|Last updated January 17, 2005.|
Having finally finished Chobits, I suppose a few comments are warranted. The short version? Man, what a let-down.
I had mentioned earlier that I was dragging my way through the series. It starts out fairly promising, with a few cute moments and an interesting premise, but much like Hellsing, most of its potential goes to waste.
The opening credit sequence to Chobits is nicely done. Being a CLAMP production, the Cardcaptor Sakura influences were refreshingly familiar (although Chobits is no Cardcaptor Sakura—not by a long shot—which is understandable seeing as how Cardcaptor Sakura is only one of the greatest shows ever). I rather like the cute bit where Chii lip-synchs to the opening music.
The closing sequence is also quite good with rather catchy music (although not quite as catchy as the closing song to season one of Mahoromatic).
The premise of the show is pretty good. Basically, the story takes place in a near future where personal computers ("persocoms") now take human form. Persocom ownership is pretty much universal in urban areas. Hideki, a farm boy who knows essentially nothing about persocoms, moves to the city to attend a cram school for his college entrance exams. One night, he finds an abandoned persocon. He names this persocon "Chii," after the only word she is able to say at the time. Then hilarity ensues. Well, not that last part, unfortunately.
Just about everything else in the show is rather underwhelming. The story occasionally mentions that interpersonal relationships often suffer because people become obsessed with their persocoms, but this theme doesn't really get explored until the end of Chobits's 26-episode run (about the time the music for the closing credits switches to a sadder song), but even then it is addressed somewhat superficially.
My biggest problem with the show is that everyone in it is apparently some sort of retard. Chobits is the Special Olympics of anime. Hideki and Chii, in particular, are beyond obtuse. Chii at least has the excuse of being a robot with its memory erased, so she's forced to learn everything from scratch. Hideki, however, is merely a giantic puss with a room-temperature I.Q. This man is completely worthless. We find out he even sucks at yard work, which is pretty pathetic for someone who grew up on a farm. Also, there's a running gag that because he's accustomed to being alone out in the fields from working on the farm, Hideki constantly talks to himself and thinks out loud; this usually results in some sort of embarrasing situation for him caused by mouthing off at inappropriate moments. This running gag gets real old really fast.
We are also expected to enjoy the refreshing, comic, kawaii antics of Sumomo—well, in theory, anyway. I did not like Sumomo. She is supposed to be a cute, miniature persocom (essentially the equivalent of a notebook computer), but I found her constant perkiness to be rather irritating. Sumomo is the AOL of persocons. It got so bad that when Kotoko, a no-nonsense, deadpan mini-persocon, was introduced towards the end of the series, I was ready to declare her the best character in the whole damn show—even better than Yumi, the high school girl with the enormous rack.
Ultimately, Chobits fails for pretty much the same reason Hellsing fails: Unfulfilled potential:
Chobits simply isn't cute enough or serious enough to recommend. I would have liked meatier plotlines about the problems caused by owners falling in love with their perscoms or stuff like that. I simply didn't find the characters likeable enough to support the boy-meets-robot storyline. I suppose for anyone still interested, I recommend watching the first three episodes; if you discover you actually care about the characters, then you'll probably actually like the show. However, if you don't like the characters by then, I think it's unlikely you'll want to watch the remaining episodes. They're fairly predictable canned adventures along the lines of "Chii goes shopping," or "Chii gets a job," or "Chii and Hideki go on a date," or "Chii and Hideki have the oral sex," etc.
In the spirit of the latest CHECK, here's a scene from the 27th episode of Chobits (relax, it is but a clip-show with very little new footage) featuring Kotoko with large bells on her head. Well, actually they're normal sized, but they're big on her.
A five-minute Chobits short entitled Chibits was recently released. [Note: The title comes from a pun referring to Sumomo and Kotoko's chibi size, not Chii's name.]
HOLY FUCKING SHIT this was better than the entire Goddamned series. I would have loved Chobits had it been this good instead of being a boring block of mediocrity.
I loved how this short was so self-deprecating, with jabs at Chii and Hideki's intelligence (or lack thereof, that is), Sumomo's personality, and the pantsu preoccupation of the show. The parody of the opening sequence was quite funny as well.
Also, once again, Kotoko affirms why she's my favorite Chobits character, although Sumomo was also endearing. I find this rather remarkable since I've always hated Sumomo.
I do miss Tanaka Rie's voice, though. She's listed in the credits, but her Chii sounds a bit off, so I'm calling bullshit on this one. Unless I'm just not remembering Chii's speaking voice correctly and only remembering how the constant "Chii?" nonsense sounded.
Still, overall, best Chobits episode, EVER.