Manga: Chobits

Chobits is a manga and anime series by CLAMP that starts out as a Magical Girlfriend comedy and transitions to a Contemplate Our Navels debate on the relationship between humans and Persocoms, machines programmed to serve humans. It takes place many years after Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer, although the only canon immigrants are of the "dead with an impact" variety.

The main character of Chobits is Hideki Motosuwa, an Ordinary Cram School Student who lives in a Japan where almost everyone has his or her own "Persocom" to do common tasks, ranging from household chores to surfing the Internet. Hideki would very much like his own Persocom, but there's no way he can afford one... unless he finds one lying in the trash. Like all Persocoms, this one looks just like a cute girlnote  except for the obligatory distinctive ears. He starts her up, only to find that she has no memory or info on her hard drive, and can initially only say the word "Chi." Who is "Chi," and why was she left out in the trash in the first place? Could Chi possibly be a "Chobit," a rumored brand of robots capable of sapience and real emotion?

After several episodes of Hideki helping Chi to adjust to the real world with comic results, the plot shifts in a more serious direction when it is implied that Chi may be developing feelings for Hideki. But is it actual feelings, or just programming? Hideki, despite his constant reminders to himself that she is only a machine, seems to have some degree of affection for her. He also learns that Persocoms can have unexpected effects on humans, hearing stories from his cram school teacher Takako Shimizu and the baker Hiroyasu Ueda. This happens despite having been warned by Minoru Kokubunji, a Persocom expert, "not to fall in love" with her. Meanwhile, Chi's Back Story begins to gradually unravel... and Hideki finds that he may be falling in love with Chi...

Dark Horse Comics has re-released the series in an omnibus version, with two volumes each containing half the series.

Compare with Kowarekake no Orgel or Yuria 100 Shiki.

Tropes:

