Chobits Vol. #5: Disappearance - 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. #5: Disappearance

By Chris Beveridge     November 06, 2003
Release Date: November 11, 2003


Chobits Vol. #5: Disappearance
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
While Hideki goes to school Chi goes to her job at Tirol. However, today Chi never made it to work- she’s been kidnapped! Hideki frantically searches for Chi with the help of Ueda, the Tirol’s manager. Ueda empathizes with Hideki’s loss and reveals his own tragic experience. What other dark secrets remain hidden in this world of Persocoms?

The Review!
More revelations start to surface once Chi disappears in broad daylight.

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:
The trademark CLAMP style shines through again here with a very detailed and sexy shot of Chi against a park gate with all the lush green trees behind her. 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 cute picture of Chi laying down and holding her head in her hands. The insert opens up to an adorable image of Chi and Sumomo together under an umbrella while the back of the insert has slightly distressed looking Chi in a schoolgirl uniform in darkening weather. The reverse side of the cover isn’t a reversible cover but uses the image from the insert and provides the entire scene, complete with Sumomo sitting on Chi’s posterior.

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 once more. The second Japanese closing is here with the same animation but better song. The art gallery provides a number of great looking shots, most of which showed up on the inserts of this release but with clean backgrounds.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Moving through the late teen episodes of the series, Chobits starts to reveal more layers of itself, albeit somewhat slowly and also somewhat awkwardly, as it prepares for the final batch of episodes that will bring the series to its conclusion.

A good number of these revelations don’t occur quickly or easily, though some of them continue to be teased. The main one that teases is the apartment manager, Chitose. With the previous nod to her in the underground lair of hers, things become a bit clearer in this volume during an episode where Chi and Hideki are brought in to help clean the apartments out. While everyone works hard, the day ends and Chitose decides to reward Chi with a special dress. While Chi is in the apartment waiting and looking at what seems to be an ordinary place, Hideki and Sumomo go to clean out an upstairs closet only to find it filled with dozens and dozens of thick cables and wiring.

Hideki is, of course, clueless.

While all of that does provide some small insights and enhances the mystery, it’s where things go from there that it all gets rolling. While Chi has been doing very well at her job at the Tirol, going so far as baking up her own delicious cake, things take a twist there on her way to work one day. While she stops briefly at the book store since she noticed a new volume of the book series she likes is in, someone comes up behind her in broad daylight and basically kidnaps her off the street. All that remains is one of the clasps in her hair that falls to the side, the only clue later on that Hideki will get.

Chi’s disappearance takes some time to register as the owner of the Tirol doesn’t get in touch with Hideki until late, when he’s just getting home himself. Instantly panicked, Hideki sets to the streets to find her with Sumomo. Eventually he gets tied into things with Minoru as he’s gotten a new tease from the person who has emailed them previously with the mysterious Chobits image and they start a concerted effort to try and find Chi. What helps the most though is that Ueda from the Tirol catches up with Hideki at one point and the two search together.

Taking a moments rest at one point during the search, we get a number of surprising revelations out of Ueda regarding his past. While it may seem a bit meaningless at times for him to bring it up other than to console Hideki some, his past offers various insights into things that Hideki’s mind has crossed on occasion and has kept in the background, things that he wonders about but doesn’t think straight on about. Ueda’s life, starting with his new business to his falling in love with a persocom, covers quite a bit a ground (and not as well done as in the manga either I don’t think) and puts some new thoughts into Hideki’s head, or at least helps for some of them to surface a bit more.

While the frantic search goes on, we get to see what’s going on with Chi as well. Thankfully she’s not been caught by some amateur porn scam again, but rather by the mysterious Dragonfly, a poster on the BBS that Minoru used to initially find out information about Chi. Dragonfly had been rather curious about Chi and was very surprised when he came across her in the street. Realizing his luck as well as realizing that Hideki had no idea the value of Chi, he simply grabbed her right off the street and brought her home. His goal appears to be to crack her code and he’s set his twenty custom persocoms up to her and has begun the hack.

There are a lot of small doses of information that comes out in these episodes, where elements for the final batch of episodes are being fully seeded and set to be used. Some of it continues to feel forced, but it manages to be balanced by a number of really good and exciting scenes, particularly ones like Chi’s rescue or the way Ueda’s relationship with his perscocom turns out. The one scene in the street with him and her in the rain is strong and animated perfectly with the shifting out of the background and refocus on just the two of them.

This section of Chobits has been interesting to watch as I’m now finished with the series in manga form and am anticipating certain similarities but not seeing some of them while others are there but different. It’s an interesting way to watch a show, but one I’m weaning myself off of with other series since it feels like things are being spoiled. The Chobits manga had me early and the anime made the connection stronger. With one volume left of new episodes, I’m eager to see how they bring it to conclusion.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Japanese Closing Sequence

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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