This may be the most controversial of the many anime series adapted from CLAMP stories. Many people love it; others really hate it. Personally I like it. I find it clever and funny and poignant and only occasionally unsettling. But you may not react to it the same way.
I suspect that many people’s reaction depends on how they would answer the following multiple choice question.
- A sweet and tender love story?
- A dark and perverted love story?
- Serious science fiction that explores the dangers of creating machines that are too much like ourselves?
- All of the above?
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Social Satire, Romance
27 Episodes on 7 DVDs
English, Japanese with subtitles
Region 1 Publisher
This series includes sexual humor and sexual situations, some rather cringe-inducing. Most parents would not feel comfortable watching it with their young children, and children should not be watching it without parental guidance. It is more suitable for teenagers and adults.
Of the 27 episodes, 3 are clip shows that are a total waste of time. Geneon has helpfully segregated these on the last DVD, where they can easily be skipped. The last DVD also contains a humorous segment called Chibits which is interesting mainly because it answers one question that the series ending left unresolved.
Premise and Characters
is a simple farm boy from Hokkaido, a nice young fellow, decent and kind, but unsophisticated. He has an unfortunate tendency to blurt out whatever is in his head.
He dreams of leaving the farm and going to college, but he doesn’t get accepted anywhere. So he decides to move to Tokyo and enroll in a leading cram school in the hope of doing better on the entrance exams next year.
Naturally he is short of funds, but he is fortunate enough to find an affordable room in a small rooming house run by a pretty young widow named Chitose Hibiya
This is starting to sound awfully
familiar, but the CLAMP gang has no intention of following the usual story line.
is a wisecracking teacher at Hideki’s cram school. She teases him but seems to be fond of him.
Hideki is surprised to discover that practically everybody in Tokyo has a personal computer, or “persocom”. The viewer is surprised to discover that in this world “personal computers” are actually humanoid robots, which look very much like normal humans except for their funny ears.
Hideki, who knows nothing about computers, is fascinated. He wishes that he could have a persocom of his own, but he can’t possibly afford one.
Hideki learns more about persocoms from his new neighbor (and fellow cram school student) Hiromu Shinbo
. Shinbo is something of a computer buff. His pride and joy is a highly-customized portable computer named Sumomo
Sumomo doesn’t have an enormous amount of processing power, but Shinbo has programmed her to be very cute. Here she is shown in screen-saver mode.
Hideki desperately needs to find part-time work to make ends meet. Fortunately he manages to get a job at a bar called “My Pleasure”. Yumi Omura
, the daughter of the bar owner, is a cheerful, worldly high-school student. She takes a liking to Hideki, but something seems to be troubling her.
Yumi doesn’t have a persocom of her own, but she does have a PDA.
One evening Hideki finds a perfectly good persocom that someone has thrown out in the trash. Naturally he takes it home and tries to get it working.
But when he finally manages to turn it on, all that it will do is say “chii!”
Shinbo is puzzled by the new persocom. It seems to have a lot of processing power, but no operating system or application software. But in that case, how is it able to move or speak at all?
Shinbo advises him to seek the help of a reclusive computer genius named Minoru Kokubunji
. Minoru turns out to be a strange character indeed. He is twelve years old, apparently an orphan, but very rich. He lives alone in a mansion filled with oddly dressed persocoms.
Minoru is puzzled by Hideki’s persocom. Whatever software she has is encrypted and impossible to analyze, but she clearly has an enormous amount of processing power. For some reason Minoru is reminded of an old Internet rumor about an abandoned experiment that involved a new type of persocom called “chobits”, which supposedly had capabilities resembling humans.
Minoru demonstrates that the persocom has the ability to learn from experience, much as a human child would (though apparently much faster.) Encouraged, Hideki decides to teach her how to talk, and names her Chii
. Much of the rest of the series is devoted to Chii’s fumbling attempts to learn about the world and come to terms with it.
The character of Chii probably has a lot to do with why some people dislike the series. A character with the body of a woman and the mind of a child is inherently disturbing, even if she is actually a robot. Still, I don’t see how the writers could have told this particular story without making her like that. (Why the artists sometimes choose to dress her in absurd gothloli
outfits is another question entirely.)
is Minoru’s favorite persocom, which he has programmed to emulate as closely as possible the personality of his dead sister.
owns a bakery where Chii eventually gets a part-time job.
is an unscrupulous hacker. (Apparently he is a Linux fan. You can make of that what you will.)
is a portable computer belonging to Kojima.
(“Zima” in the subtitles) is (among other things) a massive database server. He may know more about what is really going on than any of the other characters.
is a sophisticated firewall and intrusion prevention system, dedicated to protecting Jima.
Fans of the anime series Angelic Layer may notice some disturbing images. Chobits may be considered a sequel to the original manga version of Angelic Layer, but not the anime. I’ve never read the manga version, but apparently it is darker than anime and the ending is not as happy. If they notice anything disturbing, fans of the Angelic Layer anime will have to tell themselves that this is a different universe and the implied events never happened in the story that they are familiar with.
Anime News Network entry.
Wikipedia article (major spoilers.)