Chobits (ちょびっツ Chobittsu?) is a Japanese manga created by the Japanese manga collective Clamp. It was published by Kodansha in Young Magazine from February 2001 to November 2002 and collected in eight bound volumes. Unlike most stories by Clamp, Chobits is a seinen series commonly mistaken for shōjo because of its strong romantic themes and flowery art style. Chobits was adapted as a 26-episode-long anime television series broadcast on TBS and Animax from April to September 2002. In addition, it has spawned a video game as well as various merchandise such as figurines, collectable cards, calendars, and artbooks.
The series tells the story of Hideki Motosuwa, who finds an abandoned persocom (パソコンPasoKon?), or personal computer (パーソナルコンピュータ pāsonaru konpyūta) with human form, that he names “Chi” after the only word it initially can speak. As the series progresses, they explore the mysteries of Chi’s origin together and questions about the relationship between human beings and persocoms. The manga is set in the same universe as Angelic Layer, taking place a few years after the events of that story, and like Angelic Layer, it explores the relationship between human beings and electronic devices shaped like human beings. Chobitsbranches off as a crossover into many other stories in different ways, such as Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, xxxHolic and Kobato.
The series centers on the life of Hideki Motosuwa, a held-back student attempting to qualify for university by studying at Seki prep school in Tokyo. Besides a girlfriend, he dreams of having apersocom (パソコン?): an android used as a personal computer, which is expensive. On his way home one evening, he stumbles across a persocom in the form of a beautiful girl with long hair lying against a pile of trash bags, and he carries her home, not noticing a disk fall on the ground. Upon turning her on, she instantly regards Hideki with adoration. The only word the persocom seems capable of saying is “chi” (ちぃ Chii?), thus he names her that. Hideki assumes that there must be something wrong with her, and so the following morning he has his neighbor Hiromu Shinbo analyze her with his mobile persocom Sumomo. After Sumomo crashes during the attempt they conclude that she must be custom-built.
Shinbo introduces Hideki to Minoru Kokubunji, a twelve-year-old prodigy who specializes in the field of custom-built persocoms. Minoru’s persocoms, including Yuzuki, a fairly exceptional custom-built persocom, are not able to analyze Chi either, and thus they conclude that she may be one of the Chobits, a legendary series of persocoms rumoured to have free will and emotions. Although this is a possibility, Minoru is confident that it is only rumour. Yuzuki also adds that she does not resemble any persocom model in any available database and so she must be custom made after all.
A major part of the plot involves Hideki attempting to teach Chi words, concepts, and appropriate behaviours, in between his crammed schedule of school and work. At the same time, Chi seems to be developing feelings for Hideki, at an emotional depth she is not supposed to possess, and Hideki struggles with his feelings for her. The need to figure out more about Chi and her mysterious functions and past becomes a pull for the characters in the series.
Hideki’s feelings intensify for Chi whether she is a persocom or not, despite horrible experiences of his friends involving persocoms. Chi becomes aware of her purpose through a picture book series called A City with No People which she finds in a bookstore. The books speak about many different things involving human and persocom relationships: persocoms and their convenience as friends and lovers, how there are things that they cannot do and questioning whether a relationship between a persocom and a human is really one-sided. It also speaks about the Chobits series; that they are different from other persocoms, and what they are incapable doing unlike other persocoms. These picture books awaken Chi’s other self, her sibling Freya who is aware of their past and helps Chi realize what she must do when she decides who her “person just for me” is. Together, Chi and Hideki explore the relationship between human beings and persocoms, as well as their friends’ and their own.
Chi (ちぃ Chii?)A “chobit,” a technologically advanced persocom rumored to possess true machine intelligence, with the ability to feel emotions and act on her own will, unlike other persocoms. Hideki finds her in a pile of trash as he makes his way home from work one night. Upon turning her on, she is only able to say the word “chi,” remembers nothing of her past life, and is unable to perform even simple tasks. Because of this, Hideki names her Chi and undertakes teaching her how to function. Chi reads a series of children’s picture books, A City with No People, about a character searching for the “person just for me,” which were written pseudonymously by Chitose Hibiya as a way of reconnecting Chi to her past self, and to guide Chi’s search for love. As the series progresses, Chi begins to have visions of another persocom who is identical to herself. This “other Chi” advises and protects Chi, and as the story nears its climax tells Chi something about her history before she was restarted; that Chi had been named “Elda” by her loving parents and had an older sister. When the older sister broke her heart for unattainable love for her father and would die Elda had offered to take all of her older sister’s memories, at the cost of her own memories. Her older sister thus became the guardian of Elda’s memories and Elda’s protector. See the entry for Freya in the list of Chobits characters. At the end of the series, Hideki finally admits that he loves Chi, and is her special person. Voiced by: Rie Tanaka(Japanese), Michelle Ruff (English)
- Hideki Motosuwa (本須和 秀樹 Motosuwa Hideki?)
