Love Hina Vol. #5 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.95
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Love Hina

Love Hina Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     October 11, 2002
Release Date: October 22, 2002


Love Hina Vol. #5
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Summer time is almost over and the gang takes a well deserved vacation. But when Naru becomes possessed by an evil spirit, it is up to Keitaro to save her soul.

Due to a misunderstanding, Naru ditches Keitaro and hangs out with Seta at the summer festival. Meanwhile, Sara pulls a prank that backfires and leaves them stranded on a deserted island.

Throw in Kaolla’s older brother and a mechanical doll discovered in the deep dark recesses of the Hinata apartments and you have yourself a recipe for disaster!

The Review!
The mix of episodes this time around is a fair bit better, to the point where I almost actually enjoyed a Motoko episode.

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:
With this cover, I’ve finally fallen into the camp of people who believe that Production I.G./Bandai have completely missed the boat on cover artwork for this series release. The covers have been decent, and do reflect a portion of what the shows have, but it’s just not right for the series. With every piece of merchandise, book and cd out there having some form of fan-service with the girls, these DVD covers should have reflected that as well. A cover like this doesn’t sell what’s inside. While the Japanese covers aren’t heavy with fan-service, they’re definitely a lot more character-attractive than these are. 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 “Kaolla Su’s Photo Essay” with the small “photo” shots of various things that went on during the episodes with the cast. 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:
The extras for this release has dropped down to just the character profiles and images section, this time for Kaolla and Sarah.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this release, we get through the final block of teen episodes and are poised to get to the end of the series and then into the OVA’s and specials. Surprisingly, I found myself enjoying these episodes more than the past ones. Partially due to their being less “out there” for the most part, and probably more due to my mental filling in of the blanks from having been reading and immensely enjoying the manga release.

Of course, “not as out-there” is a relative thing with this. The opening episode deals with everyone going off to enjoy some party time on the island, but end up dealing with a spirit that seems to take over peoples bodies to carry out an age-old desire for revenge against a man who betrayed her. Naturally, she takes over Naru’s body and that causes a fair amount of trouble along the way, since she goes with the method of seducing people outright. What ties nicely into this is Motoko, whose been told by some of her faithful classmates that she’s fallen from the path and not quite as pure as she used to be. A lot of this gets attributed to Keitaro, but for her to purify herself some, she takes an exorcism challenge, which leads her to the same island everyone else went off to. There’s plenty of clashes to happen there, but the way she and Keitaro start to understand each other more as they try to free Naru proves to be a high point in the series so far.

Another out there episode deals with an automaton doll from the last century that Keitaro’s great grandfather had bought from the Tokyo Imperial University with plans to fix. This mingles with a legend of certain objects that come to life if they’ve been taken care of for 100 years, so the timing is just right. The episode is primarily spent with Keitaro talking to the childlike doll and wanting to do good by it. Everyone figures he’s nuts, and basically get proof when they realize Mutsumi (who now conveniently lives down the street) also talks to the doll. Since we get to hear the doll as well, and learn of its past as it takes Naru through a visual trip of Keitaro’s family history, it provides some really good moments for building upon the basic blocks of what makes Keitaro click. But, you know the two just go back to kick/punt/cry mode by the end of the show.

There were a lot more good character moments throughout though. There’s the obligatory festival episode, and you know those are often the one where you see character changes and growth happen, and this one is no exception. One of the best parts of the episode deals with Haruka and her apparent familiarity with Seta growing even more. She manages to talk more during this episode than anywhere else, and those lines tend to be pretty illuminating about her choices in life. And though it’s contrived and hokey, she kicked off one of the best moments of the series so far where as the fireworks go off above everyone, they all sing parts of the opening song in a nice slow mellow way, with their lines all being appropriate for their situations at this point in the series. A very well done moment.

But also a moment that fails horribly for dub fans. The moment that Haruka begins to sing, it’s done in Japanese. But not subtitled. So unless you scramble to change the subtitles on the fly, you’re just lost with it. A very poorly done moment.

Sarah continues to grate on me and I am still no fan of Kaolla, so when there’s an entire episode devoted to her and her King brother who looks like a slightly cooler version of Keitaro, I ended up just not getting into it all that much. Outside of the outfits of the girls at least. But overall, the feeling from these episodes came across better than the last couple of volumes, so I’m actually looking forward to the next volume now. Just not quite as much as I am the manga though.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Profiles

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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