Could human beings ever fall in love with robots? What if robots had the capacity to give and show love?
That was the question at the center of "Chobits," a Japanese anime series about Chi, a kind of robot that falls in love with her owner, Hideki. The story takes place in a futuristic Tokyo, Japan, where people have PERSECOMS filling their every need--from mobile phone, significant other, to house servant. Hideki finds Chi wrapped in bandages at a dumpster. When he finds out she is a PERSECOM and switches her on, all she is able to say is "Chi" (the name one gives to a cat or dog in Japan). Without any sort of programming but a learning module, and Hideki not having money to buy software, he is forced to teach her everything. But Chi, unlike most common PERSECOMS, is an advanced type of PERSECOM called CHOBITS that is only driven by one thing--love. Hideki is confused by the affections Chi exhibits towards him. Even scarier, Hideki finds himself depending on Chi for encouragement and can't imagine what he'd do without her--even to the point of embarking on a journey to rescue her when she's kidnapped by a maniac! Hideki can hardly describe his feelings for Chi, as though she were a real human being! Worse, the fate of all PERSECOMS depends on Hideki, as a hidden program (unknown to Chi herself!) threatens to destroy all PERSECOMS when Chi finds "The One Meant for Me." Will he deny her because she isn't human? Or will he accept her for everything she is?
Love can be confusing sometimes. Certainly, Hideki was confused not by Chi's outright affection, but rather by his seemingly pointless reaction. What kind of human would end up with a PERSECOM? How would his family feel if one day he came home and said, "I married a robot"? They probably wouldn't be thrilled at all, and might even say he's insane. But Chi started out knowing nothing about life or love. All she knew was that Hideki cared enough to take care of her, teach her things, and keep her even though she didn't have a lot of programming or skills. In fact, one of the first things he taught her to say was "Take care of yourself" when he left for prep school. She could see how happy Hideki was when she said that every morning and that, in turn, made her happy (remember, she's a CHOBIT!). At night, when he came home, she greeted him with a hug and a "Welcome home!" When he asked Chi why she worked so hard to do all these things, she said that "when Hideki happy, Chi happy." And when he was down, she used to say, "Fight, Hideki!" And when Chi asked Hideki to explain something, he would do so patiently and without judgment.
When Chi realized that a PERSECOM could not be with Hideki the same way that a human being could, she didn't believe that Hideki felt for her the same way she felt for him. She stopped loving him halfway, until she heard Hideki say how his life would be unbearable without her. To him, it didn't matter whether Chi was a human or PERSECOM. "Chi is Chi," and that was all. And to her, he was "The One Meant for Me." He was the one who accepted her completely. Humans could do that PERSECOMS couldn't, and in the same way, PERSECOMS could do things humans couldn't. It didn't make one typically better than the other.
So would you fall in love with a robot? Meet one and find out for yourself!
Labels: Chobits, different, love