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Chobits: Anime Classics Complete Series(TV) (2002)
Tokyo is abuzz with persocoms ľ humanoid computers that are virtually perfect. The socially and technologically inept Hideki is dying to get his hands on one. When he finds Chi abandoned in the trash, sheĺs cuter than any current model heĺs ever seen before. But when he gets her home and turns her on, she has no data and only a single learning program installed. While Hideki puts his whole heart into teaching Chi the ins and outs of humanity, a mystery unfolds as a dark secret within her awakens.
For more about Chobits: Anime Classics Complete Series and the Chobits: Anime Classics Complete Series Blu-ray release, see Chobits: Anime Classics Complete Series Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on May 14, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Rie Tanaka, Tomokazu Sugita, Tomokazu Seki, Motoko Kumai, H˘ko Kuwashima, Fumiko Orikasa
Director: Morio Asaka
» See full cast & crew
Chobits: Anime Classics Complete Series Blu-ray Review
His living doll.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, May 14, 2011
What was it about the zeitgeist of mid-1960s America that saw so many television series posit a magical, or strangely powered, partner with an ordinary human, often with romantic sparks flying between them? Darren and Samantha didn't let her being a witch get in the wayŚat least not by each episode's endŚon the long running Bewitched. And NBC's "answer" to that surprise smash, I Dream of Jeannie, did pretty similar work with Tony and Jeannie. CBS actually had the jump (by one season) on either of these shows, with Tim and Uncle Martin on My Favorite Martian. Okay, okay, so maybe there weren't romantic sparks there, but you get the idea. The success of My Favorite Martian actually prompted CBS' legendary James Aubrey to green light a second series by Martian's producer Jack Chertok, without even the usual interim step of ordering a pilot. That show, My Living Doll, with Bob Cummings and a pre-Catwoman Julie Newmar, only lasted a season, but it is in its own way remarkably similar to the manga and anime Chobits. My Living Doll dealt with a scientist (Cummings) who inherits a sophisticated but na´ve android (Newmar) who must be taught the "ways of man," which in those sexist days meant being a nice, submissive cook and cleaner. (In the amazing but true trivia department, My Living Doll is credited with popularizing the catchphrase "Does not compute," something Newmar's character used to spout with great regularity). Chobits replaces the scientist with a bumbling teenager who travels to Tokyo to attend prep school after he fails to gain entry into college. In Chobits' universe, there are "personal computers" called persocoms which are indeed personalŚthat is, they're androids, human-looking creatures which come in various shapes and sizes (female) but who function much like our contemporary PCs or Macs. This teenager, Hideki Motosuwa, fantasizes about having his own persocom, and wouldn't you know it, he finds one abandoned in a Tokyo alleyway. That sets the series into motion, as Hideki mistakenly leaves the creature's software disc behind, and then soon realizes he has a legendary super-secret kind of persocom known as a Chobit.
Hideki's persocom is soon known by the name Chii (also transliterated as "Chi," which is how the English subtitles account for her in the show), since that's the only thing she says for the first several episodes. Chii is a gorgeous young blonde persocom, and there is an undeniable lascivious streak that runs through most of Chobits, something that makes this anime something for older teens and adults. Add to that Hideki's outright obsession with porn (no, I'm not kidding), something he wants to "use" Chii to access, and you have one of the oddest contents ever for an anime. Episodes here deal with sexually tinged aspects like having to buy Chii underwear, but there's outright fascination with sex right on the surface of many episodes. One sterling example is when Hideki figures out that the way to turn Chii on (literally, that is, meaning her "on switch") is housed between her legs.
Chobits is obviously major masturbatory material for a certain segment of the male population. What red-blooded guy wouldn't want to have a nubile female android who can be programmed to fulfill every wish? This is not the slightly smarmy, domesticated subservience of My Living Doll. This is the outright sexualized and fantasy-fueled passion of the post-Sexual Revolution world, and it gives Chobits a certain edge that many animes are missing. The fact that this unapologetically sexual focus is then mixed with a sort of slapstick comedy angle, specifically with regard to both Hideki's bumbling and Chii's "learning curve," makes Chobits a very peculiar little show indeed.
