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Chobits Complete Series Anime Classics DVD Review

9 min read

When Hideki moved to the city to with nothing but the clothes on the back and the ambition in his heart, he never realized he would actually be able to find a Persocom—an android computer— lying in the trash. Nor did he realize he would find himself slowly falling in love with her.

What They Say:
Tokyo is abuzz with Persocoms—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, she’s cuter than any current model he’s 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.

The Review:
Audio:
On the audio side of things, this is quite the modest release. As it’s a bit on the older side, it only has English and Japanese stereo, with no option of 5.1. I suppose it is a bit of a disappointment, in that 5.1 is an expected standard nowadays, but in reality, it’s not as though this show requires ultra stellar sound in order to be enjoyed. At the end of the day, it’s not that kind of a show, and very little is lost in the process of keeping things in stereo. Both languages perform well technically. The English dub does show its age, but it was probably one of the more solid ones in its day. On the whole, both are entirely watchable, depending, of course, on your preference.

Video:
Like the audio, the actual visuals of this show didn’t quite age as well as they could. While the visual style is admirable, it does often come across as lazy, what with characters rarely, if ever, changing clothes. Playback on HDTV looks okay enough, but if you’re planning on watching this on your computer, the difference in framerate ridiculously apparent, and there’ll be a lot of “interlace shadows” throughout the show. While that issue is present in current shows, it seemed to stand out moreso when I tested it on this one. Be it with its animation, or its transfer, this series really shows that it’s not quite of this newer generation of anime.

Packaging:
FUNimation really knows how to make an attractive package. The cardboard sleeve has a pretty painting of Chi sitting on an electric pole with the title and logo of the series at the bottom left. The perimeter of the front is surrounded by a blue line within a black one with the title “ANIME CLASSICS” taking up the top left, and the CLAMP, FUNimation, and Kodansha logos gracing the bottom right.

The back of the sleeve has the same perimeter as the front, with a pink color scheme filling in the majority within the perimeter. A long left column shows us a list of episodes and extras (and which discs they appear on). The top right of the back has an image with Hideki, and the four main girls, and surrounding this picture are screencaps from the show. Below that is a summary of the series. The bottom fifth of the package as the all the technical specs, among other things, in solid white text on black.

The front of the actual DVD case has another attractive painting of Chi covered in cherry blossoms with the small logo at the bottom, and company logos at the bottom right. The whole perimeter is an off-white, and works well. The back of the DVD case is identical to the back of the cardboard sleeve (minus the blue line perimeter). Opening of the DVD case reveals that the cover is reversible, with the insides consisting of two more paintings of Chi, one with her eating cherries, and another with her posing in a frilly dress and a parasol. The series consists of four discs, each with a unique color scheme and unique picture of Chi on the label. They are spread across two DVD pages, and fit nicely. Grabbing each DVD is very simple and easy, with there being no DVD obstructed by another. This is probably one of my favorite packages FUNimation has done in awhile, and surprisingly most of it has to do with how easy it is to grab the DVD. Oh the simple things…

Menu:
The menus for this release are attractive and simple. The main menu of each DVD has a color scheme that fits the DVD label, and has a picture of Chi. Below that are the options for play, set up, and scenes (and extras for the last DVD). In the background, the first few seconds of the opening song play in a (somewhat annoying) loop. It fits well with the series, and at no point did I find it hard to navigate. A huge plus for me.

Extras:
On the surface, it may seem like this release has a lot of extras, but truth be told, they’re hardly worth being called extras. There’s episodes 9.5, 18.5, 24.5, and the OVA. Each of these episodes can essentially be considered clip shows, as they summarize what has happened up to that point in the series. So, essentially, they’re the episodes most people would have no problem skipping. The OVA is fun, and takes place after the main series. However, at only five minutes or so long, it’s hardly anything worth mentioning. The rest of the extras consist of the typical textless openings and endings and FUNimation trailers. Nothing special, but if you are a completionist, and NEED to have those half-episodes and the OVA, it’s a nice addition.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Chobits is a series that came along during the early 2000s, way back when I was in middle school (yeah, I’m that young). So whenever I hear the title, there is a bit of warm fuzziness I feel, despite the fact that I had only gotten around 15 episodes in before I dropped the series entirely. Watching it as a wide-eyed child I could only dream of a time when we had personal computers in the shape of humans that walked around with us, and I asked myself “if I watched the series today…would it carry that same sense of wonder?”

What a difference a few years can make. Pushing past the nostalgia goggles, I found that, while, interesting and innovative in its own ways, Chobits is a series that can make it hard watch more so now than when it first came out.

