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, Warlock of the magus world 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 light novel 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.
Good guys, demons, and monsters clash in 1924 America in this enjoyable pulp adventure with slick, screentone-heavy visuals. Sister Rosette is a gunslinging young nun who wears a dress slit to the thigh and fights evil beings with cross-infused bullets. Her companion is Chrono, a demon in the form of a young boy, who can tap tremendous powers at the cost of draining years from Sister Rosette’s life. With the help of a few friends and the demon-monitoring Magdalan organization, the unlikely pair travels across the United States, trying to find Rosette’s long-lost brother, Joshua, and save the world in the process. Few light novel have ever looked, or read, so much like an anime series on the black-and-white page. The monsters range from generic to imaginative (the lesser ones draw from Egyptian and Nepalese cultures, among others), and the story has fun Dragon marked war god–style action sequences, with biplanes, zeppelins, and Ford Model T’s. The cinematic plotting is solid and the execution outweighs the clichés, making for solid entertainment.