Love Hina Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     August 25, 2002
Release Date: August 20, 2002


Love Hina Vol. #4
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Shinobu searches for life's ultimate question! What would a person's first kiss be like? Meanwhile, the gang at the Hinata Inn have been partying a little too much these days! With a huge bill to pay… can they find a way to earn enough money and pay off their debts?

The road of love can be a bumpy one - and between Keitaro and Naru, it's only going to get bumpier. When Naru stumbles across her former tutor which she had a crush on, she falls for him all over again. Get ready for an unforgettable summer at the beach!

The Review!
Love Hina rumbles along, as the show provides a few good moments but mostly seems to continue repeating itself.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. This track continues to have a decent sounding stereo mix with some minor directionality across the forward soundstage at times, but nothing terribly heavy. Dialogue is nice and clear and we noted no dropouts or distortions.

Video:
The transfer here continues to build upon the great looking source materials. 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:
My favorite character of Kitsune gets the front cover this time around with her usually laughing expression as Keitaro cries rivers in the background wit the beach restaurant serving as the full background. The back cover provides several images from the episodes as well as an amusingly laid out story summary. The discs features and production credits are also clearly listed while we get the volume listing only on the spine, but at least it’s somewhere. The reverse side of the cover is a full image piece of “Journey to the West” with the characters portraying their roles from one of the episodes. The insert has another shot of the front cover while it opens to detail Kitsune and show some shots of her. The back cover provides the Japanese production credits and cast listings.

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’s a couple of extras included here in this round. The first is a seven minute interview session with some of the people behind the dub, such as Wendee Lee, Maki Terashima and Ron Myrick, which goes into how the dubbing is done with the computers, the actors and the way translations are handled. There’s some interesting bits in it and thankfully unlike past AnimePop created extras, they don’t use that awful animation overlay garbage. This extra does suffer from lower audio encoding, making it difficult to hear without upping it a good percentage what the rest of the disc is set at. There’s also a small character gallery for Kitsune and Mutsumi with some brief text and a couple of images.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this batch of episodes, Love Hina continues to provide single episode stories that don’t build much upon each other beyond some very minor tangents of the getting into Tokyo U and some even more minor relationship parts between Naru and Keitaro. I don’t think it boded well when I fell asleep halfway through the disc either.

On the plus side, less Motoko! She still gets in a few whacks against Keitaro without knowing what’s going on, but hey, that’s our girl!

But it’s not all bad here, as things start off with one of the better episodes in the series. When things focus around Shinobu’s innocence, you get some interesting stories. With Kitsune bored as usual, she decides that Shinobu can use a little education and teaches her how to use lipstick. Though she tries to fend Kitsune off, Shinobu ends up with it on and eventually having dinner with Keitaro and Naru at the restaurant. She’s all shy and nervous about it, but when Keitaro notices, he properly compliments her on it. Naru mistakes the intentions and off he goes…

Things within the house get a little wacky and emotional as Kaolla tries to understand what Shinobu is going through, especially with everyone talking about their first kisses and revealing things that the others consider surprising. There’s only a few misunderstandings going on throughout this episode, but in the end it does a nice job of really emphasizing things about Shinobu and her friends.

To turn things back into a really fast paced and generally busy mode, the residents learn from Haruka that they’re several hundred dollars short due to all the partying going on lately, so everyone has to get jobs. Everyone ends up at Tokyo U somehow, even though it’s pretty far away, and get odd jobs. Naru amusingly starts off as a cheerleader and looks rather good in that outfit. Things start to get complicated though when Kitsune finds out that Seta, and old professor of Naru’s, is back in Japan after two years of crossing the globe, and he’s also got a young girl named Sara with him.

As we learn, Naru had a big crush on Seta back during high school, and it’s likely that he’s the reason she was initially trying so hard to get into the university for. Kitsune works hard to keep Naru away from learning that he’s back while Keitaro ends up getting a quick job with him to deal with archaeological dig materials. A lot of this deals with keeping people apart from each other and finding all the odd jobs everyone is doing. Some are definitely amusing while other just fall sort of flat. But the primary thing this episode is doing is introducing Seta.

Seta brings some amount of oddness to the show, with his own fairly unstated goals. He’s not making an outward play for Naru, but he’s done enough to cause confusion, and that’s the other name of this show sometimes. When we follow him on a dig near the Hinata Inn he makes his way deep underground in an almost Keitaro sort of way while Keitaro takes care of Sara for the day. The two events naturally lead to each other, as Sara runs off into the underground area with everyone in pursuit. This isn’t terribly bad until we get to the whole “ancient culture who worshipped turtles” complete with small mechanical guardian turtles. I may have rolled my eyes too hard at this point.

The last episode deals with a play put on by the group while they work seaside at a smaller version of the Hinata Teahouse. This episode proved to be rather hard to watch as our disc was actually defective and caused a large amount of macroblocking, artifacting and staggering as it tried to lumber through the middle five minutes or so. The episode was otherwise not bad, and I can’t complain too much about Naru being in a Princess Leia slave girl outfit.

Outside of the first episode, there wasn’t much that really kept me really into these episodes beyond a few moments worth of each one that seemed to do something right. I can see where the appeal is for a lot of people, but it’s just not working for me.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Making of Love Hina,Character Gallery

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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