Sins of the Forefathers
Ren and the Art of Teenage Boy Maintenance...Chobits-style.
Love, along with its frequent and more carnal companion, lust, can be experienced rather often in small doses. They can appear in some way, shape, or form within any moment of the day. Sometimes, they come quickly -- such as when a person catches a fleeting glimpse of an unusually attractive person walking down the street or driving along the road. The feeling of attraction can be on a base level, as when it surfaces when a knowledgeable (and shapely) person is helping you at a retail store, or when you watch a comely woman skillfully put together a Philly-steak sandwich. For that solitary moment, it's hard to avoid "what if?" thoughts about the total stranger that momentarily captures your heart, even if you know you'll never ask the person out and likely never even see him or her again.
No one ever would have suspected that when mankind finally made contact with an alien race that the visitors would be humanoid. Even more surprising, when the DearS arrive, they each turn out to be so beautiful, intelligent, athletic, and cordial that any one of them inspires most humans to have some combination of the romantic reactions mentioned above.
The DearS were named because of their obvious good-natured personalities. They crash-landed on Earth in Japan and were quickly accepted into the Land of the Rising Sun's society. In fact, the DearS are regarded highly as the most respectable pop idols, thanks in no small part to the fact that their beauty far surpasses human beauty.
No matter how popular something is, there always remains people who refuse to care about it. There are people today who still haven't seen any of the Star Wars films. In fact, I'd wager there are people who haven't seen a Disney cartoon. Takeya is one of the few people in Japan who simply doesn't care about the DearS phenomenon. He's not a member of any of the hugely popular DearS fan clubs, and he even changes the channel when news concerning the beings comes on TV.
As far as Takeya is concerned, the DearS might as well still be in outer space, unknown to mankind. Dating similarly seems to be a concept that is just as alien to Takeya as DearS. The only girl he has regular contact with outside of high school is his childhood friend, Neneko. She also happens to be the daughter of his landlord. Thus, to Takeya, she's a blend of sister, landlady, and mom, rendering her as something other than a datable specimen of the opposite sex. It's not that she's unattractive; he's just never thought of her that way, and he's not likely to see her any differently in the foreseeable future, unless she does something to open his eyes.
Before that potential plot path even has a chance to reveal itself, something extraordinary happens. On the way home from school, Takeya notices a wretched figure wrapped in a blanket huddling against a tree. He approaches the person only to discover that underneath is a lovely young woman and nothing else. Her lack of clothes is just as perplexing as her inability to speak Japanese, but she seems taken with the Takeya and follows him, puppy-like, on his way home.
I'm not sure how many people would be annoyed if a naked and exquisitely built specimen of the opposite sex seemed interested in them, no matter what language the denuded person spoke, but Takeya shows (neither for the first or last time) that he's not a typical guy. He walks away from her.
Undeterred from her goal, the girl trails along behind him, ignoring all obstacles in her path - including a large truck speeding down the road she's crossing. Takeya notices her imminent doom and tackles her off the street just in time to save her life. Of course, this is the moment that she reveals herself as a DearS, promises herself to Takeya, and passionately kisses him. When he wakes up the next morning, he mistakenly believes the entire series of events was a dream.
His innocent belief, of course, is shattered when he flips over his sheets to find a mostly naked DearS snoozing peacefully on his futon. From that point on, the series strays dangerously close to material that has been covered before. It's almost impossible to look at DearS without making comparisons to Chobits, one of the flagship series of the modern anime and manga industry, penned by the unbeatable CLAMP.
While Chobits is perhaps the closest series with more than happenstance similarities to DearS, this kind of story has been done before -- even before CLAMP's persocom-focused drama hit the streets. One other high profile example is Ken Akamatsu's A.I. Love You, a story about a young man whose sexy, female, A.I. constructs come to life. Admittedly, there is something appealing about having your own dream girl -- a person who can be anything you teach her to be. Of course, another common trait of this plot device is that the experience typically ends up being tougher then what the average teenage boy expects it to be. Whether in DearS, A.I. Love You, the 80's movie Weird Science, or Chobits, there always has to be a catch.
In this case, the snag has quite a bit to do with Ren's distinction as a "zero number" member of the DearS community. For some reason, the DearS think of her as a defective being. By the time the second volume gets going, there are already other DearS who are coming after her to bring her back within the fold. Only time will tell if Takeya decides to help her fight her fate.
DearS does an admirable job of distancing itself from its similarly plotted predecessors by tossing some unique characters into the mix. Takeya, while not a social maverick, isn't the typical wishy washy femininity-fearing male lead found in other stories of this pedigree. While he'd have to be brain-dead to not be aroused by the buxom Ren, as he nicknames her, he has as many thoughts cursing the burden that it is to take care of the girl as he does admiring her full bosom. In fact, Neneko seems more interested in Ren's breasts than Takeya, though it's more an interest born of jealous awe than sexual attraction.
Perhaps one of the quickest ways DearS will manage to catch the eyes of prospective fans is with its sexy artwork from the Peach-Pit crew -- the team who is also responsible for the unique series of sentient dolls living with a young boy, Rozen Maiden. DearS is sexy and alluring without containing actual sex. Considering the popularity of the series, this edition was probably not edited for content, like Tenjo Tenge, By the Sword, Is, or so many other titles where cash (or limp claims of trying to appeal to a larger audience) was deemed more important than integrity (and satisfying the fans who keep the industry going). If TOKYOPOP decided to alter this series by taking away its playful sexiness, it would be a terrible shame.
As it stands, DearS promises to be an interesting tale of extra terrestrial love, and with the lovely character designs from Peach-Pit, the visuals will easily manage to carry the story through its close resemblance to the plots of other works. Keep an eye out for the anime version of the series from Geneon, and if you can find it, the PS2 love simulation game. When is a company going to start translating anime-based love sim games, anyway?