Chobits (ちょびっツ Chobittsu) is a Japanese manga created by CLAMP. It was published by Kodansha in Young Magazine from February 2001 to November 2002 and collected in eight bound volumes. Unlike most stories by CLAMP, Chobits is a seinen series, specifically of the "magical girlfriend" variety, using robotics and computers as a subplot, though it is commonly mistaken for shōjo because of its strong romantic themes and flowery art style. Chobits was adapted as a 26-episode-long anime television series broadcast on TBS and Animax from April to September 2002. In addition, it has spawned a video game as well as various merchandise such as figurines, collectable cards, calendars, and artbooks.
The series tells the story of Hideki Motosuwa, who finds an abandoned persocom, or personal computer with human form, that he names Chi after the only word she initially can speak. As the series progresses, together they explore the mysteries of Chi's origin and questions about the relationships between humans and persocoms. The manga is set in the same universe as Angelic Layer, taking place a few years after the events of that story, and like Angelic Layer, it explores the relationship between humans and electronic devices shaped like humans. Chobits crosses over with many other stories in different ways, such as Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle and xxxHolic.
The story centers on the life of Hideki Motosuwa, a repeat student attempting to qualify for university by studying at Seki prep school in Tokyo. Besides a girlfriend, he dreams of having a persocom (パーソコン, persocom), an android used as a personal computer, which is expensive. On his way home one evening, he stumbles across a persocom in the form of a beautiful girl with long hair lying against a pile of trash bags, and carries her home. Upon his turning her on, she instantly regards Hideki with adoration. The only word the persocom seems capable of saying is "chi" (ちぃ, Chii?), thus he names her Chi. Hideki assumes that there must be something wrong with her, and so the following morning Hideki's neighbor Hiromu Shinbo tries to analyze her with his mobile persocom Plum, and after Plum crashes concludes that she must be custom-made.
Shinbo introduces Hideki to Minoru Kokubunji, a twelve-year-old genius who specializes in the field of custom made persocoms. Minoru's persocoms, including Yuzuki, a fairly exceptional custom made persocom, are not able to analyze Chi either, and thus they conclude that she may be one of the Chobits, a legendary series of persocoms rumoured to have free will and emotions. Although this could be a possibility, Minoru is confident that it is only a rumour. Yuzuki also adds that she does not resemble any persocom model in any available database and so she must be custom made after all.
A major part of the plot involves Hideki attempting to teach Chi words, concepts, and appropriate behaviours, in between his crammed schedule of school and work. At the same time, Chi seems to be developing feelings for Hideki, at an emotional depth, which she is not supposed to possess, and Hideki struggles with his feelings for her. The need to figure out more about Chi and her mysterious functions and past becomes a stressing pull for the characters in the series.
Hideki discovers that his feelings intesify for Chi whether she is a persocom or not, despite other horrible experiences involving persocoms that happened to his friends. Chi becomes aware of her purpose through a picture book series called A City with No People that she finds in a bookstore. The books speak about many different things involving human and persocom relationships: persocoms and their convenience towards people as friends and lovers, how there are things that they cannot do and questioning whether a relationship between a persocom and a human is really one sided. It also speaks about the Chobits series; that they are different from other persocoms, and what they are not capable of doing unlike other persocoms. These picture books awaken Chi's other self, her sibling Freya who is aware of their past and helps Chi realize what she must do when she decides who her "person just for me" is. Together, Chi and Hideki explore the relationship between humans and their new technological advantage, the persocom, as well as their friends' and their own.
In the series, the derivation of the name "chobits" is given as coming from their father, Ichiro Mihara, who used the word "chobi" to describe anything he thought was "small and hopelessly adorable". Two chobi become "chobits". The word "chobits" is an anagram of "Chitose Hibiya", and is also the password given to Elda, Freya, Plum, and eventually Chi. The spelling of the title uses a mixture of hiragana (ちょびっ, Chobi[t]) and katakana (ツ, tsu). The mixed letters were chosen because a persocom's password requires a mixture of hiragana, katakana, and/or Latin alphanumeric characters for increased security. Similarly, the password Chobittsu (チょびっつ, Chobittsu) for Plum, set by Hideki in episode 19 of the TV series, mixes katakana (チ, Ch[i]) and hiragana (ょびっつ, [y]obittsu?), although in Tokyopop's English translation of the manga, the password is "Chobits" (with a capital "C").
