• Tokyopop (2002–2003)
• Kodansha (Weekly Young Magazine, 2000–2002)
• Seinen, Science Fiction, Romance
• 16+ (mild language, partial nudity, sexual situations)
In the not-too-distant future, android technology has made it possible for almost anyone to afford a “persocom”—everyone, that is, but ronin student Hideki. One day, however, Hideki finds the adorable and childlike Chi bound and abandoned in a dark alley. After taking her home and finding her well-placed activation switch, Hideki finds himself torn between being Chi’s guardian and reconciling his romantic feelings for the possibly-sentient android. At first glance, Chobits appears to be a cynical work of exploitation, pairing CLAMP’s distinctive artwork, at the height of their popularity, with the otaku-favorite “robot girlfriend” genre. Indeed, lead artist Mokona outdoes herself with designs that combine the youthful innocence and kawaii cuteness of Cardcaptor Sakura with pinup and bondage imagery. In spite of this, Chobits is perhaps CLAMP’s most mature work to date, and not just “mature” in the fanservice sense. This time, they take love into the twenty-first century, exploring humans’ relationship with technology through five distinctive side stories in addition to Hideki and Chi’s tragically charming romance. A story-within-the-story fairy tale is surprisingly effective, if not terribly subtle. The series is not only one of the sexiest manga in its genre, it is also one of the most endearing. For continuity fans, it is worth noting that Chobits features CLAMP’s most audacious crossover to date, working in characters from their minor shônen hit Angelic Layer in surprising ways.