In the realm of traditional literature, or even American/European graphic novels, the site of an alien teen girl acting as a servant for a high school boy may seem out of place. However for manga this scenario is bordering on cliché. DearS provides us this and much more.
In the first volume of DearS we are introduced to Takeya Ikuhara’s, who is the typical mild mannered high school student. In his world an alien race, known to the humans as DearS, confucted an emergency landing on earth, and while comparably few in number the aliens have peacefully begun relations with the Earth’s residents and power figures. In fact, the great relationship between the humans and aliens is what earned the DearS their nickname (Dear + Friends = DearS). Takeya in fact does not care for the DearS, and is, as opposed to his classmates and most of Japan it seems, quite suspicious of their species and their sudden presence in Japan. However he has never encountered a DearS in person, until one day he helps a strange girl who appears to be homless. To his surprise she is a DearS, and in return for his kindness she begins to follow him around believing herself to be his ‘slave’. Takeya is initially uncomfortable with her presence; however, as Volume 1 progresses he begins to help take care of her, names her Ren, and helps her understand the world that is so foreign to her.
For those of you who are fans of Oh My Goddess!, a story about a teen and his ‘goddess’ come to earth, I think you will find yourself right at home with DearS. The comparisons between the two stories are abundant. Both guy/girl pairs seem to have met not just serendipitously but cosmically too. Also while Takeya and Ren’s relationship seems to progress more slowly, one can only assume that, like Belldandy and Keiichi’s relationship in Oh My Goddess!, given time it will fruition.
Apart from the relationship of the main characters even some of the secondary characters seem to have direct comparisons with characters in Oh My Goddess!. For instance in DearS Takeya’s homeroom teacher is wildly inappropriate, stripping in front of her students, and making statements to them such as “I only wanted to feel your piercing gaze upon my skin“. While perhaps not as wild, Belldandy’s sister Urd is quite ‘showy’ as well, and plays up both her own sexuality and her zaniness quite often. Also for both the male main characters there is a female friend, or in Keiichi’s case a sister, who appears to serve the role of not just a longtime friend but also acts as counsel for the blooming couples.
While DearS appears to be aiming for a slightly older crowd, by lacing the tale with an abundance of fan service, the connection with manga such as Oh My Goddess! is clear. Perhaps as the story develops for DearS it’ll establish itself and shun some of these similarities; however, for better or worse, right now DearS seems to be following in Oh My Goddess!’s footsteps pretty precisely.
While not revolutionary in the least bit, DearS provides a cocktail of romance, intrigue, and fan service that for Volume 1 at least is just enough to intrigue me to pick up the Volume 2. While questions about the main character’s relationship with Ren linger large for fans, I’m personally more curious about the history of the DearS themselves, and in particular, as Takeya initially suspects, whether their intentions are truly pure? If DearS suddenly adds in the element of a conflict between humans and aliens, then I’ll most definitely have to read on. However if by Volume 2 they don’t develop the story substantially, or don’t add another element aside from ‘teen love’, then I may have to leave this series by the wayside. If you like Oh My Goddess!, or Tenchi Muyo, or even Pastel, then I’d recommend picking up Volume 1; however, if what I’ve discussed above doesn’t interest you then I’d probably recommend just trying out another series.
Score: 3.5 out of 5