The word persocom (パソコン, pasocon) is a Japanese contraction of personal computer (パーソナルコンピュータ, pāsonaru conpyūta). In Japan, it is used to refer to personal computers in the same way as the initials PC are in English. In Chobits, it is used with no distinction between modern and humanoid computers. In the final chapter of the manga, Chitose Hibiya explains that persocoms were not named "robots" because Ichiro Mihara did not include Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics in them.
Despite the comedic and ecchi moments, Chobits itself deals with several dualities concerning subject matter it shows. The most explored issue throughout the series is human-persocom relationships. Although the series stresses the ideas of persocoms being loved, the lesson that the series attempts to pass along (being loved for who you are) can be represented in many different ways.
"Watashi" (a first person pronoun in Japanese), a character drawn by Chitose Hibiya in a children's picture book A City with No People, is used in the series to hint at the definition of reciprocated love to Chi, and is used to highlight issues with human-persocom relationships; drawing upon the fact that because persocoms can be programmed to imitate desirable human behavior, humans would opt out of human relationships, resulting in obvious problems, such as the inability to further produce offspring.
The series deals with issues and ideals of virginity, and sexual intercourse in that Chi is effectively incapable of sexual intercourse, as attempting to do so would "reset" her, so she must therefore only entrust her body to someone who cares for her well-being as opposed to a purely sexual relationship. The series also hints that Chi's particular placement of her On switch is added after Freya's death, since her father gave her "special abilities." Along with his goal to ensure all persocoms' happiness, the placement of Chi's on switch ensures that her personality will thrive only in a relationship in which she is loved without the pressure of sex.
The idea of "love" as a concept is addressed for the denominator of the series, in several installments of A City with No People; this deals with issues particularly relating to searching, and subsequently waiting for someone who is what would be referred to as a "soul mate." This is in parallel to the story of Freya, who fell in love with her father and creator, and ultimately wished death due to heartache. This idea is used as a means of "aiding" Chi in her quest for "a person just for me" or "my one and only." Both Chi and her sister, Freya; Atashi being linked to Chi, and the companion, linked to Freya.
Hideki Motosuwa: A 19-year-old (in the anime, 18) repeat student attempting to get into university by studying at a cram school, while working at a izakaya to make ends meet. One night, while walking home from work, he finds a persocom lying in a pile of garbage. He takes her home, and upon activating her, finds that the only word she can utter is "Chi". Because of this, he gives her the name "Chi" (in the anime, "Chii") and takes her into his care, doing his best to protect and teach her. Despite his shortcomings and occasional moments of awkwardness with the bustling environment of Tokyo, Hideki is a genuinely kind and honest person, whose habit of thinking of others' well-being before his own can cause many problems. When a friend is in trouble, especially Chi, he is always there to help. Although many characters in the series often tease him for being a "nice guy", they turn to him for advice with their problems, knowing he will always hear them out and do his best to assist them. Voiced by: Tomokazu Sugita (Japanese), Crispin Freeman (English)
Chi: A "chobit," a technologically advanced persocom rumored to possess true machine intelligence, unlike other persocoms. Hideki finds her in a pile of trash as he makes his way home from work one night. Upon turning her on, she is only able to say the word "chi," remembers nothing of her past life, and is unable to perform even simple tasks. Because of this, Hideki names her Chi and undertakes teaching her how to be a persocom. As the series progresses, Chi begins to have visions of another persocom who is identical to herself, and eventually learns this is Freya, her twin, and that Chi was originally called Elda; after Freya fell in love and broke her heart, her memories were downloaded into Chi, before her system was wiped at her own request. Chi meets a series of children's books, A City with No People, about a character searching for the "person just for me," which were written by Chitose Hibiya as a way of reconnecting Chi to her past self as Elda, and to spark her own search for love. At the end of the series, Hideki finally admits that he loves Chi, and is her special person. Voiced by: Rie Tanaka (Japanese), Michelle Ruff (English)
Reviewers consistently praised the production quality of the anime series, citing good sound and animation quality and detailed backgrounds. The adaptation was criticized for shifting the focus from Hideki to Chi, in particular for having episodes devoted to Chi "doing cute things" and providing fanservice. Critics generally agreed, however, that the second half of the series was stronger than the first, as the story explored the moral and philosophical explorations of the relationships between humans and artificial intelligences, and whether the latter have free will.
