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Love Hina volume 2

Love Hina volume 3
 
 
January 2005 SITE MAP   SEARCH

Love Hina:
volumes one, two, and three
voice casts: Yuji Ueda, Masayo Kurata, Yu Asakawa, Yui Horie

directors: Yoshiaki Iwasaki, Shigeru Ueda

300 minutes (PG) 2000
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by Shiraz Rahim
This is one of those series that you just feel so happy to add to your movie collection. Love Hina - volume one: Moving In...) rekindled my decaying interest in the world of anime and, with its hilarious though captivating plot, proved to be a very unique and amusing piece of entertainment.

After watching the first DVD and originally being confused, I gathered that Love Hina is actually either a TV series or a collection of sequential short films. Volume One is divided into four of these short flicks, and the first of these introduces us to the character of Keitarou Urashima (Yuji Ueda), a young student in high school attempted to gain entrance to the prestigious Tokyo University. At this point, he has applied to the school twice and been rejected, and we learn that his continued determination to attend the university lies in a promise he made to a little girlfriend 15 years before, to meet her at the college. Throughout these events, Keitarou's grandmother, the owner of an all-girls apartment complex, decides to retire and sets her grandson as the new manager of the building. Keitarou, of course, does not realise his grandmother's plans and instead believes he is on a routine trip to visit his grandmother. During his journey, he encounters a young girl who we meet in the next episode and who sits on a bench crying; he attempts to draw her smiling, and, by some accident, he accidentally throws his sketchbook at her and runs away out of embarrassment as she looks at her image. Eventually, Keitarou reaches the apartments and, unsuspecting that it is actually an all-girls complex, walks in and decides to make himself at home, hoping to live there instead of having to find a job as his parents, fed up with having to support their son, want him to do. He encounters the enraged tenants of the building as they try to push the boy out of their all-girls building, but Keitarou's aunt arrives just in time to inform the others that her nephew is the new manager. The girls begrudgingly accept though take some time to get used to Keitarou, whom they believe to be a sex-addict since he always seems to be bumping into the girls and accidentally landing with his hand on their bodies.

Episode two takes a closer look into the weeping girl mentioned above. We learn that her name is Shinobu (Masayo Kurata) and is a middle school student who has no friends and is suffering the burdens of a family divorce. She is thus being forced by her mother to leave her life-long home and start life in another school. During this ordeal, Shinobu decides to return the sketchbook to Keitarou but, out of extreme timidity, is unable to do so. Finally, Shinobu's last day in the city arrives, and, out of fear and sadness, she runs away from home, running into Keitarou who says that the girls at the apartment have planned a goodbye party for the little girl. After the party, Keitarou becomes so attached to Shinobu that he refuses to let her mother take her away, especially after realising that Shinobu secretly wants to stay. He therefore makes a deal to allow Shinobu to live in the apartments. It is at this point that we see a flowering of Shinobu's actual personality as she becomes more extroverted and happier, starting to cook, laugh, and enjoy life. The episode ends with a final look at the change in Shinobu's life to a happier and more prosperous existence.

Episode three delves into the history and character of Motoko (Yu Asakawa), a deadly warrior who also lives in the apartments. At this point, she has returned home from a trip to a training and meditation camp. Upon finding Keitarou, whom she believes initially to be a perverted stalker, Motoko becomes increasingly angered as she realises that a man is the new manager of an all-girls building, and, in a most hilarious scene, chases Keitarou in an attempt to kill him. As the film continues, we eventually learn that Motoko's rage is the root of love for Keitarou, for whom she has suddenly fallen but wishes not to admit this fact to herself. The episode ends with Motoko accepting Keitarou after he saves her life.

The last episode is that of a more interesting story, that of Keitarou's third attempt to get into Tokyo University. Apparently, Naru (Yui Horie), one of the girls living in the apartments, also is applying to the university, and both set about studying together in order to pass the entrance exam. During this point, Motoko, still slightly enraged over Keitarou's gender, strikes a deal in which she will accept the new manager provided he qualifies for the college. At this same time, Keitarou starts to develop a crush on Naru. The episode ends in a climatic scene in which Keitarou determines both the fate of his academic career (pertaining to whether or not he manages to get into Tokyo University) and also finds the girl to whom he made that promise 15 years prior.

The power of Love Hina lies in its attention to character development, which I feel is a very strong aspect of a film and serves to make the series very appealing and interesting. I found myself attached to the characters as the film delved into the histories of each one, shedding light on where each came from and how their personalities will affect Keitarou's future. To add to this, the film seemed to combine drama and comedy very well, which I have found is a quality lacking in films today, and to see this blend perfectly orchestrated with the right amounts of laughter and sadness at the right times made me so much more connected to what was going on. Whether it's through Shinobu's sad and chaotic life or a hilarious swordfight and chase scene between Keitarou and Motoko, Love Hina managed to evoke a multitude of emotions that served to make the story so much more appealing and powerful.

