Back to the Vaults: Love Hina (Anime)


Back to the Vaults: Love Hina (Anime)

Back when I first got into anime, the first two titles I watched were the 5-episode Ah! My Goddess OVA (or as it was Americanized — Oh My Goddess!) and the 11-episode Hand Maid May. Both of these titles had the harem element in them, so I decided that I would next rent a longer harem series that folks were talking about. That series was Love Hina. For some reason, it came to my mind to pull this anime series off the shelf and give it a rewatch.

Love Hina

The Story, In Brief

For those who aren’t aware, the Love Hina TV anime series is very loosely based on the manga of the same name. The anime keeps the same basic plot of a two time rounin (someone who’s failed their college entrance exams) URASHIMA Keitaro, who’s tricked by his grandmother into taking over as manager of Hinata Inn. Unbeknownst to Keitaro, the Inn, complete with an outdoor onsen, has been converted to a girl’s dorm. As such, when he decides to take a soak in the onsen, he’s discovered by one of the residents, NARUSEGAWA Naru, who assumes he’s some pervert.

Love Hina

Keitaro is attempting to get into Todai (Tokyo University) due to a promise he made to a girl when he was a child. Initially, the residents think he’s a Todai student, thanks to his cousin/aunt Haruka, who runs the local tea house restaurant. He’s soon found out, but the residents reluctantly allow him to continue as manager. Even when the man hating, “kendo girl” AOYAMA Motoko returns to the dorm, she too eventually concedes to allowing Keitaro to stay.

Love Hina

While he’s supposed to be studying with Naru to get into Todai, Keitaro manages to help get junior high school girl MAEHARA Shinobu a place in the dorm, after her parent’s troubled divorce. Keitaro helps exchange student resident Kaolla Su deal with her family issues. He finds himself conflicted with his feelings for Naru as they clash with his dream of being with the promise girl. Keitaro also has to deal with other issues, including rich male rival Kentaro, Naru’s former tutor and crush Seta, and the his and Naru’s fellow study partner, OTOHIME Mutsumi, appears to like him.

Love Hina

Anime Adaptation Changes: New Characters

The anime production team at Xebec only used the core of the Love Hina manga, and the various supporting characters to create their own version of Love Hina. To that end, a large number of new characters are added to the TV series. First, there are a group of elderly men who show up and mumble about dreams. This is because Xebec apparently decided that just having Keitaro try to get into Todai was too boring. So changing things to include a dream theme was their solution. Frankly, I found these guys annoying.

Love Hina

Cliched rich male rival Kentaro comes in to add a second love triangle and provide comic relief. Motoko is given a group of adoring fangirls, who don’t want to see her grow out of her man hating ways. Naru is given a step-sister named Mei. (Akamatsu-sensei would later add her into the manga at its end. He appears to have included her in the Negima! manga as well.) Kaolla Su’s brother is shown (in the manga, he’s only referenced). Her sister is also there, though I don’t remember her being mentioned at all in the manga.

Love Hina

If you’ve never read the source manga, these other additional characters serve the purpose they are designed for. Mostly, that’s to provide filler. If you’ve read the manga, characters like Kentaro can be eye-rolling. This is because he’s a cliched character. Further, as the manga shows, there’s zero need for him to be added, other than for more laughs. Su’s brother Lamba is given Keitaro’s appearance and one of his manga stories as well. As a manga fan, that annoyed me greatly.

Love Hina

Anime Adaptation Changes: Different Stories

Many of the anime’s stories are original to the anime. For example, in the manga, Shinobu is already a resident of Hinata Inn when Keitaro arrives. In the anime, she’s just some depressed, lonely, friendless girl who’s parents are going through a bad divorce. Because the plot demands it, Shinobu is allowed to move into the Inn. I think this is one of the least offensive story additions.

