Cover of the first volume of the English-language translation as published by Tokyopop (2002)
|Genre||Romantic comedy, Science Fiction|
|Original run||2000 – 2002|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Morio Asaka|
|Network||TBS, HBC, BS-i, CBC, SBS, TBC, MBS|
|Original run||2 April 2002 – 24 September 2002|
Chobits (ちょびっツ Chobittsu?) is a Japanese manga created by the Japanese manga collective Clamp. It was published by Kodansha in Young Magazine from the 43rd issue for 2000 to the 48th issue for 2002 and collected in eight bound volumes. Chobits was adapted as a 26-episode-long anime television series broadcast on TBS and Animax from April to September 2002. In addition, it has spawned two video games as well as various merchandise such as figurines, collectable cards, calendars, and artbooks.
The series tells the story of Hideki Motosuwa, who finds an abandoned persocom (パソコン PasoKon?), or personal computer (パーソナルコンピュータ pāsonaru konpyūta) with human form, which he names "Chi" after the only word it initially can speak. As the series progresses, they explore the mysteries of Chi's origin together and questions about the relationship between human beings and computers. The manga is set in the same universe as Angelic Layer, taking place a few years after the events of that story, and like Angelic Layer, it explores the relationship between humans and electronic devices shaped like human beings. Chobits branches off as a crossover into many other stories in different ways, such as Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, xxxHolic and Kobato.
The series centers on the life of Hideki Motosuwa, a held-back student attempting to qualify for university by studying at Seki prep school in Tokyo. Besides a girlfriend, he dreams of having a persocom (パソコン?): an android used as a personal computer, which is expensive. On his way home one evening, he stumbles across a persocom in the form of a beautiful girl with floor-length hair lying against a pile of trash bags, and he carries her home, not noticing that a disk fell on the ground. Upon turning her on, she instantly regards Hideki with adoration. The only word the persocom seems capable of saying is "chi" (ちぃ Chii?), thus he names her that. Hideki assumes that there must be something wrong with her, and so the following morning he has his neighbor Hiromu Shinbo analyze her with his mobile persocom Sumomo. After Sumomo crashes during the attempt they conclude that she must be custom-built.
Shinbo introduces Hideki to Minoru Kokubunji, a twelve-year-old prodigy who specializes in the field of custom-built persocoms. Minoru's persocoms, including Yuzuki, a fairly exceptional custom-built persocom, are not able to analyze Chi either, and thus they conclude that she may be one of the Chobits, a legendary series of persocoms rumoured to have free will and emotions. Although this is a possibility, Minoru is confident that it is only rumour. Yuzuki also adds that she does not resemble any persocom model in any available database and so she must be custom made after all.
A major part of the plot involves Hideki attempting to teach Chi words, concepts, and appropriate behaviours, in between his crammed schedule of school and work. At the same time, Chi seems to be developing feelings for Hideki, at an emotional depth she is not supposed to possess, and Hideki struggles with his feelings for her. The need to figure out more about Chi and her mysterious functions and past becomes a pull for the characters in the series.
Hideki's feelings intensify for Chi regardless of her being a persocom and despite his friends' painful experiences involving other persocoms. Chi becomes aware of her purpose through a picture book series called A City with No People which she finds in a bookstore. The books speak about many different things involving human and persocom relationships: persocoms and their convenience as friends and lovers, how there are things that they cannot do and questioning whether a relationship between a persocom and a human is really one-sided. It also speaks about the Chobits series; that they are different from other persocoms, and what they are incapable of doing unlike other persocoms. These picture books awaken Chi's other self, her sibling Freya who is aware of their past and helps Chi realize what she must do when she decides who her "person just for me" is. Together, Chi and Hideki explore the relationship between human beings and persocoms, as well as their friends' and their own.
- Hideki Motosuwa (本須和 秀樹 Motosuwa Hideki?)
- A 19-year-old (in the anime, 18) repeat student attempting to get into a university by studying at a cram school, while working at an izakaya. One night, while walking home from the convenience store, he finds a persocom lying in a pile of garbage. He takes her home, and upon activating her, finds that the only word she can speak is "Chi". Because of this, he gives her the name "Chi" (in the anime, "Chii") and takes her into his care, doing his best to protect and teach her. Despite his shortcomings and occasional moments of awkwardness with the bustling environment of Tokyo, Hideki is a genuinely kind and honest person, whose habit of thinking of others' well-being before his own can cause many problems. However, he often gets embarrassed. When a friend is in trouble, especially Chi, he is always there to help. Although many characters in the series often tease him for being a "nice guy", they turn to him for advice with their problems, knowing he will always hear them out and do his best to assist them. Having grown up on a farm in Hokkaido with only cows for company, Hideki is very eager to make friends, tends to be preoccupied with what other people think of him, and often thinks aloud only to become embarrassed when he notices others have heard him discussing private subjects. Voiced by: Tomokazu Sugita (Japanese); Crispin Freeman (English)
- Chi (ちぃ Chii?)
