Miscellanea and Ephemeron
10/04/2005 Archived Entry: "Anime review: DearS"
Review by Tom Good
A shy, geeky schoolboy meets a beautiful girl who turns out to be an alien from another world. The alien girl is obsessed with food, but kind and eager to please. A human girl criticizes the boy for taking advantage of the alien girl. So far, this could be Girls Bravo, and in many ways the two shows are similar. But DearS succeeds in areas where Girls Bravo stumbles.
Here the boy is Takeya, and the role of the scold is played by Neneko, the daughter of Takeya's landlord. Unlike the violent Kirie in Girls Bravo, Neneko does not physically attack the male lead. She does nag him in a weary tone of voice sometimes, but she also comes across as smart, worldly, and wryly funny. A bit of a geek herself, she seems like she could be a good match for Takeya, and she often uses her intellect to help him out. Neneko is a much more likeable character than Kirie.
The main alien is Ren, one of a group of alien girls called the "DearS" who crash-landed on Earth and try to assimilate into Japanese society. Ren has amazing superhuman powers, and can learn new skills very quickly, but she has decided she is Takeya's "slave." Takeya, on the other hand, has no interest in being Ren's "master" and just wants to have a normal life. Like Miharu in Girls Bravo, Ren is fascinated with food, but her favorite snack is melon bread.
Minor characters include the sex-crazed teacher Ms. Mitsuka, who gives her classes assignments like translating erotica. She compulsively caresses herself in class, and her students have to keep reminding her to behave more appropriately. Mitsuka is the least believable character, and she functions as absurd comic relief.
Japan treats the DearS sort of like exchange students and allows them to attend Japanese schools, even setting up a home-stay program. In this series, most people actually notice that the aliens are aliens and treat them differently -- though in one funny sequence, some neighborhood women have trouble deciding whether Ren is really an alien or just a cosplayer. And rather than instantly accepting Ren as just another girl, Takeya worries that the DearS may have come as the first wave of an alien invasion force. He has funny nightmares in which she removes her beautiful girl "mask" and reveals a hideous alien beneath it. Takeya wants to like Ren, but part of him is afraid of alien brainwashing.
The English voice acting is good, especially for Ren, who sounds a lot like the Japanese version. Like Girls Bravo, DearS is a silly sex comedy, but it is more consistently funny, and its strong, dynamic characters and more fully developed plot put it at a higher level.
The Wapshott Press
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"Ontology on the Go!"
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