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Chobits - volume four

director: Morio Asaka

120 minutes (PG) 2004
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Ordinary teen Hideki has moved to the big city to study, but his life is changed forever when he discovers a Persocon - a humanoid robot designed to function as a personal assistant - abandoned. Her name is Chii, and he soon begins to suspect that she is a chobit, a robot with a will of her own; something generally thought to be an urban myth.

The four episodes on this disc meander slowly through the unfolding story of Chii's background and the possibility that she is being searched for, even watched, by forces Hideki has no idea about. However, they're certainly in no hurry about it. Most of the running time is taken up with the trivia of Hideki's life as a student, with all the usual teen crushes and embarrassments. The infuriating banality reaches a peak in the last episode here; basing a story around discoveries during spring-cleaning is all very well, but filling nearly half the episode with repetitive images of characters simply cleaning things seems like time-wasting to me.

However, there are flashes of impending danger, and a subplot about Hideki's best friend conducting an illicit affair, something that actually raises more interesting questions about new technologies than the irritating, infantilised Chii herself, keeps you interested. It's not much of an advertisement for artificial intelligence research otherwise: Chii is a sexualised baby-doll whose intellectual independence seems to have been rather overstated, and the shrieking dwarf Persocon that Hideki inherits from his friend just makes you want to throw things at the screen.

It's always risky to judge a series from a few episodes in the middle, but these stories suggest that more content and a little more interest in the fascinating possibilities and moral questions that artificial intelligence presents would have raised this above the ordinary. As it is, Chobits is watchable, but hardly lingers in the memory.

DVD extras comprise a stills gallery, trailers, and a few additional credits.
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