Yet another Madhouse anime in the early 2000’s. This studio owned the time. Now, with Carcaptor Sakura director Morio Asaka, and computers becoming a major theme, Chobits is interesting to say the least. Chobits is an anime that has all the makings, all of the supports from the popular manga series, and the director/studio combination to create a classic.
The story focuses on Hideki moving from the country to the city for a good old college education. He, of course, failed his college entrance exam. In turn first must go to cram school before his next attempt. Persocoms or better known as personal computers with human form are all the rage in technology throughout the city. They are expensive and Hideki doesn’t have one because he is very broke. However, low and behold he finds a mysterious abandoned cute-girl one and takes it home. He names it Chii based on that is the only word it can say along with the memory wiped (amnesia for robots). The story unfolds behind the origins of Chii and the developments of Hideki’s relationship to it. All with the main question of the anime, “when computers look like a human, does love remain the same?”
The theme, plot, and drama have a good idea that is unfortunately poorly executed over 24 episodes (plus 2 recap). As much as the series starts off as interesting, everything seems a bit too much like trying to grasp at romantic comedy straws very similar to Maison Ikkoku, but fails instead. First off it is a semi-perverted college guy moving into a new boarding place and ends up falling in love. He is broke, has trouble with his studies, the boarding place has a funny other boarder, and even the manager is even an older attractive woman. Comedic elements ensue with romantic developments, and a slow moving plot to say the least. All aspects similar to the formula Maison Ikkoku used in the 80s, but Maison Ikkoku told a story the audience cared about.
Chobits misses these elements by instead focusing on the perversions of Hideki, his new robot, and the robotic demeaning of women. This series takes a lot of flak for this. Persocoms are mostly obedient woman and stripped of thinking on their own with only what the man programs into them. This series literally objectifies woman. There are even episodes where there are entire episodes focused on Chii doing cute robot things like getting lost chasing a cat for example. Plenty of fan service appears when Chii gets into various roles to wear various outfits such as a maid uniform.
Looking past all of that, the series is animated well. Everything else seems a bit just above average for the time. Characters only develop slightly even though one is a robot with development to program. Art has little detail while foreground animation gets emotions across with the character designs. Side characters are more interesting than the main ones for some reason. However, the positives do exist despite all of this. Much like similar anime from the past, Maison Ikkoku for example, the notes Chobits hits pat are the cute moments. The main girl Chii is absolutely adorable, and many instances where its’ purity and innocence are all spot on. Whenever Hideki tries to teach her language skills or directions, something as simple as counting really hits the viewers soft emotions.
The other aspect done pretty well in Chobits are the side stories and side characters. In this region of the anime, other love stories develop such as with his fellow boarder. Complications with Chii’s boss at one particular job leads to an emotional past and emotional encounters. There are even hidden sci-fi elements into the overarching plot revolving around Chii that keeps the viewer interested for more. However, this plot leads to a quick and almost confusing ending with what Chii is and the persocom’s past. The relationship, although rocky, between Chii and Hideki has moments of questionable material for sure, but overall Hideki and Chii create that sort of couple anime fans look forward to each and every episode.
It’s hard to gauge an anime where there is just enough to hook an anime fan, but improper fan service and an unsatisfying conclusion just leads a little too much to be desired. Chobits had the potential for something more, which leads to nothing more than an average anime with some extra elements for slightly more entertainment.
TL;DR: Chobits does a decent job with its cute and adorable moments from start to finish. It even makes the viewer question the morality of romance with robotic assistants. However, questionable material like the perverted side of Hideki and fan service elements over the persocoms, not to mention the demeaning of woman can’t be overlooked as a down to the anime. Luckily it does not totally kill the good things Chobits brings to the romance genre as a whole.
Recommended Audience: If fan service, cute female characters, adorable moments of romance, and a strange sci-fi plot are a thing of interest, then Chobits could be a hidden gem for some.
Chobits programs a respectable fan service 3/5