CHOBITS by CLAMP:
– Serialised in Young Magazine (part of Kodansha)
– Series complete: 8 books
– Licensed by Tokyopop
STORY: In the what now does not seem so far away future, computers have taken shapes of humans and are now known as persocoms. Not only can they be programmed to do everything from acting in internet porn to calculating receipts to standard computer functions such as sending email, it seems that they’re also physically perfect.
Not unsimilar to Love Hina, the protagonist of Chobits is a ronin. Hideki Motosuwa, a country boy, goes to the city to attend cram school so that he might get into college next year. When he arrives, he find that everyone who’s anyone, really, has a persocom. However, Hideki, being a poor run down student, could probably never get one. Except that he does find a persocom in Chii, an amazingly cute persocom that he finds lying in a trash pile. Chii’s a little strange, though. For one, she doesn’t have an operating system and technically, shouldn’t be working at all. Secondly, she seems to have a past of her own, along with strange abilites that no other persocoms have including what seems to be the ability to fall in love.
Chobits gets a lot more in depth than just the initial outline of “boy finds robotic girl”. For one, CLAMP gets very philosophical, but still charming, about just how thin those lines between human and computer really are, especially if they are humanoid. Then there are the 4 or so more stories surrounding supporting characters. Each story is very well planned around the initial “boy + robot = ?” idea. Every story except for Chii and Hideki’s. The main plot is predictable and it takes too long at that. Luckily, the other stories are enough to keep the attention of the reader through all of Hideki’s repetitive musings about Chii. CLAMP’s hidden philosophy discussion, however, when not being warbled by Tokyopop’s hideous circular translation, is quite intriguing.
Chobits is a more mature series. There are lots of slightly to blatant sexual drawings and references, as well as plenty of fanservice. Young’s Magazine tends to be rather smutty anyway. There’s no doubt much of the language and more philosophical aspects of the series would fly right over some younger readers’ heads. Recommended for 16+.
CHARACTERS: (there are quite a large number of supporting characters and I can’t really place precedence on any over the other so I shall just introduce the very main characters.)
– Hideki Motosuwa: A country boy ronin who moves to the city where his life is changed forever not just by all the beautiful women in his life, but also Chii, the persocom he finds. He’s a very nice guy (Indeed the supporting characters are forever telling him this.) who does not hesitate to give a hand to those he cares about. Has a bad habit of talking out loud and is a pervert at heart, but is probably only so because he can’t seem to get any women, as nice as he is (CLAMP playing on the “nice guys finish last” line? Maybe.)
– Chii: The beautiful and mysterious persocom that seems to be a lot more than she lets on. Chii doesn’t really have much of a personality since it’s all programmed, but she’s very sweet, curious, and annoying in the beginning (through the whole series, actually) because she’s always asking annoying questions. Maybe it’s the wording of the translations, though. She’s not a girl who would stand up for herself, but is really rather powerful. Can’t say too much about her without giving stuff away, though, so I’ll stop here.
ART: There is no getting over the fact that CLAMP’s art (Mick Nekoi, really) is absolutely stunning an perfect no matter if it’s the ribbon-like shoujo figures and hair or the technical scifi drawings – even those are lyrical and breathtaking. The layouts are excellent and they keep the story flow running smoothly. The only one tiny complaint I have is the over-usage of airbrushing in book 7 when Chitose tells her story. Things get a little confusing there. Nekoi also has a little too much fun, I think sometimes, drawing Chii’s outfits. They’re EXTREME, but by no means in a bad way. Otherwise, the entire series is just gorgeous defined and no less.
PERSONAL THOUGHTS (SPOILER-IFIC): Chobits is undoubtedly very addicting. CLAMP’s formats are very well done and the cliffhangers are well placed. I couldn’t help hating all of Chii’s wide-eyed innocence stuff though. That annoyed me to no end. However, I found myself falling in love with the freakishly cute Sumomo and the love story between Shimbo and Shimizu-sensei as well as Hibiya-san. She’s so damned cool. Of all the CLAMP crossovers so far, I appreciated this one as a crossover more than other ones probably because it’s not so much reusing characters like they do with Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles as just setting it in the same world, though honestly, I thought the whole crossover thing was stupid at first. However, I began finding it easier as I went along to accept that Angelic Layer and Chobits existed in the same world with characters in relation with the relations of Angelic Layer characters (BUT ICHIRO DEAD? HOW CAN THEY DO THIS TO US?!) . CLAMP’s quite creative in the re-using of their own work.Oh, and Zima’s hot. Gotta give that to him…
I get the feeling that Chobits is overrated a lot. Sure, it’s a sweet, happy ending series that is increasingly pretty (in both artwork and story), but I don’t see anything too new. I know this “boy falls for robot/robot falls for boy” thing has been used somewhere before and give me the time and I’ll remember where. It’s good, but to me, it was nothing special.
TOKYOPOP EDITION ADDITIONS: This was the first series published by Tokyopop (it was licensed rather early on as is) where the editing was extremely noticeable. Not only was a great deal of the language softened to probably avoid scathing letters from conservatives (For example, I have 2 different prints of the first book in English. In the one published earlier, in this scene where Hideki is presumably masturbating, he says “what was I thinking eating beans in the morning?” and dialogue continues one the “bean” line. In the one published later – I don’t know exactly how much later – Hideki is saying “Must…keep..quiet.” with dialogue following on that point.), but it is manipulated to a point of unavoidable confusion. The translations of the “City Without People” books are so repetitive, vague, and head splittingly circular that it takes at least three reads before anything really sinks in. Most of it floats right over the head. It probably sounds better in Japanese. And probably makes more sense. A lot of the ‘shounen-based’ humour is lost with the replacement translations of the more perverted lines. Much of the humour just goes right out the window too, and with it a little bit of Chobits essence is lost as well. Poor thing.