|Japanese Title: Chobitsu|
|Format: 26 Episodes|
|Allegiance: Studio Madhouse/Pioneer Ltd.|
|Director: Asaka Morio|
|Intelligence Agency Report by: Djudge|
|After failing his college entrance exam, eighteen year-old country farmer Motosuwa Hideki starts off his ronin/cram school life in Tokyo. Upon arriving in the big city, Hideki takes notice of the popular personal computers called persocons. These powerful tools are built in the shape of humans and are extremely useful in all types of day-to-day work. Unfortunately for our main character, his budget can’t support such an expensive purchase. One night, Hideki manages to stumble upon a discarded personcon in the neighborhood trash dump. However, this persocon is definitely something out of the ordinary…|
|Field Agent Report by: Djudge|
|(not an average)|
Chobits at first seems like another cliché shounen romantic comedy involving a single guy developing an obtuse relationship with a robotic girl. Yet, when it’s all said and done, CLAMP manages to settle down several of the genre’s wilder traits (fan service included) and condense this endeavor into a work that addresses many different issues concerning the different aspects and unwritten rules of love.
From the very beginning, Chobits exhibits clean animation courtesy of Studio Madhouse. The character designs offered by CLAMP are the biggest and best aspect of the series’ artwork. Though relatively simple in nature, designs for the most part do not become repetitive (with the possible exception of a few persocons) and add a realistic quality to many of the characters. These “plain” designs become especially hilarious and contrast well when exaggerated expressions come into play to spice up scenes. The soundtrack may keep a low profile throughout the series, but never became bothersome or unwieldy at any point of any episode. As for the voice acting, the seiyuu work breathes life into the animated cast and at times even enhances comedic scenes with a natural tone and chemistry that works wonders.
Plot-wise, Chobits mostly fills out as a romantic/situational comedy that has a few episodes that constitute as nothing more than filler. The first half or so of the series takes full advantage of the misadventures of ronin life as seen through the eyes of Hideki and puts on a laugh fest that can go toe-to-toe with some of anime’s comedy gems. At around the midpoint of its twenty-six episode run, Chobits’ premise begins switching more and more openly to the romance between Hideki and Chii. The transition can come awkwardly to a fan of the title’s first half. Though the laughs are not totally gone, a switch in theme can alienate one that has grown accustomed to what they watched earlier in the series. Another potential turn-off that rears its head in Chobits is the questionable amount of filler it possesses. Although some do not directly advance the plot, they all manage to serve up quite a few helpings of character development to members of the cast. This happens regularly to Chii, whose character is advanced quite nicely in the process. At the conclusion of the series, a few blemishes on the series’ plot do happen to emerge and leave a couple of minor plot holes open.
I have to admit, CLAMP surprised me with this work. Chobits on the surface, with its overused premise, is very far from the Chobits under the surface, with its insights on do’s and don’ts in relationships. This title works well with a varied audience and is yet another reason why one can not simply judge a book by its cover.