Love Hina Vol. #5 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Beez
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • 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 Dani Moure     November 23, 2005
Release Date: February 07, 2005


Love Hina Vol. #5
© Beez


What They Say
The gang winds up on an island. Sounds like a fun vacation right? Well, it would be, except that the island happens to be haunted! Naru has become possessed by an evil spirit that haunts the island. And the spirit is out for vengeance. And guess who's the target? Keitaro.

Meanwhile Naru, still mad at Keitaro, hangs out with Seta at the summer festival. And when a prank backfires, Kaolla, Sarah and Kitsune wind up stranded on another island! Then another of Kaolla's relatives visits. This time, it's her brother. And he's come to take her home. But does she wanna go? No way!

Then, deep in the dark recesses of the Hinata Apartments, a mechanical doll is discovered. The doll has memories and thinks that Keita is his grandfather, the one who was taking care of her over 50 years ago!

Contains episodes 17-20:
17. Mesmerized By Naru On The Haunted Island: Something's Fishy!
18. Girls Dressed In Yukata For The Summer Festival: Let's!
19. Marry into Money? A Prince from Across The Sea: Warm
20. A Sepia-colored Promise With A Sleeping Girl: A Trick?

The Review!
And so the Love Hina train continues on in the latest volume.

Audio:
Having heard the series in its entirety in Japanese, I opted for the English dub again for this volume, and my opinion hasn't really changed since the last few discs. The performances are often off, and the only performance that I really enjoyed was Dorothy Melendrez as Naru. David Umansky is a bit too whiney as Keitaro. Wendee Lee sounds too old for Su, and the accent is awful, Ellen Arden doesn't have quite the same feel for Shinobu, and while Barbara Goodson might not be doing a bad job as Kitsune, the Southern accent they've given her (as an attempt to emulate the slang and dialect that Kitsune uses) washes out any semblance of a good performance, because it's so distracting and out of place. It's a crying shame because all the actors here are good, but this dub just doesn't hold up at all. The volume level is also very low; far more so than the Japanese track, and sounds a little bit tinny at times. It's disappointing as this show's dub could've been a real riot if it'd been handled better.

I did spot-check the Japanese track, and the performances continue to be enjoyable. It sounds very good (at a decent volume level), and I noticed no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
This is one area where I found the disc a little disappointing. While colours come across as extremely nice and vibrant, and the show generally looks good with no aliasing, the compression is disappointing. There are some compression artifacts throughout, especially in the opening and it's high motion scenes, and often around the kanji credits as well. It's a shame as it mars what is otherwise a very good presentation. On the plus side, we also get the opening and ending credits in the original Japanese kanji, but disappointingly there's no on-disc translation of the show's English credits. These appeared on the US release in the inserts, but since I don't have the packaging available I don't know if they'll appear on the UK release.

Subtitles are in a nice yellow font, and are a good, clear size. I noticed no spelling or grammatical errors that stood out throughout the episodes.

Packaging:
No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

Menu:
Continuing in the same style as the earlier volumes, there's a brief animated logo that appears before it goes into the main menu, which has a montage of clips of each of the characters in the show playing inside a frame. The show's logo and menu selections appear at the bottom of the screen, while the opening theme plays over the menu. The setup and extras menus are both static with no music playing, but look nice and fit with the menu's theme. Access times are fast, and while it won't blow you away, the menus do fit the tone of the show nicely.

Extras:
Extras for this series continue to be somewhat thin on the ground. First we have another character photo gallery, which contains a little character description of Kitsune followed by a selection of seven screenshots from the show. The only other extra is a trailer for the series, which I believe is taken from the US release of the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the last disc my frustrations at the lack of any moving forward with the characters and relationships just grew even further, and while that continues to be the case to a certain degree, there is still a fair amount of enjoyment to be had from the episodes in this disc, particularly for fans of Motoko and Su.

Episode 17 sees everyone still at the teahouse, when Seta arrives on the scene. Motoko immediately challenges him to a rematch. She’s started to question herself and her involvement with everyone at the Hinata Inn, since she was always training hard on her own and trying to hold up to her beliefs. Now she seems to have softened up and accepted everyone. She goes to a nearby island to exorcise an evil spirit, only she finds the whole gang there telling ghost stories. But she does find the spirit eventually – inhabiting Naru!

