Love Hina Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Love Hina

Love Hina Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     April 27, 2002
Release Date: April 23, 2002


Love Hina Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Now that Keitaro has been more or less accepted as the new manager of the Hinata Apartments, his daily routine has been anything but routine!

Failing their entrance exams for Tokyo U, Keitaro and Naru unexpectedly head off towards Kyoto to clear their heads. Here they encounter new friends and begin a new journey towards self-discovery, assuming, that is, self discovery includes virtual-dating-battle-simulators!

The Review!
The second installment of Love Hina moves things forward a small bit with the cast and their adventures together. It also provides some hard evidence about why Keitaro won’t ever get into Tokyo University.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. This is a solid pro-logic soundtrack that makes good use of the speaker layout to give a nice subtle immersive feel to things. Music and sound effects are the primary users of the rear channels while the forward soundstage has a lot of areas of good directionality. We spot checked the English track and they’ve gotten better about synching up the volume levels, though the English is still lower than the Japanese track.

Video:
The first volume looked fantastic, with this being such a new show, that the second volume only builds upon it. The vibrancy of the colors is stunning in many places with flesh tones being one of the more prominent ones. Backgrounds at times are just lush with no noticeable artifacting or pixellation. Cross coloration is non-existent and there's hardly any issue with jaggies during camera panning sequences. This is a transfer that will please just about everyone as its one where you quickly just fall in love with how it looks.

Packaging:
The front cover gives Motoko her space by taking up more than half the image. Keitaro gets a small nod in the background as well as one of the shrine entrances. It’s a nice looking cover overall and Motoko fans are bound to be pleased. The back cover provides an amusing summary for the show as well as listing the episode numbers and titles. The volume number also appears on the spine, which is a plus to me. Features and technical information is all nicely presented at the bottom as well. The insert provides another shot of the front cover while opening it up provides a detailed look at Motoko and what makes her special. The back of the insert provides the production and cast lists in English as well as the English production credits. This volume also has another sort of reversible cover. The back side is a full length shot of most of the characters in RPG character mode as well as a large Tama swimming about.

Menu:
The main menu is a variant of the front cover with a shot of the Hinata in the background with the English logo over it. To the right, inside a large red heart, you have all the selections as well as direct episode selection. Little headshots of some of the characters are also here and bouncing up and down with the music. Moving between the menus is nice and fast and the layout is pretty nice. Some of the submenus use Keitaro's sketchbook as the background which I thought was a nice touch.

Extras:
There are a couple of small extras included in this release. The first one I was appreciative of is the full cast and credits listing, which also pairs up the English actors with their characters. We get Keitaro's songbook, which provides us with the romaji and English translations for the song that Mutsumi performs in the eighth episode as well as the ability to play the song itself. The character profiles pages are done nicely, with showing the character and their background and then showing a handful of images

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
To some extent, I found these episodes of the series to be a mixed bag. There were things that I really enjoyed, but then I found myself not really caring for at least one whole episode, so much so that it’s one that I’ll end up skipping the next time I rewatch this series.

The early focus of the show is on Keitaro and Naru taking their entrance exams for Tokyo University. Keitaro’s all gung ho since he’s got to prove his way so he can fulfill his childhood promise, but Naru’s rather reserved about it and is quiet like she usually seems to be when she wears her glasses. There are some mishaps along the way to taking the test, which include Keitaro running into yet another attractive girl who will make more appearances further into the disc.

On the first disc, I was really pleased that they didn’t keep the gag of Keitaro actually being in Tokyo University and “spoiled” it early whereas any other show would make it the gag for the entire run. These episodes perform two similar things, in that Keitaro and Naru actually go for their exams before the final episode and they both flunk it. Even better is that we learn why Keitaro will never ever ever get into any University. When he tells Naru about the childhood promise he had with her, she looks at him like he’s from another planet. She tells him that it couldn’t have been her since she’s three years younger than he is and would have been two.

See? Basic math. And he wants Tokyo University.

There’s some amusing encounters that move from there as both Naru and Keitaro go on separate vacations and eventually end up together and are pretty civil to each other, another nice change of pace. When Mutsumi gets back into the picture things brighten up nicely with her mixture of being na´ve and just a bit silly. She’s got Ryoga like abilities though, as she’s trying to get home to Okinawa and ends up going east towards Sendai and further towards Hokkaido instead of west to her home. The time spent with her is good and provides another character that I like.

The downside to these episodes are two-fold. The first is the early introduction of Kentaro, a rich handsome class president who has wanted Naru since he first saw her as a freshman and is only now making his move. The introduction and over the top nature of the Mendou-like character just feels overly forced and doesn’t really add much. We know Keitaro’s got little chance in reality with Naru, but to provide such an outlandish character to the mix and then do all the virtual reality segments where Keitaro again gets no chance, it just beats it into the ground.

And with this volume, I’ve come to realize that I just don’t like Motoko. The character has too much general dislike about others in her that makes her a character I wouldn’t deal with in real life. She’s only involved in a minor way early on in these episodes, but the final episode is nearly an entire Motoko centered one where she’s in a dream state of some sort and all the people she knows are participating in an old console role playing game. So she’s the one tall one (who ends up in a skimpy outfit of course) and everyone else is in RPG-size and acting as if they’re actual game characters. Having lost the desire to play RPG’s a few years ago, I did find enough to laugh at in the parody, but combined with Motoko, I can see myself just skipping this episode in the future.

There’s some good stuff in these episodes, but there were just too many things that went too far beyond the norm for me to really get into. I’m not expecting a hyper-realistic show here by any means, but things that Kentaro does pushes the show outside of the boundaries I had thought they setup in the early episodes. At least Tama the turtle finally made an appearance in show, which brings some good smiles to my face.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles,Keitaro's Songbook

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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