Love Hina (novel) Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C-

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  • Art Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B/D
  • Age Rating: All
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 7.99
  • Pages: 264
  • ISBN: 1-59816-445-7
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Love Hina (novel) Vol. #01

By Robert Harris     July 12, 2006
Release Date: April 11, 2006

Love Hina (novel) Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kurou Hazuki
Translated by:Anastasia Moreno
Adapted by:

What They Say
Keitaro Urashima is the only boy living at the Hinata House, an all-girl dorm. Despite the fact that he's kind of a screw-up, the girls are climbing all over each other in an effort to tear his clothes off. But it's not what he thinks! Supposedly somewhere on his body is a map to Hinata's secret treasure!

An already tumultuous living situation escalates into an uproar when Keitaro and the girls must entertain a group of guests, as their dorm transforms back into a hot springs inn. Things keep going wrong and the customers have crazy ideas of their own!

Join the gang on a wacky adventure which reveals the true mystery of the old annex!

The Review

I've always thought the Love Hina volumes were some of the nicest-looking books on the shelf, and I'm glad to see the trend continue here. On the front cover the Love Hina logo is centered at the top (using the same font that the manga does) above just a great image of all the Love Hina girls in red bikinis, on a red background with red streamers all over the place. It's a really, really nice piece of artwork. The spine continues the red motif with translucent white hearts on a red background, along with all the typical Tokyopop information. The back cover is white, with a smaller picture of Naru to the left of the novel summary, and a smaller novel logo above both. Along the bottom are the barcode and the Tokyopop genre symbol, but that's boring stuff.

You may notice two grades up there at the top. Believe me, there's a good reason for it I swear. As far as grammar is concerned, punctuation and spelling and all that, it's fine. I think I may have noticed one error, but that could have easily been something else because my memory is absolutely terrible. So if you're worried about bringing the novel home only to find part of it typed in Cyrillic or all "the's" replaced with "locomotion" then rest easy.

The D grade is for something more...intangible. To say it plainly, the novel reads like a volume of Goosebumps. Well, maybe that's a little harsh; what I mean is that it doesn't read like something for adults. And I understand that they're trying to appeal to as large a crowd as possible, but Love Hina has never been a series for youngsters. And I'm not quite so sure it's purposeful. There are almost surprisingly frank descriptions of, say, Kitsune's breasts and Keitaro's subsequent arousal, but then other areas read like the author was copying out of the Big Book of Third Grade Euphemisms. The vocabulary for most of the book, and the writing that accompanies it, feels a bit lower than the normal adult reading level. In a manga that's certainly excusable, as a large part of manga is how the art helps tell the story. But when you write a novel, even if it is based on a manga or anime, you'd better step up, because the writing has to shoulder the storytelling burden alone or it'll collapse.

Now let me just say this: I don't know whether this is the fault of the translation and adaptation team. I really have absolutely no idea. Hazuki could have written it this way in the original Japanese, and they may have done the best they could. I'm just saying that there's a disconnect between the content and the way it is delivered, and it makes for an awkward reading experience.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The storyline for the novel is pretty basic, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's set right in the middle of the manga storyline (the exact time is never really given) and is essentially one story split into two parts, despite what the summary would have you believe. The first half of the novel centers on Keitaro and a supposed treasure that's buried somewhere on the Hinata House grounds. The girls decide that Keitaro must have a map to it on his body somewhere...the logic behind this assumption is never really fully explained, perhaps because it makes absolutely no sense, but if you can let that go (and believe me, you'll have to or be driven insane) things progress as you'd expect of the Hinata crew and they eventually realize there is no treasure.

The second half, which is far more interesting, sees the Hinata House transforming back into an Inn for some elderly clients of Grandma Hinata that have been coming back for years. The reason this part of the novel is better than the first is that the storyline isn't as transparent and is even a little bit of fun after you get into it. Overall the novel ends much stronger than it begins, and it will make you feel like it was worth your time for sticking through it.

Let me first say that I am a huge Love Hina fan. Huge, gigantic, as big as you can get. That's why, when I heard about the novel, I reacted like someone had just thrown acid on me. While I absolutely love Love Hina (I hate that redundancy), I was dubious of the idea that it could survive away from both the excellent artwork and Akamatsu himself. Add to that that the fact that it was going from manga to novel form, which is a much, much trickier transition than novel to manga. That's not even to mention the series' strong reliance on visual gags.

Now I should mention that as far as I'm concerned, distancing a series from its creator is like taking a fish out of water; you're just waiting until it suffocates and dies. I don't want to come off like a Trekkie shouting, "Canon! Canon" in outrage from the depths of my Enterprise costume, but my feeling is that if Akamatsu didn't write it directly, or dictate it to one of his scribes, it doesn't count. End of discussion. Especially in a first-person novel format, where Keitaro's thought process is revealed in full. It may make me the biggest nerd in the world, but as far as I'm concerned, the creator of a series is the only one that knows exactly how all of his characters think and react; the best anyone else can do is guess. If that doesn't bother you, then you may get more out this book than I did. I personally read every line with a strong degree of skepticism, which did not help my personal enjoyment but did, I think, help balance my blind love of all things Love Hina.

Having said that, this novel is definitely, surely, 100% only for fans of the series. It attempts to get the reader caught up at the start, but since it does take part in the middle of the manga storyline, it'd be like picking up a volume at random and just starting to read. The good news is that there's a lot of interesting information here that fans will enjoy. Interesting factual information, not based on character interpretation but based on data from Akamatsu that I suppose couldn't be fit into the manga. It mostly revolves around Haruka and her past, but even a few more pieces of the Keitaro puzzle fall into place. In my mind this was by far the best and most exciting part of the book, but I've already said that this is because I'm a big stupid nerd.

In the end, I don't feel bad for approaching this novel from a fan's perspective, because that is really its sole audience. If you're not a big fan of Love Hina, don't even bother. If you are, then I'd suggest getting it. It has a lot of problems, a lot of problems, but contains enough additional information about the Love Hina universe to make it worthwhile. The second half is really a lot better than the first, as well, and makes the novel a fairly enjoyable read in its own right. Just don't go into it with any expectations.


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