I don’t think of Chobits as a landmark series… most of the content is painfully dumb, the animation is sub-par… But I do appreciate the amount of speculation that it lends itself to. There’s so much to ponder about this fantasy world where computers take the form of life sized human dolls, and for this week’s blog post, I thought I’d share some of my ponderings with you.
My first point is something people tend to take issue with… The infantilization and subservient nature of Chii. She’s childlike and innocent, but completely devoted to serving the whims of the man she’s become incidently attached to. Yes, that can sound a little creepy, but I see her devotion and characterization a bit differently.
I see the relationship between Hideki and Chii as a thorough examination of the relationship between a Hikkikkomori and his computer… Consider the advantages that a computer has over a human partner… It exists only to serve you, and will provide any service that it’s capable of at the click of a button. Excluding the possibility and, well, inevitability of malfunction, it will never leave you, and it will never try to hurt you. Putting a computer into human form only makes it more of a threat to normal human relationships, which is what it ultimately becomes throughout the series. Chii is the perfectly idealized version of that idea.
My other point is something you may not entirely pick up on without reading the original CLAMP manga. It is implied in the anime, but damn near announced in the manga, that persocoms are essentially life-sized, anatomically correct dolls. They have human genitalia… Or at least the females do. The anime implies this with the placement of Chii’s on/off switch, and before you suggest that she’s a special case, remember the scene where Minoru Kokobunji examined her. He wasn’t surprised by the fact that she had a vagina, only by the fact that her switch was placed there. This pretty conclusively suggests that it’s a common trend.
In the manga, a handful of references are made to people engaging in sexual activity with their persocoms, and it isn’t just limited to one man joking about his ‘com being a damn good ‘lap-top’ ((Wink wink nudge nudge)). At the end of the series, one of the conflicts that the anime left out is whether or not the virginal Hideki can have a romantic relationship with a girl he can never have sexual intercourse with, out of fear of resetting her.
Althogether, these bits of evidence paint a very interesting picture of what people actually do with their persocoms behind closed doors. It reminds me of Movie 43, in a way. The iBabe, in that movie, is an MP3 player in the shape of a life size naked woman. The problem? The cooling fan is located down south, and male buyers are mutilating themselves by attempting to lmolest the poor products. Movie 43 may have been a terrible movie in every regard, but that segment inadvertently asked a very important question about the Chobits universe… Would persocom owners be able to resist the urge to misuse their otherwise valuable property?
After asking those questions, the situation becomes a lot darker when you acknowledge the part children would have to play in this scenario. It would obviously be possible for people to purchase child persocoms, and while a select few of them may have pure intentions, there are bound to be a lot of pedophiles using them to enact their sick fantasies. I don’t want to sound racist, but we’re talking about Japan, a country that sexualizes the underage a lot more blatantly than we do.
And what about children who own adult persocoms? Even the most well-behaved of them will get curious. They could order the persocoms to undress, or perform… Ugh. Things. Child lock technology would probably be possible, but the craftiest of kids would be able to work around it. So, yeah, this is a problem that I really wish the series had at least attempted to address. It brings a great many unpleasant thoughts to mind.
There’s a lot more discussion-friendly material that Chobits brings to the table, but those are my two big ones. One topic that I dmire, and one that I honestly feel is a little on the skeevy side. It. may not be the best show, and in fact, some people may look at the issues it raises and call it pretentious. But I disagree. Chobits doesn’t ask a bunch of pseudo-intellectual questions just to throw it’s own answers at you… It asks you to think, and then it gives you something damn well worth thinking about. And that’s what I love about it. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this series, and the details of it’s universe, and I look forward to thinking about it again.