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Manga / Chobits

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Hideki Motosuwa would love nothing more than to escape the country. With only a scarce amount of money and clothes, Hideki leaves his home and arrives in Tokyo. When he gets there, he notices a few people with horn shaped ears. These people aren't actually humans but Persocoms, androids with a wide array of features from storing personal data to internet surfing and so much more. Though Hideki would like to have a Persocom of his own, even the cheapest droids are way out of his price range.

Shortly after settling into his new apartment, Hideki's luck turns around when he stumbles upon a discarded Persocom in the shape of a beautiful young woman. He takes her and manages to boot her up, but quickly finds out that there was a reason she was tossed: the only thing she can say is "chi", leading Hideki to name her Chi. Further investigation shows that despite being able to move, speak and learn, Chi's operating system is basically nonexistent. In fact, her model isn't anywhere on the market, suggesting that she was custom-built. Most alarmingly, any attempts made to connect Chi to another Persocom ends up frying the other Persocom's system. One of the Persocom experts Hideki takes Chi to suggests she might be one of the legendary Chobits, a series of Persocoms rumored to have free will and emotions.

Regardless of whether or not that's true, Hideki essentially adopts Chi, taking it upon himself to teach her everything she needs to know in order to function. This decision may prove to be too much for the country boy when Chi shows signs of falling for him and Hideki realizes that he may be falling for the artificial being in turn. And while he struggles to understand his feelings and all the implications therein, Chi's mysterious past catches up with the both of them...

Chobits (ちょびっツ, Chobittsu) is a science fiction seinen manga by CLAMP. It was serialized in Weekly Young Magazine from 2000 to 2002, and compiled into eight volumes. Since the series' initial acquisition by Tokyopop, the license for the English translation has changed hands a few times. As of 2020, Kodansha released a 20th anniversary version of the series which complies the manga into a four volume omnibus set.

A 26 episode anime adaptation aired during the Spring 2002 season. Production was handled by Madhouse. The North American release was handled by Geneon.

This series provides examples of:

