Love Hina Anime Review
/ TV Series / Comedy / 13-up
Damn near perfect!
...A gender-inverted Maison Ikkoku crossed with a harem show in a bad mood.
US Release By
24 25-minute episodes
2000-04-19 - 2000-09-27
What's In It
- Violence: 1 (mild)
- Nudity: 2 (moderate)
- Sex: 2 (moderate)
- Language: 1 (mild)
Fifteen years ago, a boy promised a girl that they would one day go to Tokyo University together. It is said that if two lovers go to Tokyo U, they live happily ever after. Now fifteen years later, Urashima Keitaro has failed his entrance exams twice. He is forced to move out of his house and live on his own. This leads him to his Grandmother's "Hinata Inn" which has now become a girl's dormitory. Keitaro ends up becoming the manager of this all-girls dorm. Being the only guy surrounded by girls, how could life get any better, or should I say worse for Keitaro?
"Love Hina" is the story of a young man, Urashima Keitaro (or Keitaro Urashima in Western terminology), who becomes the manager of an all-girl's dorm. For any normal man, this would be a dream come true. Unfortunately for Keitaro though, things began at a rough start.
For various reasons (I don't want to spoil too much), he is marked as a PERVERT by the residents of the Hinata House, and basically succumbs to harassment by the residents on a daily basis. The one who especially harasses him though, is a 17-year-old senior known as Narusagawa Naru. She is a pretty, and smart girl (one of the top students in all of Japan) who is also trying to get into Tokyo U.
Keitaro eventually grows a crush for Naru and they become friends (though she would never admit their friendship, being as stubborn as she is). But wait... can Naru be the promised girl? Keitaro's lost love from long ago? This question and more will be asked as this sweet and hilarious series unfolds.
Now for the actual review:
"Love Hina" basically, is a romantic comedy. For an idea on what I mean, watch a show such as "Ranma 1/2" or "Tenchi Muyo." If you have seen these shows before, then you should feel very comfortable with the show. "Love Hina" though, takes this genre to a new level, introducing a wide variety of characters, strange situations, a good plot with a lot of twists that will keep you guessing 'til the end, and a countless amount of strange things that seem to happen for absolutely no reason.
"Love Hina" is, simply stating, hilarious. Every episode, you ask yourself, "What will happen today in the Hinata House?" Well, something new happens every episode. And poor Keitaro gets the crap beat out of him every episode by at least Naru. Though this eventually becomes repetitive, it never subtracts from the humor of the show.
Of course though, there is a healthy dose of romance mixed in with the craziness. If you are a sappy romance freak with no sense of humor, this may not be the show for you. If you are one that doesn't mind just a touch of romance, this show will be overly enjoyable. If you despise romance, still check this one out. You may still enjoy it.
The only downfall of this anime is it does eventually get a bit repetitive, and most episodes are basically only fillers that don't add to the main plot one bit. Besides this though, "Love Hina" is presented with a charm and humor that is hard to find in any anime these days.
Presentation - 8/10
The main story is simple: a man is trying to get into Tokyo U to and meet his childhood sweetheart. It is never the main plot that counts though. The sub plots and character interaction are the heart of the anime. I must say that "Love Hina" executes this quite well. All the characters have their own distinct personalities and no two are at all similar.
The romance part of the story will keep you guessing until the end. At several times, just when you put two and two together, a plot twist happens and you are back to the beginning. Too bad the series doesn't answer any questions.
The only downfalls are:
1: There is not a lot of continually. Basically, each episode has its own story, with maybe a few things in a few episodes that actually add to the main story. This series is so fun though, this barely even matters (Hey, Cowboy Bebop does the same thing).
2: Don't expect everything to be wrapped with a pretty bow at the end. I'm afraid you'll have to wait for "Love Hina Again" (my next review).
Overall, the story is presented nicely, and filled with memorable characters you will not soon forget. Su Kaolla is my favorite!!!
Story - 7/10
Music & Voices
The heart of mostly anything (besides a good story) is good/fitting music. This is where "Love Hina" delivers its best. All the music of the show is great, and every song suits every scene perfectly. Never is a song out of place. Also, the music is great on its own too. The crazy intro theme, the slow ending theme, the action-packed guitar song from episode sixteen..."Love Hina" has it all. No matter what your music taste is, there will be at least one song that you will enjoy in this anime.
