other than some background into Miu and pushing the possibility of Neneko being a more serious love interest. The rest is standard fluff and while enjoyable at times, makes the volume overall fairly weak. This is a series that really needed to be done in three volumes as interest easily wanes at this point.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,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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