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Love Hina: Christmas Special

director: Yoshiaki Iwasaki

45 minutes (12) 2000
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
As a small child, Keitaro promised a girl he'd just met that they would meet at Tokyo University when they were grown-up. Now he's a teenager, and ready to keep his promise - but not only can he not remember the girl's name, he's also failed the entrance exam twice, and is working as a caretaker at a female students' dormitory outside Tokyo. Will he ever find his missing childhood love?

The Christmas special starts with Keitaro and the girls preparing for the festive season, and preoccupied with a rumour that this millennial Christmas holds a special magic. If you declare at your love to someone on Christmas Eve, the rumour says, all your wishes will come true. Keitaro has taken a menial job to earn some Christmas cash for a mysterious purchase, but Naru, the girl he has long suspected of being his lost love, seems to be avoiding him, and the other girls' attempts to get the two of them together just make things worse. With Christmas Eve almost over and midnight approaching, can the two of them get together, overcome all these misunderstandings, and declare their love?

Imagine one of those American high school teen dramas, with added martial arts, and a dash of Benny Hill style sexual slapstick, and you're getting somewhere close to Love Hina. It's an odd mix of mushy teen romance and the embarrassment of being the only boy in a house full of nubile girls, with occasional outbursts of cartoon violence, and, urm, a flying turtle. In other words, it's classic anime. Even if you haven't seen any of the series so far, the double length Christmas Special is fairly intelligible, focusing around the comic hindrances to the young couple admitting their feelings, and the well-meaning interference of their friends. It's amusing and reasonably plausible; with enthusiastic performances from the English language cast, and the final scene as the lovers rush to beat the clock is worthy of any rom-com. If you're of a romantic disposition, and particularly if you're a teenager yourself, this is the perfect evening's entertainment.

DVD extras comprise a couple of trailers, a stills gallery, and episode 25 of the series (with a slightly barmy plot about one of the girls being called to take over a school of swordsmanship).

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