Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: B-
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 29.98
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Chobits
Chobits Vol. #2: The Empty City
By Way Jeng
June 20, 2003
Release Date: May 13, 2003
Going into the second volume of Chobits we have another four episodes. These episodes follow the first volume in pacing and content to a large degree. While there's nothing particularly wrong with that, the show's pacing in the second disc does feel slow. However, that doesn't stop this disc from being fun and enjoyable inside of that context.
Picking up where the last disc left off the second volume opens with a couple of relatively slow episodes that further develop the relationship between Hideki and Chi. For the most part these are well done, and there's a real feeling of caring between the two characters. Hideki goes out of his way to try to make Chi happy, and in return she encourages him while he studies. After these episodes it's pretty apparent that Hideki is forming a powerful emotional bond to Chi, as evidenced by how much he worries about her when she's in trouble.
There are a few minor problems with these first episodes. The first is that a lot of the humor of the show is repetitious, repeating the same jokes about Chi copying Hideki's actions. While it's funny to watch Chi fall down or hit her head trying to emulate Hideki the joke can get old. Another joke familiar from the first volume is Hideki getting in awkward situations because he speaks out loud without realizing it. However, the reaction to the humor will vary from person to person, so some might not mind this at all.
A second problem, though minor, is that Chi's linguistic abilities in the first episode on the disc seem less advanced than they were at the end of the first volume. It's almost as though Chi regresses for a few episodes, finally getting back to fairly normal speech towards the end of the disc.
Moving into the second half of the disc there's a bit more of a feeling of continuity between episodes. The third episode of the disc starts a storyline about Chi getting a job, and the two episodes are joined together by a cliffhanger. On the whole, however, the link between the two episodes isn't as strong as it could be because the last episode of the disc resolves the previous episode in the first few minutes.
One somewhat frustrating aspect of Chobits is that the show doesn't seem to be advancing any of its big mysteries, instead opting for a good deal of character development and more standalone episodes. At a few times, most notably during the third episode on the disc, it seems like something important might be revealed soon, but in the end the issue of Chi's origin is shelved for another day with hardly any explanations given. On one hand this isn't such a bad thing, given that this is only the second disc, but on the other it still makes the show seem as though it's dragging its feet. Adding to that feeling is a tendency for the characters to slip into internal monologues.
For the audio of the show I will be commenting on the English language track because I more strongly prefer it. Overall the show sounds good, as should be expected from the first volume. I found the background music more enjoyable than the first disc's, which made no noticeable impression on me, because it lent the show a peppy energetic tone. The voice acting is full of solid performances, though during some points Chi sounds a bit monotone. I don't think this is a problem in the voice acting so much as a result of the demands of the show itself, however. On the whole Chi's emotional states become much less pronounced during times when she's learning something new.
Visually Chobits is as appealing in the second volume as the first. Backgrounds for many scenes are somewhat minimalistic, but the character designs all look good. Production values seem high, but it's a little hard to tell since most of the scenes don't involve a large number of people moving around. The strange backgrounds used in the sight gags are still in effect, and are just as bizarre as before. Viewers who found them funny the first time around will undoubtedly still find them funny, and those who find them just strange will probably continue that trend.
The packaging for this disc is well done. Just like the first disc the volume number is clearly printed on the spine of the case, and the back of the case has a short synopsis and a list of features. The back also has a list of the episode titles rather than merely an episode count, and while that's a small thing it's a nice change and some additional information about the episodes. The case itself is clear, and the back of the back shows an image of the inside of Hideki's apartment and Chi.
Just as in the first disc the insert's picture overlaps with this image, and folds out to show a small poster. The reverse of the insert shows another picture along with the episode titles. Also included is another insert showing two more pictures of Chi. Altogether this is a solid package, leaving nothing to be desired.
The menus for this disc are about what you'd expect. In most respects they're identical to the first volume. All the standard options are available from the main menu, including the ability to skip to each of the chapters individually. A short animation precedes the main menu, but it goes by relatively quickly and isn't annoying. The sub-menus lack music, but considering so little time is spent accessing them in most occasions it's nothing more than a slight annoyance.
As far as the extras on this disc go the content is slightly disappointing. The extras include a clean close, an art gallery, previews, and DVD credits. While having the content is good the art gallery is small and as such isn't much of a draw. On the whole there's nothing to complain about, but neither is there anything to commend.
Sharp 13" television, Microsoft XBox