After watching the Chobits anime series, I was interested in reading the Chobits manga to see how the anime compared to the original manga source material. I have read all eight volumes of the Chobits manga, and these are the observations I made.
In many respects, the main story basically stayed intact between the manga and the anime. However, there were some minor differences between the two mediums, as well as a major change at the end of the story.
One of the first things I noticed was that in the manga, Hideki and Shinbo are not neighbors in the apartment complex that Hideki lives in; in fact, it appears Shinbo doesn't even live in the same building as Hideki. Personally, I think it was a wise choice to make the two neighbors in the anime. This choice in the anime is especially effective for adding tension between Hideki and Shinbo for the plotline concerning Ms. Shimizu.
Another difference between the two tellings is Hideki's employment situation at the beginning of the story. At the beginning of the manga, Hideki is already employed at My Pleasure, and it's while he's on his way home from work that he finds Chi in the trash. However, in the anime, Hideki doesn't get the job at My Pleasure until the third episode, after he's already found Chi in the trash. In some respects, it adds more tension in the anime for Hideki to be unemployed when he finds Chi; however, finding her on his way home from work works better, in my opinion.
In the anime version of Chobits, the fourth episode is all about getting a pair of underwear for Chi; first, Chi tries to buy them for herself, but it's ultimately an embarrassed Hideki who goes and buys them. In the manga, this story is only a small portion of a chapter, and Chi is never involved in trying to purchase the panties.
There are also some "filler" episodes in the anime with stories that do not appear in the manga. The first "filler" episode is number six, where Hideki needs to recharge Chi but is unable to due to not paying his electricity bill. The next "filler" is the episode, "Shinbo and Sumomo Chat," which is ultimately a clip show that recaps the important events in the first eight episodes of the series. Three episodes later, there is a string of three "filler" episodes that involve a ghost story, an online game story, and an episode where the characters go to the beach. After Chi is kidnapped there is another recap episode titled, "Minoru and Yuzuki Chat."
The episode "Chi Buys" has a section about Chi needing to learn how to bathe at the public baths, but this never appears in the manga. I never really did understand the whole bathing the Persocom story in the anime, because to me, it just didn't make a lot of sense. While Persocoms may look like humans, they are still technically machines, and last I checked, we don't need to bathe our computers and other electronic devices.
The way Hideki learns about Ms. Hibiya being someone who worked on Persocoms is different between the manga and the anime. In the anime, Sumomo falls onto some wires and is electrocuted, and Ms. Hibiya repairs her. In the manga, this information comes out closer to the end of the series, when Hideki asks Ms. Hibiya point-blank about a picture Minoru had received from an anonymous sender.
The endings of the anime and the manga are the most radical difference between the two mediums, especially how the story resolves. I'm sorry for being so cryptic, but saying too much more wanders much farther into "spoiler" territory than my other observations have.
A major thing that was in the manga that wasn't in the anime is a scene where Chi buys two rings. This was a very nice symbol in the manga, and it's a shame that the writers for the anime couldn't find a way to include this.
One thing that was in the manga that wasn't in the anime was a scene of Ms. Hibiya in the office of the publisher of The City Without People books. I kind of wish this scene had somehow found a way into the anime, because it helps to enforce the idea that Ms. Hibiya was involved with the books.
Since there had been quite a gap between when I last saw the Chobits anime and when I read the manga series, I hadn't entirely realized just how much difference there was between the manga and the anime. While I do still enjoy the Chobits anime series, I have to say that overall, I think that the telling of the story in the Chobits manga was a little stronger.