Love Hina Vol. #6 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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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. #6

By Chris Beveridge     November 13, 2002
Release Date: November 19, 2002


Love Hina Vol. #6
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
Based on the best selling comic book series by Ken Akamatsu! The Love Hina romantic comedy continues to win over new fans as Keitaro attempts to keep his promise to his long lost love and enter the prestigious Tokyo University! But who is this mystery girl!?



Love is in the air! Could Naru finally be opening up to geeky Keitaro!? The residents of Hinata Inn sure hope so! With the Inn under construction, the fun loving gang must deal with time away from the Hinata Inn, but what will happen to the residents after Keitaro's shocking announcement! Will he finally fulfill his lifelong promise to enter Tokyo University or will he seek something...errr someone new?!

The Review!
Bringing the aired episodes of the series to a close, Love Hina tempts and toys as most anime do with something resembling an almost-ending to the love mess between all the girls and Keitaro, but keeps things going just enough for it to have more episodes.

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:
Haruka gets a cover this time, and like just about every other woman in the series, gets to smack Keitaro upside the head. It’s an action cover for a series with no real action sequences! 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 most of the main female cast set up as a video game fighter, which has some amusing costumes, as well as a filmstrip along the bottom showing various “moves”. The insert has another shot of the front cover while it opens to detail Haruka and show some shots of her. The back cover provides the Japanese production credits and cast listings.

Menu:
The main menu is like previous volumes 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 as well as various creatures from the show bouncing in, including an amusing one of Tama smashing the logo. Moving between the menus is nice and fast and the layout is pretty nice.

Extras:
Extras are again minimal here, with one section being a character artwork gallery on Haruka (and I think she got the most animation shots out of any of the cast) while the other highlights the Love Hina Fan Art contest winners Bandai ran. No textless opening or ending sequences in sight folks.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The final batch of episodes, which I admittedly watched out of order having seen the direct to video episode as well as the Christmas Special ahead of it, didn’t leave a lot of room for spoilers. I knew pretty much what to expect going into it, but in some ways that freed me to enjoy it a bit more I think, though I know I got impatient in a few areas.

Having done well recently, Keitaro manages to convince Naru to go onto something like a date with him during the day, which isn’t exactly what she thought it was going to be. His first attempt at taking her to his favorite beefbowl place doesn’t go well with her, and then they get accosted by Kentaro. But he’s not the only one whose watching what they’re doing, there’s a young girl whose keeping a close eye on things and doesn’t look happy about it. As it turns out, it’s Naru’s younger sister Mei whose come to Hinata to try and convince Naru to come home. If that happens, then Mei can go study abroad in Canada and get away from what she sees as an unhappy family.

Another thing that gets covered throughout a number of the episodes here is the back story behind Naru, Keitaro and Mutsumi. With this being the primary triangle, and the end of the series here, we start to actually learn who did what way back when, such as the way they all talk about Liddo and the show. One of the more amusing parts is when Naru goes to clean her Liddo doll she’s had since childhood, she turns it over and Mutsumi’s name is sewn into it. This triggers even more memories of what went on in the past, and members of the Hinata family as well as Naru’s mother start filling in other areas.

For the most part, the majority of the cast outside of the three in the triangle get the short end of the stick. Mei gets more screentime than the regular cast, since she’s working to get Naru to come home and works on this by trying to get Keitaro and Mutsumi together and to try and show Naru why Keitaro is so bad. In the end though, this sort of sums up the first half of the series so it’s nothing terribly new, but it provides a break between the quieter somber moments where the pasts are reawakened. But much like past episodes, watching Mutsumi and Keitaro together just do go really far into making them a really fun couple to watch.

Besides… those watermelons of hers!

As can be expected, things come to a head when Keitaro’s grandmother returns and ponders taking over the manager position again, Keitaro’s parents start insisting that he come back home and his test scores begin to really slip past any point of progress. Add in Naru returning home with no intention of coming back and the seeming end of the Hinata group in general, it all comes together in a predictable way. And frankly, at this point, that’s not all bad. Sometimes the simple and predictable is still enjoyable and fun to watch, though deep down I keep hoping for that series that takes the risks.

As far as the broadcast series goes, I found it to be pretty darn uneven. I loved the start, but hated how fast it fell into repetition of the same gags and the way it messed with its own internal reality. There were some really good episodes sprinkled inside, but they felt few and far between. It’s a series that I enjoyed on one level, but I think in the end I found that it didn’t translate too well from the manga. There’s just something special that didn’t quite make it over, at least in these episodes. If episode 25 can make me like Motoko, anything can happen.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Gallery,Fan Art Contest Winners

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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