This is another funny slapstick episode, and it’s nice to spend a bit more time with Motoko as she is genuinely one of the characters who has changed a bit since the start of the series. She’s grown somewhat more domesticated and a bit reliant on not so much Keitaro, but everyone around her being there. Her realisation of this, and coming to terms with it, makes for an interesting episode that’s in the usual entertaining, slapstick-style backdrop. There are a few drop-in moments in the Keitaro-Naru relationship as always, though it continues to move at a snail’s pace.

Next episode and it’s time for the summer festival, so all the girls get dressed up in their yukatas in preparation. Kitsune starts teasing Naru as she continues to try and force her to admit her feelings for Keitaro, but he overhears as she tells Naru that she likes Keitaro, and then she goes about making Naru jealous. Later, Kitsune overhears Seta asking Haruka to take care of Sara for a while as he is going away again. She jumps to all sorts of conclusions as to what Naru’s reaction will be, so at the festival she does all she can to keep Seta and Naru apart, but her plan doesn’t work as Naru and Seta walk around together, bumping into Shinobu and Keitaro constantly.

Again, it’s more of the same here, as there continue to be some good moments between Naru and Keitaro, but as usual when you think they’re finally getting somewhere something slapstick happens and they’re torn away from each other. In some ways it’s more interesting in this episode to see Seta and Shinobu’s reactions to what is going on, as well as Kitsune’s continued efforts as a love-maker trying to get the pair together.

Episode 19 sees Su going missing, as a mystery man who looks like Keitaro arrives at the Hinata Inn. He has a run-in with all the girls, and they all think it is Keitaro, though he’s far more gentlemanly and behaves completely differently. Amalla Su, the older sister, is back as well, and eventually explains it all. The mystery man is in fact Crown Prince Lamba Lu, her cousin. Su has transformed into her elder self again, and is going on about her elder brother. She is referring to Lamba Lu instead, who it turns out has to take a bride before he will be recognised as heir, and that bride is Koalla Su...

Here, we finally get a bit more of an explanation of what Su’s transformation into the elder form is and why she has a bit of a fixation with Keitaro, referring to him as an elder brother. It’s quite funny to delve a bit more into her character as she obviously doesn’t really want to get married at all, and it’s nice to see Keitaro sticking to his guns and trying to do what’s best for Su and what he knows she wants. It’s a bit of a break from the slapstick surrounding the Naru and Keitaro relationship and it works quite well.

In the final episode on the disc, Keitaro stumbles across a doll called Moe having snuffed his entrance exams. It moves by itself and talks by itself, even though it’s actually a doll, but Haruka soon reveals that the doll used to belong to grandma Hina. Keitaro is initially the only one who can hear her, until Mutsumi brings them some watermelon and joins them for a chat. Naru soon does the same but is completely creeped out by the doll’s chatty nature. The other girls want to see him get back to his studying and start talking of monsters and possessions, so Motoko takes it upon herself to perform another exorcism.

This is probably one of my least favourite episodes of the series so far, and it’s disappointing that it comes at such a late stage in the series. It seems like a completely unnecessary diversion from any semblance of story that the series does have, and just became a bit annoying as I watched it. I hate to term episodes “filler”, but that’s exactly what this is. There’s a bit of jealousy from Naru coming through as Keitaro chats to Moe, but it’s all so ridiculous (even by Love Hina’s standards), since at the end of the day it’s a doll that they can hear talking. It put the disc on a bit of a downer for me as well, because even though there’s not too much in the way of forwarding the Naru-Keitaro relationship, there were some nice moments between the pair throughout the previous three episodes, as well as some interesting moments with the other characters, especially Su and Motoko who were the focal points of a couple of them.

In Summary:
At this stage if you’re enjoying Love Hina, then you’ll want to be picking up this disc as well. It has a couple of nice character-centric episodes, though the frustration with the lack of moving forward with the plot gets even worse by the end of the disc. With just four episodes to go, you can but hope they’ll do something to move things forward at least to some kind of ending point, knowing there are more specials to come after the TV series ends. For all its plodding and padding though, I do enjoy the characters of Love Hina, and the slapstick nature of things does provide a lot of laughs when the series gets it right. It may not be moving forward very fast, but the series is still an enjoyable one.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1 & 2.0),English Subtitles,Love Hina Trailer,Photo gallery

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.

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