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DearS: Volume 1: First Contact

DearS: Volume 1: First Contact
Details
Review Date:
Reviewed By: Spike

Released By: Geneon

Age Rating: 16+

Region: 1 - North America
Volume: 1 of 4
Length: 100 minutes
Subtitles: English
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo
Japanese Dolby Digital Stereo
Summary
Due to the unprecedented arrival one year ago of an alien spacecraft that crash-landed into Tokyo Bay, there are now a number of alien refugees living alongside the people of Japan. With their spaceship out of commission as no human engineers can repair it, the DearS as they are now called (a contraction of "dear friends") have been placed into a home-stay program with regular families and schools to learn the intricacies of human life, and have come to hold a great fascination by the people of Japan. Well, almost all.

Takeya, doesn't quite believe that these aliens are as quite as innocent as they seem, and would rather believe that they come to conquer our planet and destroy us. However while walking home from his high school one afternoon Takeya discovers a girl wrapped in a blanket, crying, and decides to take pity on her. As he brings this girl home he discovers that she is likely one of the DearS.

If that wasnít quite enough to deal with on itís own this new DearS considers Takeya to be her master, and his childhood friend Neneko thinks he planned it! Unfortunately it only gets worse at school between having to fend off the attentions of an oversexed teacher and the jealousy of another DearS, there could quite well be a cat-girl stalking them as well! High school was never, ever, supposed to be as difficult as this...
Review
This is a comedy, and as such the characters act a bit off the wall, especially Takeya, who's paranoia over these new visitors from the stars seems to have mostly come from 80's American science fiction shows and movies (Viewers who have seen the now dated "V, The Mini-series" will be treated to some subtle, and some not so subtle, references to this show). Neneko, the childhood friend, is not the stereotype she might seem. While she wakes Takeya up for school religiously every day, she seems more down to earth than most and replaces the more traditional bubbly and quirky personality that weíre used to with a more cynical and serious demeanour. The DearS girl, Ren, shows only a basic personality and initially relies on Takeya, while the other more incidental characters seem upbeat and all act a little over the top.

DearS looks very nice, utilising almost all hand-drawn animation culminating in a bright and colourful ambience with great detail on the buildings and scenery as well as the characters, leaving there very little to complain about in the visuals department. The sound is handled in a similar way with plenty of ambient noises to lift the visuals and believable sound effects rounding it off well. The subtitled and dubbed audio versions on this DVD are barely distinguishable although the choice of voice actor for Takey's voice in the English dub does sound a few octaves too deep for a Japanese high school kid when compared to the Japanese dub.

DearS follows a familiar story line in which a young man finds what he perceives to be a girl on the street and takes her home, only to find that she has a slew of hidden powers much along the same vein as the popular Clamp series Chobits. One thing to notice about DearS is the fact that itís been given a 16UP rating for the American import DVD, and it deserves every single year as it is packed with fan service from start to finish, everything from Takeya's teacher feeling herself up in lingerie during a lesson to Ren's rather unusual habit of becoming naked at the drop of a hat. Expect plenty of laughs, skin, and compromising situations.

I was all geared up to completely hate DearS at the outset having looked at the back of the DVD to find episode titles such as "Was It Too Small?" and "Wipe Your Mouth" as well as the packaging, both of which are obviously designed to make the viewer fear the worst. The reality however is that this series is a light-hearted (if slightly ecchi) romantic comedy, and certainly isn't the worst DVD that I've seen this year. While DearS won't be winning any awards in the near future, I know of plenty of fans that this series will appeal to, with a slightly silly plot giving over slowly to who Ren really is and a possible conspiracy beyond that. DearS is well worth a look if you're a fan of series like Chobits, Ah! My Goddess, or even Happy Lesson. But only if you have plenty of spare cash left over at the end of the month.

Rating: 5/10
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