Aside from this, Love Hina tells its story through a variety of perspectives. The first and last episodes focus more on Keitarou's thoughts and feelings, while the second takes the perspective of Shinobu and the third the viewpoint of Motoko. Changing the way the audience is meant to see the same story, and allowing us to see the inner workings of each of the major characters, manages to make sense of the entire ordeal and helps not only explain why things were happening but also adds depth to each character to make them more appealing and satisfying. As the characters develop relationships with each other, we see what each of these characters is thinking about the others, and this look at the world of Love Hina from each side makes the entire situation seem so much more understandable and so much more captivating.

So, with that in mind, I would highly recommend this series for anyone who wants to see an emotional, comical, and interesting plot. After watching the explosions, violence, and action meant to captivate in today's films, it's nice to come to something with as simple a plot as this series that still manages to provide the same interest and amusement, and, mixed with the great style that anime employs to portray its story and explain its characters, the show becomes a real treat.

Volume two - Go West brings forth most of the same sort of comedy and entertainment as the first disc and provides a more in-depth look into the overall plot encircling the show. The only difference between volumes one and two is that, instead of looking more into the histories of the characters involved, volume two focuses on the personalities of Keitaro and Naru and the relationship that ensues between them.

In episode five, entitled Wow, A Trip To Kyoto! Exciting, Naru and Keitaro take the entrance exam for Tokyo University and, much to their dismay, find that they have both failed. To further add injury to misery, Keitaro finds that the person that he originally believed to be his long-lost friend to whom he promised to attend the university with is not who he thinks. Naru and Keitaro then decide to leave their town for Kyoto in order to clear their heads and stay away from each other, but, coincidentally, the two end up taking the same train and staying in the same hotel. Of course, in the traditional style of volume one, the episode continues with a hilarious bit in which the two run into each other on the train to Kyoto and end up accidentally breaking each other's glasses, causing the two to tour Kyoto together without knowing who the other is.

The next episode, Keitaro's First Kiss Is With...? Journey, the other members of the women's apartment complex decide to look for Keitaro and Naru in Kyoto, believing the two have eloped and plan to commit suicide. Shinobu and Su, the youngest girls of the characters in Love Hina, run away to find Keitaro but end up going the wrong way, while Keitsune and Motoko (the sword warrior from the previous volume) leave to track down both Keitaro and Naru as well as the escaped Shinobu and Su. Keitaro and Naru continue to tour Kyoto until they run into Misodoheme, a girl that Keitaro met at Tokyo University in the previous episode. Upon meeting her, Keitaro and Naru find that she is prone to anaemia and light-headedness, and they thus take it upon themselves to help her find her way back home. Throughout their adventures to the distant island that Misodoheme lives on, Misodoheme begins getting attracted to Keitaro while, at the same time, Keitaro starts developing a stronger attraction toward Naru.

Episode seven, First Date, Keitaro's True Feelings: Nowadays, begins with Naru's high school graduation in which a giant plane appears piloted by one of Naru's colleagues, Kentaro. He is at the top of his class, a rich boy, and a genuinely handsome individual who has a crush on Naru. The episode thus becomes a battle between Kentaro and Keitaro for Naru's heart. The two compete to win a date with Naru, and the episode takes a deeper look into Keitaro's mind and how deeply attracted Keitaro is to Naru. Aside from this, the episode is mostly packed with comical scenes that show Keitaro's hesitation to go out with a girl he believes he can never have.

The last episode on this disc, Kendo Girl And The Legend Of The Dragon Palace: Is This A Dream?, follows the struggles of Motoko. The once peaceful and calm warrior now begins to feel discontented and troubled. She believes that her change is the result of Keitaro living in the dorm, and she takes it upon herself to kill him. Throughout all of this, she struggles with her feelings of love and loneliness. During her meditation, it appears that she experiences a dream in which she and several of the other characters travel to save Naru from an evil dragon. The entire episode takes on the feeling of a video game, with the characters having special powers that they use to fight special enemies. The characters reach the 'dragon' (who turns out to be a giant, lovable turtle) and get to the lair of the evil dragon king. The episode ends with Motoko and Naru both expressing their dislike at the thought of loving Keitaro, and Motoko returns to normal.

So, with that crazy ending to the four-episode volume two, I find myself only slightly disappointed as compared to the first instalment. Although I still enjoyed the in-depth look into the minds of Keitaro and Naru (and Motoko at the end), the film seemed slightly weirder in contrast to the first. There were too many awkward scenes, mostly in that last episode, which seemed out of place and confusing, making the overall sequence slightly less enjoyable than at first. Throughout the last episode, I found myself extremely confused at why certain things were happening and spent most of my time trying to make sense of these events instead of enjoying myself. Thankfully, this only occurs in the very last episode (episode eight) and does not apply to most of the other episodes. Volume one provides comedy and drama in exactly the right doses while Volume two focuses more on comedy, which I found, especially considering that the subject matter gets much more serious and dramatic by this point, not as entertaining.

