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Chobits

chobits-3
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Company: Studio Madhouse
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 4/2/2002 to 9/24/2002

Motosuwa Hideki is an eighteen-year-old ronin who just moved to the big city in order to attend cram school and get into the college he failed to get into the first time around. The first thing he notices is that everyone has a persocon, powerful computers in the shape of women. Hideki really wants one, but on a rounin’s budget they are way too expensive. One day, Hideki has a lucky break and finds a working persocon in the trash. He takes it home and slowly learns that this is no ordinary persocon. This persocon is truly one of a kind.

summary by Keitaro

Reviewed: 09/29/2002 by
Grade: 84% av-Keitaro

Highs: Characters are one-of-a-kind; art and music fit perfectly; great seiyuu cast

Lows: Story gets less interesting as it progresses

There is certainly no shortage of robotic girl anime out there these days, and after watching the first episode I just couldn’t get Hand Maid May and Buttobi CPU out of my mind. Luckily, Chobits is different as it throws away many of the stereotypes of shounen anime. This anime also does an exceptional job of taking a serious look at love and examining the thin line between what is real and what is fake, with nonstop laughs along the way.

OK, there are some things that never change. The main character, Hideki, is your standard hapless male surrounded by beautiful women. Well, maybe “standard” isn’t the best word. Hideki truly broke the mold; he is truly hilarious. The same can be said about many of the other characters in the show. In fact, Chobits was shaping up to be one of the funniest series I had seen in recent memory. Then about halfway through, the whole anime flips 180 degrees. It’s like the comedy had been totally dropped and becomes a love story. While some people saw this as a welcome change, I found myself liking the series less and less. In my opinion, this just continued to go downhill until it hit rock bottom.

While the story is quite debatable, there is one thing most people agree on; the art and music are amazing. The CLAMP style of art fits perfectly, just as the OST does. The characters are incredibly lifelike as well without losing that anime feel. Some of the facial expressions are truly worth a thousand words. Some of my favorite seiyuu, including Toyoguchi Megumi and Tanaka Rie, have big roles, and they all do wonderfully.

Chobits is definitely among the best in its genre because it takes a simple, done-to-death story and makes it into something unique. Whether you like romance, comedy or something that makes you think, there is something for everyone.

Reviewed: 09/29/2002 by
Grade: 90% av-Kei

Highs: Great character personalities; very humorous; forms into a nice romance

Lows: Starts off slowly; a few questions left unanswered

With their stranglehold on the romance and mahou shoujo genres, CLAMP decided to turn the tides by giving us their telling of the popular (but somewhat cliché) “boy meets robot girl” sub-genre of shounen anime. However, its not as stereotypical as one would think. It starts off as the average shounen anime, but turns into much more.

I really didn’t know what to expect at first when I started watching Chobits. The first few episodes boasted a lot of fan service and the introduction of random extra female characters. It seemed to play out more like a dating simulator game rather than an anime. The pacing stays pretty slow and follows this formula until about episode six or seven, but it picks up from there. I think this is the only anime I’ve watched where I can honestly say I liked every single character in the series. CLAMP did an amazing job at giving each character in Chobits a very dynamic personality. It’s often hard to make a very enjoyable main character, but Hideki takes the cake. The way he treats every situation as if it’s the end of the world often left me re-watching episodes just to laugh again. As the series progresses, it exchanges some of its great humor for the beginnings of a great love story.

Some people may complain about the amount of filler in Chobits. I personally welcomed it. Every episode had something new for me to laugh at, and at the very least acted as a new lesson for Chii and provided her with some new character development. The only thing that was bothersome was that it left with a few unanswered questions.

You could just watch this series from the ground up and enjoy it very much, but when you dig deeper there is much more substance than what is available to the untrained eye. The series addresses many CLAMP-style topics, ranging from the laws of love to what a person can and can’t do.

