wJun 8, 2008

Chobits, vols 1-8 (All)

Chobits is an 8-volume series that takes place a few years after the 5-volume series, Angelic Layer. The events of Angelic Layer are not necessary to understanding those of Chobits, but if you are going to read both series, I recommend reading them in order.

Hideki Motosuwa is a 19-year-old man desperately trying to get into University (he failed the first round of entrance exams). He lives in a world where people's personal computers can be humanoid. They are called "Persocoms," and they walk and talk just like humans do. Obviously, they are very expensive.

Luckily, our protagonist finds one lying in a pile of trash one night. He takes her home, turns her on, and names her "Chi," the only word she can say after waking up.

While Chi has no memories of life before Hideki, she is capable of learning from him and his friends. As time goes on, she becomes a more or less functioning Persocom, in that she can dress herself, have a coherent conversation, hold a job, and care for others.

What this manga does well (in a very repetitive manner) is explore the difference between humans and humanoid robots. Throughout the series, the main characters encounter people who have fallen in love with Persocoms, and in one way or another, had their lives ruined by it. Can humanoid robots have feelings? Can they fall in love? Is it appropriate for humans to fall in love with robots? These are some of the questions that the series explores.

I think I personally would have liked this a lot more if it ended up being not okay to fall in love with robots. I think I have the same problem with Battlestar Galactica. You can't program a soul, or feelings. You can program responses, and maybe even personalities. But I can't imagine ever falling in love with a machine and having everything work out okay.

This manga also contains a story within a story: a comic book that Chi and Hideki read in bookstores, called "A City With No People." It soon becomes apparent that not only is the series a reflection on Persocoms in society, but it is also about Hideki and Chi, specifically.

I have a profoundly low tolerance for things like panty shots, Hideki's porn-obsession (which is used as a running joke, and not a facet of his lifestyle), and Chi with her clothing hanging off her naked body. I also get pretty uncomfortable with the whole "robotic girlfriend" trope. After being turned on, Chi is essentially an infant in a post-pubescent body, who must be taught the simplest tasks. Gag me.

In addition, there are several highly inappropriate romances, such as sister/brother, or daughter/father-figure. Thus far in my anime career, I've only been able to watch such romances with interest in Revolutionary Girl Utena.

For these reasons, I think that I won't keep the books (which I obtained through BookMooch), because I have no desire to read it again.

The series has been made into a 26-episode anime.

According to Wikipedia, Chi will appear in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, as will Hibya-san's apartment complex.

I'm almost ready to read xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle. My only plans are to finish reading X/1999, and write it up. Here's a list of CLAMP manga I've read. If anyone has last-minute suggestions before I start their two current series, let me know!

Angelic Layer, Cardcaptor Sakura, Legal Drug, RG Veda, CLAMP School Detectives, Man of Many Faces, CLAMP School Defenders Duklyon, Chobits, Legend of Chun Hyang, Tokyo Babylon, X/1999, Magic Knight Rayearth.

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scribbled mystickeeper at 9:03 AM

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