Love Hina

Some stories are modified from the manga. For example, in the manga, Keitaro ends up having a fevered dream he’s in an RPG and the other characters in the manga have roles in it. In the anime, this story is switched to be Motoko’s dream to force it to fit the dream motif Xebec wanted to do. (At the end of the anime, Haruka mentions that the town of Hinata is a place where reality and dreams collide.)

Love Hina

Motoko’s journey as a swordwoman and high school student is modified. Rather than flee to try to clear her head (where Keitaro follows her and earns her respect when she trains with him to master a new sword technique), Motoko takes a job to exorcise an evil spirit to earn her sister’s respect. Said spirit possesses Naru at one point, then one of Motoko’s fangirls. The problem here is that for the OVA episode 25, Xebec decided to more faithfully adapt the manga. Thus the Naru possession story has to be retold, only from the manga’s perspective and not the silly one in the anime.

Love Hina

Episode 25

Speaking of episode 25, for the original broadcast, only 24 episodes were aired. Episode 25 is actually an OVA episode. As such, Xebec made an unusual decision to be more faithful to the original manga story. One of the immediate impacts of this decision is a higher level of fanservice to match that of the manga.

Love Hina

There are some modifications to link it to the TV series. In the manga, the story comes from when Keitaro broke his leg and thus couldn’t go to school. In the anime, Keitaro is still a rounin. Kentaro gets a cameo in this episode, replacing the truck that nearly runs Keitaro over. Mei also returns, so she gets to occupy a fourth space, but she doesn’t really serve a purpose in the story except to be there.

Love Hina

Originally, I didn’t like this episode as much because of how different it is from the TV series. Plus, the story had Naru possessed again (which I mentioned earlier). But after reading the manga, I wish that Xebec had just done a proper adaptation of the manga rather than doing their own thing.  Yes, it has the manga’s ecchi levels included, but as a story, it is quite good.

Love Hina

How the Anime Impacted AstroNerdBoy

Its funny, but Love Hina had two major impacts on me. Both remain with me to this day.

Love Hina

The first impact was the horrendous English dub used. By the time I started renting Love Hina, I had started watching anime on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. So I was watching English dubbed anime, and indeed had done so for Ah! My Goddess OVA and Hand Maid May. (I also watched them in Japanese with subtitles, just to get my money’s worth out of renting them.) With Love Hina, I could not get through the dubbed version. Try as I might, the dubs just made my ears “bleed.” 😅 I finished the series in Japanese with subtitles. After that, English dubs were suspect and eventually, I stopped bothering with them at all.

Love Hina

The second impact was “anime as an advertisement for the source material.” While I was introduced to this concept with Ah! My Goddess, it didn’t have that big of an impact on me. That’s because I already knew that a 5-episode anime series would be radically different from the source manga. But with Love Hina, I had figured that the anime adaptation should be about the same as the manga. My main reason for buying TokyoPop’s manga releases was to get the story that continued AFTER the anime.

Love Hina

The Manga is Superior

Man, was I surprised when I first read the manga. The story there was so superior to the anime. The manga’s story flowed so much better for what the TV series went through. For example, Motoko gets a rather nice character arc over the course of the Love Hina manga. And it helps that she’s not some man-hater in the manga, even if she has a strong dislike for men she perceives as weak. In the anime, Motoko’s arc doesn’t flow that well, as I mentioned earlier, thus making the events of episode 25 seem more out of place.

Love Hina

There weren’t parody stories or other stories inserted into the manga just to kill time. Don’t get me wrong, I love parody tales. Some of the funniest anime episodes in existence for any series are parody stories. In the case of Love Hina, these stories are just filler so that the anime doesn’t have to deal with things it doesn’t want to from the manga. I liked the story of Moe (and I suspect Akamatsu-sensei got the idea for Chachazero from Moe’s story), but it seems out of place, more so considering what happened to the doll at the end of the episode.

Love Hina

Finally, the Love Hina anime really downplays Keitaro’s efforts to get into Todai. Yes, it is there, but it is often pushed to the side. We see glimpses of Keitaro studying, sometimes with Naru, and sometimes with both Naru and Mutsumi. But the anime treats it as some side thing that is more of a nuisance to the stories Xebec wants to tell.

