Chobits Vol. #4: Love Defined - 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: 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. #4: Love Defined

By Chris Beveridge     September 10, 2003
Release Date: September 09, 2003


Chobits Vol. #4: Love Defined
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Muddled Relations... Time for a trip to the beach! But wait! Can persocoms swim? Meanwhile, his teacher, Ms. Shimizu, invites herself for a stay-over at Hideki’s for some interesting games… There seems to be more going on when the ever-joyful Shinbo appears to be depressed and won’t talk about it. What can Hideki do to help everyone and still study for his exams? Will he ever find time to eat?

The Review!
Moving past the halfway point of the series means its time for a beach sequence! Time to raise those ratings!

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:
Definitely going for the shot that will make many fanboys cringe, you have the close up of a very soft and pale shot of Chi wearing white, red and pink while lifting a pair of cherries to her mouth. Can it get any more obvious?. 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 really good piece of artwork showcasing several of the women from the beach sequence looking on. The insert opens up to very cute shot of Chi in her swimsuit in an innertube while Sumomo bounces nearby. The back of the insert has cute shot of Chi on the beach holding Sumomo. The reverse side of the cover isn’t a reversible cover but uses the image from the insert and provides the entire scene, giving a full shot of the beach sequence.

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 more somber and wind oriented music 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 slim, but after finishing the show I was content that it didn’t bother me. The original Japanese closing is here with the first end song, not the new one that shows up in these episodes. A good six piece full color art gallery is also here with many of the pieces showing up on the packaging for this volume.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the show moving steadily along, we get an interesting mix of episodes here. The first one is really nothing more than a pretty blunt attempt to keep the eyes of the short attention span crowd by providing them with what they want most; skin.

Taking a trip to the beach, a beach that’s actually adjacent to Minoru’s summer residence, the show takes a lighter approach for the most part. Minoru and his persocom come out for some peace and quiet but also invites Shinbo along, who invites Yumi, Shimizu, the manager, Hideki and Chi. Naturally, there’s all kinds of silly situations, such as learning that country bumpkin Hideki never learned to swim or that the persocoms have their own “suntan” lotion that keeps them from getting too much wrong from the salt water. There’s the obvious misunderstanding when Shimizu tells Hideki she’s going to teach him some new things at night as well.

Once the attention of the young men is back, the show shifts gears into the realm of relationships. The focus moves away from Chi and Hideki specifically but keeps them involved as a tangent. Hideki ends up in a night of potential problems when Shimizu arrives at his apartment and asks to spend the night. The poor boy is completely flustered at this point and it only gets worse as they settle into things. Chi adapts quickly to the entire situation and goes so far as to show Shimizu Hideki’s various “yummies”. The night goes predictably enough, which is just fine with me since it plays with Hideki nicely.

The relationship side gets more involved though when we learn that Shimizu has been dating Shinbo for the past six months behind everyone’s backs. This completely infuriates Hideki when he learns since he doesn’t like secrets to be kept between friends. While he does take it over the top, when he finally talks with Shinbo after he and Shimizu elope, Shinbo realizes just why his friend is like he is. Leaving Sumomo with him for the time being, Hideki finds himself with the heavy thoughts of a deep and true romance on his mind, having seen a beautiful scene between Shinbo and Shimizu in the rain.

It also reinforces one of the themes being pushed in the series, and that’s what constitutes love. With relationships with persocoms on the rise and people leaving relationships with their “living” mates and various stigmas starting to surface, it presents something that really goes straight to the heart of matters; can you love something that’s not the same? If you say, can you be in love with a persocom, that can send all kinds of questions that become big battles. While the guaranteed big legal and religious issues won’t come up, the show looks to focus more and more on the personal side of the issue.

While the show teeters between goofy near-filler like episodes and deep bonding ones with some trouble, the end result is a show that I’m liking more and more. If it hadn’t been for the tender scenes between Shimizu and Shinbo coming across so well, I’d hesitate to see how later sequences will be done. The bigger revelations are still coming, but if you don’t want to know what they are, skip the preview at the end of the last episode.

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

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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