- A "chobit," a technologically advanced persocom with a sense of machine intelligence, with the ability to feel emotions and act on her own will, unlike other persocoms. Hideki finds her in a pile of trash as he makes his way home from work one night. Upon turning her on, she is only able to say the word "chi," remembers nothing of her past life, and is unable to perform even simple tasks. Because of this, Hideki names her Chi and undertakes teaching her how to function. Chi reads a series of children's picture books, A City with No People, about a character searching for the "person just for me," which were written pseudonymously by Chitose Hibiya as a way of reconnecting Chi to her past self, and to guide Chi's search. As the series progresses, Chi begins to have visions of another persocom who is identical to herself. This "other Chi" advises and protects Chi, and as the story nears its climax tells Chi something about her history before she was restarted; that Chi had been named "Elda" by her loving parents and had an older sister. When the older sister broke her heart for her father and would die, Elda offered to take all of her older sister's memories, at the cost of her own memories. Her older sister thus became the guardian of Elda's memories and Elda's protector. See the entry for Freya in the list of Chobits characters. At the end of the series, Hideki finally admits that he loves Chi, and is her special person. Voiced by: Rie Tanaka (Japanese); Michelle Ruff (English)
Clamp—a creative team consisting of Satsuki Igarashi, Ageha Ohkawa, Tsubaki Nekoi and Mokona—wrote and illustrated Chobits, which is the first of their manga to be targeted towards older male readers (seinen manga). The idea for Chobits originated from the group's experiences with computers, which would present indecipherable error messages when experiencing difficulties, to which they added a "sexier spin" to the concept. After completing their previous manga series Cardcaptor Sakura, the group successfully pitched Chobits to the Japanese manga magazine Young Magazine. Clamp completed fourteen pages per week for Chobits's weekly serialization, totaling fifty-six pages a month. The title of the manga has its origins in "Chobi", the name of a cat at the place of Nekoi's former employment, which the group made into "Chobits", as the characters Elda and Freya were twins.
Ohkawa designed Hideki and Chi first. Chi's design as a personal computer resulted from Ohkawa's wish to increase the sense of "emotional discomfort" around becoming emotionally involved with something considered to be merely a lifeless machine. The characterization of the protagonist Hideki proved to be difficult for her; in the beginning, she considered an "aloof" man who gradually warms up emotionally or a sex-obsessed man. She decided that neither characterization would be a good fit for Chi and settled on one of a penniless and benevolent student. In keeping with the conventions of the romantic comedy genre, the group had planned to introduce conventional characters, such as an older female neighbor and a physically attractive friend from childhood; in the case of Chobits, the "childhood friend" never appeared. The artwork was done in ballpoint pen to evoke the sense of "rough" lines, and colored pages were done in acrylic gouache.
Chobits began as a manga written and illustrated by Clamp, a collective of four Japanese manga artists. It appeared as a serial in Young Magazine from the 43rd issue for 2000 to the 48th issue for 2002. Kodansha compiled the eighty-eight chapters into eight bound volumes and published them from February 14, 2001, to November 29, 2002.
In 2002, Tokyopop licensed Chobits for an English-language translation in North America and marketed it as part of its new unflipped manga line, which reads from right-to-left. Previously, translated manga was typically flipped from its original reading order to a left-to-right one to better suit Western readers. Tokyopop published the series from April 23, 2002, to October 7, 2003, and its translation was distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment. Tokyopop's license concluded in 2009. At San Diego Comic-Con International 2009, Dark Horse Manga announced an omnibus edition of the series in celebration of Clamp's 20th anniversary. In 2010, it published the two volumes on March 24, and September 29, respectively. Chobits is also published in Hong Kong in Traditional Chinese by Jonesky, in Singapore in Simplified Chinese by Chuang Yi, in South Korea by Daiwon C.I., in France by Pika Édition, in Spain by Norma Editorial, in Mexico by Grupo Editorial Vid, in Italy by Star Comics (which serialized it in Express), in Germany by Egmont Manga & Anime (which serialized it in Manga Power), in Poland by Japonica Polonica Fantastica, in Brazil by JBC, and in Sweden by Carlsen Verlag.
An art-book based on the series, titled Your Eyes Only, was published by Kodansha; it is licensed in North America by Tokyopop. In addition, A City with No People, the fictional picture book written in the series by Chitose Hibiya, was released in Japan as a picture book;
Chobits was adapted as an anime television series by Madhouse. The series was directed by Morio Asaka with music by K-Taro Takanami and character designs by Hisashi Abe. The opening theme is "Let Me Be With You" by Round Table featuring Nino. The ending themes are "Raison d'être" (Reason to Be) by Rie Tanaka (episodes 1–13), "Ningyo-hime" (Mermaid Princess) by Rie Tanaka (episodes 14–25), and "Katakoto no Koi" (Awkward Love) by Rie Tanaka and Tomokazu Sugita (episode 26).
The series was broadcast in 26 episodes from 2 April 2002 to 24 September 2002 across Japan, East Asia, and Southeast Asia by the anime satellite television network, Animax and the terrestrial Tokyo Broadcasting System network. It was later released on 8 DVDs. The original episodes 9 and 18 are "recap" episodes, summarizing previous events. These episodes were re-numbered for the DVD release as episodes 8.5 and 16.5, respectively, and removed from their original sequence by being published together on the final DVD. As a result, the series is 24 episodes long on DVD. In addition, there are two DVD-only OVAs: a 27th episode recapping the series (numbered episode 24.5) and a 6-minute special, "Chobits: Plum and Kotoko Deliver". The ending theme of the latter is "Book End Bossa" by Round Table featuring Nino.