  • Alternate Continuity: Sort of. While two works follow the same general plotline, the anime adaptation plays out differently compared to the manga storyline.
  • Android Identifier: Persocoms have metal protrusions instead of normal ears and occasionally unusual hair colors, but look and can act like humans otherwise. The ears do also have a practical function (to plug in wires), but don't seem to be necessary, as some models like the custom persocom Yuzuki don't appear to have them.
  • Arc Welding: The scientist who created Persocoms is Ichiro "Icchan" Mihara from Angelic Layer, and Minoru Kokubunji's sister, the one Yuzuki is supposed to emulate, is Blanche's Deus Kaede. Sai, Ohjiro, and Misaki all make a cameo at Kaede's funeral.
  • 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 beach ball, sand castles, fireworks at night etc.
  • Become a Real Boy: The driving force of the plot is Hideki teaching Chi how to behave like a human would. The climax in the anime is Chi granting all Persocoms true sapience.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Badmouth Chi and Hideki will be very angry.
    • If you illegally try to access Zima, Dita will fry your brain. Literally.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Dita (bodyguard) for Zima (charge). In the anime this is more apparent after Chi 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.
  • 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?
  • The Chooser of the One: The Me is Chi.
  • Chosen One: The One Just for Me who can bring a new age to the Persocoms, either happiness or something dreadful.
  • 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. Two characters who were revealed to be deceased in Chobits appeared in Angelic Layer as well.
  • Costume Porn: Chi's prone to wearing rather extravagant outfits and costumes, especially in the manga's cover art and 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. Also, Kotoko.
  • Damsel in Distress: Played with. Every time Chi is kidnapped or assaulted, she , or more precisely, Freya has already stomped their asses by by the time Hideki is close to finding her; 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...
  • Dramatic High Perching:
    • 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.
    • Also, Sumomo and Kotoko are often seen on people's shoulders, which are extremely high to them.
  • Dramatic Irony: Occurs twice in the relationship between Ueda and Yumi.
    • Yumi broke up with him as she thought that he sees her as a Replacement Goldfish for his late persocom wife, who was also called Yumi. In fact, Ueda loves her for who she is.
    • Yumi's breaking point came when she saw Chii wearing her old Tirol uniform. What she did not know is that Ueda did not give permission for Chii to do so, Chii wore said uniform by accident mistaking it for her intended one, and he hurriedly told Chii to change out of it.
  • Dub Name Change: In the Korean dub:
    • Hideki Motosuwa -> Lee Hee-su
    • Yumi Omura -> Kang Yu-mi
    • Takako Shimizu -> Cha Myeong-hwa
    • Minoru Kokubunji -> Deokgo Jeong-min
    • Yoshiyuki Kojima -> Do Yeong-man
    • Hiroyasu Ueda -> Woo Yeong-jae
    • Kotoko -> Koko
    • Yuzuki -> Roji
    • Averted with Chii, Shinbo, and Sumomo.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Boy howdy. Wouldn't be a CLAMP work without this. However, unlike many CLAMP works, all of them eventually got better.
    • Shinbo is in love with his cram school teacher, who in turn is abandoned by her husband as the man obsesses over a persocom.
    • Ueda is a widower who got married to a persocom (Both the wedding and the funeral were reported in the media). This affected his relationship with a girl half his age, who felt that she would never be able to match up to a deceased persocom in his heart. The pair do love each other despite all this.
    • Hibiya is a widow nursing her grief of losing her husband and her twin persocom daughters.
    • Kokubunji is a Lonely Rich Kid who created a persocom as a Replacement Goldfish which has his late sister's personality. However, he cannot decide whether to treat her as a surrogate elder sister, or as an individual distinct from said late sister.
  • 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.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Two examples.
    • Hideki apparently thought that it was normal for an ordinary apartment block (with rent affordable to the dirt poor Hideki) to have an internet connection fast enough to stream videos without stuttering, or for Chii to dial Yumi's persocom without the persocom ringing. These two events raised Kotoko's suspicion that the landlady and Chii are not who they appear to be.
    • Another case was when Minoru failed to figure out that his posts in a message board could have drawn unwanted attention to Chii, resulting in her kidnapping. Yuzuki was the one who pointed it out to him.
  • 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.
  • 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 Kojima (AKA Dragonfy) and that's him talking. Him taunting Minoru over his fame on the net also ends up foreshadowing how Kojima found out about Chi and eventually kidnaps her.
  • Fun Size: Laptops like Sumomo and Kotoko are Fun Size persocoms.
  • 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.
  • 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, Kojima and Kotoko who is his Fun Size persocom.
    • Inverted with Minoru and Yuzuki, as Yuzuki towers over her master.
  • Insistent Terminology: Shimbo insists that he's "eloping" to a resort, even though Hideki points out that that's really a vacation.
  • "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."
  • Little Miss Snarker: Kotoko, a snarky persocom.
  • Magical Girlfriend: Chii, a powerful and cute Persocom that's taken in by Hideki, and the pair become fond of each other.
  • No Social Skills: Chi, having no memory, has no initial awareness of etiquette.
  • One-Word Title: Chobits.
  • 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.
  • Parental Incest: Freya fell in love with her father/creator, choosing him as "the someone just for her," and felt very sad seeing him spending time with her mother.
  • 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.
  • Porn Stash: Hideki has one, which isn't too surprising considering his age. Chi finds it early on and, being an Innocent Fanservice Girl, tries to imitate the things she reads in it, much to Hideki's horror and frustration.
  • Pulling Your Child Away: There is a running gag where Hideki does something bizarre and after a child points him out, a woman's voice says "Don't look at him, dear."
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Sumomo and Kotoko definitely have this going on; the former is pink and cheery and energetic while the later is blue, snarky and more lethargic.
  • Reflectionless Useless Eyes (anime only): In the title sequence, Chii opens her eyes which are quite human, complete with gleam and detailed pupils. Then the Art Shifts so that they fade into her usual flatter brown irises with little glare. After that everyone's eyes are depicted this way. In the last episode, every robot gets normal-looking eyes during a worldwide upgrade.
  • 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. Yumi broke up with him as she had the same name as his persocom.
    • 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".
    • The Chobits, the first persocoms, were originally created by Chitose's husband to be children for Chitose to love due to being barren.
  • 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.
    • Specifically, Freya tells Hideki that not even the legendary Chobits have emotions and that they can't be considered sentient because they are still limited by their programming, just like normal persocoms. But what is sentience? It is simply the ability to feel and perceive. Persocoms must be sentient, because they can see, hear and feel and react to this information appropriately. What about sapience, then? Sapience is simply the ability to behave with intelligence, with wisdom, the ability to understand, something persocoms are also obviously capable of. Freya having a philosophical discussion with Hideki on the nature of persocoms is a sign of sapience. Chii using her personal understanding of love, pain and relationships to end Human!Yumi and Ueda's estrangement is not only a sign of sapience but of deep emotional insight.

