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Feb 03

Manga of the Week – Chobits

Chi! Chi chi! Chi?

Wait we’re doing these again? Time for the resident weeaboo to return to form then.

Chobits is one of Clamp’s creations, and odds are you’ve heard of something they’ve made. The all-female mangaka group are responsible for Cardcaptor Sakura, Clover, xxxHolic, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle and most recently Gate 7 (first volume is out now, its sat in my to read pile), but Chobits is one of their greatest hits, and the one I’m gonna focus on. Intrigued? Then read on…

Now a decade old, Chobits takes place in a world where almost everyone has their own personal helper, known as a persocom. Think somewhere along the lines of plastic shop models with big elf-esque ears from which you can pull out wires to do all your standard computer stuff, while at the same time they’re almost perfectly functions humans, with the caveat that they only react as much or as little as their programming dictates.

The story revolves around Hideki, an average student, who longs to have a persocom of his own (just like in 99% of manga, the protagonist barely makes enough to get by). One day, he happens to find a persocom abandoned in the trash, and leaping at the opportunity, takes her own. When he activates her, she proceeds to smother him, only saying Chi.

As the first half of the manga progresses and Chi matures to get a better grasp of the human language and customs, the story moves on from about who Chi is to the relationship between her and Hideki, encompassing a wide range of supporting characters all with their own emotional and often tragic backgrounds, and looking at whether somebody can, or should, fall in love with something that isn’t “real”, why slowly revealing the origins behind the seemingly innocent yet insanely advanced Chi, and her identity as a Chobit, through the comic within a manga “A City With No People”.

But despite the more serious and emotional undertones, the manga manages to remain fairly light-hearted and serene through the top notch artistic stylings of the Clamp quartet, and Dark Horse do a superb job of translating it for English readers. The chapters are fairly short, so its perfect to while away 10 minutes or a few hours as you become absorbed into the world Chi and Hideki inhabit.

To summarise, this is (in my opinion) Clamp at their very finest. The art is simple yet effective, the story both allows for cheap jokes and deeper emotional tones, and the world and cast will enthral you. Its been published as two giant volumes over here, covering all 8 volumes of the series, and is a great starting point for readers who want to begin reading Clamp, or whom are tired of endless shōnen battles. Or you could watch the anime adaptation (26 episodes), either’s good.