Having failed to earn admission to a university, Hideki Motosuwa has moved to the big city, determined to study his hardest for next year's exams. However, an unusual distraction presents itself one unsuspecting day in the form of Chii, a robotic young girl that has been discarded in the trash. In a world where an increasing number of people turn to these 'persocoms' for company, the bonds and limits of human relationships are tested as flesh manages to fall in love with the machine itself...
StoryChobits is a charming series which portrays, weirdly enough, a touching relationship between man and his computer. Incidentally, it also brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘to turn a girl on'. As well as providing excellent comedy moments to enhance the emotional experience, Chobits delivers an intriguing social commentary on the relationship between humans and machines. Sure, watching Chii stumble adorably through simple social situations with hilarious consequences left me feeling warm and cheerful. However, later, as the series introduced the more controversial subplots, I found myself emotionally confused (in a good way) and a touch saddened. I am unsure whether I agree with the possibilities opened up by the story, although I appreciate how important these issues are for the characters. At the least I take this as a sign of the series' complexity. Whilst largely episodic, with the series revolving around Chii's step-by-step development and Hideki's bumbling responses to it, there also exists an overarching sad tone which only comes to the fore towards the end. In this way, it is comparable to series like Fruits Basket and, just like Fruits Basket, the delivery of the last few episodes is great. On the one hand, what happens to the central protagonists is quite melodramatic but, in terms of the wider implications, the series delivers an intriguing, open-ended conclusion. Everything considered, only one question remains: why does it not deserve the full marks available? The problem is that Chobits remains trapped by its genre, with the plot hinging upon the ‘single male with female guest in his apartment' gimmick. Although presented with utmost skill, the fact remains that there are only so many new ideas to be found here. The result is that the bulk of episodes in the middle are stereotypical and wholly skippable with the second viewing.AnimationBeing a typical CLAMP feature, Chobits has a clean, fresh look, with the palette comprised mostly of pleasant pastels. Movement is smooth throughout and the comic expressions hit the spot every time. Because of the combination of simple-yet-elegant design and quality visuals, dating the series is not straightforward; meaning it will continue to look good for a long while yet. Animation-wise, my only problem is with the character designs of Chii and Hideki. I find it discomfiting that this guy who looks twenty-five (although he is nineteen) is supposedly in love with a girl that looks twelve (although, technically, she is ageless). There is a believable reason why she looks that way, but that does not stop me pulling the odd face, particularly at the ecchi scenarios.SoundThe opening theme is catchy and repetitive without ever getting old; the ending and in-scene themes in comparison are decent but not memorable. What earns the show a high rating is the voice acting, which works well at all times, and Chii easily gets the most credit for suitability.CharactersChii is everything a guy could ever want - docile, loyal as hell, and forever pubescent. Not to mention that she looks great in a towel. Going by past experience with similar characters, I expected nothing substantial from her... which means I was pleasantly surprised at the extent to which she did develop. At first she just does a lot of endearing things like mimic Hideki's actions and act innocent at the most inappropriate times, which only evokes a lot of sentimental gushing. Eventually, her own will and personality start to come across; although, disappointingly, she does not mature to the extent that she could have. By the end, she still seems a lot more victim than heroine, albeit a highly sympathetic one. Just like Chii, but on a different level, Hideki Motozuwa is a fish out of water character. A farm boy trying to make it in cosmopolitan Tokyo, he is shy around girlie things, kind and considerate, and totally lacking in the brain department. Hideki is ninety percent stereotypical - down to the nosebleeds and the virginity - but the ten percent of personality that he has stops him being annoyingly flat. For example, his patience when teaching Chii, how he provides for her at considerable cost to himself, his active concern for her when she is not with him, and his willingness to learn from her in turn, are indicators of a deep and admirable soul. Moreover, the fact that Hideki provides some classic comedy moments makes warming to him very easy. The rest of the cast, including Hideki's best friend Hiromu Shinbo, Yumi the waitress, Minoru Kokubunji the child expert, Mr. Ueda the baker, and Chitose Hibiya the landlady, all have fantastic backgrounds. They provide subplots which are not only emotional in their own right, but feed meaningfully into the central plot as well. Each character's situation is a memorable variation on the same theme and gives a fascinating insight into Chobits's controversy.OverallChobits is enjoyable through and through, just not rewatchable through and through. Barring the formulaic structure, it seems to have no major flaws to speak of; after all, it has characters that are interesting, delivers some truly heart-warming moments, and looks very good. If you are looking for a romance with a mostly-sweet-sometimes-sad feel, then this one comes highly recommended.
