Anime Spotlight: Love Hina

Love Hina is a shonen comedy anime series based off a manga series written by Ken Akamatsu. The series was produced by Xebec, and was directed by Yoshiaki Iwasaki.  The series aired on Japanese television from April 19-September 27, 2000. There have also been two stand-alone OVAs and one three-episode OVA series that were produced.

As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American license for all of the Love Hina anime.

Love Hina takes place in Kanagawa Prefecture. The main focus of the series is a clumsy 19-year-old cram school student named Keitaro Urashima. When he was younger, he was friends with a girl; they made a childhood promise to enter Tokyo University together. The girl moved away, and over time, Keitaro forgot her name. However, he has been trying to fulfill that childhood promise, but he has failed the Tokyo University entrance exam twice.

When Keitaro’s grandmother, who manages an all girls’ dorm in Tokyo, decides to leave to go on a journey, she sends Keitaro a message asking him to come visit her; however, she neglected to tell Keitaro that she expects him to act as the manager for the dorm. When Keitaro first arrives at the dorm, the girls don’t know he’s supposed to be the new manager, and think he’s a pervert.

Keitaro’s Aunt Haruka arrives and explains the situation. At first, the girls object to Keitaro becoming the new manager, because they believe a male shouldn’t be managing an all girls’ dorm. Keitaro is often involved in misunderstandings with the girls, for which the girls often physically and/or mentally punish him for comedic effect.

Naru Narusegawa is a 17-year-old resident of the dorm, and she is also studying to enter Tokyo University. At first, she dislikes Keitaro, but she overhears Haruka telling Keitaro that if someone doesn’t manage the dorm, it will more than likely have to shut down. While she still sees him as a clumsy oaf, she is willing to become his study partner.

Motoko Aoyama is a 15-year-old high school student living at the dorm. She instantly dislikes Keitaro, and attacks him with a wooden sword on a regular basis. She is also the tallest person in the dorm; she is even taller than Keitaro.

Kaolla Su is a 13-year-old foreign transfer student living at the dorm. She is hyperactive and tends to treat Keitaro as a plaything. Kaolla also has quite a talent for creating gadgets and weapons.

Mitsune Konno goes by the nickname of Kitsune. She is a 19-year-old freelancer who lives in the dorm and is a school friend of Naru’s. She is often drunk, and enjoys teasing Keitaro.

During the series, Keitaro sneaks a peek at Naru’s diary and finds out about a promise that she apparently made years ago to go to Tokyo University. He thinks she was the one he made the promise to; however, he ends up learning that this isn’t the case, but the two of them start getting closer over the course of the series.

After I saw the first episode of Love Hina on YouTube several years back, I really wasn’t sure about whether or not I ever wanted to see more of it. When my husband and I found a copy of a Love Hina DVD box set in a shop that sells used DVDs, he convinced me that we needed to buy and watch it, because Love Hina has become such a classic anime title. After watching the set we bought, I’m really glad that I gave this series a second chance. While Love Hina isn’t an excellent anime series, it’s ultimately good for what it is.

One thing that drove me crazy while watching the series were these old men, who are the town elders or something like that, that appear randomly to dispense their “wisdom”; their “wisdom” is essentially conveying information and concepts that the viewer could basically come up with on their own. I’ve read the first volume of the Love Hina manga, and these old men don’t appear in it; this leads me to assume that they were added specifically for the anime adaptation. Personally, I didn’t think they truly added anything to the series; in fact, I thought they were a distraction in the scenes that they made an appearance in.

I have to say that Love Hina is a harem anime that has aged rather well, all things considered. While it may contain some of the character types and tropes that have become associated with harem anime, the story is intriguing enough that it’s easier to overlook what have become overused tropes and types in recent years.

If you enjoy harem anime, then I think you’ll enjoy Love Hina. Even if you’re not big into harem anime, I think you could potentially get some enjoyment out of the story of the series.

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