Reviewed by: Azure
Released by: TokyoPop
Publishing Country: USA
Age Rating: 16+
Page Count: 182
Chi isn't your average humanoid computer. She can't do word processing, she can't connect to the net, and she's incapable of interfacing with other persocoms... But, when the hapless, technophobic Hideki rescues her from the scrap heap, and takes her home, he finds that she may be more advanced than her childlike behavior lets on.
19 year old Hideki is down on his luck, he's trying to get through cram school whilst holding down a job and he never seems to have enough money. Whilst walking home he discovers a persocom (humanoid computer) abandoned in a pile of garbage.
The set-up of Chobits is a familiar one, being part of the technological spin off of the "magical girl" plot line. Like all of these stories the persocom Chi doesn't seem to have any memories, her life seemingly beginning again with Hideki to the extent where she is only able to say the word "Chi" at first. This of course leads to all sorts of misunderstandings as the innocent Chi misunderstands the world around her. This of course means there's fan service aplenty, but Chi’s subtle and adorable facial expressions balance things out so that she still seems to be totally innocent. Much of the comedy comes from this mix of Chi’s total inexperience with the world, especially when she quickly gets mixed up with the more undesirable elements of city life. Despite it’s cutesy looks this is a seinen manga aimed at boys.
Chi is unsure of her place in the world and seems confused by it. Her thoughts are echoed by a series of books she likes called " A city with no people" which follows a strange rabbit like creature as it journeys to find the one person that will accept it.
Chi herself is an extremely mysterious persocom, Hideki has no idea where she actually came from. As Hideki's techno savvy friends start to examine Chi’s more closely they realise she is an extremely special indeed. Though only hinted at in this volume all the comedy of the main plot is underlined by a more mysterious thread which follows Chi's origins and true purpose. The other characters in the series are all interesting and have their quirks, the young computer genius Minoru surrounds himself with extravagantly dressed persocoms yet seems totally emotionally distant from others.
The artwork is top notch and looking at it, you can easily see why Clamp are so popular. The line-work is much bolder than previous Clamp work but still manages to convey strong emotion. Fans of the group will also enjoy the references scattered throughout to Angelic layer. Chobits is cute, funny, and surprisingly touching. Generic though it may be, from this volume it looks to be one of the best of the genre.