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 girls that suddenly have to stay in his apartment. If you’ve seen or read enough harems and ecchi comedies you can see the done to death premise from the very first episode. A guy with zero talents and zero experience with women all of a sudden gets swarmed by pretty gals who need him for emotional support. But that’s the thing; the story bothers to give legit reasons for why that happens. It’s the near future, where technology reached the point where computers look and act like people. Many real humans turn to them for comfort and neglect each other. It’s basically an extreme version of what is happening already with virtual reality and 2D waifus replacing physical human relationships. This is just the premise of course, and as we have discovered countless times, it means nothing if the script is shit. Chobits is not doing that much in terms of plot but it definitely bothers to flesh out its characters to the point they are memorable and not restricted to archetypes. Unlike countless series where what is going on in the setting does not affect the cast, over here the conflict is all about the state of the setting and how it messes with the mind of every individual. Of course the story still uses cheap tricks in order to explore the setting. Hideki is an average and oblivious country boy, who doesn’t know much about the city and the technology of the persocoms, so he needs everything explained to him, while also staying largely unaffected by the conflict. It’s what I call a lobotomized askman, someone existing as a self-insert and an excuse for infodumps. He does eventually become part of the setting and its issues through his interactions with others, but he always comes off as an ideal boy scout everyone can trust and seek aid from.And then, there is Chii, the titular robot waifu who works as the focal point from which everything begins to unravel. She is found naked in the garbage with her memory wiped, Hideki takes care of her in his apartment, and the doujins are practically writing themselves. She was written with a lot of done to death tropes, that individually mean nothing but in this case bounce off each other all the time and don’t allow her to be just another generic moe chick. She is still used in a similar cheap way like Hideki. Also oblivious, needs to be taught everything, with infinite potential to mentally mature into anything you want her to be, like a Furby with a super computer. Being an empty vessel that can be filled with anything you want, makes her the ideal pet or waifu. But that’s the thing; the script could have stopped there, not bothering to go any further, yet it didn’t. There is a tragic backdrop story from before she lost her memory, which sums up everything that can go wrong with putting too much emphasis on loving machines instead of people. It’s also good food for thought regarding memories defining who you are, and how losing them makes you a completely different person thereafter. I am not a fan of the amnesia trope but when it’s used as character growth instead of regression, meaning not going in circles trying the get back what you had already, thus not getting any development, then count me in. It’s not all peachy though, since it has a lot of the mystery box syndrome going around, which, just like in any other show that abuses it, only ends up disappointing you. There’s something about a second dark personality inside Chii, which occasionally comes out and causes persocoms to freeze, and there is the military sending two other machines to spy on her, there is something about the creator of the sentient machines using a program that can completely change the world. And none of these mean much or led anywhere. They were just baiting you into keep watching for a big twist to come, which never came.It’s the trademark of all CLAMP stories. They keep promising something big to happen down the line, and it never does. They are trolling your expectations and keep you watching with queerbait relationships. These themes and ideas I’ve been hyping up for you all this time are found only in about a fifth of the duration of Chobits. The rest of it is an almost generic school comedy about Hideki and his ever growing harem. There isn’t much nudity as there are pervert jokes and the chosen girl is set in stone from the very beginning, but it still counts as an erotic comedy. More subtle and elaborate than the average of its kind yet still not deconstructed enough to be anything more than that. And this is the biggest issue with Chobits. It’s way better than any harem yet very undermined as social commentary or psychological. Nonetheless, there is closure and the characters get developed, which is something I can’t say for most harems and comedies. It would definitely be better if it removed the disappointing mystery bait and had more theme exploration regarding the society and its technology but even as it stands, it is an above average anime and it’s highly memorable.
The story is pretty interesting, though the anime sadly lacks compared to the beautiful manga from CLAMP. They cut so much out and yet seemed to add things to it that were not in the original manga. In that way, it loses a lot of the meaning behind it. The story line isn’t really all that new, something we have seen a lot in media where humanoid robots take over the world, being built to be peoples slaves and sometimes sexually created. Then suddenly one goes crazy.It’s not only in the anime but the manga as well that Chi’s restart and turn on button is her… privet place. It makes it rather creepy and pretty perverted. This whole show has a lot of fan service that isn’t in the manga which just makes things even worse. Another strange thing that happened to the anime is that the numbers got a bit odd when they brought it over. It happened from the 9th episode up. You see, the 9th episode was supposed to be actually a half episode called 8.5 instead. It was a recap…and the same goes for episode 20 which was supposed to be 18.5. Now I have to ask… why do we need this many recaps for a 26 episode series? I mean, we really aren’t that dumb and it does get really old. And even more bothersome is that there is actually a 27th (24.5) episode that was unaired and is only shown as on the DVD! You can guess what I’m going to say about that… its another bloody RECAP! Like we need one after the last show has aired! And because its on the DVD, it feels very stupid on their part because the person watching was probably marathon the show to begin with…The comical part is actually pretty funny and the only Romance I see is Hideki’s problems with women. It’s rather bothersome sometimes. He just seems really off a lot of the times and though they give him a good reason to be, it just makes him like every other character in a harem anime. It’s a bit annoying because he doesn’t seem to have his own characteristics.Unfortunately, the same goes for Chi and her strange personality. She’s like a little child who doesn’t know anything at all and a lot of times, it just feels really annoying. She just has no real emotions for most of the show and when she does show them, it’s rather sad or really happy. I would have at least liked to show her mad at one point.The art style is beautiful, no duh, it is clamp that first created it and the style matches the manga pretty damn well. Unfortunately, it also has its downsides with how flat the faces look and you don’t really see their noses well when they are looking right at you. The mouths are rather small and every once in a while, you will get a character that has a chibifide expression but otherwise, it’s rather plain. The women’s hair normally is what looks the most beautiful.The voices are alright, some work well and others in both the English and Japanese dub are not that good. Chi is really cute but her voice hurts my ears when I have to listen to her for long periods at a time like when she is walking down the street saying underpants. It’s funny, but ugg… my ears!
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