Chobits Omnibus Volume One collects the first four volumes of CLAMP’s manga series into one volume. This volume was released by Dark Horse Manga in North America; Tokyopop lost the rights to Chobits, and Dark Horse acquired them. The omnibus edition was released in 2010. Dark Horse didn’t print a rating for this series on this omnibus release; however, I would go with Tokyopop’s rating of “OT” for Older Teens, due to the female nudity that appears in the series, the sexual undertones to some of the humor, and situations that are presented in this series.
The main character of Chobits is Hideki Motosuwa, a “loveable loser” who’s attending a cram school in Tokyo in order to pass the college entrance exams. His parents have cut off his allowance, and he doesn’t have much money; however, Hideki really wants a Persocom, which is a human-looking android that can be used as a personal computer. On his way home from work one evening, Hideki finds an abandoned female Persocom among a pile of garbage. With some effort, Hideki manages to get the Persocom back to his apartment, and after several hours, finally figures out how to turn her on.
When the Persocom is activated, the only word she can say is “Chi,” so this is what Hideki names her. Unforutnately, Hideki is rather computer illiterate, so he reaches out to his friend Shinbo for help to try to better understand how to use Chi. After Shinbo’s portable Persocom, Sumomo (known as Plum in the Tokyopop translation) crashes while trying to run a diagnostic on Chi, Shinbo directs Hideki to a young Persocom genius named Minoru Kokubunji.
While Minoru examines Chi, he comes to the realization that Chi has self-teaching software, and he encourages Hideki to teach Chi. Minoru also speculates that Chi could potentially be a “Chobit,” an artificial intelligence that can think and act on its own; however, no one really knows if the “Chobits” really exist. Hideki tries to teach Chi, while at the same time, trying to juggle his own studies and his work schedule.
As the story progresses, the issues of how Persocoms affect relationships between people is delved into through several storylines. In addition, Hideki also finds himself questioning not only the relationships between humans and Persocoms in general, but how exactly he feels about Chi. Hideki’s feelings are really put to the test near the end of this omnibus volume after Chi mysteriously disappears.
Another major thread that shows up in the series revolves around a picture book series called A City With No People. This is a book series that Chi begins reading, and over time, Hideki realizes that there’s more to the series that what appears on the surface.
When you compare this Dark Horse omnibus with the original Tokyopop releases of the Chobits manga, I overall prefer the Dark Horse release. I appreciated how this translation keeps all of the original names intact; for whatever reason, when Tokyopop translated the series, they decided to use the English name for Shinbo’s Persocom instead of her original Japanese name. Another difference I also appreciated is the fact that the Dark Horse translation uses the original Japanese honorifics (e.g. Shimuzu-sensei and Motosuwa-kun); this helps make this feel more like an authentic translation. There are also some jokes in this translation that I don’t remember seeing in the Tokyopop releases.
Another noticeable change is the different font styles that are used for many of the Persocoms, as well as a different font for the words in the A City With No People books. A note in the back explains that CLAMP had used different fonts in the Japanese version, and that different fonts were used in this release to reflect the differences in the original Japanese version.
This omnibus also includes some color pages, primarily to mark the beginning of each manga volume that is included in this omnibus. There are also a few bonus color pictures at the back of the book. I also thought this was a nice touch for this release.
However, for all of the positive things I have to say, I do have one gripe with this release. Since four volumes are included in this omnibus, this makes this a rather large volume; as my husband griped, the size of this volume is the manga equivalent of a Robert Jordan book. This large size also makes it a bit unwieldy for a reader as they are reading this volume. In order to read this large volume, a reader has to hold the book in such a way that creases end up being created on the spine. Personally, I think this would have been a little better if they had split the series up into four two-in-one volumes, rather than two four-in-one volumes.
Even with that gripe, I would still recommend this Chobits omnibus to fans of the series, whether or not they already own the original Tokyopop releases.