Chobits Volume One is rated “OT” for Older Teens.

Chobits Volume One
Written by: CLAMP
Publisher: Kodansha
English Publisher: Tokyopop
Release Date: April 23, 2002

Hideki Motosuwa is a “loveable loser” character, and he’s attending a cram school in Tokyo so he can pass the college entrance exams. After his parents cut off his allowance, he doesn’t have much money. In order to pay his rent and take care of his needs, Hideki has a job at Club Pleasure. What Hideki really wants is a Persocom, which is an android that can be used as a personal computer. One evening, on his way home from work, Hideki finds an abandoned female Persocom among a pile of garbage. With a bit of effort, he takes the Persocom back to his apartment, and eventually figures out how to turn it on.

When the Persocom is activated, all she can say is “Chi,” so Hideki decides to use that for her name. Hideki asks his friend Shinbo for some help, since Shinbo is more computer-savvy than he is. When Shinbo tries to connect his portable Persocom, Plum, to Chi to learn more about her, Plum goes haywire. Shinbo reaches out to a young Persocom expert named Minoru Kokubunji, who agrees to examine Chi. However, even Minoru’s powerful Persocoms can’t examine Chi. While examining what he can, Minoru comes to the realization that Chi has self-teaching software, and Minoru encourages Hideki to teach Chi. Minoru also postulates that Chi may be a “Chobit,” an artificial intelligence that can think and act on its own. Minoru says he will ask around about Chi online.

As the story in the volume continues, Hideki tries to teach Chi about how the world works. Hideki must find a way to juggle his time between teaching Chi, focusing on his own studies, and work. By the end of the volume, Minoru also comes across some potential information concerning Chi.

When CLAMP designed the character of Chi, they gave her a very “cute” look, and it really makes her stand out in comparison to the other characters in the series. The only other character who even comes close to looking as cute as Chi is Shinbo’s portable Persocom, Plum. However, when it comes to Hideki, the CLAMP collective is very adept at giving him very expressive facial features, especially when he’s surprised or embarrassed. They also tend to use quite a bit of Japanese characters for “sound effects” in the panels, which adds to the overall feel of the Chobits manga series.

As for the writing, the first volume is basically setting the stage for the Chobits universe, and the reader is just getting introduced to the characters and concepts in the series. However, by the end of the volume, I found myself wanting to read the next volume to find out what happens next to Hideki and Chi.

Personally, I would recommend Chobits to manga readers who are 15 or 16 years of age and older.

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