As for voice acting, all the voices (in Japanese, of course) are great and diverse for each character. Never do two characters sound the same, and each voice suits its character perfectly. I could say different for the dub though.
The dub voices are horribly selected and executed. I could not help from cringe every time either Su or Kitsune spoke. Absolutely horrible! Keitaro sounds like a wimp, Su sounds like a mouse, and for no reason, Kitsune has a strong (obviously forced) southern accent. I could only ask, "why?" The other voices I can tolerate, but they still pale in comparison to the original seiyuu.
Sound - Sub: 10/10, Dub: 5/10
One word can describe how "Love Hina" looks: beautiful. Most likely, you have never seen a better-looking anime TV series. We're talking OVA quality here. Not much more I can say.
The characters are drawn beautifully, and all have distinct features. Naturally, the females are drawn to look beautiful, most with large...
Expect lots of fan service too, which should please you hentais out there.
The characters are all animated smoothly, and this show also sports some cool effects seen in newer animes, such as motion blurs. Everything's great. Can't get better than this, I'm afraid.
Visuals - 10/10
This is a pleasing anime, which should please anybody with a sense of humor or romance. You can't find this on VHS, so if you have a DVD player (which you should), buy this. This one is definitely worth multiple viewings, and is a must-have in any anime collection. When you watch it though, be sure to turn language to Japanese. You don't want to kill your ears. Also, don't forget to check out the graphic novels. You can find them at any local bookstore.
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Notes and Trivia
Based on a relatively long manga series by Ken Akamatsu, available in English from Tokyopop. The TV series is followed by two specials (Christmas and Spring), and the Love Hina Again OAV series, all available from Bandai on DVD. Finally, there are several soundtrack and song collection albums, available in the US from Geneon.
The Hina in the title is a reference to the Hinata Inn; Hinata means "sunshine." It's probably also a play on words, as "hina" can also mean "chick" or "doll."
Urashima Keitarou's name (among other things) is a play on Urashima Tarou, the title and main character in a famous Japanese fable about a fisherman boy who rescues a turtle and is taken to a palace under the sea where he celebrates with a princess. When he returns from the festivities, however, a great deal of time has passed; because of this, the character's name is used in conversation somewhat similar to the way "Rip Van Winkle" is used in English to refer to someone stuck out of their time.
Finally, for those unfamiliar with Tokyo University (frequently abbreviated "Toudai," for "Toukyou Daigagku"), it is one of Japan's most famous and prestigious schools, and is notoriously hard to get into.
Starchild's Love Hina page has some more info and images from the series.
US DVD Review
Bandai's DVDs feature Japanese and English audio, English subtitles, and for special features claim character art galleries and selections from Keitaro's sketchbook. The 6 DVDs were released individually, and later re-released as an "Anime Legends" box set. There are also two specials, the Spring and Christmas Specials, although Bandai calls them movies; they're available individually on DVD or as part of a set that also includes the sequel OAV series, Love Hina Again.
Violence: 1 - More of slapstick humor than violence, but several scenes of people being beat up anyway.
Nudity: 2 - No full nudity, but not a lot left for the imagination. Lots of fan service.
Sex/Mature Themes: 2 - Loaded with mature humor, and some fondling. Definitely not made for kids.
Language: 1 - Nothing of note.
Staff & Cast
Original Japanese Cast
Urashima Keitaro: Yuji Ueda
Narusegawa Naru: Yui Horie
Maebara Shinobu: Masayo Kurata
Aoyama Motoko: Yu Asakawa
Su Kaolla: Reiko Takagi
Konno "Kitsune" Mitsune: Junko Noda
Urashima Haruka: Megumi Hayashibara
Urashima Hina: Masako Nozawa
Masayuki Haitani: Hiroyuki Yoshino
Kimiaki Shirai: Michio Miyashita
Otohime Mutsumi: Satsuki Yukino
Nariyasu Seta: Yasunori Matsumoto
Sarah MacDougall: Yumiko Kobayashi
Narusegawa Mei: Shiratori Yuri
Sakata Kentaro: Ryutaro Okizayu
Onsen Tamago: Yukie Maeda
Shinobu's mother: Hiromi Tsuru
Available in North America from Bandai on six bilingual DVDs or an Anime Legends box set. The two specials and the sequel OAV series are also available individually or as a "Movie" box set.
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