"Chi loves Hideki…does Hideki love Chi?"—Chi
Chobits is a series that gets lots of promotion within anime circles. It is written by CLAMP, a female manga group that typically produces upbeat romances tinged with deep melancholy. Chobits is one of CLAMP's most successful efforts. The blend of humor, romance, and action enthralls the series' many fans.
I have always wanted to see this series, so I jumped at the chance to review this title. There is one slight problem…Volume Six is the conclusion of a lengthy series. It is both my first exposure to Chobits and DVD Verdict's first review of the series. Having missed the previous twenty episodes, I cannot discuss many particulars about the intricacies of the plot. For that, I steer you to AnimeonDVD.com.
I can say that this DVD makes a great representation of the series. It is a testament to Chobits that I jumped in at the end and was still entertained. The characters are compelling, even with little introduction, and the humor is effective. Most of all, the series has a heart that beats strong. From what I have seen, Chobits has earned its considerable reputation.
The DVD presentation is quite nice. Colors are complex and beautifully rendered, from subtle lighting effects to Powerpuff Girls-esque interludes of bold primary hues. Neither edge enhancement nor digital artifacts are evident. In fact, I did notice one brief hint of anti-aliasing, and it seemed so out of place that it revealed the high quality of the rest. The only stylistic decision I found lacking was some of the "computer" images with fine lines and uneven patches of color. However, this is how the artists chose to render the images; it is not a flaw in the transfer. CLAMP's style is in full effect here. It is a style I appreciate: the long flowy hair and wide eyes are unabashedly cute yet mature. The best part is that the transfer is in anamorphic widescreen, which is as it should be but is a relief nonetheless.
I thought the Japanese audio sounded a bit hollow at times, as though the actors were speaking in a sonically antiseptic environment. Sound is an individual response, so it is difficult for me to express precisely what I wasn't hearing. It just seemed empty in comparison to some tracks I've heard. However, the warmth of the actor's voices came through clearly, as did the understated musical score. There were a couple of moments where the bass thumped to life and caught me unaware. The track is perfectly adequate for the character-driven storyline. I listened to one of the episodes in English, and I thought the English cast was well matched with the Japanese actors. Either track should please you, be you a sub or dub fan.
There are extras, but they didn't wow me. A brief Japanese ending credits sequence wasn't extremely interesting. The "art gallery" is five pictures of Chi. This gives you an extended look at the character, but the gallery is quite short.
My Only Person is the conclusion to the Chobits series, and I expect some will be disappointed by it. (This is a spoiler.) The entire series hinges on one vital question: does Hideki love Chi? I may have missed some vital clue, but that question is not satisfactorily answered. In the next to last scene, Hideki clearly expresses ambivalence over this point himself, and it doesn't sound like self-denial either. The final scene arrives with Chi asking the all-important question, and Hideki doesn't answer. The credits roll. I naturally assumed that this was a cliffhanger, and I was annoyed because they dragged the question out too long. They could have at least given the answer and showed Chi's reaction, then left us breathless for the next episode. But there are no more episodes, if the reviews I linked to are correct. If so, this is one of the weakest endings I've seen recently.
In addition, two badass-looking characters seem intent on destroying Chi. I get the feeling that they would—and could—gut her like a Tandy 1000. But they never actually show up. Why the big buildup?
CLAMP always delivers an unusual spin on whatever genre they are working within. This romance series is touching and funny. The characters seem quite well developed. Because this series ending is so ambiguous, it may not deliver the flush of warmth that Chobits fans are looking for, but I can't deliver a firm verdict on that…not guilty?
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