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Love Hina - volumes 1, 2, 3
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Love Hina: volume four
voice cast: Yuji Ueda, Masayo Kurata, Yu Asakawa, and Yui Horie

directors: Yoshiaki Iwasaki, Shigeru Ueda

88 minutes (PG) 2000
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by Shiraz Rahim
The adventure continues with the newest volume of Love Hina. Keitaro, Naru and the others return in another series of episodes that provide laughter and a better look into the minds of these interesting characters. Love Hina volume four turns out to contain the same mix of comedy and drama as its predecessors.

Episode 13 in the ongoing series is titled The First Kiss Tastes Like Lemon? and focuses on the tension building in the life of Shinobu. The young girl comes to notice all of the people around her who are finding lovers and kissing, and she comes to fixate on whether or not she should begin kissing as well. She sees everyone kissing but believes that she should save herself for someone special and wait until she is older before she can begin dating. Throughout this period, she also begins to develop feelings for Keitaro and worries about not being noticed by the boy she comes to love. Her journey toward solving this tension in her mind leads her to a better relationship with one of her old friends and a realisation of the important things in life.

In the next episode, Reunion? Naru's Crush Is A Tokyo U Professor: Turning Into Love? the group finds itself broke, leading every character to work extra jobs in order to pay the bills for the boarding house. While Keitaro searches for a job, he runs into Professor Seta from Tokyo University who offers a position to Keitaro as the professor's aide. We learn that Seta used to be Naru's personal tutor and that Naru used to have a crush on her old professor. Keitsune, throughout this episode, tries to keep Naru away from Seta in order to make sure the age-old crush doesn't resurface.

Next, in Romantic Confession Inside A Cave: Tall Tale, Keitaro takes care of Seta's younger daughter who tries her best to make trouble for Keitaro. As Keitaro and the others take care of Seta's daughter, Naru eventually encounters her old tutor and begins to feel nervous around the professor. The two become very well acquainted, and Keitaro begins to feel rejected at Naru's renewed attraction for Seta. Meanwhile, Seta, who turns out to be an archaeologist, is excavating a cave and discovers a factory that produces robotic turtles aimed at killing all the characters. The group gets trapped in the cave while trying to escape the turtles. As the group waits for death, Keitaro desires to reveal something to all the others.

In the final episode, Monkey Performance At The Seaside Teahouse Hinata: A Kiss?, Keitaro continues thinking about his love for Naru. The girls at the Hinata apartment open a teahouse on the beach in order to fund their bills for the apartments. While on the beach, some of the characters pretend to be in small plays to attract customers to the teahouse, but Keitaro continues to show some tension when around Naru. During their performance, they end up destroying the teahouse and decide to continue their performance at an ancient theatre that Seta discovers.

These four episodes seem to contain four contained plots that provide more laughter than they do substance (except for the first episode). Whereas the other volumes focus on one or two characters and shed light on their backgrounds or their personalities, these episodes are built around providing laughter for the crazy antics of the various characters as they become involved in Keitaro's growing attraction toward Naru. Most of the plots concern Keitaro's struggle to portray his feelings for Naru. The fact that all four of these episodes focused around this same concept made the volume slightly repetitive, but the fact that each episode was then interspersed with comical events made each episode much more enjoyable and seemed to redeem the volume as a whole.

Furthermore, I particularly enjoyed the focus on bildungsroman that this series seemed to focus on, such as Shinobu's struggles with growing up and finding love and Keitaro's later struggle with discovering more about himself and building up the courage to do what he wants. Since the first three volumes centre on individual characters, watching one episode after another wasn't as exciting as it was for this particular volume, where I was able to chart the progression of Keitaro's life and was anxious to see when his relationship with Naru would blossom into what he dreams it would be.

All in all, this volume was very entertaining and definitely worth watching for fans of the first three instalments. Love Hina, in this fourth volume, brings forth a product that is filled with interesting character developments mixed with comedy that makes each episode unique and genuinely enjoyable. For those who love the shows where you get to see a character fully develop, share his feelings, and work toward accomplishing his goals, Love Hina volume four is an excellent way to go.

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