Mania Grade: C+
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B-
- 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 Edmund Lee
March 03, 2002
Release Date: February 19, 2002
Being a fan of the mangas, the Love Hina TV series sparked a little interest in me, but after watching all the episodes on the disc, my enthusiasm dropped. It wasn't what I expected at first but it's something some people who came from the manga adaptation to get accustom to with the way the story is being retold. Anyway since this is my brother's copy (aren't young siblings great :)) I ain't complaining. Now onto the review.
The first episode we get the nice setup of the basic plotline and we get introduced to the characters that will appear regularly in the series. Keitaro is a 3rd year drifter who aims to get into Tokyo University, the most prestigious school and the toughest to get into, just so he fulfils his promise to a girl 15 years ago and he doesn't even remember her name. When he gets invited to Hinata Inn, which is of course a girls only dorm. Next thing you know, he's appointed manager to a "Girls Only" dorm and was passed off as a Tokyo U student. And if you have seen enough anime, you know what this leads to. With lots of chaos and violence with poor Keitaro being given the warm welcome from Naru, Kitsune and Kaolla. This episode is a slight watered down (ok tamer) version of the manga, but it's still humorous in the right areas.
The next episode we are introduced to Shinobu Maehara, a quite and shy little girl that is being force to leave the Hinata area with her mom who got divorce. Being a sensitive girl she doesn't like the idea but doesn't have the courage to say what she thinks. But with a fateful encounter, which occurred in the first episode, with Keitaro, she meets the residents of Hinata Inn. After a conversation with Keitaro, Shinobu builds up enough courage to speak her mind about leaving Hinata. The episode was kinda nice and I can see that the director wanted to distant itself from the manga, but the episode got a bit melodramatic for my liking.
The third episode gives us a look at one of the more fearsome resident of Hinata Inn, kendo girl Motoko Aoyama. Keitaro along with his 2 buddies, Hitani and Shirai, happen to bump into her during their girl hunting expedition. Problem is, Motoko hates men and quickly made mince meat out of all of them. Surviving the encounter, Keitaro returns to Hinata Inn only to find Motoko in the laundry. Much to her refusal to accept Keitaro as her new manager, he always ends up on the wrong side of her sword. This is probably one of my favorite episode of Love Hina, maybe it's because I'm a fan of Motoko and seeing poor Keitaro receiving too much punishment from her. ^^
And lastly the final episode on the disc, all the girls found out that Keitaro isn't a Tokyo U student but he pleaded that it was miscommunication on his part by not explaining his situation properly. And to prove his worth he plans to make the cut off mark in the mock exams. When it came to mark his test papers, he only marked 3 questions before he gave up his chances of passing the exam. With his pride broken, he decides to run away from his duties as manager. But like any anime or TV show, the girls decided to go look for him and bring him back.
So was it really all that hype up to be after the first disc? For a lot of people it might be, but for anyone else it sure is disappointing. I can see how the producers of the TV show are trying to condense parts of the story from the manga, but in my opinion, it had a rushed feel to it. The only episode that felt original was the introduction of Shinobu, which while it's quite good on it's own, it just feels really out of place. Ever cliché story method about 1 guy and X amount of girls living together can be found here.
The video quality presented her is excellent. My hat off to Production IG for delivering a great transfer job for this episode. The only major problem I've notice is that during a panning shot in Shinobu's class, the lines got a bad case of aliasing. It really sticks out like a sore thumb. There are lots more aliasing problems on my DVD-Rom setup.
The audio is a mix bag. I listen to all my anime in Pro-Logic and with the Japanese, it came out sounding great. There are lots of directionality for the music and effects, and the central channel sounding clear without problems. The English audio on the other hand, the music and effects are muted down to a point that it lost it dynamic range, but with the English speaking dialogue it sounded crystal clear. However I checked on my DVD-Rom, and the audio sounds almost on the same level.
Extras present here are pretty decent. There's the credit list, screenshots, trailers and the Keitaro sketchbook, which is basically something you would find if you happen to read Keitaro's diary.
The dub is probably the bad thing about this disc. I had no problems with Keitaro's since he was able to bring Keitaro's nerdy/loser personality but he lacks the more energetic appeal of the Japanese VA. I notice however he gets better suited to his role on the 3rd episode and puts more enthusiasm to Keitaro's screams of terror. Naru sounded a bit out of place; mainly it came out sounding too girly. Shinobu sounded alright, but a bit soft and not as cute compared to the Japanese VA. With Kaolla and Kitsune, no offence to Wendee Lee and Barbara Goodson, being a fan of both VAs, both the accent sucks. Maybe with Kitsune's southern accent, it grows on you, but honestly all the accents are really out of place. And Motoko, it feels out of place also. She gives Motoko a bitchy personality instead of the cold and proud type of samurai girl. Haruka is by far the best, mainly it's because of Haruka's carefree personality and the VA plays it real well.
Anyway, the first 4 episodes seem pretty averagy. I would only recommend it for people who haven't even read the manga before and want to start their experience of Love Hina on these episodes.
Panasonic SA-HT80, Panasonic TX-76PW10A Widescreen 100hz/Progressive Scan, standard S-video cables