Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chobits, plus the rest of Absolute Boyfriend

I finished the manga series of Absolute Boyfriend online quite some time ago, and I've been wanting to do this review for a while. It's okay though, because I recently finished another series very much like it, so I'll just talk about both of them.

Absolute Boyfriend, as I explained in my most recent post, is about a girl who buys a hot robot who is designed and programmed to be her ideal boyfriend. She has to keep his true identity a secret from everyone while sorting through her feelings for this robot and her old childhood guy-friend who has a crush on her, but is afraid to admit it. Hilarity ensues. I loved reading this 6-book series immensely, due to the colorful characters and great premise.

In the last few volumes, however, some of the scenarios got a little crazy, things started happening without much explanation or reason, and the characters made decisions that didn't make sense for me. The ending is sort of predictable, but in a way, I guess it was satisfying... In any case, it was a cheerful, light-hearted romp that I, personally, liked a lot.

I'm still watching the Japanese tv show, or the dorama, based on the series, and enjoying that a lot. Currently I'm on episode 7 now. It keeps some elements from the manga intact, but the characters are largely different from their counterparts, and for some reason there's an emphasis on the characters trying to make the perfect desert? I guess because the setting is a company that produces fancy pastries.... Anyway, it's an entirely unique experience, one that I'm very much enjoying.

Now for the other series, Chobits. This was something my sister Annette came across when we were looking for other manga to get into. This is a very quick series to get through, at 8 volumes long, and carries the same themes of people falling in love with human-shaped robots. There are a few key differences, though. For one thing, it takes place in the future, and humans and their robots, or persecoms, live side by side. So the main character doesn't really have to keep it secret that he has a robot. Oh, and the story is told from a guy's point of view, not a girl's. The hero, Hideki, who is young and broke, finds a cute, long-haired, child-like female persecom lying around in the trash. Since they're so advanced, persecoms are very expensive. Excited at his good fortune, he takes her home and "turns her on". (Warning, younger readers: this carries a very innuendous double meaning. =P)

At first, the persecom seems broken, and the only thing she can say is "Chi", so that's what he names her. She has no memory, no data at all, but it soon becomes apparent that she's an incredibly powerful machine with unknown function. She has learning capabilities, though, so Hideki goes around teaching Chi everything, all while juggling cram school and his job. Even though everyone says it's impossible, that persecoms don't have emotions and only do as they're programed to, Chi slowly becomes aware that she is in love with Hideki. And even though he knows full well that she is a machine, Hideki can't help but fall in love with his persecom as well, as many have before him.

I think this series goes a lot deeper into this moral dilemma than Absolute Boyfriend did. Perhaps because, in this world, robots are more common-place. But why do people dream of making and using machines that are shaped like us, only smarter and more perfect in appearance? What happens when you develop feelings for those robots? Can you call it love, or are you just deluding yourself? How about the robot? Is it doing everything you ask, trying to please you, because it was programed that way, or because it actually wants you to be happy?

One thing this also gets deeper into is mature content, especially the anime. I don't want to point any fingers, but perhaps it's because it's largely taken from the male mentality? I don't know, Hideki sure notices how attractive his landlady, teacher and coworker are, and thinks a lot to himself how cute Chi is, but how he shouldn't be thinking of her that way, since she's a machine.

This manga was also turned into a tv show, only an animated one, much to my pleasure. The anime is hilarious, colorful, great quality, and very true to the story and characters with only minor changes. I've seen 3 episodes out of 26, and it is fantastic. I highly recommend both the manga and the anime. I can't find a good preview for the Chobits anime, but here's a collection of some of the show's funniest moments, to pique your interest. I'm sure you'll get quite a kick out of it.

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