  • Arc Words: "A person just for me..."
  • Artificial Gravity: Chi weighs significantly less when she's turned on, and it can't be entirely explained by the difference between dead-weight and live-weight. She floats at one point.
  • Artificial Human: The persocoms were created to be human-like and look human except for the Unusual Ears.
  • Beach Episode: A filler episode has the gang staying at Kokubunji's beach house. There's the beachball, sand castles, fireworks at night etc.
  • Berserk Button:
    • If you harm Chi, Hideki and Freya (while possessing Chi) will kick your ass. Badmouth Chi and Hideki will be very angry.
    • If you illegally try to access Zima, Dita will fry your brain. Literally.
  • Big Good: Ms. Hibiya is a co-creator of the Chobits, Chi's "mother", and the one writing the books that Chi reads which develop the "person just for me" plot thread.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Dita (bodyguard) for Zima (charge). In the anime this is more apparent Chi after gives persocoms true sapience. In the manga, her program just isn't executed because Zima already has feelings for Dita before that incident.
  • Broken Bird: Poor Takako has the tragic part down, as her husband has become much more interested in their persocom than his own wife. Unlike most examples, she hides it behind her chipper demeanor.
    • Freya. She falls for her creator/father, eventually breaking down. She exists on as Chi's protector so that she's not hurt like Freya was.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": "Persocom" is simply the Japanese equivalent of the abbreviation "PC", but the English translation uses "Persocom" to exclusively refer to android-computers.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": The Japanese version, see above. For something that's supposed to be a "Personal Computer", they are more like ridiculously human robot buddies, usually a Robot Girl, than the beige or black colored boxes, All-in-ones or even laptops that our world is familiar with.
  • Canon Immigrant: Ichiro Mihara and Kaede Saito are not in the manga.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: Chi's reset button is down there.
    • In the anime, it's a case of If It's You, It's Okay with The Person Just for Me.
    • In the manga this is especially true with Hideki. In the final chapter, Freya informs him that if he and Chi ever became one, Chi will be rebooted and all of Chi's memories of Hideki will be erased completely.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Zima doesn't seem particularly troubled when Yuzuki attempts to hack into him.
  • Central Theme: Is man starting to prefer technology over interaction with real people?
  • Child Prodigy: Minoru is a pint-sized computer whiz.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Again, Hideki is a pervert but doesn't really want to be one and genuinely tries to look after Chii.
  • Chosen One: The One Just for Me who can bring a new age to the Persocoms, either happiness or something dreadful.
  • The Chooser of The One: The Me is Chi.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Can persocoms feel, even though they only act out of human programming? Can a human and persocom love each other? Does such love mean anything if it's just programming? Whether they can love or not, what do such relationships mean for society as a whole?
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Some background persocoms are modeled after characters from CLAMP's other works, especially Cardcaptor Sakura. (For an example, look in the back of volume 1 of the manga. There's a persocom being advertised that looks like the Fiery card.)
    • Angelic Layer, the company that made Angels went on to make the first persocoms. The game is mentioned as being popular some time ago.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: "Didn't your parents object [to marrying a persocom]?" "Both of my parents had passed away."
  • Costume Porn: Chi's prone to wearing rather extravagant outfits and costumes, especially in the artbooks.
  • Cute Machines: Shinbo's miniature Persocon, Sumomo, is a tiny and adorable thing that makes you do morning exercise routines and expects praise when she does her job.
  • Cute Mute: Chi, a cute Persocom who initially can't talk.
  • The Cutie: Chi is naive, pure-hearted and unbelievably adorable. She's so adorable that you may die of cuteness.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kotoko tends to snark with an unimpressed look when she acts as the Only Sane Man.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: This happens to Hideki often. He comments that it's because he's used to living on a farm where the only ones to overhear him are cows.
  • Distressed Damsel/Big Damn Heroes: Played with. Every time Chi is kidnapped or whatever, by the time Hideki is close to finding her, Chi aka Freya has already stomped their asses, but when Hideki shows up at the scene, Chi falls into his arms, thanks him for rescuing her, and faints.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Ueda's wife and her robo-Alzheimer's/dementia...
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Shinbo keeps pushing the issue. He won't let it go no matter how much Takako reminds him of the barriers between them.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: Chi's and Freya's dresses are of a goth lolita style.
  • Elopement: Shinbo and Takako Shimizu elope because her husband has rejected her for a Persocom.
  • Fanservice: Most notable at the beginning of the series due to Chii being naked a good deal of the time, but declines to the point of nonexistence by the end as the series shifts into drama territory.
  • Flipping the Table: Hideki once does this when he is frustrated with his homework.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Many clues about what happens in the second half of the series are more apparent after one sees the ending and then rewatches the earlier episodes. Miss Shimizu asks Hideki if it's more fun being with a Persocom than a human just one episode before it's revealed her husband has rejected her for the one they bought.
