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 February 2001 to November 2002 and collected in eight bound volumes. Unlike most stories by Clamp, Chobits is a seinen series commonly mistaken for shōjo because of its strong romantic themes and flowery art style. 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 a video game 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, that 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 persocoms. 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 human beings 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 long hair lying against a pile of trash bags, and he carries her home, not noticing a disk fall 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 whether she is a persocom or not, despite horrible experiences of his friends involving 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 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 university by studying at a cram school, while working at a izakaya to make ends meet. One night, while walking home from work, 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 utter 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. 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. Voiced by: Tomokazu Sugita (Japanese), Crispin Freeman (English)
- Chi (ちぃ Chii?)
- A "chobit," a technologically advanced persocom rumored to possess true 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 for love. 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 unattainable love for her father and would die Elda had 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)
There were several changes made to the story when it was adapted into an anime series. The more important ones include:
- In the manga, when Hideki introduces himself, he is already in Tokyo and employed; in the anime, he is shown moving to Tokyo and meeting Chitose Hibiya, his apartment manager, and is unemployed when he finds Chi.
- Several events in the anime do not happen in the manga: such as the trip to Minoru's beach house, the circulation of an online urban legend regarding Hideki's apartment being haunted, he and Chi helping Ms. Hibiya clean the apartment complex, Chi needing to be charged and Chi cooking for Hideki. The episode where Chi gets her first underwear occurs in both, but it receives more emphasis in the anime (a whole episode) whereas in the manga it receives about two pages.
- In the anime, Shinbo Hiromu lives in the same apartment complex as Hideki; in the manga, he does not.
- In the manga, Hideki learns Ms. Shimizu and Shinbo are having an affair when he searches for Chi, who had gone to look for a job and wound up at Club Peep. In the anime, he finds out much later.
- In the manga, Yumi Oumura is not the daughter of manager Nekoi at Club Pleasure, where Hideki works.
- In the manga, Chi gets an outfit from her past life the night after Takako Shimizu stays at Hideki's apartment. In the anime, Chi gets the outfit from Chitose Hibiya after she and Hideki help her with cleaning the apartment building.
- In the anime, Chitose Hibiya's late husband Ichiro is not named, nor is his affiliation with the creation of Angelic Layer mentioned. In the manga, he is mentioned by name.
- Freya "dies" in the anime and manga under essentially the same circumstances (her CPU becoming overstressed by too much pain), but for different reasons. In the manga, she tells Ichiro Mihara about her feelings for him, and feels pain and joy at the same time which was too much of an emotional burden on her. In the anime, Freya mentions that she couldn't admit that she loved her creator, and therefore suffered from the pain of using all her willpower to keep her feelings a secret.
- The ending of the anime differs from the manga in several ways, including not alluding to Hideki never having Chi because of her switch location, and of Freya taking over Chi's body and asking her mother Chitose to shut them down, saying the Chobits series is a failure, and the activation of the program after all, although the effect on Persocoms is not the same as described in the manga.
Script error The original Chobits manga was written by Clamp, a collective of four Japanese manga artists. It was serialized in Japan by Kodansha in Young Magazine from February 2001 until November 2002. The 88 chapters were collected in eight bound volumes.
The manga was originally published in English in North America by Tokyopop. Tokyopop's translation is distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment. Tokyopop lost its license for the series, as rival publisher Dark Horse Manga announced at San Diego Comic-Con International that it would be publishing new omnibus editions of the series in celebration of CLAMP's 20th anniversary. The first of the two volumes was published March 24, 2010 and includes 4 of the original volumes.
Chobits is 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; and also released as an audiobook with text read by Rie Tanaka, the voice actor for Chi.
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 (episodes 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 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 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 in early 2011.
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 (cause it appears in "Freya mode"), it appears on 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.
Chobits was adapted as a series of four drama CDs, each called a Chapter.
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.
Reviewers consistently praised the production quality of the anime series, citing good sound and animation quality and detailed backgrounds. 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. Critics generally agreed that the second half of the series was stronger than the first, as the story explored the moral and philosophical explorations of the relationships between humans and artificial intelligences, and whether the latter have free will. Script error
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- Official Chobits English DVD anime website (Archive)
- TSB official Chobits anime site (Japanese)
- Tokyopop official Chobits manga site
- Chobits (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Chobits - The Official Anime Website from FUNimation
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