The series takes place in an alternate early-2000s where, in the big cities, at least, people walk around with human-shaped personal computers called Persocoms. Hideki is a small-town guy moving into the big city for the first time in his life. After failing to get into college after high school, he decides to take prep school courses and apply again for the following year. It doesn’t take long for him to realize that life in the city is a bit different from where he grew up. For starters, everyone in sight has a Persocom of some sort; from keychain Persocoms to life-size human-shaped Persocoms. These things can be used for anything from checking email to sending and receiving phone calls. As nice as it would be to get one, however, Hideki just doesn’t have the money, so buying one is out of the question. But on his way home from prep school, he comes across an abandoned Persocom in the trash. Completely awestruck by his dumb luck, he takes the it home with him. However, he soon finds out that this Persocom is a little bit different from the run-of-the-mill machines found in electronics stores.

Unlike other Persocoms, this one (which he names Chi), runs without the aid of an operating system installed. On top of that, Chi seems to be built in with the innate curiosity of a human, and the ability to learn as she lives. He is congratulated on his magnificent find by a friend, but is warned not to fall in love, which is something that catches him completely off guard. How on earth can a human fall in love with a machine? Of course, in true fashion, he slowly finds himself falling in love with Chi as she learns more and more about the world around her.

Along Hideki’s grand journey in the big city, he comes across many friends: his neighbor Shinbo, his attractive prep school teacher, the cute daughter of the pub he works at, and the kind manager who runs the apartment at which he lives. Each contributes little by little to the raising of Chi.

The early episodes are good fun, as they chronicle the “raising” of Chi and the many hilarioius misadventures that ensue. From going to the bookstore, to buying Chi a pair of panties, it covers a lot of ground, both stereotypical and unique. It also helps to establish Hideki, the main character, and how new he is to Persocoms, and technology in general, which becomes very important as time goes on.

Having a series that is half character, then half plot is a double-edged sword. The obvious downside to having all these “character-building” episodes early on is that it takes awhile before the narrative becomes completely engaging. It took a good fifteen episodes before I no longer I had force myself to sit down and watch the show. But having seen those previous fifteen episodes also injected those last episode with some meaning. The relationship between Chi and Hideki had taken long enough to bloom so that when their eventual mutual love was expressed, I was able to buy it. The other upside to this format is the fact that it enabled the show to create expectations and then break them. The series sets itself up like a harem show, where the socially inept guy somehow ends up getting fought over by all the attractive girls. Luckily, despite my misgivings, this series dodges that pitfall as it goes on, establishing itself as something with a tad bit more substance than your standard echhi series.

However, in the process of doing so, it also finds itself stepping into another small hole. As intriguing as it is that everyone has some deep, dark secret, it also gives the show a huge feeling of contrivance. While it does give the whole series a more rounded story, It becomes harder and harder to believe that everyone has a secret that somehow relates to Persocoms or, even more specifically, Chi. By the time the third secret is revealed, many viewers may be roll their eyes over the unreasonable string of coincidences that somehow magically fall into place.

And then there is the general concept of Persocoms. While it may have seemed like a cool concept ten years ago, in the age of iPhones, iPads, and tablet computing in general, I just can’t imagine a world where making a phone call or checking my email through a life-sized android could be practical. Watching an episode of Chobits, in some ways, is like watching old science fiction films is nowadays: It’s a cute, but sadly inaccurate and ultimately impractical possibility of what technology can accomplish. It may sound silly, but it did become an annoyingly distracting aspect of the show, albeit a small one.

In Summary:
Chobits is a series that, in the grand scheme of things, hasn’t aged as well as it could have. From the outdated technology, to its stereotypically inept protagonist (which, sadly, continues to be a staple of many anime male leads). However, after pushing past these minor bumps, underneath is still a warm, lighthearted, engaging little story, that many fans will still enjoy for years to come. Chi is absolutely adorable most wholesome way, and in many ways, the experience of watching her learn can be compared to watching a child grow up, and watching her actually accomplish something simple puts a smile on your face in a way few things could. On the whole, I could recommend this as a flawed, yet endearing watch for any fan of romance anime.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, 9.5 Shinbo & Sumomo Chat, 18.5 Minoru & Yuzuki Chat, 24.5 Hibiya & Kotoko Chat, Chibits Special, Textless Opening Song, Textless Closing Song, Trailers

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B-
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: May 10th, 2011
MSRP: $49.98
Running Time: 600 Minutes
Video Encoding:
Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL-40EX400 BRAVIA EX400 LCD hdtv 40 inch. Sony SLV-D370P DVD Player. Electrohome ELE-HTB920E 5.1 Channel Surround Sound Home Theater Speaker System. 18” iMac.

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