As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the Chobits anime, I’d like to call your attention to its opening song, “Let Me Be with You,” by Round Table. To tell you the truth, I love the song. It’s one of my favorite OPs of all time. But, regarding the animation itself, there’s probably no other OP that so boldly checks off the box of one of my biggest pet peeves. Let’s see, here…
Chobits – Let Me Be With You
Hideki mouths the lyrics. Even worse, it’s done in a corny, overly-dramatic, matter-of-fact way. Just look at his face when he does it around 0:19. That’s the face you make when you walk out the door in the morning and realize you left your keys inside. That’s the face you make when you fart audibly during a job interview. That’s the face you make when you notice you’ve been pumping diesel into your gasoline car for the past minute and a half, which you probably spent watching the Chobits OP, wondering why the characters are mouthing the lyrics.
Having the characters mouth along with the vocals is a lazy shortcut to expressing characterization. By having them literally say something to the viewer, they’re saying look at me I am summarizing a basic truth about my character in an oblique, poetic way. Animating a character singing the song in an opening animation is like the author of a book dedicating a page to a character in the story writing a page of the book you’re reading. OK, maybe not exactly, but it’s similarly purpose-defeating.
Don’t use the animation to tell me something about the characters, use it to show me. I don’t want to see a floating head on a static background telling me about how he is glad that he met the female love interest. Show me that he loves her, draw it for me. Put that truth in motion. You know, motion, the thing that sort of defines animation as a medium.
Of course, this exempts openings that literally depict some kind of performance or music video (Kannagi, Idolm@ster, etc).
The bizarre thing? I have no problem with Chii’s bit at the end. I mean, that’s adorable, right? The takeaway from this quickie write-up: anything that is not acceptable can be made acceptable by being cute.