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ReRead: Chobits

ReRead: Chobits


Nostalgia bombs come few and far between, although every time I look at my manga shelves these days I get nChobits_manga_1othing but nostalgia bombs. After recently moving and unboxing my manga, I came across the series Chobits again. A massive wave of nostalgia of younger otaku-Céire came over me and, needless to say, the rest of the boxes are still unpacked.
It would be shocking to hear even a non-manga fan say they have never heard of Chobits because, in reality, back in the early noughties it was everywhere because of the creators, Clamp. Now, if you’re into manga and don’t know who Clamp is, then you must have been living under a rock. Clamp is the all-female group of manga artists that have given us a good chuck of our favourite manga series since the mid 80s, most notably: Cardcaptor Sakura, Tokyo Babylon, Magic Knight Rayearth, Wish, Angelic Layer, XXX-Holic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle.
Chobits was originally published in the Young Magazine by Kodansha between the years 2000 and 2002. while it was later serialized in eight bound volumes. It was released on this side of the world by Tokyopop and adapted into a 26 episode anime series in 2002, but that is a review for another day.
In the manga, we find ourselves in the world where computers are now walking, talking and spreadsheet processing ‘Persocoms’, which are literally people-shaped computers. Enter Hideki Motosuwa, an under achieving student whose parents sent him off to a cram school in Tokyo, making him take a part-time job to pay his way, much  chiiandhidekito his dismay. Due to his dire financial situation he can’t afford a persocom, but one night when walking home his luck takes a turn when he finds a persocom in the trash. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, or is it? Once he eventually gets the female persocom home and manages to turn the thing on (for that interesting little insight as to where her ‘on switch’ is, go and read the manga). He discovers she seems to be broken and can only say ‘Chi’, which he ends up naming her. No one can seem to figure out what or where Chi came from, leading to the conclusion she must be one of the mysterious persocoms only known as ‘Chobits’. The story follows the two as they discover more about where Chi came from, while also asking some questions about the relationship between humans and computers.
Not unlike some of the other manga series I own, I have not picked this one up in a long time. I don’t know why, maybe because it was so over hyped at the time I bought it, or just because I have read it so many times before. Either way, picking it up and re-reading it was an experience because I had forgotten about some of the little gems it had in there. Plum. Need I say more? Weirdly, I had forgotten just how much fan service was in this manga; I mean the whole things drips with it, but it works. That might sound odd, but it works into the story really well. It’s a time where most things are freely available with Hideki even making a comment that, with a persocom, he could download the latest porn. It may seem a little stereotypical and crass, but it works well into the target age demographic of the manga, as it’s based on a teenage boy for heaven’s sake! Clamp grew wise to the fact that their material was, surprisingly, predominantly read by women. So why not turn up the raunchy dialogue and aim a manga towards teenage boys while maintaining the female fan base? I see what you did there Clamp.
From the female side of things, I was definitely sucked into this manga; the feelings of kawaii are still just as strong, but I think being older and re-reading Chobits allows me to see its message. In there under all the raunchy kawaii, there’s interesting commentary on whether we know where our relationship with technology is going? There is a whole side story in this manga about a man who ends up falling for and marrying his perso1087184com, a symbol of a time we are not that far away from. Could this be a future? Right now, we are trying to decide whether same sex marriage should be allowed, but human and technology marriage? Saying that, that arc of the manga was actually really well done and very emotional. You genuinely grieved for the character when his wife passes away leading to another interesting thought of, not only do we not last forever, but neither does technology.
Chobits has probably one of the best storylines I have read in a manga in a long time. Why? There is so much packed into this eight volume series, it truly is a journey of self-discovery. Each character is memorable in their own way and, most of the time, have their own side stories for you to follow. The protagonists are interesting; Hideki is a relatable character since he could be any teenage guy trying to make his way in the world and whereas Chi is not exactly relatable, you do feel yourself becoming attached to her. In a way, you could see a piece of yourself in her. Moments in life where you have no idea what is going on or what to do could be seen from Chi’s story. Also, she is as cute as a button and even made it onto my list of top 5 sweeter than sweet characters.
Re-reading Chobits made me think about my own life over the past decade since I first read this manga and how much discovery I have made about myself and the world around me. For anyone who has not experienced this manga, you should definitely pick up a copy. It even has a volumes omnibus for easier reading, so there’s no excuse!