Review: Love Hina (2000) Anime | My Reviews 12 JAN 2014

love hina anime 1Urashima Keitaro and his childhood sweetheart make a promise to be accepted at and to meet each other at the prestigous Tokyo University before she moved out of his life. Problem is, the promise was made 15 years ago, and Keitaro has no idea what the girl’s name was, never mind what she looked like.

15 years later and Keitaro is still unsuccessfully trying to fulfill that promise. A bit of a loser, Keitaro doesn’t have much luck with girls or studies – something that results in him being kicked out of his own house. Searching for a job, Keitaro makes his way to his grandmother’s inn in Hinata. There he is appointed manager, the only snag being that the inn has long since been turned into an all-girls dormitory.

Keitaro is soon caught up in the lives of all the crazy girls staying there, and together they strive to achieve their dreams. There’s the shy Maehara Shinobu, a girl staying at the dorm to escape her parents’ divorce, the sneaky and mischievous Konno Mitsune who is always drinking too much and the crazy foreign inventor girl Su Koalla. There’s also the young Kendo master Aoyama Motoko and the beautiful but studious Naru Narusegawa.

As Keitaro spends more and more time at the mysterious Hinata Inn, the mist surrounding the past slowly parts. Anyone of these girls could be the girl he made that fateful promise to. The question is … who?

Love Hina is one of those anime titles that all Otaku have to watch at least once. One of the funniest and most poignant animes ever created, Love Hina set the standard for many of the comedic romance titles to follow.

The story revolves around the hapless Keitaro who is dragged into a world of young girls, all living under the same roof of the Hinata Inn. He is a ronin, currently attempting to get accepted into Tokyo University. His reason for this is simple enough – to fulfil a 15-year old promise to a girl whose face he can’t even remember. At the inn he meets and falls in love with the temperamental Naru Narusegawa. She’s also trying to get in Tokyo University, and together with all their crazy friends, the two of them try to achieve their dreams – and maybe just acknowledge a little romance along the way.

The series consists of a number of loosely connected stories all revolving around the central story of trying to get accepted for the university as well as the developing relationship between Keitaro and Naru. Everything and anything can happen in these stories – and usually does. From the supernatural to the just plain weird, the characters embark on a number of crazy adventures. The development of the relationship between Keitaro and Naru is very well handled, and when it is finally acknowledged, the audience gasps in appreciation of the moment. Also, the secret revolving the identity of the girl Keitaro made his original promise to is very well hidden, a constant factor throughout the later episodes.

The animation is fluidly done, with all the girls looking absolutely gorgeous. Because of the amount of pain and suffering the immortal Keitaro has to undergo, a lot of scenes switch between a normal and deformed style. This effect heightens the comedic quantity of any scene.

The voices are all top-notch, with Keitaro’s voice towering above all others. His screams of terror are well worth the wait. The music for the series is really good, forcing even the hardest watcher to break into tears every now and then. The opening track is particularly good, a fun and light-hearted little number.

As a youngster, Love Hina was one of my favourite series of all time. Based very closely on Ken Akamatsu’s original manga work, the series provides all the goods in terms of comedy and romance. You’ll find that it is almost impossible to stop watching after you start from the first episode, making it the perfect example of a harem anime done right!

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(Historical Note: This was written back in July 2003. Thankfully my writing has improved greatly since then. Also, interestingly enough, I tried watching this again as a slightly more jaded anime viewer – second time around, not so good.)

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.