Love Hina Again Movie (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, August 15, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, September 02, 2003



What They Say
The final chapter of Ken Akamatsu’s best selling anime and manga series, Love Hina has arrived! Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the Hot Spring! Keitaro and Naru have finally begun college life at Tokyo University! After a long period of studying, bizarre happenings, random trips, and misunderstanding upon misunderstanding, their dream has finally come true! However, their feelings for each other are still a little…muddled. And with a newer, stricter, manager to run the Hinata Apartments - Will anyone survive Hinata Boot Camp? Love is in the air…Again. Welcome back.

The Review!
Love Hina returns again for a 3 part OVA series that supposedly put the final touches on the series.

Audio:
For our primary review, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese since we’ve made it through so much of it this way so far. The episodes have a solid stereo mix with some nice areas of noticeable directionality across the forward soundstage, usually in the form of someone going flying from a punch. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we had no issues during regular playback with distortions, clipping or dropouts.

Video:
Originally released in 2002, these final OVAs manage to take an already gorgeous looking TV series and a few previous OVA releases and raise the bar a bit more. These episodes really look fantastic, clean and crisp throughout with lush layered colors. No cross coloration or visible aliasing marred this during our viewing of it. Colors are nicely saturated and some of them just have a fantastic depth to them. The original openings continue to be used here and all aspects of it are soft subtitled.

Packaging:
Using the bluish clear keepcase again, the front cover here is one of the best out of all the releases with a nice shot of Keitaro and Naru running away from everyone while outside the Annex. It’s a nice cast shot and just very richly drawn. The back cover is set up much as the previous volumes in the OVA and TV series release were with snapshots and all sorts of little bits scattered throughout the summary. The discs features and technical aspects are fairly clearly listed. The insert provides another shot of the front cover while it opens to provide a small foldout shot of all the girls in the bath. This release also sports a reversible cover, with that side featuring a nice trio shot of Keitaro, Naru and Kanako with Kanako taking the center position and looking nicely dark.

Menu:
The menu layout is fairly similar to the TV series with the background image of Hinata House, but this time with Keitaro in the center while the various women move in and out of the screen as the music plays. Selections are lined along the bottom and quick to access, especially as there are some very brief transitional animations here.

Extras:
There’s not a lot in terms of extras left at this point, but they round things out here with a couple of things. The first is a whopping nineteen seconds of dub outtakes. You also get a textless opening sequence as well as textless endings for all three episodes as each episode ending is different.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After getting all of the seasonal specials done, the people behind the series realized that there must be a few more yen to squeeze out of the franchise and opted to do a three part OVA series to bring things to sort of conclusion, allowing the fans a chance for a bit of closure.

They also realized that since they’re working on an OVA, they can get a bit raunchier than normal. The story starts off pretty nicely with Keitaro, Naru and Mutsumi attending their opening ceremony at Tokyo University. Being the accident waiting to happen that he is, Keitaro ends up getting smacked around and causing trouble, resulting in a broken leg that keeps him at home and away from college for the first semester. It gets so bad when he’s home that even his parents don’t believe he’s gotten into college, which causes him to head home to bring them up to date.

This seemingly easy objective ends up taking more time than expected, especially when they find out that Keitaro has hooked up with Seta on his digs again and is thinking that he may want to make that his life. But before he can come home and explain what’s going on, Hinata House gets itself a new managed in the form of the raven haired Kanako Urashima – Keitaro’s younger sister. She’s a darkly serious type, so much so that even Haruka doesn’t get along with her and leaves pretty quickly. Her arrival as the manager here while Keitaro is away is fairly brutal as she comes up with all kinds of bizarre rules and other ideas that go against what most of the members of the house are about.

Why would she do that? Surprise, surprise, she’s a promise girl as well. Though we don’t know exactly what it is for awhile, we do know that when she was little she and Keitaro made a promise together and she’s come to collect on it. After dressing up as Naru and sneaking around the entire house gathering data on everyone (which includes massaging Kitsune’s breasts and fondling Motoko’s posterior when she’s wearing a rare short skirt), she begins her complete overhaul of life in the complex.

And things don’t improve when Keitaro returns. He doesn’t even recognize his sister at first, but ends up being happy to see her and everyone else (while amusingly looking a lot like Seta at this point). He starts settling back into his life as the manager there, but now with the more focused dream of having a future that he’s looking forward to, even though it may cause problems with Tokyo University. Naturally, Naru’s upset over this as she was starting to get her feelings all properly sorted out with him, but he thinks she’s just upset about all the time she spent coaching him for the exams that may now prove useless.

The show focuses heavily on Kanako and the mischief she ends up causing in her pursuit of her brother, which includes a talking floating black cat of her own, the raising of the Tama mechanical army and the introduction of the sealed Annex building that harbors magical powers that can bind a relationship forever. There’s definitely been out of this world elements in the franchise before, but this OVA series manages to push things far beyond the breaking point. Or so I thought, and then I remembered that this show has had a flying turtle for the bulk of it, so I gave up on that particular train of thought.

What Love Hina Again comes down to is whether you care enough about these characters to want to see more. I’m still fairly fond of most of them (and at the possibility of seeing more Motoko fan service) especially since I’m enjoying the manga so much. This final bit of the series takes the core relationship and works to giving it the final big challenge to overcome. There’s some fun and comical aspects to it that work well and there’s a heck of a lot of fan service that works well. Overall though, I kept watching and thinking, didn’t they resolve the relationship issue already?

And therein lies the main problem with this show. So much of it feels like we’ve already been there and done that. The addition of Kanako as another promise girl is amusing and it’s interesting to see how it’s all brought together, particularly with all her disguises, but in the end I have to admit I’m still interested in Naru and Keitaro’s relationship and keep wanting to see the “after” period done. Love Hina Again doesn’t quite get to where I want it to be, but it was an pleasant way to pass the evening once I looked past the absurdities with this particular set of episodes.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Outtakes,Textless Opening,Textless Endings (3)

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.




Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Love Hina