    • When Shinbo and Motosuwa play an MMORPG together with their persocoms, Shinbo's avatar looks exactly like Takako Shimizu, which is not a coincidence, like Shinbo claims, but a hint at that Shinbo is having an affair with Shimizu due to her husband forgetting her over his persocom.
    • Also during the episode where they play an MMORPG, they come across another player who takes on the appearance of a young girl with long pigtails and giant bell decorations in her hair, but has the voice of a man who talks smack to Minoru, thoroughly weirding Minoru out. Long pigtails and giant bell decorations are signature features for custom built persocoms created by Dragonfly and that's him talking. Him taunting Minoru over his fame on the net also ends up foreshadowing how Dragonfly found out about Chi and eventually kidnaps her.
  • Fun Size: Laptops like Sumomo and Kotoko are Fun Size persocoms.
  • Genki Girl: Sumomo, with shades of Cloud Cuckoolander as well, is very hyperactive and just can't sit still.
    Sumomo: Sumomo is programmed to dance when on standby!
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Chi points at people and things she learns. No one minds because she's too gosh darn cute.
  • Glomp: Chi jumps and hugs a lot, especially at the start, because she hasn't grasped that it's not polite to do that in public.
  • Good Old Robot: Hiroyasu Ueda's persocom. He could have transferred her memories to a new hard drive but refused because the transfer might not have worked. He couldn't let go of any part of her.
  • Grail in the Garbage: What gets the whole plot going is Hideki finding Chi in the garbage.
  • Gratuitous English: In at least one On the Next in the Japanese version (with a strange, slurred Japanese accent that sounds like it's maybe trying to be an Italian accent). Though given the context, it might just be Hideki studying English.
    Hideki: The word "parasol" is Italian. note 
    • In the romcom half of the anime, there are multiple times when an English word or phrase will appear behind Hideki that describes his current situation or mood, though it's usually correct.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Ueda's persocom would say "Konnichiwa" in the English version.
  • Hadaka Apron: Episode 16. Chi hasn't grasped the concept that aprons are meant to keep clothes clean while one is still wearing them.
  • Hot for Teacher: Shinbo eventually marries his cram school teacher.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl:
    • Ueda looks to to be a good deal taller than Yumi, especially in the third recap episode's group shot, though in the closeup it's closer to One Head Taller. A given since he's considerably older than her.
    • Zima is over a foot taller than Dita.
    • Chi only comes to Hideki's shoulders.
    • Also Dragonfly and Kotoko who is his Fun Size persocom.
  • I Have the High Ground:
    • Zima and Dita spent most of their time in high places.
    • Chi also does this herself on numerous occasions when she floats or stands on lamp-posts.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Chi, since having no memories also means she has No Nudity Taboo. Also she wears a Naked Apron without having any idea what it means, because she thinks it would make Hideki happy.
  • "I Want" Song: "Raison d'etre", the song during the end credits during the first half of the show, describes Chi's search for happiness and attempts to understand what she feels. It starts with the English words "Yes I need and I want."
  • Kawaiiko: Sumomo is cute and cheerful and says things like 'Wakey wakey exercises'.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Kotoko, a snarky loli robot.
  • Magical Girlfriend: Chii, a powerful and cute Persocom that's taken in by Hideki, and the pair become fond of each other.
  • Meido: Yuzuki works as a maid and wears the usual outfit.
  • Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Takako Shimizu wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, but her husband thought there was more money in teaching older students. Then he threw her out in favor of the persocom...
  • Nice Guy: Hideki is friendly and mild mannered but being a Large Ham scares some people off. He's only overtly bothered by his girlfriend-less virgin status when other characters talk about how tragic it is that "such a good guy can't find himself a girlfriend".
  • Nosebleed: Hideki is a frequent sufferer of these in the anime especially of Chii is being a Innocent Fanservice Girl.
  • No Social Skills: Chi, having no memory, has no initial awareness of etiquette.
  • Older Than They Look: Hiroyasu Ueda looks younger than he really is and so Hideki is surprised when he's told of his real age.
  • The One with...: Other than the last, each episode of the anime is titled "Chi ___" or, for the recaps, "[Character] and [Character] chat".
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Hideki's a guy with a part time job, cram school classes, and a Magical Girl Friend robot who designated him her Chosen One.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: When Chi and Freya see each other during the story, they are wearing various fancy dresses, especially on Freya's part. Even more appear in the Omake artwork.
  • Pinocchio Syndrome: The driving force of the plot is Hideki teaching Chi how to behave like a human would. The climax is Chi granting all Persocoms true sapience.
  • Power Glows: Chii begins glowing brightly whenever she is levitating, doing intense introspection, and especially when she is threatened in any way. If she is glowing while looking at you angrily, it is already too late to run away.
  • Pretty in Mink: One of Dark Chi's dresses in the manga is fur-trimmed.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Chii's extremely long hair, with an odd habit of flying around of its own volition (in the manga).
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Sumomo and Kotoko definitely have this going on; the former is pink and cheery and engergetic while the later is blue, snarky and more lethargic.
  • Replacement Goldfish: A big part of the series: "since It is not a person, It can be a person's dream." Persocoms can be molded to be whatever a human wants, up to and including dead relatives. The drama of the later half of the series is a debate on whether or not persocoms can truly replace others, or if they themselves can truly be replaced.
