Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: Dark Horse Manga
Genre: Graphic Novel (Omnibus)
MSRP: $24.99 US
Release Date: Now available
In an Empty City could there be ever be love between man and a machine?
Those who know manga know CLAMP very well for their impressive lineup of manga titles that continues to show off this creative team’s amazing talents whether it’s the fantasy romp Tsubasa and XXXholic or the shoujo title Clover. Joining these amazing titles is Chobits, a series so beloved that it spawned an anime series and even a music CD or two so it’s no surprise to see the manga get the omnibus treatment. Chobits, Book 1 omnibus, is a phone book-sized gem you need in your collection.
Spanning the first half of the series, Book 1 introduces us to a young country bumpkin named Hideki Motosuwa who attends cram school with his friend Hiromu Shimbo and works at a bar with a cute underclassman named Yumi Omura. Hideki is surprised to find that Tokyo is thriving with people who walk around with their Persocom … a personal computer that comes in the form of human. If it wasn’t for their ears, Persocoms could be mistaken for human seeing as they act very humanlike. Sure, Hideki would like one but he can’t afford one.
As fate would have it, Hideki finds a very cute blonde Persocom tossed out in the trash and wrapped in bandages. Thinking the owner got rid of it because it was an older model, Hideki takes it home and gets it started. He soon discovers that she has no programs or memories stored in her CPU and all she could say is “Chi” so that’s what he names her. Turning to classmate Shimbo for help, his buddy points him in the direction of a boy who knows a lot about Persocoms. This kid is Minoru Kokunbunji and together they find out that Chi not only has any manufacturer information but she has a most unusual affect on other Persocoms. Perhaps, Minoru tells Hideki, Chi is the legendary Chobit … a special kind of Persocom that has the ability to think freely and has actual feelings.
The mystery behind Chi’s background baffles Hideki who tries to see Chi as a machine but is quickly finding it too hard to do so. Finally gaining the ability to speak, Chi makes it clear that she not only adores Hideki but wants to see him happy. The line between treating Chi as a computer and a person begins to blur for Hideki who makes a number of discovers about the Persocom-human relationships. He can see the Minoru treats his Persocom, Yuzuki, differently than his other models. He discovers that his sexy teacher, Shimizu-sensei, has a connection to Persocoms. Oh, and his fellow co-worker who seems to like him also seems to get sad whenever Hideki mentions Persocoms.
As Hideki grows closer to Chi, his human relationships with others begins to improve. He goes out on a date with Yumi and even learns of a secret between his friend Shimbo and their sexy sensei. Meanwhile, Chi comes to learn that Hideki’s kind landlady is connected to Chi and her past. I won’t say what it is but I will say that Chi learns that she has another self and she is destined to be with the one who will love her as she is and accept the fact that she was built and not born like a human.
While Hideki and Minoru try to find the secret behind Chi’s creator thanks to a photo Minoru obtains over the web, Chi gets a job to help Hideki out and to make him happy. In the meantime, there’s another mystery to unravel that comes in the form of a series of children’s books entitled “A City With No People” that is not only deep but actually relatable to Hideki and Chi’s situation. Does somebody know about them? Is this a way somebody is trying to contact them both? There are also two strangers in the city who are looking for Chi. Who they are and what they want is a mystery but now Hideki is worried to somebody might want to get their hands on Chi.
When Chi is kidnapped, however, Hideki makes use of Shimbo’s super cute “laptop” Persocom called Sumomo to try to locate her. He turns to the young baker who hired Chi and he reveals something to Hideki that surprises the young man.
There’s a deep meaning to Chobits that makes the story so endearing and CLAMP does a magnificent job of conveying the feelings each character experience thanks to the existence of Persocoms. If computers had a physical human form and showed emotion – no matter how synthetic – would you allow yourself to show affection for it or would you treat it like a mere tool? The art in the series is perfect as well and while there’s fan service it does not do it for the sake of just pasting it on for no reason. The series never takes itself too seriously either and has plenty of genuinely funny moments.
This thick omnibus even comes complete with the color pages found in the beginning of each volume. On top of that, there’s a number of color illustrations as well at the end and they look gorgeous. If I had to make a complaint it would be that the omnibus could be a little too thick for most readers. Then again, I’m the nitpicky sort.
Chobits, Book 1 omnibus, is simply one of those amazing manga titles that deserves to be bound in a omnibus edition. It’s a beautiful story that is already an instant classic and Dark Horse Manga does a marvelous job of staying true to CLAMP’s vision in an omnibus that is hard to put down once you start reading. We definitely cannot wait for Book 2 of this series.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Cram school student Hideki Motosuwa might not understand the big city or their fascination with their Persocom (personal computers that look and act human) until he finds a cute Persocom in the trash one evening and brings it home. Naming her Chi, Hideki comes to realize that there’s more to her than meets the eye. Could he have feelings for Chi like the other people he meets and where exactly does she come from?
You have to hand it to Dark Horse Manga, they know how to put out an omnibus collection as they include the full-color pages from the original manga but also 15 bonus color illustrations. On top of that, CLAMP’s artwork has always been stellar and even more so in this series.
The Book 1 omnibus of Chobits is everything you can ask for an in omnibus edition and, thanks to wonderful story and beautifully recreated artwork, this is quite possibly the best way to experience this series. If you read the story before, this omnibus is a Must Have and if you never hear of it then consider this one Required Reading. Trust me, you will not regret it.
Review copy provided by Dark Horse Manga