Love Hina

The DVD Release

OK, time to talk about FUNimation’s DVD release. Originally, the Love Hina anime franchise was licensed by Bandai. However, when they left the business, FUNimation rescued the TV series. (I had thought they’d rescued the entire franchise, but it doesn’t appear that the two movies or Love Hina Again were licensed by them.) I’ve already mentioned how bad Love Hina‘s dubs are. FUNimation retained the same dubs.

Love Hina

As a watcher of anime in Japanese with subtitles, FUNimation told me after they announced the license for Love Hina that they were going to completely redo the subtitles. (Back then, I had semi-professional relationships with numerous FUNimation employees.) Since FUNimation’s subtitle policy back then was to retain all Japanese honorifics, I was elated. FUNimation even put out an ad for Love Hina, saying the same thing.

Love Hina

Then FUNimation sent me a copy of their original release. I was horrified to see Bandai’s original, crappy subtitles still there. FUNimation wouldn’t tell me why (I suspect costs), but they decided not to redo the subs. As a result, we get the lovely Bandai subs where consistency is NOT the name of the game. Lack of honorifics aside, if Naru’s character was addressed as Narusegawa (her family name), the subs might show that, or might just go with Naru ’cause “reasons.” This happened quite a lot with multiple characters. I won’t bore you with other subtitle issues.

Love Hina

For FUNimation’s current release, my understanding is that there are no improvements over previous releases.

Love Hina

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

If I’m really honest, when taken as a stand alone title divorced from the source manga, Love Hina is a lot of fun. If you’ve never read the manga, I would highly recommend watching the anime first. That way you can get maximum enjoyment out of what Xebec has to offer.

Love Hina

However, as an adaptation of the source manga, the Love Hina anime fails. It sacrifices a lot of what made the manga great so that Xebec could just do their own version of Love Hina. In comparison, Xebec’s version is a shambling Frankenstein.

Love Hina

So what are your thoughts on the Love Hina anime? Did you like it? If you’ve read the manga, do you still like it? Let me know in the comment section below.

 


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14 Responses to “Back to the Vaults: Love Hina (Anime)”

  1. Alan Morton says:

    The first thing I thought of when it was announced that Fruits Basket would be getting a retold adaptation, was that I would love it if Love Hina got the same treatment. The anime is dire compared to the manga.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      You know, I’m finding that more and more anime adaptations can be dire to somewhat dire compared to the source manga. I recently rewatched Toradora, which isn’t bad, but which makes some odd choices at times, just to do cliched moments (like being locked in the storeroom).

      • arimareiji says:

        Sorry to pick nits – is there a manga adaptation of Toradora, or do you mean the LN’s? (The only translations I’ve seen of the LN’s were… lacking. I’d love it if there’s a manga, or a better translation of the LN’s.)

        • AstroNerdBoy says:

          I’ve bought the first three volumes of the light novels. I haven’t read them yet. I am curious to do so and see how the manga adaptation holds up.

          But to answer your question, yes, there’s a manga adaptation of the light novels. Seven Seas has the license. Only eight volumes are out as Zekkyō (the artist) isn’t very fast. (I think it is a monthly publication as well, so only so much can be done per year without skipping stuff.) Volume 8 gets us through Christmas in the story.

      • arimareiji says:

        ~~~Ah. Sorry, this was intended to be a reply to the main post rather than this comment.~~~

        I think this is partly due to watching the anime first… but I’ll go to my grave believing Mutsumi was the real promise girl, and lied for their sakes because she loved them and wanted them to be happy.

        If Akamatsu-sensei truly always intended Chisame to be the love interest in Negima, maybe it’s just that he really, really sucks at holding back in the necessities of 1) making rivals good enough to be credible and 2) making the love interest flawed enough to avoid Mary-Sue-dom.

