Mania Grade: B+
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- Art Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: A
- Text/Translation Rating: A
- Age Rating: 16 and Up
- Released By: Dark Horse
- MSRP: 24.95
- Pages: 720
- ISBN: 9781595824516
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
Chobits Omnibus Vol. #01
Chobits Omnibus Vol. #01 Manga Review
By Mark Thomas
February 02, 2011
Release Date: March 17, 2010
Chobits Omnibus Vol. #01
© Dark Horse Comics
An age old tale of man loves machine, but one with an interesting contradiction in message.
What They Say
Some people buy their personal computers based on style... and in near-future Japan, the hottest style for your "persocom" is shaped like an attractive android! Poor student Hideki, fresh off the farm and trying to get into a Tokyo university, has neither money nor a girlfriend - then finds a persocom seemingly discarded in an alley. Taking the cute robot home and activating it, Hideki finds her affectionate, but amnesiac, able only to say the word "Chi" - and so he names her.
But who is this strange new persocom in his life? Instead of being his digital assistant, Hideki finds himself having to teach Chi how to get along in the everyday world, even while he and his friends try to solve the mystery of her origins. Is she one of the urban-legendary Chobits - persocoms built to have the riskiest functions of all: real emotions, and free will?
Contains sixteen bonus color pages!
This is the first of two Chobits omnibuses that collect the entire manga series previously available in eight volumes. The front cover has a picture of Chi sitting at the top of an electrical pole, knees pulled up to her chin, and the back has some more pictures, including an adorable picture of Chi holding Sumomo in her hands. As you might expect, with four volumes compacted into one, this is a thick volume, so expect some tired hands if you read for long periods.
The collection is put together well, with a good weight of paper and clean artwork. As an added bonus, there are fifteen beautiful full-color pieces of artwork scattered throughout the volume as well as a few full color pages of the manga. I have seen plenty of collections in the past that try to do things as cheaply as possible with this stuff, but Dark Horse did a nice job with this one.
Nothing ever seems to go right for Hideki Motosuwa. From a small town, he has moved to the big city to attend cram school so that he can pass his entrance exams. One thing that surprises him is how many people in the city own persocoms: modern computer systems designed to look like people. He would love to have one—mostly because they are really cute—but with no money, he knows that is just a pipe dream.
But on his way home from work one evening, he comes across a trash pile with an interesting surprise on top: an adorable persocom. Knowing this is his lucky day, Hideki takes it home with him. But after figuring out how to activate it, he discovers that the memory of the persocom has been completely wiped. Unfortunately for Hideki, he has about as much knowledge of computers as he does money in his wallet. All he can do is name her Chi, as that is the only word she is able to say.
Soon it becomes apparent that though Chi has no programmed memory, she is able to learn, so Hideki sets out to teach her all he can, while at the same time find out as much about her as he can. When Minoru Kokobunji—a friend of Hideki’s classmate, Shimbo—examines her, he finds that she is a custom model, so it will be difficult to find the original maker. But with her ability to learn and her innate power—she fries any other persocom who tries to link directly with her—he theorizes that she might be one of the legendary Chobits, a top secret project trying to develop an AI that can think and act on its own. The problem is that Chobits are only a rumor, but that rumor is strong enough that Hideki suddenly finds himself mixed up with many people interested in Chi.
I first saw the Chobits anime back when it was first released by Geneon and loved it. I had tried to get the original manga releases from TokyoPop, but missed out before they went out of print, so I was happy to see Dark Horse release the two omnibuses a few months ago. What is interesting about reading it is how my thoughts on the series have changed thus far into it.
A major theme of Chobits is that as Chi learns and develops the ability to think for herself, she becomes less like a persocom and more like a person. And as she becomes more like a person, Hideki starts viewing her as such. Early on, while she is still very naïve, Hideki takes a more fatherly role towards her, but he ultimately falls in love with her despite all of the warnings against it. And Chi in return falls in love with him, as she realizes that he is “the one just for her.”
When I first watched the anime series, I just looked at this as a sweet little love story and did not give it a lot more thought. But a friend of mine later watched the series and felt conflicted that the mood of the series was such that we are supposed to be happy for them, yet the message throughout is that falling in love with a persocom is bad news. I could see his viewpoint, but I did not necessarily feel that way myself.
But something about the way the story is told in text has brought me over to his side. Part of it, I think, it the inclusion of the complete picture books that Chi loves to read. At various points in the story, new volumes of a picture book come available that ultimately are obviously about Chi and Hideki. In the anime, these picture books are represented, but the manga shows them completely, and they are very heavily about the dangers of a human/persocom relationship.
But the warnings from outside sources seem to be heavier handed too. Once I get into the second volume, I will be interested to see how I feel about their impending relationship. But while I feel more hesitant about that, I actually feel better about the story overall. What I took to be a relatively light, sweet story has more layers of depth than I had initially accepted, and I look forward to sorting it all out in volume 2.
This omnibus collects the first half of the Chobits manga, which is a really nice deal for the price. If you liked the anime but have held off on the manga, now is the time to make the splurge, as the two omnibuses can be had for relatively cheap. If you have yet to read or see Chobits, but like a fun, human story about what it means to be a person with some surprising depth, then there would definitely be a lot to like here. Recommended.
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