Case Number 04314

CHOBITS: CHATROOM (VOLUME 7)

Geneon // 2004 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Gutierrez (Retired) // April 29th, 2004

The Charge

Domo arigato, Miss Roboto.

Opening Statement

I'm beginning to see an abundance of Japanese anime involving the construction of female robots and the robot's attempts to socialize and become "human."

Facts of the Case

No matter what kind of a woman a man dates, robot or organic, it will never be easy. Never. Why? Because even though she's a robot she's still a woman and he still has to understand where she comes from and who she is. Normally, this is a difficult enough task. Throw in the fact that the robot girl is an amnesiac, and you have the world of Chobits.

The Evidence

One thing I always hated watching on television was the "clip show." They always struck me as lazy and left me feeling cheated out of new material and angry. Chobits: Chatroom (Volume 7) has a similar presentation. Framed by conversations or letter writing, characters recall and discuss the events surrounding the courtship of Chi and Hideki. Eventually, I pieced together that Chi may or may not be a Chobit -- a Persocom (i.e. android) capable of independent thought and feeling...and an urban legend. Hideki finds Chi in the garbage, turns her on (see how he powers her up and all is explained), and brings her home with him. Hideki's neighbor, Hiro "Shinbo" Mushimbo, and his miniature Persocom, Sumomo, attempts to rebuild Chi's memory and help her rediscover herself, while Hideki finds himself falling for his robot.

The disc contains three episodes. Beware, as spoilers follow below.

Chapter 9.5: "Shinbo and Sumomo Chat"
Shinbo and Sumomo recall their first encounters with their neighbor, Hideki, and Hideki's first meeting with Chi. Oddly, they also recall events they were not privy to or did not witness, such as other events in Hideki's life. Since this is the seventh volume in a seven volume series, I'm under the impression this first chapter compresses about the first third of the episodes into about 25 minutes. I love these clip shows.

Chapter 18.5: "Minoru and Yuzuki Chat"
Genuis Persocom builder and prodigy Minoru chats it up with his robot, Yuzuki, who appears to be always wearing a French maid outfit. Together, they discuss the possible revelation that Chi may be a Chobit. This episode also flashed back to a video game in which Hideki, Sumomo, and a third character I've never seen are trapped, a haunted house, and what may or may not be a downloadable picture of Chi with a huge "Chobit" tattoo on her thigh. I'm going to venture that this episode compresses the second third of episodes in this series.

Chapter 24.5: "Hibiya and Kotoko Chat"
This time, Hideki's landlady/apartment manager, Hibiya, writes her boyfriend or husband a letter. As it turns out, Hibiya is privy to the truth: Chi is a Chobit, and Hideki's husband or boyfriend had something to do with her creation! I gathered that this entire series was a robot love conspiracy. In what I think must be the final third of the Chobits saga, Chi gets abducted, forcing Hideki and Chi to finally come clean about their feelings for one another. And then, it's over. Not tragically over, but the story ends with a letter writing campaign. And somewhere in all this abduction zaniness, Shimbo goes off on a romantic adventure with his teacher.

Despite how odd I think this whole world of robot companions is, I liked the characters and I wanted to know more about what was going on. Is robot lovin' okay? Not for me to decide. As is the case with all romantic stories, it's never really the destination, it's the journey. I wanted to be in on this journey, but I feel like I just arrived too late.

I was thrown off by the episode numbering. Does the .5 in each title indicate where the episodes should go? I reckon that's how it works here, but if that's the case, why even watch this DVD if everything's already said and done?

The voice acting was average. I got tired of hearing a high-pitched "Chi" all the time in both Japanese and English. Japanese voice acting on these things always gets to me.

One thing I noticed is Chobits has a strange sexuality to it. Yes, it's odd that a guy wants to get it on with an intelligent microwave, but there are just a couple of things I found to be a tad bit more disturbing:

* Robot French maids.
* Turning Chi on. Hideki has to reach in and flip a switch inside her. My explanation here isn't euphemistic -- this is how it happened.

Despite the interesting story, I'm at times left a little weirded out by this fascination in robot anime with building a potential mate. Are relations with real humans really that bad?

I liked the plastic case packing and interior cover art. Geneon even throws in a two-sided insert featuring character art. I found it oddly inviting and, if it's not too weird, charming. It made me want to buy it a cup of coffee.

This DVD had a beautiful transfer. Every color and image looked perfect. I noticed no problems here. Geneon did a wonderful visual job and should pat themselves on the back.

I watched this in both Japanese and English, and the audio sounded fine.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

The story is engrossing and charming and probably best viewed in its entirety and not in a collapsed, compressed format.

Closing Statement

A testament to the strength of the overall story, despite the broken fashion in which it was presented, I was interested enough in what I saw here to want to see it all. Despite the annoying voices and uncomfortable sexuality, Chobits deserves better.

The Verdict

Chobits: Chatroom (Volume 7) is free to go. Geneon, however, is guilty of producing a redundant and unnecessary DVD and is sentenced to solitary confinement with no hope of parole. Don't bother appealing this one, Geneon.

Review content copyright © 2004 David Gutierrez; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 95
Audio: 90
Extras: 85
Acting: 75
Story: 95
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile
Studio: Geneon
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)

Subtitles:
* English
* English (signs only)

Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Full-Color Art Gallery
* Chobits Featurette

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0326672/combined

* Official Site (in Japanese)
http://www.tbs.co.jp/chobits/index-j.html