ANIME MINOR JEWELS SERIES
Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
Chobits is to its core a romantic comedy like so many others. It is about a rather typical teen male lead and his life with a girl that suddenly had to stay at his apartment. If you have seen or read enough harems and ecchi comedies you can see the cheese of the premise present from the very first episode. A guy with zero talent and zero experience with women all of a sudden gets swarmed by pretty gals who for one or another emotional reason need him.
But a few tips about the story are in need. It’s the near future, technology has reached a point where personal computers now look and act like people and many real humans turn to them in order to find happiness. Some are just assistants on various jobs, others are bought friends or pets, or even lovers. And in all this chaos our hero finds one such robot thrown in the garbage and decides to keep it for himself. Which of course ends up being a beautiful girl that knows nothing and learns like a child even the most basic things. Soon many others who are involved with this new breed of machines interact with him and a lot of things are revealed or proven not what they seem.
The premise of the show could very easily turn to some hentai, as it involves robots built to resemble beautiful people and who are programmed to obey their masters down to the last detail. And yes, there is a lot of focus given to the aspect of these robots being used as substitutes for romance, friendship or even sex partners. So yeah, in theory this is the stuff from which a mountain of ecchi and hentai recycle their ideas form through the decades.
Yet it is not really an average ecchi comedy and by no means a hentai, despite bordering it subtly at times. It also is in fact full of social criticism and metal awareness that actually leave some food to the mind amongst all the cheese of the erotic humor. Very few such shows bother to add something other than an excuse of a story and random situations where people bump on each other naked. Being based on a manga made by CLAMP, one should be expecting something spicy and weird at the same time is going on.
Although it never gets too deep or philosophical, it still has the guts to criticize the very tropes its genres are supposed to deify in order to appeal to the target audience. And by the end of the day that is what makes this anime to deserve a spot on the tops of romantic comedies. It aims to make you laugh with sex jokes on one hand and make you think if all this utopia of dreamy artificial people is that good to begin with. So it shows things from both sides of the spectrum, making propaganda and anti-propaganda at the same time. It is post-modern yet anti-post modern as well.
Most of course hardly notice such overtones and focus mainly on the cast or the quality of the humor. Which again I must say have far more interest than most casts in such shows. The social and mental overtones gave room for immersion to each ones mentality, allowing character coloring and development to come along. They even offered catharsis and a satisfying closure instead of just leaving it stale and open to a sequel; the bulk of what romantic comedies turn to almost every time. No sir, here we have a complete story with developed characters. By the end of the show you really feel sympathy for most of the characters, as each one has his or her own set of worries. None feels out of place as every issue involves the humanoid machines. There is uniformity and not random ideas thrown blindly here and there.
I must point out that this series is by no means Ghost in the Shell. Most episodes work fine as stand alones and their storylines are in fact quite common in ecchi comedies. It’s just that since the lead robot girl is steadily learning, you feel there is actual progress amongst all the cheese. Plus, the secondary cast also reacts differently based on previous events and thus you never get a filler episode in the strict sense of the word. This is a result of good storyboard and screenplay, all done right by director Asaka Morio, a man who has directed several anime, most of them being above average on my book (Card Captor Sakura, Gunslinger Girl, Nana, Chihayafuru)
As much as I liked the characters and the story premise, I still don’t give a very high mark on the actual storyline. To the most part it builds a mystery and a global conspiracy that makes you feel the end of the world is near, yet by the end of the series nothing really terrifying even happens to the world. So all the mystery is basically a fake lure to keep you worried about the end of the show. It otherwise resolves matters in quite the anti-climactic way, but not necessary a sloppy one. It is good but not serious or rewarding enough to deserve more.
The artwork is very appealing to the eye (studio Madhouse delivers beauty once again), without needing to be extra detailed or made with millions of polygons. The environments feel almost minimalistic and in comical moments the characters and the backgrounds simplify extremely. Yet, this does not ruin the overall feeling as the jokes still get through, while the shady carton layer-type of filter they use to make everything look silly is not taking out any enjoyment. The character figures, although rather simplistic in body and facial structure still maintain an air of cuteness and beauty, boosted further by the rather extravagant uniforms they usually wear. Plus, those touches with the fairy tale book and its weird symbolisms gave an artchy feeling that makes you think it’s a work of non-ecchi erotic art.
The music is also of very good level. The voice actors did a fine job and high pitched tones are kept for the chibi ones. The dialogues are nice on being both funny and with occasionally some existentialist or philosophical questions around the meaning of happiness and such. The pop songs are also modest enough to be memorable without ever resulting to puke-sounding cats on heat. Plus they have a tone of sadness in them that really makes you think about where your life is heading or something fuzzy like that. The action theme song has also this industrialist tone that makes it great to listen to again and again.
Overall, this is one of those rare cases where I fully enjoyed a romantic / ecchi comedy. It was not just random jokes, it had a story, it had development, it had an ending, it had some food for the mind. And above all, nothing felt completely retarded, like out of this world reactions to a situation or ass-pulled plot twists. Replay value is high, and so is enjoyment.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 7/10
General Artwork 2/2 (appealing to the eye)
Character Figures 1/2 (simplistic)
Backgrounds 1/2 (average)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (appealing to the eye)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 7/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (semi-episodic)
Complexity 2/2 (rich context)
Plausibility 1/2 (it tries but it is still easy-going)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 9/10
Presence 2/2 (funny/cute/sexy)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 2/2 (lots)
Catharsis 2/2 (complete)
VALUE SECTION: 6/10
Historical Value 1/3 (still remembered by some as an interesting CLAMP title)
Rewatchability 2/3 (high if you liked its style)
Memorability 3/4 (quite memorable for its style)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 9/10
Some more plot and a better ending would make it even better but I like it a lot even as such.