Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: DVD: $49.98
Running Time: 625 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
Sometimes a good swift kick in the face is the best way to show somebody you care.
Love and craziness is Ken Akamatsu’s bread and butter and he certainly does it right seeing as he created some fan favorite titles like Negima! as well as My Santa. He also favors stories where an ordinary boy is stuck with dozens of gorgeous young girls as we see in one of his most popular works, Love Hina. Having been a long time fan of the series, Love Hina at last gets a The Complete Series treatment on four DVDs spanning the series’ 25 episodes.
Love Hina introduces us to Keitaro Urashima who – as a child – made a promise to a cute little girl he liked that they would get into Tokyo University together. Unfortunately for him, Keitaro since he graduated High school, he has failed the entrance exam for Tokyo U three times. Still, Keitaro might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but he is committed and he plans on trying again … that is, until his Grandmother asks him to come to the city where she owns an apartment building and hot springs bath. When Keitaro gets there, he finds out that Grandma has left him in charge as apartment manager. The only twist is that the apartment is a girls-only building.
Not to happy that the new apartment manager is a boy, the lovely Naru Narusegawa, her good friend Mitsune (who speaks in a Southern drawl), the Kendo-loving Motoko and the wild monkey-like Kaolla. Naturally, having a guy manage an apartment with a hot springs bath isn’t very inviting and even more so when the clumsy Keitaro seems to find himself near the bath when a girl is in there. The running gag in the series is Keitaro somehow being mistaken as a pervert by Naru and the young girl beating the crap out of him.
Yet even with all his faults, Keitaro’s very presence begins to improve the lives of these girls. In one episode we come to see Motoko, who follows the straight path of a samurai and feels antisocial because of it, finds herself warming up to Keitaro and thus accepting men in her life. Then there’s a Junior High student named Shinobu who Keitaro meets in the first episode who is running away from home. Shinobu finds some comfort being around Keitaro and, as a result, finds herself living in the apartment as a cook. Keitaro’s story about getting into Tokyo U also touches Naru’s heart … although it doesn’t stop her from kicking him around. Perhaps Keitaro’s story reminds Naru of her own promise of getting into Tokyo U she made with her handsome tutor.
A romance blossoms between Keitaro and Naru as they attempt to get into the school. When they take the entrance exam and fail, the two (unwittingly) go on vacation to Kyoto after that disaster. Sharing a room, the two find themselves liking each another although Naru insists that nothing is going on between them. Then again, when they meet a loopy-yet-gorgeous young girl named Mitsumi who playfully flirts with Keitaro and give him a friendly kiss that pisses off Naru. When a cute and rich kid named Kentaro picks up Naru for graduation, Keitaro finds himself competing with Kentaro to take Naru out on a date.
While the series touches upon the relationship between Keitaro, Naru and Mutsumi as well as Shinobi (who shyly keeps her feelings for Keitaro bottled up), the rest of the series concentrates on the zaniness the rest of the housemates bring to the table. We not only find the characters turned into video game characters but they also take part in the mystery of the lost rent money. In another episode, we find that Kaolla has a secret that has the housemates thinking maybe she’s some kind of Magical Girl. In another, Naru wins a local pop star contest and becomes a pop sensation for awhile. When Kaolla’s older brother comes to visit he ends up engaged with all the girls.
The later episodes don’t stray far from the wackiness and fan service but it does dive deeper into the love triangles that from when we’re introduced to Professor Noriyasu Seta who is tied to both Naru and Mitsune. Professor Seta becomes a part of their lives when Keitaro takes care of Seta’s daughter, Sara. The Professor even joins the group when they are forced to work in a beach-side tea house run by Keitaro’s aunt, Haruka. The relationships become even more complex in the final episodes. I won’t get into the details but the final episodes of the four-disc set are quite possibly the best. There’s even a sweet little tale of a “living” doll that Keitaro finds in the basement level of the apartment building.
Speaking of fan service, surprisingly the series never gets way out of hand … unless you count the Episode 25 (a bonus episode that’s rarely been seen) where there’s nudity. In essence, Love Hina’s playful fan service is actually never gratuitous and thus giving the series and Keitaro a sweet innocence. The humor is of the slapstick variety, which is Ok, but Kaolla’s over-the-top antics do wear a tad thin as the series progresses.
Love Hina, The Complete Series rarely gives you time to breath thanks to its frantically paced antics and quirky sense of humor. It’s also a meaningful and cute love story with a light dash of fan service and a heavy dose of off-the-wall humor that makes this one of the more likeable Ken Akamatsu series. Even if you’ve seen the episodes before, The Complete Series set is definitely worth every dollar and even more so with a bonus episode. In other words, if you’re a fan you’ll want this and if you’re new to the series you will definitely love this series.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Keitaro Urashima becomes the apartment manager of an all-girl’s dorm and becomes entangled in each of the girls’ lives and problems. Love Hina isn’t just about the fan service but instead serves up plenty of comedic and romantic elements well enough. Half the fun of the episodes is watching the insanity unfold in every episode.
VIDEO QUALITY: B+
Strangely enough, Episode 25 is the only episode of the set that really stands out with vibrant colors and noticeable clarity. That’s not to say that the other 24 episodes don’t look good but the quality could have been a lot better.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The English dub cast does a good job of sounding just as well as the original Japanese cast that is still my favorite. The original score is nice and the opening and closing songs are downright cute.
Just about the only extra really worth talking about is Episode 25 which comes as a bonus episode that not only looks great but is actually a great episode. The clean opening and closing songs and a number of trailers make up the rest.
Ken Akamatsu certainly created a delightfully wild and downright charming series in Love Hina and, personally speaking, it is among his best work. The Complete Series set brings us these fun episodes just the way they were intended to be viewed and this is one series that should definitely be seen by anyone who is looking for an outrageously amusing anime series.