by CLAMP; adaptation by Jake Forbes
published by Tokyopop; $9.99 US
The first chapter features a supporting character realizing that one can’t recreate the dead. His girl computer is modeled after his deceased sister, and she comes close to destroying herself while trying to help him. Only then does he become aware of how much he values her for her own sake, for her unique qualities, not for what she copies.
The message of loving someone for what they are alone is a wonderful one, but then my brain woke up and said “wait a minute, we’re being encouraged to applaud someone loving the machine he’s built to his own design.” Emotionally, this story rings true; logically, this story is troubling.
Is there that much difference between Chi and a “real” girl? If Chi has a soul, as suggested by her abilities to do things no other persocom can do, and feelings, which we see frequently, what else matters? Is a computer that would will herself to suicide because of an inappropriate love just a machine? Should the reader be disturbed by the idea of loving a machine intimately, or impressed by the way that true love transcends external factors?
It’s suggested at another point that Hideki cares about Chi not because of her, but because he’s human. His emotion reflects his good heart. Are beloveds simply mirrors? Is looking into Chi’s deep eyes the same as looking at something like The Gremlins‘ Gizmo, a clever special effect that we anthropomorphize? Or are qualms about the story demonstrations of bias against those not like us? Is the questioning reader simply an anti-robot bigot?
One of the factors that Chi learns about love is that she’s lonely when Hideki isn’t with her, even when other people are around. On one level, that’s somewhat poetic; on another, it’s terribly co-dependent.
I’m still unsure of just how this will all wrap up, but the tension between the admirable bits and the disturbing implications has driven me through 7 of the 8 volumes so far. I’m involved with the characters emotionally and the questions raised by the story logically, which makes for a enjoyable combination. I previously reviewed Book 6.