While many installments of the program focus on a given event or problem, such as Hideki's efforts to find a power source for Chi or her stumbling into a job in a peepshow, the director has included a number of recurring themes that prevent Chobits from becoming episodic. Hideki's growing affections for Chi, and his discomfort with having such feelings for a machine, for example, are developed throughout the series. At different times, the viewer is also given hints about Chi's origins, is shown Hideki's romantic interest in a girl he meets at his job, is made to think about man's interactions with the technological items he has created, and is even involved in the sometimes sorrowful lives of the supporting characters. Scenes revolving around these repeating elements are often mingled with the tangential occurrences the director depicts so that the program always maintains its trajectory and never allows the viewer to lose interest. What is more, Asaka effectively draws all these threads together as Chobits reaches its conclusion and combines them with several distinctly tragic revelations about a number of his characters. The series' end is, consequently, suffused with an affecting sense of hopeful melancholy.
Fortunately, the persons around whom these incidents revolve are also, for the most part, well realized. Admittedly, Hideki's exaggerated reactions can be a little tiresome, but, thanks to the director's presentations of the character's basic decency and his various worries, he is, on the whole, an engaging individual. Chi, having begun the program as a virtual blank slate, develops throughout its duration, and her learning, which she does mainly by imitating Hideki, is always nicely depicted so that the viewer is intrigued and charmed by her. Even a number of the supporting characters who appear in the program are skillfully delineated. Almost the whole of the cast contributes positively to the series' quality.
Lastly, I should add that the animation used in Chobits is consistently bright, vivid, and attractively executed. The backgrounds are realistic but well done, and the bold, abstract images employed to give expression to the protagonists' emotions are appealing and effective. The character designs, however, are undoubtedly the series' most enjoyable visual element. All, especially those of young female characters, are genuinely fetching. Chi, in particular, is absolutely adorable. She is, in fact, bewitchingly cute.
While far from perfect, Chobits is a pleasure to watch. It is bright and sweet, but it is tinged with enough introspection and melancholy so that it is never saccharine.
Review by Keith Allen
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