Chobits

ChobitsType: TV Series
Episode Count: 27*
Genre: Sci-Fi / Comedy / Drama
Vintage: 2002

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 08 Nov 2005
revised 08 Jan 2010

Grade: B

*Chobits originally aired in Japan with a standard 26 episode run. After the series concluded, a 27th episode was created as a final recap for the DVD release.

CLAMP goes shonen?! Yes and no… A good – but not perfect – series that is somewhat plagued by filler, especially in the first half.

Plot Summary
In an alternate present day, Hideki Motosuwa, a farmboy from Hokkaido, has enrolled in a college Prep School in Tokyo. There he discovers Persocoms, computers in the shape of humans, are everywhere. As much as he wishes he could afford one, being a poor high school graduate, he can’t, so the dream will have to wait. Then, one day on his way home to his new apartment, he discovers a Persocom lying in a trash heap. Deciding that since it is trash, no one would mind, he takes it home. Hideki’s excitement builds as he now has the chance to do all those things on the internet he’s heard about, but when he turns on his new Persocom, all it can do is say “Chi”. What Hideki doesn’t know is that this Persocom may be one of the legendary “Chobits”, which are capable of emotions and free will.

The Review
Chobits is the first series for which I read the complete manga version before watching the anime. Whether or not you have read the Chobits manga may decide how the show fares for you, as it is quite different in parts.

First, the not-so-good: Chobits is abundant with filler. There are three, count them, three recap episodes. This is a series that ran half a year. Two of the recaps were during the show’s run, at the episode 9 and 18 marks. The third was actually created after the show finished, and released as a video-only episode with the DVDs. Also, the plot differs significantly from the manga in the first half of the series. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and if you’ve read the manga first, it’s more of an alternate timeline than anything else. As I understand it, both of these are a result of the production schedule for Chobits being so hurried that after the first few episodes had aired, they had already run out of source material (read: manga) to draw from for the story, so events that never happened in the manga – a haunted house episode and a trip to the beach, for example – have been created to stretch the story out (along with the two recap episodes). The problem is they don’t truly move the story anywhere, except to show that Chi is still learning every day. Fortunately for the DVD release, since the three recaps contribute nothing to the story, they have been lifted from the series and put on their own disc at the end, leaving the 24 episodes that comprise the story to run consecutively, without interruptions.

The good news: When the manga finally catches up, and the show draws from it for the story again, it stays solid through the end. Also, from a technical aspect, despite this being a largely digital production, the animation doesn’t yell “I was made on a computer!”, which is a good thing, since I feel that when digital painting and backgrounds are used, they shouldn’t call attention to themselves, but instead blend seamlessly. The times the computer is plainly used are during reaction scenes that, in other series, may have been done in Super-D, and in this context they work very well.

In a break for CLAMP, the main lead in Chobits is a guy, though he shares the spotlight with Chi. Chobits even has a pint-sized mascot, in this case, Sumomo – Hideki’s friend Shinbo’s ultra hyper mobile Persocom. Under this show’s shonen exterior lies a theme of humans’ dependence on technology. Using human shaped computers makes the execution of this theme a lot more personal and concrete. While the anime isn’t incredibly deep, it does provide enough of a dilemma to bring the show past the level of being merely a vehicle for Chi fanservice (which there is plenty of, incidentally).

So, if you’re looking for a good comedy (slightly on the ecchi side) with some heart, check out Chobits.

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