Tuesday, 12 December 2006 21:23

DearS (TV, 2004)

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Overview

In this typical shounen bit of teasing fanboy service; jerk, biggot, and nice guy (yes you read that right) Takeya Ikuhara comes across a girl by the road one day after school, clothed only in blanket. He saves her from being run over by a truck, only to find she's one of the almost legendary DearS, who crash landed on this world nearly a year before. She kisses his hands, and then his lips, promissing to serve him forever. There are several problems with this, as he soon discovers.

Review

Originally published on "Where No Anime Goes Unpunished."

I must have a thing for blue-green haired girls with pink eyes and tatoos on their foreheads, cause this is what got me interested in this series to begin with. Seeing a damn fine looking woman (in the overly generous vein of artwork) with the afforementioned features at my local fanboy shop on the DearS manga volume attracted me to this story in the first place. I had a feeling, however, that I was going to see something completely stupid when I opened up this manga, or at the very least, something that had already been done to death. And in a way, I was right. However, that's not all I found, not by a long shot. This led me to downloading the anime to see more, and I'll certainly be getting it on DVD when it comes out.

Let me give you some background. The DearS, as per the story, were not named as such in and of themselves...Terrans gave them the name of DearS, which was sort of an amalgamation of Dear Friends...someone probably watches a bit of Gackt too, as he named his fans the Dears, or should I say, his Dears, heheheheheh. One-hundred and fifty crashlanded their starship next to Japan (of course...all things considered, it's very convenient, heh), and with no way to repair their ship and get home, they were stranded here. There's an obvious parallel here with "Alien Nation," more so as you get into their story a bit more. They are capable of learning at a phenomenal rate, especially languages. Like any Japanese Alien type, they're humanoid, phenomenally beautiful, their costumes are intricate and outlandish, and their hair colors are of the primary type. The "I believe button" for this particular bit of story telling has long since desolved into a straight bypass circuit, and I barely batted an eyelash at it.

Within a year, they had pretty much learned the customs of Japan (and probably several other countries, but I don't recall if they were mentioned or not...and in this case are really not neccessary, though I'd expect the UN would have been far more involved in this than is noted...and maybe they are honestly), had aquired Japanese citizenship, and since a good portion of them were about the age of high schoolers, they were slowly integrating themselves into the Japanese society...in this case, socializing with children their age, and that means we see the Japanese obsession with schooling here. At least it makes sense to a certain extent. The DearS are also heavily protected in Japan, and I expect this is more of a mandate by several countries, as the DearS' particular problem would spark heavy HEAVY debate and potential conflict. It would also make a sort of sense to keep the DearS isolated on a little island like Japan, and were heavily regulated, because if they EVER got out to the wild so to speak, I can't even begin to imagine what would happen...to both them and the world at large.

Enter Takeya Ikuhara, disgruntled highschool student, partime worker at a video rental store, and all around biggot when it comes to extra terrestrial life forms. Mind you, his particular fear of them comes from a rather hillarious source, but even so, at first he comes off as a straight out and out racist bastard. He gets over it, but make no mistake, this guy is still a grade b jerk (not as bad as a grade a, but still tends to hurt people without thinking and actually wonders what it was he said to them to hurt them...he lacks that kind of social skill)...this does not change in the least as the story progresses. Oddly, for the class he's in, his friends are more interested in porn than they are in their Teacher who's giving them access to live girly show 24/7. This is far smarter than I'd give boys of that age, as such a lady would probably be very dangerous to mess with on several levels, and almost kills suspension of disbelief with that alone. She's damn near naked in class and I counted her having at least 3 orgasms in that scene alone just by her imagining certain things. She also forces her students to read pornography in order to brush up on the grammar skills and learn english. It's often wondered why this lady hasn't been fired or jailed yet, but she's either doing the superintendant or all he really does IS water his garden. She really isn't value added to the story to be honest as she has no real impact on it, except as super cheap comic relief...sorta like the Tenchi clone in GXP's notorious bad luck, only she's far more amusing.

Anyway, ol Takeya is walking home from school, and runs into an interesting surprise. Seems that the DearS lost one of their members who was still in cryostasis in a traffic accident, and she got loose. Guess who finds her? Yup, he winds up saving her from getting run over, as she really has no idea what the Hell she's doing at this point. It is here you see that which would spark so much controversy concerning them, and what attracted me to the story in the first place as a study of a truly alien thought process.

You see, the DearS are a slave race (again, harkening back to "Alien Nation"). And I don't mean an enslaved race, or even just genetically modified like the Newcomers in "Alien Nation." These people were engineered to be subservient...to NEED to be slaves. Without a master, or someone to answer to, these people would DIE for they would not be able to exist by themselves at all. This is not to say they don't have personalities or thoughts and feelings of their own, but it tracks in to a concept that would be completely anathema to any human being. We are independant and can live without others...they cannot live without direction from a master. The thought processes behind that concept are so alien to us, we could barely conceive of it, and those that actually can consider it would find it quite repugnant if they found they could understand it in such a way as to put themselves in the shoes of the DearS. Others would take heavy advantage of it, which is why they are so well protected...and regulated. The problem is the balance of their NEED to have someone take advantage of it with the outright malicious nature of several members of the human race, IE to not take it so far it becomes abuse of the DearS rather than just allowing them to fulfill their role (and that was the nicest way I could think to put it, heh).