      Freya's argument against persocom emotion and sentience is based on the assumption that there is something special about humanity, perhaps the presence of a soul, or perhaps even just being alive, that elevates them above mere persocoms, that makes their minds more real. The truth is that there is no evidence of souls, and living organisms have limitations just like persocoms do. They are limited by their genetics, by their neurology, by the environment they are raised in, by many things. If a persocom could become human they would simply be trading one set of limitations for another.

      That being said, it's a near-certainty there are differences in the subjective experience of emotion between humans and persocoms, but honestly that's irrelevant, and it certainly doesn't make the feelings of persocoms any less real or valid. What emotions feel like doesn't matter, what matters is the actions they drive you to. Rama Kandra's thoughts on love are relevant here: "[Love] is a word. What matters is the connection the word implies." Persocoms in love don't behave any differently than humans in love. All of Hideki's friends knew Chii was in love with him long before the oblivious Hideki himself did. Why? Because her behavior made it unmistakable.

      Finally, it should be noted that not all persocoms share Freya's views. In particular, Zima thinks of himself and Dita as being so advanced as to be "practically human", and is quite certain the Chobits are even closer to human than he is. Arguably, Freya might be selling herself, her sister and her people drastically short due to her own experiences falling in love.
  • 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.
  • Robosexuals Are Creeps: While Chi is kidnapped and held captive Ueda confesses to Hideki that he was married to Yumi, his persocom. During his marriage he had to put up with friends and neighbors cracking jokes at his expense, and says that since his parents had passed away long ago, they couldn't have objected. When she started to malfunction she couldn't be fixed, since she was a discontinued model, and he was devastated every time a persocom expert nonchalantly told him to just get a new one. After Yumi "died" by pushing him out of the way of a speeding car, Ueda held a funeral for her, which became a media sensation due to the fact that anyone would mourn a broken down persocom as much as he did.
  • Robot Girl: Female Persocoms are essentially this, as they're personal computers modeled to look like human girls. Male Persocoms do exist, but most of the ones the story focuses on are female.
  • Running Gag:
    • Hideki scaring Sumomo with his overblown reactions. "Master, he's scary!" This ends after Shinbo gave her away to Hideki.
    • 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. Towards the end of the series, she holds down a part-time job at Hiroyasu's bakery.
  • Show Within a Show: The children's book series A City Without People, drawn by Chitose, which plays a significant part in the story by lampshading all of the problems that Persocoms are causing and Foreshadowing key plot points.
  • Smart People Build Robots: Both Minoru and Kojima have customized their persocoms and are regarded as experts on them.
  • Solomon Divorce: Implied to be the case with Minoru and Kaede's parents.
  • 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).
  • 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 knock him 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.
  • 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.
  • Undying Loyalty: Two persocoms in the series showed this to their masters.
    • Ueda's persocom saved him at the cost of her life.
    • Yuzuki carried out a dangerous hacking attempt in order to help Minoru, without him giving her the order to do so.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: To non-Japanese audiences, at least. The series assumes that the audience has some knowledge of how Information Technology has a divergent development path in Japan compared to the rest of the world, and awareness of some social issues facing the country.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Invoked by the editor 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 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.
  • World of Technicolor Hair: Yuzuki, Kotoko, and Sumomo all have rather unusual hair colors that aren't commented upon. Justified, as they are Persocoms and were likely designed that way to distinguish them from humans.
  • You ALL Share My Story: The only reason why this trope is not One Degree of Separation is because Hideki does not know the tech experts (Minoru and Kojima) at the start of the 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...
    • Hideki works for Ueda at Tirol, replacing a persocom he was married to. Another girl who now works alongside Hideki used to work at Tirol as well.
    • Hideki is doing cram school with Takako and Shinbo, and learning about Persocom obsessions on the side.
    • Finally, Minoru is searching for Chi's background. He is also introduced to Hideki by Shinbo.