- A 19-year-old (in the anime, 18) repeat student attempting to get into university by studying at a cram school, while working at a izakayato make ends meet. One night, while walking home from work, he finds a persocom lying in a pile of garbage. He takes her home, and upon activating her, finds that the only word she can utter is “Chi”. Because of this, he gives her the name “Chi” (in the anime, “Chii”) and takes her into his care, doing his best to protect and teach her. Despite his shortcomings and occasional moments of awkwardness with the bustling environment of Tokyo, Hideki is a genuinely kind and honest person, whose habit of thinking of others’ well-being before his own can cause many problems. When a friend is in trouble, especially Chi, he is always there to help. Although many characters in the series often tease him for being a “nice guy”, they turn to him for advice with their problems, knowing he will always hear them out and do his best to assist them. Voiced by: Tomokazu Sugita (Japanese), Crispin Freeman (English)
Chitose Hibiya (日比谷 千歳 Hibiya Chitose?) is the landlady at the apartment where Hideki is staying. In the manga, she was previously an employee of Piffle Princess Enterprises and participated in the development of Angels and later, persocoms. She was married to the president of the company, the late Ichiro “Icchan” Mihara, who used the data gathered from the Angelic Layer research to create the Chobits to be Chitose’s children, because she was unable to have children of her own. She also authors the A City with No People series of books to help Chi find the Person Just for Her.
Hiromu Shinbo (新保弘 Shinbo Hiromu?, spelled Shinbo on the Japanese Chobits website and in the English anime, and Shimbo in the Tokyopop English manga) is Hideki’s best friend and is also studying at Seki cram school. In the anime, Shinbo lives in the same apartment complex as Hideki and is his next-door neighbor. Shinbo is usually the first person Hideki turns to for help with persocoms. Shortly after beginning school he becomes romantically involved with his teacher Takako Shimizu, after finding her in a park late at night because she had been unwittingly locked out of her house by her husband, who was too busy with his persocom. He later elopes with her and convinces her to marry him.
Sumomo (すもも?), known as Plum in the Tokyopop English manga, is a miniature “mobile persocom”—the equivalent of a laptop computer. Wearing an outfit that makes her resemble a genie, she is programmed to be cute and tends to be quite hyperactive, for example leading Hideki in wakeup exercises each morning and dancing when she is in standby mode. Shinbo was the original owner of Sumomo, but left her with Hideki after leaving with Takako. He later transfers Sumomo’s registration to Hideki, giving him permanent ownership. At the beginning of the series, Shinbo uses Sumomo in an attempt to analyze Chi, and Sumomo is nearly broken in the process, requiring new main memory, and in the manga, a new video card as well. Once Kotoko joined Hideki, she quickly came to the conclusion that Sumomo was mad, with her nonsensical ways.
Minoru Kokubunji (M)
Minoru Kokubunji (国分寺 稔 Kokubunji Minoru?) is a wealthy twelve-year old genius, whose specialty is persocoms. In particular, he has built a custom persocom named Yuzuki, designed to look like his late sister, and has given her self-teaching software, meaning that she can learn things on her own instead of having to have programs loaded into her as is the case with most persocoms.
Yuzuki (柚姫?) is a persocom created by Minoru Kokubunji roughly two years before the start of the series. Yuzuki was created to resemble, physically and mentally, Minoru’s late sister, Kaede, who had died from an illness two years earlier. Yuzuki is programmed with all of the data that Minoru could remember about his sister; what she liked, what she disliked, as well as her habits and behaviors. However, Minoru still realizes that no matter how realistic she may be, she is still only a persocom that is following her programming. Yuzuki also possesses an awareness of her own limitations.
Takako Shimizu (清水多香子 Shimizu Takako?) is Hideki and Shinbo’s teacher at the Seki cram school. Like Yumi, Shimizu has had a negative experience with persocoms: Her husband bought a persocom, and eventually she became unimportant to him compared to the persocom. He spent more and more time with it until he forgot about his wife completely, locking her out of the house one night because he was so enamored with it. Because of this, Shimizu is no longer able to trust human men. Later, she elopes with Shinbo. In the end, she returns to the cram school, married to Shinbo.
