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Chobits - volume two:
The Empty City

director: Hisashi Abe

100 minutes (15) 2004
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by John Percival
This DVD release presents four more episodes from this hugely entertaining and quite smutty Japanese animation series. Furthering the story of young student Hideki, and Chi the female-shaped personal computer, we witness Chi's growing awareness of the world around her and the intensifying dynamic between her and Hideki. To recap, in a future Tokyo, personal computers or Persocons, take the form of female looking androids. The only way to tell them apart from a human is by the 'Apple Mac' ears. Hideki, a poor student finds a Persocon lying on a rubbish pile. Taking her home he finds that she has no memory and is like a child. Investigations suggest that she could be a Chobit, a legendary freethinking Persocon.

Warranting a higher 15 certificate over volume one's (12) rating, this is pretty much justified through the much stronger sexual elements and humour in these episodes. These range through Hideki's embarrassing wet dream to the subsequent sexual abuse of Chi at the hands on a nasty employer, all with a healthy smattering of boob jokes.

When it comes to being the man of the house Hideki is pretty useless, he is doing poorly at his studies and even though he works he has little money. In the first episode Chi finds Hideki is in a panic over an exam and must study for the English element of it. However his English dictionary is back at his parents home, a long way into the country. Hideki heads off to the bookshop to buy another, Chi tags along for the ride and becomes interested in the bookshop and one book in particular a child's story about a creature looking through empty cities for the one it loves. Hideki not having enough money to buy both, Chi's book and the dictionary opts to keep Chi happy (she still understands very little). Whilst Chi embarks on a strange fascination with the mysterious but lonely creature of the story, Hideki manages to borrow a dictionary and pass his exam. The development of Chi continues.

Despite Hideki's noble attempt to get into university he is hardly a bright boy. Chi does not eat but it never occurs to him what powers her until Chi falls ill. In Chi Weakens it is a while before the penny drops and by time Hideki has worked it out she is barely conscious or functioning. She needs recharging and Hideki goes into a blind panic, having not paid the electricity bill and without power, he drags Chi around town before finally being saved by the Landlady who lets Hideki use her power. The problem is Chi uses a lot of power.

In the next episode Chi Works Hideki begins by having a near x-rated dream about the women in his life, namely his Landlady, His boss' daughter, his teacher and of course Chi, who he actually shares a bed with. Chi picks up on Hideki's constant complaining about having no money and decides to find work. However her naivety lands her in trouble. Hideki makes sure she remembers to only get a good job, a when a man in the street offers her a 'good' job she takes it. Chi ends up stripping in a peepshow and his friends who monitor an Internet broadcast of it alert Hideki. Despite taking off most of her clothes, Chi is not very good and when an internal voice whispers to her about only being touched by the man she loves, she stops responding. With dead air time the peepshow operator attempts to teach her to touch herself by placing his hand between her legs (where her power button is!). There is a huge explosion of energy, destroying the peepshow and Chi leaves via the window wearing only a curtain. She travels across the rooftops and proceeds to freeze every Persocon in the area before returning home. Who was the internal voice? And as it is obvious that a normal Persocon does not have that sort of power, is she a Chobit?

In the final episode Chi Bewildered the hint to Chi's other side and strange powers are gone. Hideki finds Chi a proper job at a bakery and she learns further about how to interact with people, plus she finally earns some money, which Hideki decides she should keep.

Perscons as replacements for our PCs seems incredibly secondary as we rarely see them doing any technical function, like surfing or checking emails. Essentially they appear to be more as companions as they interact and walk along the streets with their human counterparts. As Hideki puts so much emphasis on Chi being a sentient female, he thinks of her in much the same way as the other females in his life, generally with friendly respect but also with an excited teenager embarrassment. Hideki is caught in roles he is unfamiliar with, such as being master of his own household, holding down a job as well as studies, plus the unexpected task of maintaining and teaching an expensive Persocon.

The animation of Chobits is among the best out there, combining both computer-generated art as well as traditional methods. The whole feel of a Chobits episode has a cutesy Japanese techno feel right down to the animated icons doing a double mouse click. All in all the episodes contained on this volume continue this intriguing and entertaining story, all the time giving hints that behind the smutty jokes there is a much larger and deeper saga.
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