DearS vols. 1-3
Mike Toole rates it:
Okay, so the moe thing has been around for a while now, long enough for lots of its conventions to get played out, and lots of funny jokes to be made at the expense of the genre. My favorite comes from Heisei Democracy, whose author, in this entry, cleverly alters the preface of the Communist Manifesto, giving us the amazing gift of this line: A spectre is haunting Japan - the spectre of moe. DearS, a moe tale authored by a pair of actual female creators using the pseudonym Peach Pit, is proof that the spectre of moe is still hanging around Akihabara, even now. I am confident, very confident, that garbage like this is teaching an entire generation of male otaku to fail at life.
You remember Alien Nation, right? It was a modestly interesting sci-fi film that presented a scenario where alien refugees landed on Earth. They weren't altogether different from us, and were actually intent on integrating into human society. The titular aliens of DearS are kind of like that, only gone horribly wrong. See, when aliens land on the Earth of this cartoon, they get called "DearS" (yes, with the 's' capitalized) and are treated like celebrities as they gradually spread out and visit regular Earth people to learn our strange customs. Naturally, the DearS eventually show up in Japan, with one of them scheduled to arrive in the neighborhood of Our Hero, a sallow teenager named Takeya Ikuhara.
Like many moe heroes, Takeya lives alone for some unspecified reason, but that's okay-- his Childhood Pal, Neneko, visits him regularly, often unannounced. This will inevitably lead to many YOU WALKED IN WHEN I WAS DOING SOMETHING SEXY AND TOTALLY MISUNDERSTOOD moments. Anyway, Takeya and Neneko go off to school, where they see the homeroom teacher, Ms. Mitsuka. Basically, they took Ms. Shikijo from Mahoromatic-- same voice actor, even-- and put her in this show. Seriously, it's the same damn character! She dresses in lingerie and makes her students read porn. On the way home, Takeya finds a girl with impossible hair, naked except for a giant dog collar. Yep-- it's one of those DearS chicks. He does the gallant thing and takes this idiot girl-child home.
Their faltering first attempts at communication echo the comedy classic Meatballs II; sadly, Takeya does not start calling her "Meathead." Her name is too long to remember, so she just calls heself Ren. Ren, much like Johnny-Five in Short Circuit, needs input. It becomes obvious that she's going to follow him to school, whether he wants her to or not. That's okay; Neneko will help him buy clothes for her. NO, screams Takeya. I AM A MAN AND MEN HATE CLOTHES SHOPPING. The next day, Ren wakes up and mysteriously knows how to speak English. She calls Takeya "master" and refers to herself in the third person, but only sometimes.
She has lots of questions ("WUT IZ A GURLFREND," for example), but then it's off to school, where Ren is welcomed as the celebrity DearS guest star. But oh, what's this? She wasn't scheduled to arrive! How mysterious! The real DearS guest star is Miu, who is basically Daffy Duck-- she has that exact same sense of outraged pompousness-- with impossible hair and big tits. And then we get to meet Takeya's suave, elegant rival. Yeah, I remember Urusei Yatsura too, guys. What else...? Uh, Ren really likes melon bread. She eats it all the time. Isn't that hilarious? Actually, it would be hilarious if her skin broke out and she got diarrhea as a result, but DearS isn't smart and daring enough for that kind of comedy. Its comedy involves panty flashes, boob squeezes, and highly improbable misunderstandings. It's just that kind of show.
There are other characters-- a horrible, scrawny girl in an orange Pink Panther costume and Takeya's very own Cosby Uncle, his mysterious little sister who shows up out of nowhere in episode 7. There are some hints at a sinister plot; there's some mention of Thanatos, holder of the infinity gauntlet. I'd wonder if the DearS weren't scouts for some kind of vast invasion by a bloodthirsty alien empire, but I know not to expect that much from this story, a story where high-tech, super-intelligent alien babes come down to earth to do mankind's housework.
DearS has absolutely nothing meaningful to say, and its fanservice-y excesses seem so dull and calculated as to make it completely artistically vacant. It's nothing but cheap pandering-- and don't get me wrong, some shows do cheap pandering with tremendous wit and style, like Godannar. But DearS is the kind of show that, quite frankly, leaves me feeling angry and ashamed, because it's so badly animated and poorly directed, with loud, braying, misplaced moments of SD comedy. Its talented cast of actors can do nothing with the horrible material. The crowning insult, in my estimation, is the revalation that there are also male DearS. Why? Women should not be watching this show. Men shouldn't, either. In fact, only miniature schnauzers, cockroaches, and saltwater tropical fish could possibly withstand the dull, vacant roar of DearS. It's the lamest, shittiest kind of moe you could possibly imagine. Trouble Chocolate is better than this crap.
Added: Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Related Link: Geneon Animation