Yumi Omura (大村裕美 Ōmura Yumi?, spelled Omura in the Japanese website and in the English anime release, and Oumura in the Tokyopop manga releases) is a seventeen year old girl who works at the Japanese pub called My Pleasure alongside Hideki. In the anime, she is the daughter of the club’s owner, but in the manga, she is only an employee. It is initially implied that Yumi is interested in a relationship with Hideki, but as the series progresses it is revealed that she initially approached him because he also worked at My Pleasure, and that she thinks of him as an older brother. Throughout most of the series Yumi has an inferiority complex toward persocoms, and becomes upset at any mention of a human-sized persocom. However, she does carry a small persocom, shaped like a rabbit, on a key chain that can only do basic functions. In the manga she says that she has a larger persocom, also shaped like a rabbit, at home. In one episode of the anime it is revealed that one of those functions is a cell phone, which is later used by Chi to determine her location.
Freya was the first Chobit, who was created before Elda by Hibiya’s husband, Ichiro Mihara. Freya was created to be Hibiya’s daughter, because she was unable to bear children of her own. Freya’s development was kept secret from Hibiya; she did not know of Freya’s existence until she was called down to the lab one day, without explanation. Upon awakening for the very first time, she was given the name Freya by Hibiya.
Hiroyasu Ueda (植田 弘康 Ueda Hiroyasu?) is the owner of Chiroru, a local bakery which Yumi (and in the manga, Hideki) once worked in and which Chi ends up working at. He is thirty-eight years old, although he looks as though he is only in his mid-20’s, at one point noting jokingly that he has a “baby face“.
Yoshiyuki Kojima (Dragonfly)
Known in online circles as “Dragonfly”, Yoshiyuki Kojima (小島 良由起 Kojima Yoshiyuki?) is an ego-driven custom persocom-builder and a man willing to overlook scruples to learn more about building better persocoms. Unlike Minoru Kokubunji, he is more obsessed with persocoms and even kidnaps Chi during the course of the story. He attempts to hack into Chi, using all of his persocoms in a massive parallel processing network. During this time, he makes an ill-advised attempt to inappropriately touch Chi, and Freya takes over, restraining him with all of the cords attached to her. She then attacks him with a concussion blast, blowing out the windows in his house and knocking him unconscious. Afterwards, he is seen assisting Minoru to help solve the mystery of Chi and the Chobits. He mentions that Chi “is too interesting a safe not to try and crack!”
Kotoko (琴子?) is a laptop-sized persocom, like Sumomo, but, she told Chi, “I am desktop powerful.” She was custom-built by Yoshiyuki and has much higher specifications than Sumomo. Kotoko originally belonged to Yoshiyuki, but following Chi’s kidnapping, Hideki and Shinbo force Yoshiyuki to transfer ownership of Kotoko to Hideki so that her memories of Yoshiyuki kidnapping Chi cannot be erased. Kotoko is far more serious than Sumomo, and thinks that everyone in the Motosuwa household is crazy, Sumomo in particular. Kotoko’s speciality is research, which twice drives the story forward. Kotoko is also programmed to always tell the truth, no matter what, even when it works to her owner’s disadvantage. She is serious and cynical, except when researching something, to the point of being tsundere.Voiced by: Yukana Nogami (Japanese), Kari Wahlgren (English)
Zima (ジーマ Jīma?) is one of two government persocoms who are looking for Chi and is the Japanese government’s national data bank which all persocoms are connected to. During the course of the series an attempt is made by Yuzuki to hack into him to gain information concerning Chi. In the anime, Zima remarks that he and Dita were created from the same basic system architecture that Chi is, rendering them immune to her ability to immobilize persocoms. This does not appear to be the case in the manga.
Dita (ディタ?) is the second of the two persocoms looking for Chi. Her role is to protect Zima both physically and as a pro-active firewall, hacking into any persocom who tries to hack into Zima and shutting it down; basically a protection program designed to guard him from unwanted intrusions. Dita loves Zima and wants him to stay safe, but constantly denies it, believing that persocoms cannot or should not experience such feelings. In the manga, when Zima asks her, “Do you love me?”, she replies, “We’re persocoms! Be serious!” Voiced by:Yuka Tokumitsu (Japanese), Dorothy Elias-Fahn (English)