    • Yuzuki, Minoru's persocom, was based on his dead sister and he is extremely protective of her.
    • Ueda refused to replace his persocom's hard drive when her memory was slowly shorting out, since the procedure might not be 100 percent effective. He also refused to get a new persocom because the previous one was irreplaceable.
    • The Town with No People's premise is humans replacing the other humans in their lives with Persocoms. That's why it's called "the town with no people".
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Debated — one robot explicitly states in the manga that even the Chobits of legend do not "feel" because they are only machines. It is interesting to note that she says this to Hideki after having told her sister mere hours before that being trapped in her own body, alone with her sorrow, felt like dying. Chii reminds her that because they are not technically alive, they cannot die. She says that it doesn't matter, because it feels like they can. It doesn't seem like something a non-sentient android would be discussing, let alone experiencing firsthand.
  • Robo Family: Chi/Elda the Chobit with her sister Freya.
  • Robosexual: A source of drama in the series is humans falling in love with and being sexually attracted to Persocoms.
  • Robot Girl: Female Persocoms.
  • Robot Maid: Yuzuki dresses the part but has more than simple domestic functions. She's also a surrogate big sister and hacking device.
  • Rule of Cute: Lots of stuff Sumomo does is because Shinbo programmed her that way.
  • Running Gag:
    • Hideki scaring Sumomo with his overblown reactions. "Master, he's scary!"
    • Chi mimicking Hideki's body language and mannerisms, and repeating words she hears, usually the obscene or embarrassing ones.
      • "This is an okazu. Is she an okazu too?"
    • Other charcters mentioning that Hideki is a virgin.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Chi. Justified, since she is entirely dependent on Hideki to relearn what she forgot.
  • Sexy Mentor: Takako Shimizu, of the Hot Schoolteacher type.
  • Sexy Santa Dress: Chi wears a santa dress in an Omake pic in the Manga.
  • Shout-Out: Mod The Sims, a Downloadable Content site for fans of The Sims, has one of its download manager bots named Chii. The site's Chii bot also used to perform various functions in the chat room, such as "gets you coffee" when the command "!coffee" was typed.
  • Show Within a Show: A City Without People, a manga drawn by Chitose lampshading all of the problems that Persocoms are causing and Foreshadowing key plot points.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Chi or Chii? Doesn't help that both are basically official, the former for the manga and the latter for the anime. Her name is literally spelled "Chii" when written in Japanese characters (using the character for "chi" and the character for "i"), but written out in English letters as "Chi Motosuwa" in one episode of the anime (on her paycheck).
  • Super Prototype: Elda and Freya are legendary 'chobits' whose specs are higher than the standard issue persoms. They were also the first.
  • Third-Person Person: Sumomo and Chi both refer to each other by their own names. Justified with Chi who does it because she's new at talking.
  • Three-Laws Compliant:
    • Chi flat out averts this with Kojima (AKA Dragonfly). Not only does she telekinetically restrain him with the cables attached to her (which would have been pushing the absolute limits of tolerance for a "Three Laws Compliant" robot), but she then proceeds to knRobotics unconscious, ruining his house in the process and spraying shards of broken glass everywhere.
    • Near the ending, it's explained that the inventor of persocoms actively defied this trope:
    Why call them Persocoms? Why not just call them "Robots"?
    Ah... my husband didn't want them to be bound by the Three Laws of Robotics.
  • Trauma Swing: Shimizu is caught doing this in a flashback by Shinbo, and she tells him that her husband's basically forgotten her because of their persocom which he's become obsessed with.
  • Twist Ending: The last anime episode uses a viewer's knowledge of the manga ending to create shocking and moving twists. Unlike the filler, the last episode was written by Ohkawa herself.
  • Two Siblings In One: Chi and Freya who is living inside her.
  • Unusual Ears: Persocoms have odd metal constructs around the ear area that contain various cables; this is the only visual difference they have from humans. The newest models that go on sale about midway through the story have human-like ears. Entirely averted with Yuzuki, who is shown to simply plug any cables under her hair.
  • Verbal Tic Name: Chi says "Chi".
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: In-Universe. The storybooks Chi reads are incredibly profound for something seemingly aimed at children! Then it turns out they're written for Chi specifically and are purposely profound so as to get her thinking.
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Chi has to figure out what love means before she can choose "the one for me and only me".
  • What Measure Is a Humanoid?: "WILL YOU STOP TALKING ABOUT HER LIKE SHE'S A MACHINE?! CHI HAS A NAME! DON'T LUMP HER IN WITH ALL THE REST!!" Originally said by Ueda, when asked about his deceased wife. Hideki did not mean to quote Ueda's words on purpose and only realized it after he said them and also understood the implications of these words.
  • You ALL Share My Story: Let's plot it out shall we?
    • Hideki finds Chi in the trash.
    • Chi was created by Chitose's husband. Chitose is also Hideki's landlady who is monitoring movement in the area.
    • Zima and Dita are watching out for a possible End of the World as We Know It, which can be caused by Chi...
    • Who works for Ueda at Tirol, replacing a persocom he was married to, and another girl who now works with Hideki.
    • Hideki is doing cram school with Takako and Shinbo, and learning about Persocom obsession on the side.
    • Finally, Minoru is searching for Chi's background.
  • Zettai Ryouiki:
    • Kotoko wears thigh-high socks in addition to Twin Tails. She's also the only Persocom known to snark at her owner.
    • Freya and Elda also wear thigh-high socks in a pic, possibly to extend the color scheme and/or add moe.