The series was broadcast in Korea by AniOne TV, in France by Europe 2 TV, in Spain by both Animax España and Buzz Channel, in Portugal on Animax Portugal, and in Poland by Hyper. It is licensed in North America by Geneon, which has released the series in 7 DVDs. This release is redistributed in the United Kingdom by (on 6 DVDs instead of 7, placing the recap episodes and special as extras on disk 6)MVM Films, and in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment. It is also licensed in Taiwan by Proware Multimedia, in France and the Netherlands by Kaze Animation, in Germany by ADV Films and later Kaze Germany, and in Russia by MC Entertainment. At Anime Boston 2010, North American anime distributor Funimation Entertainment announced that they have rescued Chobits and will release the series on DVD and Blu-ray on April 26, 2011 & May 10, 2011, respectively. The anime series made its US television debut on May 9, 2011 on the Funimation Channel.
Two soundtracks from the anime were released by Pioneer. Chobits Original Soundtrack 001 was released 1 July 2003 and Chobits Original Soundtrack 002 was released 7 October 2003. Three singles were released, the opening theme "Let Me Be with You" by Round Table featuring Nino, and two ending themes by Rie Tanaka, "Raison d'être" and "Ningyo Hime". In addition, a character song album, Chobits Character Song Collection, was released on 17 February 2004.
One piece of music in the anime nicknamed "Dark Chi's Theme" by fans (because it appears in "Freya mode") appears on the Best of Chobits soundtrack. Original name of the track is "Fuuma (Dialogue Mix)" and "Kamui (Dialogue Mix)", which are available on their respective singles "Fuuma" Single and "Kamui" Single from the X soundtrack.
In 2002 Marvelous Entertainment released in Japan only a Chobits game for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance called Chobits: Atashi Dake no Hito. The game was available bundled with a clear blue Game Boy Advance with a decal of Chi above the A+B buttons and a Chobits logo above the D-pad.
Another PC-version game was also released in 2002, using Macromedia and QuickTime as the background support. This game is called Communication Game, in which the player can "talk" with Chi and teach her to speak. It also contained some small games inside such as a keyboard typing game.
Reviews have been mixed. Shaenon K. Garrity of Anime News Network criticized the series' description of persocoms as "obedient" and "perfect," writing, "The persocoms are perfect women, stripped clean of everything that makes real women less than perfect servants to men—that is, one might say, everything that makes women human." Finn Clark wrote, "The show's thematic engine lies in women who are objects. In a genre that's always at risk of objectifying women, here it's been made literal." The adaptation was criticized for shifting the focus from Hideki to Chi, in particular for having episodes devoted to Chi "doing cute things" and providing fanservice. Helen McCarthy in 500 Essential Anime Movies stated that the OVA's main strength is "its questioning of how we use technology, and whether it can be a substitute, rather than a support, for real life".
Durham County features one of the characters, a little girl seen in the opening wearing an anime mask, having a Chobits poster on her wall.
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- Clamp (January 2005). Clampノ絵シゴト North Side (1989–2002). Los Angeles, California: Tokyopop. pp. 154–5. ISBN 978-1-59182-902-7.
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- "Dark Horse - San Diego Comic-Con International 2009". Anime News Network. 2009-07-25. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
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- Chobits Art Book: Your Eyes Only. "Chobits Art Book: Your Eyes Only: CLAMP: 9781598165951: Amazon.com: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-09-26.
- Beveridge, Chris (2003-05-23). "Chobits Vol. #2: The Empty City (of 7)". Mania.com. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
I even went and bought the real version of the book that was made after the shows release and read parts of it to my daughter before bed.
- "DVD&Video情報" (in Japanese). Tokyo Broadcasting System. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
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- Clark, Finn. "Chobits". FinnClark.com. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- Carpenter, Christina (2002). "Chobits". THEM Anime Reviews. Retrieved 2008-08-24.
"Whereas the manga version of Chobits concentrates more on Hideki's point of view, with him finding out Chii's secrets, the anime is Chii, Chii, and nothing but Chii. Now, if it were more about Chii finding out facets of her personality, basically a retelling of the manga from her point of view rather than Hideki's, this would be fine. Instead, three-fourths of the series is devoted to watching Chii do cute little things.
- McCarthy, Helen. 500 Essential Anime Movies: The Ultimate Guide. — Harper Design, 2009. — P. 49. — 528 p. — ISBN 978-0061474507
- Lamarre, Thomas (July 2006). "Platonic Sex: Perversion and Shôjo Anime (Part One)". Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal. 1 (1): 45–59. doi:10.1177/1746847706065841.
- Lamarre, Thomas (March 2007). "Platonic Sex: Perversion and Shôjo Anime (Part Two)". Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal. 2 (1): 9–25. doi:10.1177/1746847706068899.
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