Because Odette is a robot. And I have a fairly low tolerance for shojo manga—even with good ones like Shiawase Kissa Sanchôme, Special A, or Kimi ni Todoke, I can only read about ten chapters at a time before I have to go read some harem or action shonen manga to cleanse my palate. It's not about any perceived unmanliness of it—I read the entire manga run of Mahoraba in one day, and that's 62 chapters of incredibly sentimental romantic comedy. It's just that the art style in shojo manga is painfully bad.
And yet with Odette I don't mind, even though its art's probably worse than Portrait of the Masochist and Narcissist (which is one of my favorites, despite it being hard to look at). Why could I read 19 chapters of Odette at a sitting? One sentence: "I have to bite hard candy, because it doesn't melt in my mouth."
Yeah, what I realized was, I'm a complete sapsucker for anything involving robots interacting with normal society. Well, with one exception: the movie AI Artificial Intelligence. First off, that subtitle is condescending—there was not a single person in 2001 who needed to be told what AI means. But second off, it may be the most incredibly cliche-riddled robot story ever, and every one of those cliches is handled incredibly inexpertly. I don't want to say it's the Eragon of robot stories, but, well...
Anyway, you and I both know you're just waiting for me to get around to listing series. So here we go.
- ChobitS. I loves me some Chobits, even though I still ain't sure what the ending's supposed to be saying (I thought I had it figured out, but now I'm not so sure). Pretty sure that was the last Clamp manga with a real ending, too.
- Kyôran Kazoku Nikki. Okay, yeah, Hyôka is technically a cyborg, but he's got programming; the other half is basically a bioroid anyway, having been cloned from Enka. And if the episode with the girl he likes doesn't make you cry, there's something frigging wrong with you.
Him and Alphonse Elric are, I think, a good argument for a law that all huge non-living, armored entities should have the voices of little boys.
- I like Chachamaru in Mahô Sensei Negima, though I kinda want her to go Rampant on that little Mary Sue that owns her. The part where she asks to have proper skin put on her arms and legs, because she's embarrassed by her ball-joints, was cute, though I'm skeptical whether you'd really use ball joints on a robot, since they take up room you'd need for the actuators.
Sorry, I told you, I can't turn it off.
- Narue no Sekai. The ships' AIs? They're awesome...though why you'd name Bathyscaphe Bathyscaphe is beyond me—why anyone would, I mean, let alone why an alien would.
Also, the story the title comes from, "The World of Null-A"? Yeah, you fail logic forever—specifically by caricaturing binary logic as a false dichotomy.
- Excel Saga. Yeah, this should tell you just how obsessive I am, I actually find the Ropponmatsus intriguing from an SF standpoint.
- Sora wo Kakeru Shôjo. Of course Imo and that curiously hardboiled little cop robot, but also Leopard and the other ship-AIs—they're all amazing. I love how one of them shouts "Hyperspace Jump!" before going to hyperspace, like it's a special move or something. And hey, if you had an antimatter cannon built into you, wouldn't you laugh maniacally before firing it?
Huh, weird. I tried to think of some Western work on the same theme, so this wouldn't be all anime, but I couldn't think of any I particularly like. Actually the only Western thing I could think of with robots trying to interact with normal society was frigging Data on Star Trek, and those scenes always hurt me, on a fundamental level.
Two other, tangentially-related points:
- So J. Michael Straczynski apparently hates cute kids and robots in science fiction, and has horrible things happen to them in stuff he writes. It's puerile, of course—like a 12-year-old—but you do have to concede cuteness hasn't always been handled terribly well in American TV.
On the other hand, though, personally I prefer Bungie's method: having the cute robot (he's a little flying ball with a gigantic blue eye and a cheerful voice) be a genocidal maniac. 343-Guilty Spark's a hell of a lot better subversion than JMS's little tantrums; even his cheerfulness sorta sounds like he's hiding a shiv behind his back.
- Is there some dictionary where "Israeli" means "android"? Because the Israeli chick in NCIS totally plays about 2/3 of the "robot cop" schtick dead straight.