Chobits Vol. #3: Darkness Descends - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 16 & 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. #3: Darkness Descends

By Chris Beveridge     July 11, 2003
Release Date: July 08, 2003


Chobits Vol. #3: Darkness Descends
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Hideki, beside himself with joy as he prepares for his first date with Yumi, fails to notice Chi’s reactions. However, he runs into Minoru who reveals an interesting aspect about the mythical Chobits- urban-myth persocoms that possess free will!

Yet, who has time for deep thought when rumors say someone was murdered in the apartment downstairs- Chi definitely hears something strange below them! Finally, with some time for rest and relaxation, Hideki borrows a game machine and enters a virtual reality world with Shinbo, Sumomo and Chi, but where does Chi go?

The Review!
Chobits continues on though things sort of meander here a bit with Chi, but we do get some good material with Yumi.

Audio:
With so many of my favorite actors in the Japanese cast, it’s certain that I took in this show in its original language of Japanese. With this being such a recent show, the stereo mix for the track is very well done with lots of nice subtle movement around the forward soundstage and some excellent placement. Dialogue was nice and clear throughout and there’s some good depth to things in a few key areas that make it quite enjoyable. We noticed no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Much like a dream transfer, Chobits looks gorgeous here. Utilizing the existing anamorphic print combined with the lush color palette of the most current digital painting systems, this is one of the most subtly vibrant looking transfers I’ve seen in the past year. The background palette is done up in a mostly real-world style but during certain key sequences, usually comical, they bring in almost day-glo colors to accentuate the wackiness of the situation. It’s these areas that would normally be of concern with bleeding and over saturation, but they look spot on here. Cross coloration doesn’t exist and I’m hard pressed to find any real problematic aliasing moments throughout the program.

Packaging:
One of the best covers yet, this one features a very happy Chi in a spring dress with a parasol in her hands, almost all white except for some black ribbons. I love the look of this cover. The front cover, spine and back cover all provide volume numbering while the back cover also provides episode numbers and titles. The artwork from the front is reworked here nicely and several small shots from the show are used. The production information and basic technical points are all clearly listed here. The insert has a nice shot of Chi in a pajama top. The inesrt opens up to provide a mostly female cast shot with Hideki blushing among them. The back of the insert has Chi and Dark Chi together and lists the discs episodes. The reverse side of the cover isn’t a reversible cover but uses the image from the insert and provides the entire scene, providing a very nice looking piece.

Menu:
A nice simple layout works best here with the style of the show being expressed in the background colors with Chi in the foreground while the bouncy opening song plays along. The selections are all along the bottom with a play all feature alongside episode specific selection, which I believe is fairly new for a Pioneer release. Access times are nice and fast and we had no problems navigating the menu or any of the extras.

Extras:
The extras are a bit weak here in this volume. There’s a nice short art gallery and the original Japanese text laden opening is also provided.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Chobits continues on but sort of stumbles a bit with these four episodes. There’s some good material scattered within, but the overall stories are pretty much fillerish since they don’t really advance things much.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t cute, and if there’s one thing Chobits excels at, it’s being cute. For example, the opening episode has things focusing on Chi needing to take a bath. Hideki, continually oblivious to all things Persocom related, is informed by Shinbo that he really needs to give Chi a bath since it’s just good common courtesy. Since Hideki obviously can’t afford any software programs that will let her figure it out, he has to teach her how to do it. Since Chi’s so good at learning, it ought to be a breeze, right?

Well, if Hideki didn’t continually turn into a boob so often, it probably would be. But he ends up getting himself into awkward situations over it, such as being embarrassed when she does try to mimic him by taking her clothes off or when she follows him into the men’s bathing room. These moments are all quite amusing and play well, but when pretty much the entire episode is focused on it, or on Hideki’s problems in dealing with it, it doesn’t help the overall flow of the story.

The same goes for another episode that’s essentially a haunted apartment storyline. After Hideki hears an internet ghost story from Minoru, he starts to see many of the same symptoms occurring in the unoccupied first floor apartment in his own complex, an apartment that even has the same room number. This episode goes back and forth with Hideki trying to cope with the possibility of there being the ghost of a dead woman in that apartment and us seeing some of the strange happenings as well. He ends up with a complete lack of sleep that causes problems throughout the rest of his life as well. Of course, you can imagine how this ends if you’ve seen any other shows that deal with haunted rooms/houses/apartments in the anime world. This is true filler.

What really surprised me is that I found myself enjoying the video game episode. Having really disliked the one that Love Hina did, I was surprised to find this one as enjoyable as it was. Hideki ends up borrowing a DVD player from the My Pleasure manager, mostly on the basis of being able to check out some porn. This leads into an extremely humorous moment when he goes to the local software dealer and sliiiiides into the adult section as casual as only a person his age can. When we pan over the numerous titles, the background sound effects are beautiful, with all the ooohs and aaahs we get throughout the series whenever porn enters the scene.

Of course, before he can get anything, Minoru ends up showing up as he’s picking up a new net game. He gets in a few nice subtle digs at Hideki but then offers up a bonus disc for the game and tells him that through the DVD player and Chi, he can participate in the game. And so, Hideki’s descent into the evil world of netgaming begins as he spends allnighters on servers. He tries to game with Chi, but something causes her to not enter at the same time he, Shinbo and Sumomo do.

Sumomo is great in the game! She keeps her current form, but life size, causing a really bizarre look. Add in Shinbo playing in the form of his prep school teacher but with his male voice and you’ve got a hilarious trio searching around in the game for Chi.

One of the best things on this disc though is the date episode. And it’s not a date with Chi! As much as I like her and I know she’s the main character, I’m keen on watching the Hideki and Yumi relationship grow through stumbles and mishaps. The two manage to actually go out on a date here and it provides both humorous and heartwarming. There’s some really good moments here, especially with Yumi’s general distaste for persocoms, that it’s the kind of episode that goes by too fast.

Though there’s plenty of filler here, there’s some good moments throughout that provide some clues as to what’s coming. There’s also a rather good section of Chi reading from her book that brings to life the other world. Those moments continue to be my favorite of the series in general and having a good block of it here really made my day. There’s just something about this show that keeps me smiling though, even through the repetitive moments.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Japanese Opening

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic DMR-E20 DVD Recorder, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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jnager 3/13/2012 1:04:02 PM

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