The series has a well developed set of supporting characters, including Hideki's next door neighbor, a less bumbling and smoother guy named Hiromu Shinbo, who helps Hideki figure out what exactly Chii is. That involves the help of a kid computer whiz named Minoru Kokubunji (and any parent who has had to turn to their own child for help with a computer or smart phone will know how realistic this element of Chobits is). Also along for the ride is Hideki and Shinbo's landlady, a sweetheart named Chitose Hibiya. These characters all function pretty much analogously to the supporting cast of a sitcom, showing up for a few moments in various episodes as the main storylines between Hideki and Chii play out.
Chobits is notable in at least a couple of respect, including that Chii actually does develop, Pinocchio-style, from a figurative puppet to something more akin to a "real live girl" as the show moves through its episodes. That means that the final third or so of the series actually starts to delve at least a little more deeply into what the relationship between Hideki and Chii is ultimately going to be. No longer is Hideki simply the mentor to a mindless na´f. He's finally confronted with something other than lust or even teaching basic skills, and the series artfully starts looking a little deeper than the opening episodes might have initially hinted at. There's also a somewhat bizarre quasi-Freudian element to one of the subplots involving Chitose Hibiya that brings up a number of interesting questions about the Chobits' burgeoning emotional "programming."
This final gambit, as Chii starts to become self-actualizing, may in fact remind a lot of people of A.I. Artificial Intelligence. There's the same kind of melancholy in the wind down of Chobits that is tonally very similar to the putative Spielberg-Kubrick opus, as Chii becomes more aware of her background, her abilities and what the future holds for her. Once the series escapes the purely lascivious, it actually has something more heartfelt to offer, and that may indeed be where Chobits finds an audience beyond the eternally amorous male population.
Chobits: Anime Classics Complete Series Blu-ray, Video Quality
Chobits is presented on Blu-ray from an upconverted SD master via an AVC encode in 1080i and 1.78:1. This was never the most artfully designed or realized anime in history, and the upconversion does little to provide anything approaching spectacular detail. The series is awash in pleasant pastels and a slightly diffused color scheme, and that element works about as well as it did on SD-DVD. The image is frequently fairly soft, even for animation, and the inherent lack of character detail only is more apparent on this upconverted edition. All of this said, there's nothing horrible about the Blu-ray that should keep fans away from the series. There's simply not the spectacular boost in image quality that should make this a "must buy" for those very same fans.
Chobits: Anime Classics Complete Series Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Two lossless tracks are offered on Chobits, the original Japanese in Dolby TrueHD 2.0, and a well above average English dub, similarly in Dolby TrueHD 2.0. As with some other recent anime releases, there's a very slight, albeit noticeable, difference between the English and original Japanese tracks, with the English track sounding just a tad more open, with clearer highs and lows. It's not a huge difference, but you'll notice it if you toggle back and forth during some of the music elements. Otherwise, either of these tracks is well modulated and offers great fidelity. Original language purists will like the less hyperbolic, gentle aspect of the original Japanese, but those who prefer not to read subtitles may especially enjoy the goofy English language voice of Hideki on the dubbed version. Dialogue, music and sound effects all sound great, albeit in a narrow soundfield, and fidelity is excellent throughout both tracks.
Chobits: Anime Classics Complete Series Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
All of the extras from the previously released DVD have been ported over to this new 3 BD set. All of the extras reside on the third disc. These include the "recap chat" episodes (strangely with the previews afterward), which were interpolated into the series' American broadcast, as well as the brief Chibits special, and all of the credits sequences sans titles.
Chobits: Anime Classics Complete Series Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you're a rutting male, you will probably love Chobits. This is a supreme fantasy (in the traditional sense of the word) series for any guy who has dreamed of having a perfectly compliant female to do his bidding, sexually and otherwise. The rest of you may in fact even find some worthwhile content as Chobits gets into its final third, when the lascivious elements have calmed down a little and some more ruminative elements take hold (much like in any real life relationship). This Blu-ray suffers from the original anime's lack of detailed animation, which the upconversion from an SD master doesn't really help all that much. Fans will probably want to include this complete release in their collections, but others may want to give this a rental to see how they feel about it.
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