DearS was interesting for me because it’s an adaptation of a manga by Peach-Pit, two female mangaka also responsible for Rozen Maiden. At first glance, the two are extremely different, Rozen Maiden tinged with gothic romance, prettiness and elegance, and DearS so base and perverted it makes the similarly-themed Chobits look almost highbrow. It’s really the most vulgar kind of fanservice, but it has its redeeming points.
The story revolves around aliens called DearS (pronounced as ‘dears’, not ‘dear S’), manufactured slaves who have integrated into human society after their spaceship crashed and have been adapting well, until one defective product with no idea of how life on earth works decides to take an ordinary Japanese male high school student for her ‘master’. This may have some resemblance to how Jun and Shinku first meet, albeit almost inverted, but then there are so many things that just wouldn’t fit into Rozen Maiden – not least the ridiculous contrived nudity and fanservice, the promiscuous teacher who does nothing but make herself a sexual object for comedy, the loli in a cat outfit and the bondage queen leader of the DearS who just loves punishing the little boy who works for her. But then you remember that the Rozen Maiden manga is much more comic than the anime, you remember Nori thinking the dolls are for sex, and you start to see some of Suiseiseki’s tsundere in Miu, as well as the similar hair, and Souseiseki in the subjugated but loyal male DearS, and authorial fingerprints become recognisable.
It’s lucky, though, that mangaka tend to be given chances to develop, because if DearS were the last we ever saw of Peach-Pit, that would be a real shame. This juvenile piece of ephemera, pandering to adolescent male fantasy, is deeply inferior to Rozen Maiden, which taps similar lusts in a far more subtle and ultimately moving way.
Which is not to say that it does not amuse. DearS has its share of charming characters, funny situations and clever moments – but remains a distinctly mediocre anime.
(originally written 3.5.08)
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