Japanese Title: Love Hina
Related: Love Hina Christmas Movie (included in review)
Love Hina Spring Movie (included in review)
Love Hina Again (sequel – included in review)
Similar: Golden Boy
Ai Yori Aoshi
Watched in: Japanese & English
Length: 24 episodes, 2 45-minute movies, 4 OVA
- Picks a girl at the end, I guess.
- That’s it.
- Unfunny and repetitive humour and story.
- Lifeless characters.
- Too long.
Imagine you’re new to anime, familiar only with the series that go beyond the genre, and you load up Love Hina. It’s not long before the random violence, [almost] incest, [almost] paedophilia, and nonsense antics between a guy and five girls in a hotel make you question what anime is really about. That was me when Love Hina was first localised.
I genuinely had never heard of harem anime. I thought this was a romance like Ah! My Goddess, which I love. It starts romance-like, as failed student Keitaro moves to his grandmother’s hot spring hotel to refocus on his studies, hoping to qualify for Tokyo University next time. He promised a childhood friend he would meet her there again. However, he finds the hotel has become a girls’ dormitory and the only way he can stay is to become manager. (He never actually does any managing, but that’s by the by in harem anime.) He believes Naru, a girl staying there also studying for Tokyo U, is his childhood friend – though how retarded he is about remembering her makes me question his mental competence.
I soon came to learn that ‘harem’ was a synonym for ‘repetition that goes nowhere.’ Each episode focuses on one girl for some trifling matter (circling back through the harem afterwards). Every conflict is roughly the same: Keitaro acts stupid around the focus girl, he falls on top of/gets naked/says something lewd/etc. with her, Naru walks in, gets angry, “It’s a misunderstanding!”, she punches him, he doesn’t understand why she’s mad, and repeat. It doesn’t try. These misunderstandings are worse than any excuse for conflict found in any Hollywood romcoms, all to delay the “romance,” if you can call it that.
Love Hina tries to capture interest by slotting a new fetish each episode – the older woman, the ditz, the Loli, incest, choking, and so on. It really aims for the full monty. Was Love Hina trying to go for “Love Hina did it first!” no matter what fetish was used in future harem anime?
My biggest issue with Love Hina is how little it tries. Keitaro is a no-personality loser. Why any girl would be interested in him is beyond science and reality. At no point do any of these girls show any explanation for being obsessed with this guy. The girls are similarly useless. Do they teach the protagonist something? Do they create any form of meaningful drama, even on a comedic level, for Keitaro? Are they funny? No to all the above. They could have at least tried to make another girl a possibility for romance.
As such, Love Hina is boring, even with the novelty factor if you’re new to anime. I never finished it all those years ago. And today, watching it to fulfil a reader request (thank you, sincerely, for the request, by the way), it played out as I guessed it would when I stopped back then.
It’s by no means the worst harem – Rosario & Vampire is still the cancer of anime – but it has nothing going for it. There have been enough harem attempts in the medium to expect some quality these days (it’s rare, but exists). One of the early harem anime, Love Hina is exactly what you expect of the genre.
Art – Very Low
Poor animation, low detail, and generic design are just a few of Love Hina’s art problems. It doesn’t have creative visuals to compensate or age as an excuse. Even the movies don’t improve.
Sound – Low
Some strange localisation issues such as converting yen to dollars – did they really imagine the audience that dim? There are some fine actors, but little can be done with a nonsense script.
Story – Low
A failed student becomes manager at a girls-only hot spring dorm. Love Hina is a prototypical harem anime, except the protagonist actually picks a girl in the end.
Overall Quality – Low
Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)