Besides this, however, Love Hina volume two deserves a great deal of praise since the focus on comedy and the weird scenes I mentioned above are not multitudinous enough to take away from the entertainment value of this part of the series. Volume two still includes the great elements of volume one with respect to character and plot development, which I found thoroughly interesting, and the fact that this part of the series homed into the lives of Naru and Keitaro in particular instead of stifling plot with too many scenes with the other characters. Although these episodes do not tell Love Hina's story from several perspectives, as did volume one, they shed enough light on the inner feelings and thoughts of each of the characters so that it seems that you get the story from every aspect anyway, something I found very interesting and which deserves applause for the creators of Love Hina. Their wonderful orchestration of the series' events managed to make watching part two a fun ride.

With Love Hina - volume three: Secret Lives, we have the next stage of the series, and I must say that it is another masterpiece for fans of the previous two volumes in terms of its entertainment value. The only problem I found with this volume is that it digresses too far away from the original plot involving Keitaro and Tokyo University and involves episodes that deal more with the lives of the other characters. In its own way, apart from the previous two volumes, at least for me, this disc provides the same enjoyment that the other two managed to provide.

Episode nine, entitled The Case Of The Missing Hinata Apartment Money: A Mystery, serves as a fun little look into a mystery at the apartment complex that the characters live in. A sleeping Keitaro wakes up and, after some time, finds that the rent money from the other characters has gone missing. The entire episode thus becomes each character's attempt to find who stole the money with everyone being a potential suspect. All the while, Naru seems to be looking for something as well but is too embarrassed to tell what it is. After the resolution of the mystery, the episode ends with a look at what Naru was attempting to find: a picture of herself with someone special...

Who Is The Beautiful Woman Wandering In The Moonlight? Transformation (episode 10), takes us deep into the past of Su, a crazy young girl who, until now, we have known very little about. It turns out that a mysterious woman dressed in strange Indian clothing and who has been terrorising the town. After being attacked himself, Kentaro accuses Su of being that mysterious woman. Keitaro and Naru thus take it upon themselves to find out if Su really is this woman, as suspected. Throughout this ordeal, the two find Su sleeping peacefully in Keitaro's bed and murmuring something about her big brother and, as the two get closer to solving this mystery, they find out more about their young friend. Su, apparently a magical girl from some unknown land, is having dreams about something her big brother once said, and, following these dreams, Su, upon seeing a red moon at night, transforms into an adult and tries to seek out her long-lost big brother, who, in her dreams, resembles Keitaro. Suddenly, Su's older sister, also a magical being, appears to take Keitaro away, claiming that the nightly transformations Su experiences will eventually cause her to die. Thus, a battle ensues in which Su and her sister fight over what to do about Keitaro.

The next episode, entitled The Idol Shooting For Tokyo U Is A Prep School Student: Sing, begins with Naru winning a contest to become a pop idol. As she becomes more and more famous in her career, Keitaro starts becoming depressed as his dreams of being with Naru seem all the more impossible. After some time, however, Naru begins to hate her vocation and runs away from her manager, who happens to be Kentaro, spending a day of fun with Keitaro. At the end of the day, Keitaro inspires Naru to continue with her original dream of attending Tokyo University. Aside from this, the episode holds little substantial plot.

The last episode, Changing After the Wedding? Swordmaster Motoko's Sunday Best: Feminine, focuses more on the internal conflicts of Motoko. The warrior appears to be frightened by the apartment's pet turtle, which constantly seems to be attracted to her. Throughout all of this, Motoko's clothes suddenly disappear and thus she is forced to wear those of the other women. She thus comes out as wearing a pretty dress, very contrary to the samurai clothing she usually wears in the other episodes, and so, with this new feminine look, Motoko begins to feel insecure. Eventually, she loses her sword-wielding powers, unfortunately right at the same time as one of Su's mechanical creations, a giant robot turtle, grows too large and terrorises the town. Furthermore, we get to see a bit more of Motoko's past in which her sister, originally destined to become a sword-master as well, chose to get married and set the responsibility of learning to fight on Motoko. At the end, Motoko must overcome her fear of going down the same path as her sister and fight her inner conflicts to regain her powers before Su's robot destroys the apartment complex.

So, with that in mind, it seems that these episodes follow more closely with the latter ones in volume two and move far away from the plot between Naru and Keitaro, focusing instead on small occurrences between the other characters of the series. I found it interesting how the creators of Love Hina managed to concoct a piece that shed light on characters that I originally believed to be too lightly touched upon; after watching volume two, I felt that Naru and Keitaro seemed to be the only people that the episodes focused on with little attention given to Motoko, Shinobu, etc. And now that volume three managed to bring these characters back into the scene, I felt thoroughly satisfied with what the disc had to offer.

These episodes contain pretty much the same elements as those on the previous volumes, focusing on character development and adding comedy with the right amounts of drama to create another anime masterpiece. Therefore, there really isn't much more to say. I experienced the same enjoyment as I did with the previous instalments for the exact same reasons, ranging from my interest in the lives of each of the characters to the hilarious comedy interspersed throughout each episode. The only drawback, I felt, was that one of my most favourite characters in the series overall, Shinobu, was the only character who has a very little part in these episodes, but, aside from this, the episodes, each in their own way, further explain the backgrounds and personalities of the other characters as they encounter and hurtle over new obstacles.
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