Chobits Vol. #7: Chat Room - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Chobits

Chobits Vol. #7: Chat Room

By Chris Beveridge     February 26, 2004
Release Date: March 09, 2004


Chobits Vol. #7: Chat Room
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Hideki and Chi have been through a lot which gives their friends many things to think about and reflect upon. What mysteries and revelations will they encounter now that they have a chance to sit down and review their lives...?

The Review!
The series has ended, but there's still more! It's like Douglas Adams decided to do anime?

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:
Shifting to some more earth tone colors, Chi once against looks luxurious here in her corset outfit set inside an oversized chair with old style wallpaper behind her. The style really pushes the childlike nature of her with the chair being so big and almost eating her up. 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 an image of running out of the apartment complex in her schoolgirl uniform while Sumomo rides on her shoulder. The insert opens up to a shot of Chi in her pajamas waking up while a cartoonish Hideki backs away quickly. The reverse side of the cover isn?t a reversible cover but uses the image from the insert and provides the entire scene. The pencil board included with this release is the very cute shot of Chi in her brown schoolgirl uniform with Sumomo once again on her shoulder while they're underneath the cherry blossom trees.

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 real draw to this volume for the die-hard fans is the extras. Included here is a small section for an art gallery, about thirteen pieces total of full color artwork. The other is a production art gallery which mixes the types and has about fifty-three pieces overall. The 9.95 and 18.5 episodes both provide their previews here as well.

The real draw here is the six minute or so Chibits special, which was commissioned after the series ended. The special is basically a chase tale where Sumomo and Kotoko head out of the apartment to track down Chii before she does something terribly embarrassing. It's a cute little adventure that has some good moments, particularly where they show a firecracker strapped over Kotoko's posterior with Sumomo waving the lighter for it. It's a fluffy and light little adventure done in the traditional style that things like this are done in.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Over the years, I've certainly not hid my distaste for recap episodes. There are exceptions everywhere of course. Some recaps are so masterfully done that they bring in new animation and actually expand what the area of knowledge is for a show. Some shows are complex enough to need one recap in a twenty-six episode series. You start hitting the hundred plus series and yes, I expect there to be a few in there (though more often than not, those series manage to avoid recaps even more easily).

But then you get things like Chobits. A recap in the first ten episodes. Then another in the second ten episodes. And then one more just before episode twenty five. Three recaps. In one series. And from what I've been able to tell, none of them actually offer anything new in terms of the story nor are they really all that creatively done in retelling the tale. They basically staved off a production schedule and let the creative team get the real episodes done without broadcast gaps.

With Chobits, Geneon ended up in a tough position. Three recaps placed as they were would mean three volumes with a recap episode on it and the usual round of griping over each instance. What made things worse was that the last recap was done after all the licensing was completed, so they had to actually go back and acquire that last recap episode. Because while there's an amount of griping over recaps, there's an equal if not greater griping for skipping episodes. So they ended up in a damned if you anything situation.

The end result is that we get Chobits Vol. #7, a release that's ten dollars cheaper than the rest of the series and has just the recap episodes on it. It almost becomes something of a Cliff's Notes version of the series or a way to watch the entire thing, sans end episode, in a really abbreviated manner. With the price being cheaper, it made it so people would more than likely pick it up ? particularly if they bought the box with the first volume. That empty space would bother a lot of people. Add in things like the artwork and you've hooked a few more people into it.

Toss on some extras and you're likely to get even more people interested. The Chibits episode is a prime example. That had the same problem as the last recap episode in that it came about after all the licensing was done. So that had to be negotiated for as well and incurred its own costs. So while it's an extra, it's like everything else in life ? it ain't free.

In Summary:
In the end, I really do like how Geneon handled this, since three recaps are rare. I almost want to say that I wish they had put all the extras on this last volume instead of what showed up throughout the series, allowing this to become a compilation of all the good bits. A single extras reference source would have been good, like some box sets do. Either way, the way things worked out for Chobits meant that not everyone was going to be happy. I think they did the best they could with an unusual situation, tried to get something that the fans wanted and dropped the cost on it as well. It may not make a hill of beans to some, but I definitely appreciate the effort.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Chibits Special,Art Gallery,Production Art Gallery

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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