        • AstroNerdBoy says:

          I think this is partly due to watching the anime first… but I’ll go to my grave believing Mutsumi was the real promise girl

          The manga does give that vibe as well, if I recall correctly. (I’m slowly rereading now, on nights when I can go to bed early and have a bit of time to read.)

          If Akamatsu-sensei truly always intended Chisame to be the love interest in Negima, maybe it’s just that he really, really sucks at holding back in the necessities of 1) making rivals good enough to be credible and 2) making the love interest flawed enough to avoid Mary-Sue-dom.

          I really think Asuna was to be the girl from the get-go. But Akamatsu-sensei changed a lot of things before going into the Magic World arc. I’d love to interview Sensei about this stuff, assuming he’d come clean with me on things.

  2. Mad Ludwig says:

    Wow. Love Hina. Been a while since I’ve read/watched it. One of the earlier shows I saw when I first got into anime — saw a couple of episodes at a con’s video room (either Anime Mid-Atlantic or Nekocon; I forget which). Looked like a fun show — catchy music too — so I had to see the rest (even bought the Hinata Girls Song Collection). Agree that the manga’s better all-round, but the anime’s still fun (I don’t think I cared much for Again, though). Adaptations of entertainment from other formats generally don’t seem to match up to the original, do they? (Although I’d say the Haruhi and Full Metal Panic! anime series did great jobs, and I’d argue that the Kare Kano anime is better than the (still very good) manga.)

    • Lan says:

      I still think Gainax could/should continue Kare Kano. It doesn’t deserve a re-do, just a continuation. I worked it out that 52 more episodes should finish Kare Kano off nicely.

      • arimareiji says:

        But which version of Kare Kano would you continue from? XD

        • AstroNerdBoy says:

          If there’s going to be a Kare Kano revival, it would come as a complete remake, as is happening with Fruits Basket. I just can’t see Tsuda-sensei allowing a continuation of what she despised.

      • AstroNerdBoy says:

        I don’t think that will ever happen. At best, we’d get a redo, as is happening with Fruits Basket. Tsuda-sensei did not like the anime adaptation of Kare Kano, which is why there was never a sequel to begin with. But regardless, if the anime continued in any form, they could really cut back all of the stuff with the parent’s backstory. That element bored the crap out of me. I cared about the male/female leads, not the crap both sets of their parents were doing 20 years or so prior in high school.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      Wow. Love Hina. Been a while since I’ve read/watched it.

      Since I just went through the anime, I’m slowly reading the omnibus volumes of the manga now.

      Agree that the manga’s better all-round, but the anime’s still fun (I don’t think I cared much for Again, though).

      I’m glad I still have my old Bandai DVDs since FUNimation never license-rescued that OVA, nor the Christmas/Spring specials. I’ll try to watch/review those sometime.

      Adaptations of entertainment from other formats generally don’t seem to match up to the original, do they? (Although I’d say the Haruhi and Full Metal Panic! anime series did great jobs, and I’d argue that the Kare Kano anime is better than the (still very good) manga.)

      True, adaptations generally fall short. Even FMP fails somewhat. They cut an an entire story just to rapidly move ahead. (I read the manga adaptation to find out about that missing story. I guess they could do it as a flashback.)

      Kare Kano was a good anime (I guess I need to repurchase it on DVD, if it is available). The manga suffered because it got bogged down with the two MC’s parent’s backstory.

      I know I have stated in the past that there were two anime adaptations I found better than the source manga. One I can’t think of now. The other is Planetes. I liked the anime way better than the manga, though it added a ton to the original manga story. The only place the anime failed was dealing with certain aspects of the relationship of the male/female lead (these elements were in the manga, but missing in the anime).

  3. Yue Ayase says:

    I remember watching Love Hina and LHA a long time ago and enjoying it immensely. …Then I read the manga. I can never go back to the anime. The manga just walks all over it, and unfortunately was a sign of things to come for future Akamatsu adaptations.

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