Chobits (2002) – By Timothy Martinez

Hideki is a seventeen year-old country boy from Hokkaido who has arrived in the big city in order to go to college. Alas, his grades were not all that great so he must first attend a prep school. He finds an apartment to rent, a day job to pay the bills and manages to make some new friends, but what really has drawn his attention are the multitude of Persocoms – personal computers that are designed to look and act like animals or people, that are in abundant supply in the city. Far too poor to afford one of his own, he is delighted when one night on his way home, he finds a discarded Persocom in the trash…one in the form of an attractive young girl. He takes it home and manages to activate it, but the Persocom only manages to say one word: “Chi.” He quickly adopts this as her name and sets out to learn as much as he can about Persocoms.

He finds help in the form of his neighbor Hiromu Shinbo, who owns a Persocom named Sumomo that resembles a small doll; and Minoru Kokubunji, a wealthy young boy who builds custom Persocoms as a hobby. With their help he uncovers some startling facts about Chi. It seems Chi has no memories before being activated by Hideki, despite the obvious fact that someone owned her and discarded her. Also, she is mysteriously able to function despite not having an OS installed and has some type of advanced software protection that prevents anyone from accessing her memories. Further, certain books have a strange effect on her and she displays a child-like persona of innocence. Could she be one of the legendary Chobits – mythical Persocoms that supposedly possess free will?

This series is mostly comical in nature and light in tone. The naïve and inexperienced Hideki struggles to balance school, work, friends and maintaining a distractingly cute Persocom. Chi slowly develops with Hideki’s help, growing from a machine that can only say one word to a fully realized female with feelings and desires of her own…though getting there is not always easy for all involved. Hideki must also deal with his obvious attraction to Chi. This is only made harder because of Chi’s uncompromising admiration and devotion to Hideki as well as her good looks. This makes for some awkward, yet hilarious moments of misunderstanding, especially as Chi learns more about the world and her own nature.

I must admit that this is a fun series. Yes, the DVD covers are girlie-looking in the extreme, and the story contents seem to lean more toward chick-flick relationship fare than the usual science fiction themes concerning AI, but the characters are just so darn appealing that it is hard to resist. The episodes are mostly stand alone in nature, yet each story advances the overall arc in it’s own fashion. The vast majority of the stories are humorous romps that focus more on the characters than any big scifi concepts. Not that those deep ideas on the nature of love and what makes us truly Human are missing, its just that they’re wrapped in a much more enchanting storyline. Don’t expect to see big explosions, giant mecha or anything else of that nature. If you do, you will be greatly disappointed. However, if you are in the mood for a funny and romantic romp, check this one out.

If you would like to see this series or learn more, check out the Geneon website at http://www.geneonanimation.com.