LOVE HINA by Ken Akamatsu
– Series complete
– Number of books: 14
– Licensed by Tokyopop
STORY: It’s a bit hard to give Love Hina a genre. It’s a rather soft-shoujo-like story yet the whole series gives a LOT of fanservice. And the protagonist is a guy. So whatever it is, it’s good.
The story centers around Keitaro Urashima, a slacker who seems doomed to be a ronin for life. When he was younger, Keitaro made a promise to a girl that he would attend Tokyo University with her. Unfortunately, the girl moved away and though he still remembers the promise, he’s not in Tokyo University. Determined to keep his end of the promise, he moves into the Hinata House, a hotel run by his aunt, owned by his grandmother, and becomes both landlord and resident.
What Keitaro didn’t know was that Hinata house is a girls’ dorm and thus, he is the only male member. Lots of accidents happen involving him accidentally intruding on their baths or tripping and pulling down their skirts, pants…whatever, and always culminate in him getting beaten up. And after 10 books’ worth, you wonder how it could happen so much. It’s a sweet under-running story and the variety of the characters adds for some good color, but personally, I think, it didn’t have to take so long…
CHARACTERS: this is going to take a while….
-Keitaro Urashima: the main character. doomed ronin and unlucky little boy in some aspects (Gets beat up a lot)….very lucky in others( What guy wouldn’t want to live in a dorm with 5 hot girls?). Not too much else to his character though once in a while you get to see his “determined” side. As the books progress, he matures quite nicely and it gets him points so in the end, we’re all happy for this kid.
-Naru Narusegawa: from the start it’s kinda obvious which of the girls is going to get the most screen time and here she is. Naru’s a ditzy, bitchy, angsty, messed up girl. And yet, sometimes, she’s lovable…when you don’t want to murder her… I couldn’t stand her constant doubts about herself or keitaro and how she’s always the one getting fallen on and etc. like most main bishoujos, Naru’s a pain in the butt. Near the end, after she gets over herself, though, she’s not too bad.
-Motoko Aoyama: sword warrior girl who’s conflicting with herself to either let herself fall in love with Keitaro or uphold her warrior-woman vows. Motoko’s an interesting character as her “tough-girl” appearance falls once every so often, but, being under the shadow of Naru means you’re going to be underdeveloped…
-Shinobu Maehara: 7th grade kid who’s an awesome cook and has a gigantic crush on keitaro. She’s annoyingly cute who matures rather nicely as the series progresses but definitely underdeveloped.
-Kitsune Monno: Kitsune is probably the only character who can be funny by herself in this whole mess. She’s older than all the other girls ( 20 something), loves alcohol, has indecent clothing when she wants to, scheming yet kind, is just pure fun, and adds the most colour to/of the Hinata House girls.
-Kaolla Suu: Suu is the techie-wiz in this and will remind anyone who knows Cowboy Bebop of Ed. She’s always hungry, perky, mindless, blowing up everything….what’s not to love? Suu is horrendously underdeveloped, though, and you never really figure out what she’s doing there in the first place….or at least, I didn’t…must’ve missed something…
-Mutsume Otohime: Otohime is a mess. She doesn’t have a brain and sleepwalks, but yet, is a friend of Keitaro’s from his childhood and at one point, speculation of if perhaps she’s the girl that Keitaro made his promise to.
-Haruka Urashima: Haruka has got to be the greatest character ever. First off, she’s voiced by the great Megumi Hayashibara in the anime (all hail…). She isn’t much of an aunt to Keitaro. She beats him up, makes him clean the house until it’s spotless, hangs with the girls like she’s one of them, smokes, drinks, and carries a gun. She’s also got a hilarious backstory and inside, she’s a really nice person…but you’re not supposed to know that.
-Seta (soujirou! no….just kidding) Noriyasu: (Not really a major character but i like him…^_^) Seta’s a professor/archeologist who’s a more bishounen sort of guy except he’s a nerd. Handsome, but almost more of a ditz than Naru, he taught Naru and Kitsune in their younger days and both developed huge crushes on him…not that it turned out to be anything in the end. Seta’s a hilarious guy and he’s so brainlessly idiotic and yet so brilliant that you can’t help but fall in love with him as well.
ART: Absolutely wonderful. It’s simple yet effective and beautiful and oftentimes so cute that it makes your eye bleed. Akamatsu likes to cram things into little boxes though so there’s a lot of staring intently to make out the fine print, but it’s worth it. In the Tokyopop editions, however, in some of the books, the print is terrible with pages that are slanted, tilted, and cut off. The type is miniscule and I’m not so sure that all the translations are kept literal…Love Hina is quite close to hentai (Thanks to Oniichan DarknightZ0 for reminding me that Akamatsu used to be an ecchi artist.) and it’s bound to have endless perverted references…except that in the translations, there really aren’t that many, which leaves a reader to speculate just…a…bit….
PERSONAL THOUGHTS (SPOILER-IFIC): So this series was definitely annoying in the beginning. I skipped a few books at first because things got redundant and not-as-funny-anymore. But after a bit, I went back and found out that even the books I had previously skipped were still good. The series has a predictably happy ending that annoyed me and I think Akamatsu had WAY too many characters – especially those that appear at the end (i.e. Keitaro’s incestuous sister) that really a) didn’t need to be there and b) felt like auxiliary filler no matter what happened to them. I also think there was far too much nudity but I guess that was just a fanservice (Again, many thanks to Onii-chan for reminding me that Akamatsu was an ecchi artist before he hit it big.) Another downer was the fact that the ending was so blatantly obvious by book 2 that anything that came after that felt pointless….even w. the “It might be Otohime!” twist. However, somehow, the series grasps your attention no matter what, and that’s definitely a good thing.
My personal favorite story was the one of Seta and Haruka in book nine where they look back on their past. It may seem like filler (like a lot of the series does) but it’s so cute and, to me, the most heartfelt story. Plus you get to see a whole new side of Haruka as a bonus…pure wonderfulness and Akamatsu’s art at his best.