Review: Chobits

Chobits is the story of Hideki Motosuwa, a boy in his late teens who longs for companionship and believes his prayers are answered when he finds an abandoned persocom or personal computer in the traditional venue for all mysterious discoveries in comics – the dimly lit abandoned alley.

ChobitsCreated by the all-female Japanese manga artist group Clamp, the Chobits manga was serialised by Kodansha from February 2001 to November 2002. It was subsequently adapted into a 26 episode anime by Madhouse in addition to spawning two video games and various merchandise collectables such as figurines, cards and calendars.

In the Chobits universe, computers take the form of dolls, miniature figures or life-size mannequins in lieu of the traditional box- and tablet-like appearance.They have excellent voice synthesis engines and are infallible in parsing human speech with all its idiosyncrasies. They are designed to be companions for humans to use, companions that are humanoid and for some, the perfect replacement for a human being. A large part of the series deals with the question – why would someone want to create a machine that can completely replace a human being? With a growing segment of the city’s inhabitants choosing to forgo human partners for an artificial replacement that is completely compliant, an encyclopedia of knowledge, ageless and most importantly, programmed to genuinely like their owners, the question for some becomes a rhetorical one.

Spending hours at a cram school preparing to get into college, Hideki is extremely depressed and wonders if having his own persocom will give him a better chance at success in life. Walking home from his day-job one day he comes across what appears to be a corpse atop a dumpster in a dark alley. On inspecting it he discovers it is in fact a persocom in the shape of a girl his own age. Unable to ‘turn her on’ he slings her over his shoulder and carries her home assuming her to be ownerless. In the dark we see a small object drop from the folds of her clothing and unnoticed by Hideki, is left behind.