Let me get into this a bit more. Takeya, well, he gets over his nightmares about the DearS actually being lizard creatures out to enslave humanity underneath their pretty skins REAL quick (mind you, he's still a major jerk), as he winds up with this particular DearS living with him. He has named her Ren as it's short for her full name which is...quite long. He finds that it is very hard to hate something that beautiful who keeps on trying to win his attention, often with little kisses and shows of affection. I hate to put it in these terms, but they're often like little sentient dogs...very hard to hate unless you're a total bastard (and there's more than a few people like that out there). Thing is she keeps referring to Takeya as her Master and herself as his Slave. It's a concept he goes well beyond the not understanding point and outright rejects as the idea is obviously morally repugnant to him...as many would understand. However, the problem is, her very nature is one of servitude...her personality and choices are based completely around that. Things get driven home to the poor confused boy one night when she tries to...well, blatently put, she tries to seduce him, which is actually a reflection of what he felt for her. To facilitate their role, they are empathic as well, so they know what their master is feeling and how best to serve them. In his case, she felt straight out sexual NEED from him, which woke her up and caused her to go over to him and do a damn fine attempt to 'relieve' him. Now, while I can understand certain objections, she then proceeds to tell him how she has always liked how much he smelled while running her her nose over his bare chest. An observation like that, has very personal connotations to it. I know this for a fact. Which means it has moved well beyond the point of her doing this out of her slave nature and a desire to fulfill his desires...she WANTS this. Now Takeya cannot be faulted for what he does here, he really can't, as much as I'd like to fault him. He's stronger than I'd have been, but then I'm also a bit more understanding about certain things then he is as well. You see, he asks her, if she loves him. She honestly answers that she does not know about such things, but that if he wants this...and his body certainly does, that she will do this for him. As noted before though, with her statements it goes well beyond simply that. And he stops her, cause he's really not certain she wants this for herself, nor is he old enough to pick up on what she was trying to tell him in her part of the conversation, outside of the master/slave relationship. Now in the manga her reaction was about what I'd have expected. She told him, "Very well. There will be no relieving tonight," or something like that, and pushes him to an arms length of distance in obvious annoyance. Thing is, he got her all worked up, and then told her...no? Heh, folks, he blue balled her, and ANYONE would get annoyed with that at the very least. In the anime this was not translated very well at all, which lost a bit of its meaning...she was dissapointed, but shrugged it off...going to bed right after. Either way, he finally understood the real meaning of her being an 'alien' at this point.

The rest of the series deals with the fact that she's what the DearS call, a Zero unit. And if I understood it correctly, that means she's got some sort of defect within her. Certain 'programs' were already built in, but she lacked something that would make her a fully functioning, 'model.' This is something the DearS are very prideful about, and what society they have, tends to frown upon one of their number being incapable of performing her role up to the standards they have set. It's not so much that she won't peform her role, that is built in, it's that she's not completely capable of performing her role. This leads to them making the decision to bring her back for what equates to disposal.

You only see glimpses of such a society and how it polices its members and why it polices its members. More than that, what you see seems to be what is left over from those that engineered them, the methods by which they train up a DearS and make them viable to their role as slaves to the humanoid rulers that made them...of which you only see a few times in Miu's flashbacks.

This has not been explored, and I'm really not sure if it will be. But consider this, that was a ship filled with 150 DearS, all of the approximately the same age, and all belonging to the same, 'breeder.' They were being shipped dear friends, like one would ship cattle. Something like them, would represent, at the very least, a significant investment of time and materials...they are expensive. To just lose them like that would be highly unprofitable in terms of time and materials. Eventually, the humanoid race that made them is going to come looking.

Normally I wouldn't give this type of story more than a once over, but I'll be damned if the effective execution of showing something so alien to our point of view didn't make me think for quite some time, and certainly raised this anime's score.

I leave this review with these thoughts:

Imagine meeting a race, so (by my point of view) morally corrupt, they engineered themselves a slave race such as the DearS. Imagine how they would really be and imagine what they might do when they encounter us and our point of view. Imagine then, what YOU would do or might do, if you and yours had come to care for one of the DearS, and came into contact with said race.

Character Japanese Actor/Actress US Actor/Actress
Ren Ai Shimizu Mia Bradly
Takeya Ikuhara Kishô Taniyama T. Axlerod
Miu Mai Nakahara Michelle Ruff
Neneko Izumi Chiwa Saito Karen Thompson
Xaki Hiroaki Hirata Patrick Seitz
Hirofumi Nonaka Junichi Suwabe Justin Gross
Hikoro Oikawa Kappei Yamaguchi Sam Regal
Mitsuka Yoshimine-sensei Kikuko Inoue Wendee Lee
Harumi Ikuhara Mariko Suzuki Kristen Potter
Rubi Megumi Toyoguchi Victoria Harwood
Khi Miyuki Sawashiro Yuri Lowenthal
Natsuki Ikuhara Ryoko Shintani Jennifer Sekiguchi
Nia Yukari Tamura Carrie Savage

Additional Info

  • Title: DearS, ディアーズ
  • Genre: Harem, Romantic comedy, Sci-fi
  • Director: Iku Suzuki
  • Studio: Daume
  • Licensed: Geneon Entertainment
  • Network: Chiba TV
  • Format: Television
  • Episodes: 12 + 1 OVA
  • Animation: TOASTY! (+4)
  • Writing: TOASTY! (+4)
  • Pacing: Groovy (+5)
  • Voice Acting: Very Good (+3)
  • Soundtrack: Above Average (+1)
Last modified on Tuesday, 20 March 2012 23:30

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