Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A+
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: A-
- Extras Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Bandai Entertainment
- MSRP: 34.95
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Love Hina
Love Hina Vol. #1 W/Box
By GR Myrick
February 25, 2002
Release Date: February 19, 2002
Disclaimer: You may think that I concentrate more on the negative here. Once you consider the source (me, a full-blood Love Hina otaku) I thought that a more critical review would be more realistic. However, I truly mean what I say here so don't think I am overly being critical.
A colorful DVD Collector's Box with both trademarked and original artworks complements the DVD 1, Moving In. The box has room for six DVDs, so that by the time the final disc is released you will have a nifty Box Set. The DVD keepcase is pretty nice as well, with original artwork of Naru and Keitaro in front of the Hinata Sou. The plastic itself is a sort of clear blue that shows a full length spread of the cover art when the case is opened (a la Ah! My Goddess the Movie). The DVD insert is a couple of pages out of Kietaro's diary/sketchbook with a picture of Naru and some humorous commentary. In general a pretty suave getup (once you get passed the American Love Hina logo).
The disc itself has got a fair amount of extras (something that isn't done nearly enough on anime series releases) including 'Keitaro's Sketchbook' (featuring pencil art of the characters from the series and a short description) and a character gallery (on this DVD, Keitaro and Naru with character bios and stills from the series). There are some pretty neat menus (I love interactive menus, and if they include moving scenes in the chapter selection area, then I like them even more), and the transfer is really nicely done with a pretty seamless picture. The colors are vibrant and there is no distortion of the picture that I could notice. There were some instances of jaggies during fast moving scenes and with the bouncing Love Hina logo in the menus, but that may be due to the fact that I'm running it off of a DVD-ROM. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital and sounds about like what you would expect, however it seems almost a little muffled (but then I never was a huge audio nit-picker). The picture is beautiful and the audio is good. The things that detract - besides the 1970's "groovy" American Love Hina logo, are namely the voices actors and, to a degree, the subtitles.
First off, a pet peeve: the pronunciation of names. While I was watching the original fansubbs with the person who introduced me to Love Hina, I was constantly corrected on how to say the names correctly. Since then Love Hina has worked its way as to being one of my favorite anime and I find myself upset that the wrong pronunciations are being sold as kosher. The dude's name is Keitaro, as in 'KAY-taro'. In the dubbing it is constantly miss-pronounced, even by the character himself, as 'keh-TARO'. Oooh, bad. And Motoko's name is 'mo-TOE-ko'. It looks like the heads of dubbing there really felt that an over-emphasis of the last syllables of the names was really in order because the characters do it without faltering throughout these four episodes.
And now on to the dubbing review. Oh dear... Kitsune's and Suu's voices are bad. First Suu: I mean to go so far as to say that it's not even faithful to the idea of Kaolla Suu. Suu is supposed to be a rambunctious little squirt who's always yelling and cheering. The voice actress here tries to add too much of a faux accent that she mutes the voice so that even in her yelling and loud giddying (you know what I mean) the character is very muffled and seems like she is trying too hard to focus on the accent - which I don't understand in the first place. Suu never had a distinct accent, especially not a Hindi one. If she did have an accent it would be closer to Kitsune's Osaka dialect (this is because she has hung out with her so much, as mentioned both in the anime and the manga). Seeing how they handle the English dubbing of Suu's older brother and sister should be interesting as well.
And now Kitsune's voice.... Hearing this English dubbing voice was literally painful. Forget faithfulness to the character. This was an audial assault of heinous proportions that I still can't figure out how the powers-that-be let get by. The VA here gives the most incredible rendition of 'southern' CRAP that I have ever heard - anime or otherwise. She gives Kitsune a southern belle accent that would cause a Georgianer to cringe and make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. The voice is unbelievable for the story as Kitsune neither acts nor looks the part for this accent. Forget Asuka Langley from Evangelion, there is a new bad voice match-up queen. The voice requires longer pronunciations to produce the extended sounds and therefore also looks wrong when she is talking. Note: Osaka dialect does not equal horrendous southern accent. From what I have read, the Japanese company Production I.G. chose the English dubbing cast based on how they sounded, not by how they sounded when they read the scripts. In other words: the Japanese more or less chose these dialects without knowing how it would sound in English. Apparently they thought that Kitsune needed to be butchered. *sigh*
The other character voices are tolerable, but not wonderful. The Naru voice seems appropriate, however it seems a bit too 'pop' if you can understand what I'm saying. She sounds like any other Jane Doe that is staring in a contemporary girl movie or in a TV series running on the WB or UPN. The VA doesn't sound like she is taking the voice acting seriously, and this is sure to affect future episodes.
Keitaro's voice is a disappointment but at least he's not the dub for Shinji Ikari. He sounds overly weak and his voice cracks...a lot. It's almost like he is going through puberty as he is managing Hinata Inn (Hinata Apartments on this release). Yeah he's something of a loser, but c'mon. You don't have to intentionally make him sound like a wussy. This may be due in part to the actual voice acting as compared to just the voice. The dynamics aren't there yet, but I'm hoping that the voice will decide what it wants to be and that it will find it's groove in later episodes (such as in other anime).
Shinobu, the youngest of the girls, sounds to be about 25 years old. I don't know but I guess it's really hard to find a voice actress to play a believable 13 year old "sweet little innocent" girl type. I don't run the business, but if I did I think I could find someone who could make Shinobu sound a bit more her age.
Motoko's and Haruka's voices are the most tolerable, with Haruka's being the best out of the group (but then how hard can it be to cast the voice of an upper 20's chain-smoking Tea House owner who doesn't seem to give a damn about anything?). Motoko's voice is okay, but it's inconsistent. One minute she will have a medium-tone voice and then she will uncharacteristically go to a higher pitched voice (especially when she's thinking to herself or yelling). But overall, these two are the best of the main cast viewed so far.
Haitani and Shirai, Keitaro's two college-test-failing friends are the absolute best voices so far for the entire cast. The match up of voice to character is superb...too bad they are only background characters. With everything mentioned above about other characters, one is led to wonder what the voice of Mutsumi Otohime will be like (oh God please don't let them turn her into another Mihoshi!).
And I'm going to end with another pet peeve. One thing I just don't understand is why the English dubbings never include the -kun -chan, -san, etcetera in the names. This is particularly frustrating with Shinobu; who ALWAYS in the manga and the anime referred to everyone in their proper context (this is even explored in an episode, can't wait to see how that turns out) and always, ALWAYS called Keitaro 'sempai.' Call me a stickler but I just don't think that changing the Japanese suffix to "Mr.," or "Ms," or "Ma'am" is fair. You lose a lot of what one character feels to another character and alters the overall mood by doing so. Changing the original conversation between the kids in the memory sequence from 'Kei-kun' to 'K-K' isn't right, and can be confusing to someone who doesn't already know the story. Besides, having Shinobu call Keitaro "Mr. Urashima" just doesn't fit comfortably.
Overall the DVD is a good deal: you get to finally see an anime favorite in DVD quality, neat extras and a colorful collection box to boot. If you can get passed the English dub (I personally will probably be sticking to the Japanese language and English subtitles), then you have a wonderful set that you are sure to love.
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