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



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: C
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • 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 Way Jeng     July 20, 2003
Release Date: July 08, 2003



The Review!
Moving into the middle of the series Chobits continues with its third volume. For the four episodes on this disc the series continues providing some good laughs at Hideki's expense, though for the most part they're not quite as rough on the poor boy as in previous discs. There are also a few serious moments providing the series a depth and seriousness that's been lightly hinted at, but not explored very well up to this point. The episodes are very well self-contained, which is very appealing for those looking for a series they can take or leave. The only downside is that the big mystery of the show, Chi's origin, isn't explained or advanced much at all.

As a whole the episodes for the third volume are self-contained stories that can be taken pretty much independently of each other, as none of the major plot points interact. The first episode is another episode primarily dedicated to Hideki teaching Chi how to do something, in this case taking a bath. Just as one would expect not everything goes according to plan, though in the end everything turns out okay.

The second episode on the disc is arguably the most interesting, though it's also the most serious. In this episode the main plot revolves around Hideki going on a date with his co-worker Yumi. There's a concurrent sub-plot about Chi reading a picture book that basically comments that people like persocoms because they can be programmed to be anything people want them to be, being better than people yet at the same time never being people.

This theme gets repeated and elaborated on during the episode by a number of characters, including Kokubunji and Yumi. In these scenes we get a flash of insight into their characters that transcends the humor of the show and reminds you that even though there's some good laughs to be had the show has bigger aspirations than just providing a few chuckles here and there. The idea may not be brilliant, as the idea of robots being better than people is one that's been done a lot in science fiction, but all the same I found this an interesting episode because it didn't focus on a persocom's ability to be smarter, faster, or stronger, but simply being what people want them to be.

The third and fourth episodes have relatively original plotlines. In the third we're treated to a ghost story Hideki hears that frightens him as he begins to think that it's about the apartment building he lives in. The episode isn't exactly scary, but does convey Hideki's fear pretty well. In particular there's a segment showing a nightmare Hideki has that's very well done, capturing the strange and random quality of a nightmare excellently. The episode might have been scary, but Hideki's fear is handled with such a comic tone that it's almost impossible to be scared along with him.

In the final episode on the disc we're treated to Hideki's attempt to play a massively multiplayer online games. This is pretty much just an episode where you get to watch Hideki make a fool of himself with his ignorance of how these games work, as it's obvious to anybody with even a slight amount of video game experience that he's not going about things in an intelligent manner. I found this a hilarious episode, and a funny take on video games.

Overall this is a good continuation to the series. The humor of the show is better than we've seen it so far, not relying so much on the same standbys of Hideki's runaway mouth and Chi's copying of everything. A lot of the disc could be considered filler, since little of it directly advances the plot, but in the end the disc is still an enjoyable collection of vignettes. This is shaping up to be a very easy-going series, allowing viewers to take in the show at their own pace without worrying about cliffhangers and burning questions about what's going on or happening next. It might not be everybody's cup of tea, but those looking for a more relaxed pace should find the experience rewarding.

As far as the audio for the disc goes I'll be commenting on the English language track, though I listened to most of the second episode in the Japanese. Vocal performances were good, though I found Chi somewhat too subdued. In previous discs I didn't have a problem with it because her character has had a number of vocal issues stemming from her lack of verbal comprehension, but in this disc I felt like Chi's increased grasp of language wasn't well reflected in her ability to emote. Other characters have good performances, especially those characters we haven't heard much from like Yumi and Yuzuki. Sound effects as music are on par with previous discs.

Visually the third disc of Chobits has a fair amount to offer. Most interesting are the backgrounds used in the ghost story episode. Where Chobits is usually bright and cheerful the backgrounds for this episode were dark and foreboding, which was an interesting take on familiar territory. As usual the backgrounds continue to be well detailed, and the strange backgrounds punctuating excitement are not seen as often in this disc compared to previous volumes.

Also worth noting is the degree to which the storybook parts of the second episode were animated. This is an interesting move, since the animation makes these scenes quite a bit more interesting than simply panning across frames. It should also be noted that the spherical blob monsters in the online game played in the fourth episode are hilarious and not to be missed.

The packaging for this disc is excellent, offering almost everything you could ask for. The spine of the case shows the volume number clearly, and the back lists the episodes by title as well as giving a list of DVD extras. On the interior the clear case shows the reverse of the cover, which has a picture of Chi and Hideki on it. Just as in previous discs the insert's front cover blends seamlessly into this image, and on the reverse shows an episode list.

The insert folds out to show a mini-poster of Hideki and the women of the show, minus Sumomo. Often the minor characters of a show get neglected in the inserts, and it's good to see that this isn't the case with this disc. If all that wasn't enough there's a second insert showing yet another picture of Chi.

The menus for this volume leave something to be desired. Although the menus are identical in format to those of previous discs the main menu lacks background music. There are some sound effects of some kind vaguely resembling rushing wind, but it's difficult to say exactly what it is. In any case it's unclear what the purpose of these sounds are other than to prove that the speakers aren't broken. Certainly it's not very entertaining to listen to. Sub-menus lack background music as well, making the menus themselves pretty boring. On the plus side the load times are fast, and navigation is quite intuitive.

Extras for the disc are decent, if not inspired. First off there's the original Japanese opening, which is the opening sequence with the original Japanese credits. It's interesting to see, and definitely preferable to a repeat of the clean open included in the first volume. After this we have an art gallery, which again is good to have but somewhat small. A few of the images have the feeling of production stills, but not all of them. If the gallery included a few more of these kinds of images it would have been a definite improvement.

Comments? E-mail me at BitRMann@aol.com




Review Equipment
Sharp 13" television, Microsoft XBox

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