Chobits was serialized in Japan by Kodansha in Young Magazine from February 2001 until November 2002. The 88 chapters were collected in eight bound volumes.
The manga is published in English in North America by Tokyopop. Tokyopop's translation is imported to Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment. It is published in Hong Kong in Traditional Chinese by Jonesky, in Signapore in Simplified Chinese by Chuang Yi, in South Korea by Daiwon C.I., in France by Pika Édition, in Spain by Norma Editorial, in Mexico by Grupo Editorial Vid, in Italy by Star Comics (which serialized it in Express), in Germany by Egmont Manga & Anime (which serialized it in Manga Power), in Poland by Japonica Polonica Fantastica, in Brazil by JBC, and in Sweden by Carlsen Verlag.
An art-book based on the series, Your Eyes Only, was published by Kodansha; it is licensed in North America by Tokyopop. In addition, A City with No People, the fictional picture book written in the series by Chitose Hibiya, was released in Japan as a picture book; this version was also released as an audiobook format with text read by Rie Tanaka, the voice actor for Chi.
Clamp often reuses (or parallels) various characters among their manga. Chobits is their first seinen series, aimed at young men.
Chobits was adapted as an anime television series by Madhouse. The series was directed by Morio Asaka with music by K-Taro Takanami and character designs by Hisashi Abe. The opening theme is "Let Me Be With You" by Round Table featuring Nino. The ending themes are "Raison d'être" (Reason to Be) by Rie Tanaka (episodes 1–13), "Ningyo Hime" (Mermaid Princess) by Rie Tanaka (episodes 14–25), and "Katakoto no Koi" (Awkward Love) by Rie Tanaka and Tomokazu Sugita (episodes 26).
The series was broadcast in 26 episodes from 2 April 2002 to 24 September 2002 across Japan, East Asia, and Southeast Asia by the anime satellite television network, Animax and the terrestrial Tokyo Broadcasting System network. It was later released on 8 DVDs. The original episodes 9 and 18 are "recap" episodes, summarizing previous events. These episodes were re-numbered for the DVD release as episodes 8.5 and 16.5, respectively, and removed from their original sequence by being published together on the final DVD. As a result, the series is 24 episodes long on DVD. In addition, there are two DVD-only OVAs: a 27th episode recapping the series (numbered episode 24.5) and a 6-minute special, "Chobits: Sumomo and Kotoko Deliver". The ending theme of the latter is "Book End Bossa" by Round Table featuring Nino.
The series was broadcast in Korea by AniOne TV, in France by Europe 2 TV, in Spain by both Animax España and Buzz Channel, in Portugal on Animax Portugal, and in Poland by Hyper. It is licensed in North America by Geneon, which has released the series in 7 DVDs. This release is redistributed in Australian and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment. It is also licensed in Taiwain by Proware Multimedia, in France and the Netherlands by Kaze Animation, in Germany by ADV Films, and in Russia by MC Entertainment.
Two soundtracks from the anime were released by Pioneer. Chobits Original Soundtrack 001 was released 1 July 2003 and Chobits Original Soundtrack 002 was released 7 October 2003. Three singles were released, the opening theme "Let Me Be with You" by Round Table featuring Nino, and two ending themes by Rie Tanaka, "Raison d'être" and "Ningyo Hime". In addition, a character song album, Chobits Character Song Collection, was released on 17 February 2004.
One piece of music in the anime was previously used in the anime adaptation of X, another work by Clamp. Nicknamed "Dark Chi's Theme," does not appear on any Chobits soundtrack.
In 2002 Marvelous Entertainment released in Japan only a Chobits game for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance called Chobits: Atashi Dake no Hito. The game was available bundled with a clear blue Game Boy Advance with a decal of Chi above the A+B buttons and a Chobits logo above the D-pad.
In 2003 Broccoli released a Playstation 2 game titled Chobits: Chii Dake no Hito. Like the Gameboy Advance game, this too was released only in Japan.
Another PC-version game was also released in 2002, using Macromedia and Quicktime as the background support. This game is called Communication Game, in which the player can "talk" with Chi and teach her to speak. It also contained some small games inside such as a keyboard typing game.