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Chobits Vol. 4: Love Defined

(return to disc)

Content rating: 8
Posted 2003-10-18 by StupendousMan
Endorsed by kurt on 2003-11-03 17:58:00

Disc 4 of Chobits contains (like all the others so far) four episodes. The first aims for laughs and strikes a couple of false notes. But the latter three are right on target, exploring facets of the relationships between people and people, and people and machines. I'm happy to say that Chobits has broken out of its minor slump and returned to form.

Episode 13, "Chi goes to the Ocean", starts well, with what seems to be Yet Another Hideki Fantasy -- but isn't. Everyone heads to the beach, including Sumomo. Her adventures in the surf are just TCFW(*). The play of light over a pod of dolphins frolicking just under the surface is especially well done. But, at the climax of the action, a stupid error by the writers ruins the drama. Spoilers ahead -- skip to end of paragraph if you wish to remain pure. Rhubarb rhubarb rutebega risotto arugula rhubarb rhubarb rutebega vegetable arugula risotto, okay, that's enough space. Chi jumps overboard to play with the dolphins. What should happen next is that Hideki should dive in immediately after her, without thinking. He suffers the curse of the ordinary Japanese boy of being unable to swim (see Oh My Goddess for another example), and will then flounder helplessly until rescued. But what does happen makes no sense. Everyone gasps, looks at Hideki, who explains, "I can't swim" and looks stricken ... until Shinbo urges him to jump in anyway. Huh?! And so he does. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Just let Hideki do it by himself without thinking. Oh, and the reunion scene in the recovery room is a little wierd for my taste. As Hideki lies in bed, Chi comes to sit next to him. They share a tender moment, but it seems a lot more like father and daughter or brother and younger sister than boyfriend and girlfriend. It didn't make my skin crawl, but the skin cells were getting a bit antsy.

Anyway, on to the better parts. Episode 14, "Chi Entertains," moves the focus from Chi and Hideki to another couple: Shinbo and someone else we know. A seemingly minor comment from a conversation long past suddenly gains new meaning, and we see another aspect to the entry of persocoms to the human world. Hmmm. This sounds serious, and it is, but there are nice little tidbits for the penny groundlings as well: some new background music and a very nice new ending song by Chi's seiyuu, Tanaka Rie. I also enjoyed the flavor Sumomo gives to the English she reads while translating some of Hideki's homework.

The story of Shinbo's romance continues in episode 15, "Chi Doesn't Do Anything," during which Chi doesn't do much of anything. Instead, we learn more about the dangers persocoms pose to humans; or, more accurately, we learn more about the dangers humans pose to themselves and other humans. The questions raised here are legitimate ones. Most art forms which posit the existence of artificial people avoid it, but it's certainly worth the thought Clamp is giving it.

The last episode, "Chi Provides," is my favorite. It deals with everyday events and concerns -- worrying about an upcoming test, misplacing some money, steaming rice -- but illustrates how they reveal the feelings between individuals, and the emotions inside. A bowl of rice with curry: so simple an item, yet so powerful. Why can't more stories include little moments like this? I see distant echoes of O. Henry's story, "The Gift of the Magi."

And on a less elevated note, does anyone else think that it's really sick that Sumomo lies between Hideki and Chi on their futon at night?

As usual, the accoutrements are a mixed bag. The cover art is shameless, and almost all the artwork included as "Extras" is cheesecake. Come on, CLAMP, you don't have to stoop that low! Another "Extra" is a copy of the ending song from the first season; I guess that's for the people who haven't purchased the earlier discs in the series ... uh, right. There are also trailers for Last Exile, Heat Guy J, Mahoromatic, Someday's Dreamers and MaoChan. But it is four episodes, and the new ending song is really nice, so I'll cut them a little slack.

(*) Too Cute For Words. For those of you who remember The Preppy Handbook, I've just dated myself.

Equipment used when writing this review:
Sony DVD player, JVC 27-inch TV, stereo speakers

Content: 8 Video: 7 Sound: 8 Packaging: 8 Menu: 8

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