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Content rating: 7
Posted 2004-02-15 by StupendousMan
Endorsed by Cacophanus on 2004-02-26 22:52:00
My Only Person brings to an end the main story of Chobits. I write "to an end" instead of "to a climax" because I found the final episodes of the show didn't really live up to the promise of the earlier episodes. Perhaps if I hadn't read the final book in the manga just a few days before watching this disc, I'd feel otherwise.
I'll talk a bit more about the differences between the manga and the anime later in this review.
There are four episodes on disc number 6, making it a fair value for the money. The first two were solid. The theme of the first, "Chi Answers", is self-sacrifice. Minoru has been working hard to learn more about the mysterious Chobits series of persocoms. In a surprising, yet logical, twist, he recruits the nasty hacker "Dragonfly" to help him. However, because he realizes that his research is likely to attract attention from dangerous elements, Minoru forbids Yuzuki from joining the effort, lest she be damaged by electronic countermeasures. She, on the other hand, grows alarmed as he weakens from the stress of the search, and wishes there were some way she could help him. It's a classic situation, right out of The Gift of the Magi. Each wants only the best for the other. Is this the -- or a -- definition of love? Minoru epiphany at the end of the action is nothing new in human relationships, but true enough nonetheless, and worthy of our attention.
The second episode is perhaps my favorite in this set: "Chi Wears and Takes Off" focuses on Yumi and Ueda, two people who love each other, yet seem to be doing all they can to deny it. Hideki and Chi accidently take up the role of pschiatrists, giving the two lovers a chance to explain themselves separately. Yumi knows that Ueda was once married to a persocom, and worries that she would never be able to live up to its perfection. Ueda sets her (and us) straight: yes, there are some things that a persocom can do which a human can't -- but there are also some things which a human can do, but a persocom can't. It's no different from the situation with people alone: Louisa Musgrove can do some things which Anne Elliot can't, but Anne can beat Louisa in other ways (as Captain Wentworth figured out, fortunately). His admission that he would have fallen for her, even had Yumi been a persocom, speaks volumes of his love for her for her own sake.
Two little things which improve this episode: Kotoko's quick insights, which are shared silently with no one but the viewer, and Chi's simple desire to hold Hideki's hand. I also appreciated Hideki's relatively restrained reaction to Chi's "Taking Off" at the end of the episode; he understands that some things take precedence even over sex.
The third episode, "Chi Decides," gives Hibiya-san a chance to explain Chi's childhood and family life to Hideki. I think that this would have made a greater impact on me had I not just read it all a few days earlier. We are set up for the Big Finish ...
And when it comes, it's a bit of a letdown. In order to explain why it just didn't work for me, I'll have to spoil the story (both anime and manga), so quit reading now if you want to remain unspoiled. Broccoli, cauliflower, rice and corn, vegetables, vegetables, get your vegetables here, all picked fresh and early this morning, organic and free of all artificial colors and flavorings ... Okay, that should do it. So, in the anime, Chi starts running her special program when she learns that Hideki really does love her ... but, then, suddenly, she shuts it down, and shuts herself down. She loses confidence in herself, or him, or their relationship, and asks her mother to delete all her painful emotions. Huh?! Hideki watches her commit suicide in front of his eyes, despite all his cries for her to stop. He sinks to his knees, crushed. Whoa. That's painful. I felt a little knot in my own stomache in sympathy. Had it ended right there, I would have walked away seriously depressed; an unhappy, but effective, ending that would have stayed with me for days.
But, in the best -- or is that "worst" -- tradition of love stories, her death was but a sham. Hideki's final words of love break through to Chi, who must not have been deleted after all, but simply hiding within her sister's head (and yes, I know that won't make any sense if you haven't seen the show yet). Chi returns to life, runs her program, and it's "Happily Ever After" time for her, Hideki, and persocoms and their owners the world over.
Ugh. I do NOT like fake death scenes. Aside from that, the last ten minutes just didn't work for me because I couldn't understand why Chi stopped herself from running her special program and living happily ever after with Hideki the first time. Was she afraid that she wouldn't be good enough for him because she wasn't human? Was she afraid of being trapped in another hopeless relationship, like her sister? But why? Hideki had just declared that he loved her, and if there's one thing that everyone agrees about Hideki, it's his sincerity. So why was she afraid?
I found the conclusion of the manga much more satisfying, and far less cliched. In the manga, Hideki doesn't have a chance to reply to Chi's question, "Do you love me?" until after the confrontation with Zima and Dita. When he does affirm his feelings for her, she doesn't fall at once into his arms, but starts to ask him a peculiar set of questions, in a most uncharacteristic manner. It turns out that Freya has taken over -- briefly -- so that she can make sure that Hideki's intentions are honorable, without the innocent, clueless Chi getting in the way. When Freya was at her most vulnerable, Chi protected her; it makes sense that Freya would now return the favor and look out for her little sister. She tells Hideki that there must be limits to his relationship with Chi, and asks if he still will be able to love her. Hideki (of course) passes the test, but it remains a sign that no relationship, even one between the main characters in a romance, is perfect. Chi and Hideki do end up together, but they and we know that there will be little bumps in the road. Amor vincit omnia, but it means more when there are real obstacles to vincit, ne?
The extras are the usual: a Japanese version of ending number 3 (featuring the "boy loves girl" song that also appeared near the end of episode 13, I believe), six color pictures in an art gallery, an ordinary number of trailers for other Pioneer shows, DVD credits, a small folding insert, and reversible cover. No big deal.
I've really enjoyed watching Chobits, and count it as a Good Thing, even though I didn't like the ending. I hear that there will be more episodes; a second season? Hmmm. I'm not sure that I'll be purchasing them, but I will surely rent them somewhere. And if I see another copy of the "Art of Chobits" book (I glimpsed it a an anime convention last year but foolishly didn't buy it), I won't let it get away.
Equipment used when writing this review:
Sony DVD player, JVC 27-inch TV, stereo speakers, champagne left over from our wedding anniversary
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