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Chobits: Blade Runner for the New Millenium

November 29, 2009

Do Persocoms dream of electric pantsu?

Blade Runner asks one of the premiere existential sci-fi questions: What properties consist of “humanity” and can an artificial life form attain these properties? The question had been asked before Blade Runner, and it’s been run into the ground afterwards. Most people think this question is still up in the air, but based on certain trends I think a decision has already been made. We’re slowly seeing forms of media where this question is completely circumvented. In these stories, be they movies, anime, or video games, there’s an assumption that artificial life can be judged to be human.

One such anime is Chobits.

The Persocoms in Chobits might not be treated as exact equals by most humans, but they’re definitely accepted by society. People grow fond of their Persocoms and look at them as pets or friends. By being integrated into society and treated with much of the same respect one would give another human, the quandary presented by Blade Runner and similar sci-fi shows is ignored in favor of a new one: Now that artificial life is “human,” can one “love” artificial life?

This is the natural “evolution” of the artificial life question. Once we treat it as an equal according to these other terms, should artificial life be treated as the object of one’s adoration? Chobits answers this question with a resounding yes. Hideki and Chii end up together and live happily ever after. Much like how Blade Runner presents the Replicants as having ambitions and emotions like humans, thus showing that they are “human, there isn’t a single shred of doubt cast by Chobits that Hideki’s love for Chii is wrong.

“Yes, it is OK to love your computer if it looks like a cute girl.”

And this is why Chobits is the Blade Runner of the new Millenium. Unlike Blade Runner, Chobits’ question about artificial life has been mirrored in real life, making it all the more relevant to reality. As y’all already know, a dude literally married his in-game dating-sim girlfriend. By doing so, he’s made a CLAMP anime other than X prophetic. He’s single-handedly made a nearly ten year old anime socially relevant,which is a shocking development since even the handful of series that intentionally aim for relevance are usually off-mark.

Even if this is all some elaborate performance piece, this is all pathetically awesomely, bizarrely absurd. We’ve had real life dating-sim birthday parties. We’ve had Klingon weddings. We’ve had all manners of strange fictional-to-reality crossovers, but we haven’t had this. Maybe we’ll soon see otaku taking their girlfriends and having them deprogrammed to think they’re a dating-sim character.

Yeah, the world has grown just a little stranger. Just by a pinch.

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