Reviewed: 02/02/2007 by
Grade: 85% av-Liegenschonheit

Highs: Cute and funny; very nice art; genuinely enjoyable

Lows: Not a terribly original concept; second half drags a bit

With no shortage of shounen robot-girl anime out there, CLAMP set foot into the shounen arena with a somewhat overdone concept. However, clever humour and genuinely likable characters make this anime stand out in a sea of look-alikes.

Aesthetically, this anime is nothing to sneeze at. Great music and clean, bright visuals give this anime a polished feeling, and though at times the quality of the visuals falters a bit, it is hardly noticeable. The characters themselves are the shining high point of this anime, as their cute, quirky and flat out hilarious personalities are reflected perfectly in their facial expressions.

The characters also carry the story, the different aspects of their personalities making for faultless comedic timing. If perhaps there is just a bit too many filler episodes, Chobits makes up for it by filling them with truly funny scenes. Unfortunately, as the story progresses and things get more serious, this anime loses a bit of its charm. Comedy is replaced by drama that sometimes falls flat, and side characters turn from energetic and fun to angsty and weepy. When the anime finally winds down, the ending seems just a bit anticlimactic and predictable, though it does a reasonable job of wrapping up the loose ends of all the sub-plots.

Though it sometimes is written off as just another robot-girl anime, Chobits should not be overlooked by fans of romance and comedy. The first half alone makes this anime worth watching, and once viewers are hooked even the slower second half doesn’t drag it down too much. Bottom line, Chobits is worth watching.

Reviewed: 04/29/2007 by
Grade: 48% av-Mana

Highs: Some genuinely funny moments

Lows: Oceans of wasted potential; lackluster characters; repetitive episodes; uninspired animation

In all of my years of watching anime, nothing has ever bored me as much as Chobits.

I’ve always preferred my anime to have well-made characters, and Chobits fails miserably in that regard. The protagonist Hideki is nothing more than a cookie-cutter, stereotypical ronin, defined only by his exasperating character traits that just get worse as the story progress. The leading lady, a Persocon named Chii, is equally bland and annoying, despite her plot-specific special qualities. Many of the side characters that are introduced have potential for characterization, but these storylines get very little attention.

Sadly, the main plot of Chobits is not much better than its leading players. While the story holds an interesting premise in a promising universe, it fails to deliver anything within it. Throughout the majority of the anime, we simply follow the actions of the regrettably dull Hideki as he embarrasses himself in daily situations. Time focused on Chii is split between her learning basic skills and cryptic allusions to her origin. Sprinkle in a few recap episodes, completely unnecessary in a twenty-six episode series, and you have an idea of how things flow. Eventually, all of the foreshadowing comes to a head, but the ending is so dry and cliché that even many fans of the series weren’t happy with it.

Normally shows that have such little to offer with plot and characters will at least give you pretty artwork and animation to keep the viewers interested. However, all of the high-quality art for Chobits comes from either the manga or promotional artwork. The actual animation is, at its best, on par with other series of the time, but it’s full of small filler bits that just get more irritating at the show moves on. It’s not uncommon to see 20 seconds of animation spend on a loop of a hand stirring ramen, a pan shot through Hideki’s apartment, or other mundane things. The only moments that seem to have effort put into them are shots of Chii wearing new clothing.

The one thing that keeps Chobits marginally interesting is the comedy. The beginning of the series does have some very funny moments, even if much of it is very blatantly taken from other series; the infamous panties-buying episode is ripped straight from a chapter of Akira Toriyama’s popular manga Dr. Slump. Yet, even the humor takes a downfall as jokes are repeated over and over again. The last half of the anime drops the comedy almost entirely in favor of a dramatic ending.

I can’t deny the popularity that Chobits has obtained, but I can’t understand it either. If you like more from your anime than cute robots, please look elsewhere.

 

Chobits is licensed in the U.S. by Funimation, and episodes may be viewed legally in the United States HERE.

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