Chobits, Volume 3

Yushiro (Former Staff) — September 17th, 2003
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Entering mid-season, a lot of shows easily fall into a mire of merely going through the motions of the characters and setting. Chobits avoids this somewhat as the episodes become more self-contained by incorporating different story genres, such as ghost stories or role-playing games. I have mixed feelings on this, as it does seem like the show is trying overly hard to stay fresh rather early on, though the episodes themselves are not half bad. Aside from these take-offs, the material on the third disc is essentially more the same, with little further character or story progression.

Hideki is the only one to receive much attention as far as development goes. He is still a bumbling moron, but this volume sees him coming out of his stupefied daze long enough to make an attempt at a normal human relationship by going on a date with Yumi. Though our putz of a protagonist is not the one to make the first advances, he agrees to go to a movie with her. During the course of the day, Hideki admits to Yumi that he views Chi, shall we say, differently from humans. (Understandable, but this 'different' view seems to involve treating her more like an object than a sentient being with feelings, which she obviously is and has, and being oblivious to those feelings.) Whether or not he really means what he says is a little unclear, but it tells of a coming conflict in how he and Chi will view each other as their relationship plays out.

Throughout it all, the 'main' story of the mysterious Chobits persocoms sees a bit of development over the previous discs. Initially, in episode nine Kokobunji receives an email with an attached picture with what appears to be Chi covered in some kind of odd mechanical web. Very little else comes of this on the rest of the disc, but another event thrusts the main story forward even more. Chi uses her wages from Tirol to buy a second book following the pink rabbit's journey through the city. Any attempt at subtlety that the first book employed is dropped and the commentary on human and persocom relations in the books becomes quite clear. The most interesting aspect of this, as I see it, is that Chi slowly begins to exercise some degree of free will and appears to doubt at her relationship with Hideki. Upon completing the book, Chi finally meets with her 'other' self - the black-clad Chi you've no doubt seen and wondered at by now. Suffice to say, it is sufficiently vague that little is explained, but it is an effective portent of things to come.

The main thread truly does have excellent potential to weave an lovely tale, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to reconcile this with the show's use of overt sexuality. It cheapens whatever relationship Hideki and Chi might have to show Chi in sapphic imagery with her 'other' self or to unnecessarily decide that Hideki needs to teach Chi how to take a bath, and act like an idiot over it. I understand that the latter is meant to be comical and that I should be used to things like this by now, especially from a show dipping so heavily into the "learning-sim" genre. Perhaps this is handled better in the manga, but I feel the anime is doing a poor job thus far of progressing the tale of an innocent love surrounded by less than innocent elements.

Every other aspect of the show remains at previous levels - the simplistic visuals are still appealing, the sound is fairly decent, and the packaging is superb. Extras remain light on the disc itself - the original Japanese-text opening and another image gallery are included this time - but I managed to procure a goodie that I had not been able to for volume two. Pioneer has been including extremely limited edition pencil boards (shitajiki) for no extra charge since volume two. The boards are the size of a DVD chapter index card and are made of a plastic laminate. It is refreshing to see Pioneer including first run extras like this, despite their rarity, as a gratis bonus to those who are following along with the release.

Video Quality: A-
Audio Quality: B+
Presentation: A
Content: B
Overall: B+