Chobits Review: The Divide Between Humans and Computers
It is truly a bad thing when I look at my anime/manga history on MyAnimeList and notice that a series doesn’t even show up because I finished it that long ago. And indeed, the dilemmas of homework, tests, college apps, and all that other wonderful goodness have taken their toll as I’ve fallen way behind on my blogging. I suppose three/four weeks isn’t necessarily something too long, but it’s not exactly the greatest of ideas to write about it after that much time. In favor of taking a break from a dull calculus homework run, I decided I better start catching up. In any case, the series (or at least, one of them, there’s more, unfortunately….) that I’ve finished so long ago that it isn’t on my history anymore is Chobits. Chobits was quite an enjoyable watch with a nice balance between lighthearted comedy and emotional drama. Chobits is one I’d known about for a while but only just recently got around to, and I’d say it’s certainly worth it. That said, it was made a while back so I wouldn’t be surprised if most people already got to it long before I did.
Chobits presents a world in which humanoid computers are present in everyday life. These computers, referred to as persocoms, are used for a number of tasks and, aside from some obvious physical characteristics, truly do look like any other human. Enter Hideki Motosuwa, a boy who moves into the city for prep school. Hideki soon learns about persocoms, wishing that he could have one of his own but knowing that he was too poor to even consider it. As luck would have it, however, Hideki comes across a trashed persocom and brings her home. Upon activating her, he learns that she only knows how to say “chii,” and thus names her as such. Hideki’s life changes dramatically as he begins to take care of Chii, with a number of amusing occurrences and misunderstandings with the slow-to-comprehend Chi. In the midst of it all, however, the mystery about Chii’s origins and how she differs from other Persocoms remains in the background, and as the answers begin to unfold, more of the issues surrounding a society of persocoms begin to surface around Hideki and those close to him.
The story of Chobits is essentially divided into two halves: the first half introduces most of the cast members and primarily follows the comedic situations of everyday life with Hideki and Chi, while the second half becomes noticeably more serious and develops the characters. I suppose this fact reminds me a bit of Toradora, though it would not be right to compare the two as they are entirely different stories for the most part. Chobits starts off with a very relaxed atmosphere that feels a bit like a slice of life, mostly following Hideki as he studies at prep school, works, learns more about the world of persocoms, etc. While it is entertaining to an extent, the first half is exactly as it seems and enjoyable primarily for the comedy, which might not be sufficient for some. It is the second half, then, that truly makes Chobits worth the watch. The stories behind the characters (some of whom would not initially seem so important) do a great job of adding more to their personalities and the cast develops quite well with these arcs. The second half of Chobits was a very enjoyable and emotional watch that added substantially to the experience.
Of course, much of what makes Chobits enjoyable is owed to its characters. Hideki, while a relatively simple and straightforward character, is likable on the whole and easy to get behind. Hideki is not quite as exciting a character as some of the side cast members who receive their own arcs, but he is a fitting protagonist for this type of story. Chii is an adorable character that is fun to watch and also proves to be quite important to the later developments of the story. Interestingly enough, Chobits has a very strong supporting cast, as many of these characters receive significant development in the latter half of the story. There are quite a few characters involved with Hideki from early on, including Chitose Hibiya (the landlady at Hideki’s apartment), Hiromu Shinbo (Hideki’s prep school friend), Minoru Kokubunji (resident persocom genius boy), Yumi Omura (Hideki’s friend at work), Takako Shimizu (Hideki’s prep school teacher), and Hiroyasu Ueda (owner of the bakery Chi later works at). While all of these characters have fairly set roles early on, there is a lot more to all of them than meets the eye and they all have some sort of conflict surrounding them, much of which proves to be related to the persocom dilemma.
Speaking of which, part of what makes Chobits special is this persocom dilemma. While the persocoms are initially portrayed simply as convenient parts of everyday life that are simply there in the world of Chobits, they soon present deeper questions about the implications of the roles they play. What differentiates a persocom from a human? Are persocoms capable of the same emotions that regular humans have? Do they deserve to be treated in the same manner as any other person? And then, what of relationships with persocoms? Chobits does a good job of incorporating the existence of persocoms into some of its most important themes, and this is perhaps one of the strongest aspects of the series. One might think to dismiss some of these stories because of the obvious differences between persocoms and humans, but the tales presented in Chobits are very compelling and present these persocoms in a very interesting way. Persocoms certainly have their benefits in society, though there are a lot of complications surrounding their existence, and the tensions surrounding the cast show just what some of these could be.
Chobits was quite the enjoyable watch for me, and while it might just seem like silly, mindless comedy at first, it develops significantly as the story progresses and there many more dimensions to the characters than one would perceive upon first glance. The story does take a while to truly blossom, but it’s an enjoyable ride all the same and certainly an anime for those who like sweet, touching stories. Ultimately Chobits would be an 8/10 for me, though I will say that it had a few great moments that did make me wonder about giving it a 9/10. It seems there are a few other series out there similar to Chobits, so I’ll have to get around to checking those out since Chobits isn’t the kind of series I watch often. Of course, I’ll still have to see if I’ll enjoy those as much as I did this series.