DearS: 2nd Contact Review
Ren and Miu run circles around Takeya, while some mysterious aliens hunt them down but don’t do very much. Soon Takeya’s little sister will visit. Won’t that be fun!
As feared, DearS remains in a slump. We should probably be thankful that this series is only thirteen episodes in length, because clearly the animation staff want to continue upping the titillation while reducing as much of the main storyline as possible. That is of course if it ever had a major storyline, and by that I’m referring to the Instructor’s goal and her servants Xaki, Khi and Nia, on top of which is the whole Ren saga. With the characters having been introduced rather ambiguously in the first volume I had expected the second to elaborate on them greatly, at least to give us an idea of what the hell they were up to, other than simply trying to recall Ren. Furthermore there are potential possibilities that at the moment don’t go any further than sexual relations. Indeed the main focus then for the next two episodes on this disc is between Takeya, Ren and Miu, and as before they share much of the same properties.
Volume 2 had the potential to take Takeya’s predicament and turn it into something interesting. Takeya is at this stage highly frustrated, unclear as to why Ren keeps calling him “master”, or why she’s his slave; whenever he asks her about it she fails to understand where he’s coming from. In addition he’s growing more attracted toward her but is conflicted every time he thinks about her being from another world. When Ren realises that he secretly has eyes for her she advances toward him without shame or embarrassment, telling him that if he wants to sleep with her he can. Naturally (though perhaps stupidly) he turns her down and tells her that it is more important that they share the same feelings for one another. This proves to be a foreign concept for Ren and is just another learning experience that she needs to go through. Speaking of which brings me to Miu. Like Takeya she is also frustrated, but for different reasons. As a DearS Miu has to fulfil her duty as a slave, but being on Earth proves to be difficult. Her help isn’t needed at her home-stay and she now feels unfulfilled; in a bid to satisfy her desire she decides to train Ren until she can serve Takeya better. Thus ensues a few comedy moments with Ren learning how to cook Earth style, but not much more. Everything in-between these acts is nothing more than cheap thrills; once again Mitsuka pops up on more than one occasion to show off her sexy attire whilst continuing to behave disturbingly toward her students.
With the last episode on the disc we learn that Takeya has a younger sister called Natsuki, who is in fact his half-sister. She’s highly energetic and overly excited especially when it comes to the DearS – they being the reason for her return to Japan in the first place. The writers try to establish a solid relationship between the two, but they get overly playful with the idea: There’s an awkward moment early on when Takeya runs into her on the street and she proves to him how grown up she is by lifting her skirt up and telling him that she has bigger breasts now. Granted while she covers herself up it’s a strange, teasing moment that ends up being a gag that doesn’t quite work so well – a taboo issue that doesn’t seem to be there for any other purpose than to raise eyebrows, as opposed to actually addressing something in a worthwhile manner. That aside Natsuki proves to be an all round horrible addition to the character roster; she’s a loud and obnoxious girl, still immature and brings no real importance to the series whatsoever. In fact her introduction could have been the start of a good turn, but it’s wasted and instead much of her time consists of her yelling at her brother and Ren, calling them perverts when she learns that Ren is staying at Takeya’s house. Yes it’s a rather contradictory and hypocritical turn for the young girl, who only moments earlier tried her hand at grossing out her brother.
I now feel as if DearS is toying with the viewer; it raises too many questions and never answers any of them. Instead it carries on regardless and gets cluttered up by introducing pointless elements such as Natsuki and the recurring character Hirofumi who just begs the question “why?” This guy bears no relation to any of the characters and yet we’ve seen him three times now, with a different girl each time. Obviously he’s the school player and obviously he’s going to attempt to try and lay Ren or Miu. It seems the only logical approach, but why give him his own scenes that last for mere seconds? He could be in league with the Instructor I suppose…why am I even bothering to ponder it?
All the girls at school seem to be teasing Takeya over his inappropriate manners toward Ren. Truth his he’s not feeling too great about the whole situation with his new, unwanted slave. He naturally wishes to know why Ren wants to serve him, but she cannot provide him with answers. Meanwhile the Instructor sends Khi out on reconnaissance duty.
Miu is feeling bored and restless with no-one to serve . Soon she takes up the challenge of training Ren so that she can be a better slave for Takeya. Ren has recently had her advances toward Takeya turned down as he continues to worry over her being an alien. While Miu and Ren learn some basic English traditions Lord Xaki is ordered to recall the zero numbers with the help of Nia.
Takeya’s younger sister Natsuki is in town, having recently travelled the world to expand her knowledge and stuff. Now she is interested in Japan and its first contact with an alien life. When she learns that Ren is a DearS she immediately becomes excited. However her bubble is soon burst when Takeya informs her that Ren is staying at his place.
The second volume of DearS comes with a reversible sleeve: side A features Miu and Natsuki, while B has Miu disrobing behind Nia. A mini poster picturing Natsuki and her mother Harumi is also included.
DearS is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and being a new series it looks pretty swish. Colours are made up of nice pastel shades; the series has an overall toned down look to it which has been captured well on this disc. Aliasing is present but keeps itself to a minimum. Likewise, Edge Enhancement sneaks its way onto the screen but is quite high frequency and doesn’t prove to be distracting. Black levels are good and detail is fine, with just the occasional softness during wider shots or those with added diffusion effects. A spot of banding is also present.
Our sound options consist of Japanese DD2.0 and English DD2.0. For this review I opted for the Japanese track and it proves to be decent enough. There are no faults at hand, which leaves us with a fairly standard listening experience. Most of the sound channels itself throughout all the speakers, with the occasional special effect being put to good use for the rears. Dialogue is clear and is forwarded to the central speakers well, while the show’s energetic score is given a nice boost.
A non-credit ending sequence and some Geneon previews accompany this release.
DearS still isn’t going anywhere. While it does manage to raise a few chuckles (though Miu, thanks to Mai Nakahara is occasionally hilarious) it continues to meander and it doesn’t seem likely that it’ll recover after the often critical mid-way stage. Still I’ll naively hold out for something more positive for next time.
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