Reviewby Allen Divers, Mar 5th 2003
DVD 1: Persocom
Hideki Motosuwa is an average farm boy with a dream of attending Tokyo University. Of course, it's a bit difficult to accomplish that dream when he flunks his first attempt at entry, so now it's a year of prep school. Hideki packs his bags and makes the big move to Tokyo, where he finds many strange things including new Personal Computers (Persocoms) built just like people. Declaring that he must have one, he quickly discovers that it's going to take a lot more money than a poor prep school student can muster. Time for fate to step in as on his way home, Hideki finds in the trash the cutest Persocom he's ever seen. The problem is, he has no idea how to work her, and for some reason all she can say is Chi. Now, with the help of his friends, Hideki has to find a job, figure out how Chi works and still manage to pass his prep school classes!
From the collective creative talent of CLAMP comes their latest series to make the transition from print to TV, Chobits. Pioneer moved quickly to get this release to DVD, presenting the first four episodes in Chobits – Persocom. Featuring many familiar elements in other CLAMP works, Chobits is a tale of a young man, named Hideki, who happens to find a Persocom in the shape of a lovely young girl, named Chi. Completely out of his element, Hideki finds himself in the position of teacher while trying to sort out his own feelings about Chi. Falling away from the standard clichés, Chobits creates its own identity with a solid mix of romance, humor and simple, solid fun.
Chobits Vol 1: Persocom features the first four episodes of the series presented in Anamorphic widescreen. The DVD is filled with the normal extras, including a full color art gallery, the non-credit version of the opening, as well as a set of previews for other Pioneer titles. On the box, Pioneer also lists the two subtitle streams provided on the disc: one for translation of the Japanese dialogue and the other for translation of signs as well as the lyrics of the songs. Fans of Anime DVDs have long clamored for this feature, so it's interesting to see a company going out of its way to mention it on the box. The first volume of the Chobits series also features two box sets in addition to the standard DVD release. One release is simply the first volume of the series with a box that will hold the entire series. The other release includes the box and DVD, as well as a set of Chobits themed stationary.
For the animation production, CLAMP, creators of the Manga, once again teams up with the animators over at MADHOUSE. These two had worked previously on Card Captor Sakura and X, so there is a definite chemistry between them as they bring the Chobits manga to life. The character and costume designs are pure CLAMP and are brought to life vividly by MADHOUSE's animation. The art and animation portray Chobits as a bright and happy series and create a comic atmosphere surrounding the life of Chi and Hideki. The animation also contributes quite a bit to making Hideki come across as even more manic than he appears in the Manga. It's these over the top reactions that help give that extra bit of charm to the characters of Chobits, keeping the show from being pigeonholed into yet another fan service show. While there is quite a bit of fan service and mature situations occurring, thanks to the wit of the script it all ties together, coming across as the simple charm of the entire series.
For the English soundtrack, Pioneer relied on Bang Zoom! Entertainment. No stranger to these romantic dramedies, Bang Zoom! threw together a solid cast to bring life to the various characters of the show. All the actors are well cast and do a good job of creating solid performances for each character. The script does a good job of staying in line with the original Japanese script, even going so far as to leave in some Japanese terms. While the terms are fairly common, and therefor known by most Anime fans, people new to Anime will should be able to understand because of the context in which the terms are used. Not to be outdone by their English counterparts, the original Japanese cast of the show are also well suited to their roles. Both soundtracks share the same music and sound effects, allowing both tracks to feel comfortable. The music for Chobits is an interesting entity with a very retro feel to it. During the first few episodes it remains bubbly and fun, accentuating nicely the comic antics of the shows' participants.
At the heart of Chobits is a simple story of a young man out of place in the big city. Adjusting to his new life, Hideki becomes envious of the mainstay of big city life, the Persocom. Being a poor prep student, there's no way Hideki can afford a Persocom. As luck--and the plot of the story--would have it, Hideki comes across an abandoned Persocom in the trash. Taking her home, Hideki gets her working only to discover she can only say the word Chi. Confused by both her appearance and her complexity, Hideki stumbles around until his friends come to his aid. From there, the story progresses into a series of adventures, as Hideki must teach Chi how to get by in the world. With him being very naïve and a bit of a pervert and daydreamer, the story moves from one funny situation to the next. While there is quite a bit of fan service, the wit and charm of the story prevent it from shifting directly into simple exploitation. After the first few episodes, the audience finds it easy to relate to Hideki and to genuinely like all the characters involved.
Chobits proves to be another gem from the creative talent at CLAMP. Focusing on a simple tale of boy meets robot girl, CLAMP has created a charming tale of relationships that is actually deeper than a quick glance will show. The animation, character designs, music, and either voice casts combine to create a strong show that all fans of the romantic comedy genre can enjoy. Chobits is sure to be one of the top hits for this year.
Overall (dub) : A
Overall (sub) : A
Story : A
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : A
+ A strong romantic comedy from the collective talent of CLAMP
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