Imagine Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? redone as a beautiful, sweet romance. Most cinematic treatments of the problem of whether constructed persons have feelings have been done in cyberpunk thrillers (Bladerunner, Armitage III, Ghost in the Shell, . . .). While it thrills from time-to-time, and has two characters which embody the cyberpunk aesthetic, Chobits takes a very different approach.

Chobits covers the social, emotional, and philosophical problems constructed persons would present to humans and themselves through the eyes of two ronin---the protagonist, the technologically naive, Hideki and his friend Shinbo---and the persocom, Chii.

Hideki arrives in Tokyo to attend cram school, but is too poor to afford a persocom, one of the fashionable anthropomorphic computers, most of which are built in the form of attractive young women. He finds a beautiful persocom on a trash heap near the apartment building where he and Shinbo live. Hideki takes her home, only to find that when she is booted, she can only say 'chii'.

Mystery ensues when the knowledgeable Shinbo finds that Chii, as Hideki has named her, has no OS installed. The enigmatic young computer-genius Minoru, discovers that Chii does have software, but that it is encrypted, and that she has a learning program. He also tells the technologically clueless Hideki of an internet legend: a series of persocoms was once made which possessed free will and real emotions, under the codename "Chobits".

Eventually Chii learns to read, becoming fascinated by a series of children's picture books, and even to function well enough in human society to get a job. While Hideki becomes more and more attached to Chii, Minoru tries to unravel the mystery.

Along the way romantic entanglements ensue, and we get the take of CLAMP, the all-female production team which also created Cardcaptor Sakura, on young men--Hideki is obsessed with porn, but is shy and awkward toward real women.

A very sweet story, and one which leave you thinking about the nature of love, and personhood, and humanity. The animation is beautiful, the music engaging, especially the second-season end-theme. Definitely worth seeing. The only disappointing aspect are the three retrospective episodes released on the seventh DVD entitled "Chatroom". They are mostly footage from earlier episodes interspersed with conversations between characters about past events. The most disappointing is the last, which takes place after the action of the series, and not only sheds no light on the surprising ending, but essentially ignores it. But, watch the six DVD's which contain the story and you'll have not be disappointed.

A few aspect of content will be of concern to parents: Hideki's porn obsession; the location of Chii's reboot switch; an incident involving Chii's first attempt to find work, which ends up being in a peep-show; and perhaps Minoru's collection of persocoms, which, with the exception of one modeled after his late older sister, all look like something out of a serving-maid erotic fantasy. It should be no problem for teens who are at least generally aware of such aspects of our society's life, as there is nothing explicit, and the story very much stresses genuine love over eroticism, making eroticism without love--be it Hideki's magazine collection, his reaction to Minoru's persocom collection, or the peep-show--seem either ridiculous or unwholesome.

Ratings (out of 5, 1 being worst, 5 being best)

Plot 4.5
Voice-Acting (original)4.5
Voice-Acting (English dub)N/A

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