Reviewby Zac Bertschy, Oct 30th 2003
Love Hina Again
It's the start of a new semester at Tokyo University, and things are looking bright for Keitaro and Naru, ready to enter their first semester of college as a couple. Unfortunately, Keitaro breaks his leg before opening ceremonies even begin, and he's is forced to go home for a while. When he returns, he's accompanied by Naru's old flame Seta, who takes Keitaro with him on an archaeological dig! Someone has to run the Hina Inn, though, and Keitaro's replacement is none other than the twisted Kanoko, his maniacal sister, who has some strange ideas on how to run the place!
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. The final OVA series in what used to be a mildly entertaining (if not totally shameless) shonen romance comedy, Love Hina Again will stand as one of the worst anime endings ever conceived. If you know what's good for you, you'll watch the TV series, the poignant and touching Christmas movie, and you'll just pretend like the Spring special and this wretched final OVA were never spawned.
The story starts out innocently enough: Keitaro and Naru, now a freshly minted couple, head to Tokyo U after finally getting accepted. Naru punches Keitaro, and he winds up breaking his leg (which is a contrivance, considering how many times Keitaro's been smashed through every conceivable surface for doing so much as looking at Naru wrong without getting so much as a nosebleed). He misses his first semester at his beloved university and winds up going on an archaeological dig with Seta. Meanwhile, Keitaro's jailbait sister Kanoko shows up and starts screwing things up. She's also got the hots for her brother, and she intends on getting Naru out of the way.
Love Hina Again seems to be mostly a collection of excessive fan service shots and a whole lot of ridiculously asinine plot developments, usually with one leading to the other. Kanoko needs to do “research” on the Hina Inn occupants, so she dresses up like Naru and goes around feeling everyone up. Why does she dress like Naru to begin with? Why does she need to spend two minutes squeezing Kitsune's breasts? Where's the “research” there? Fan service can be OK if they bother coming up with some sort of mildly plausible explanation for it, but this is clearly designed just so certain fans of this show can get all hot and bothered watching their greatest doujinshi-inspired fantasies come to life on screen. It's an insult to anyone with half a brain, especially since it doesn't further the plot at all. They didn't insult the fans' intelligence this much in the earlier series. Why do they need to do it now?
Things just get worse from there. Kanoko turns out to be one of the most annoying characters ever created; she exists to make the ridiculous gap between Keitaro and Naru even larger. Naru seems to regress every time she tells Keitaro she loves him and refuses to admit it to anyone (even him) after she's said it many times over. What is this? Oh, it's totally frustrating and irresponsible character development, that's what. They've already given you the payoff in the Christmas movie. We know they're a couple, they know they're a couple, but for the sake of squeezing those last few dollars out of Love Hina fans, they bring the characters back about ten steps so they can shoehorn in another lame plot about someone trying to break them up (even though they weren't acting like a couple in the first place). Naru continuously says and does the wrong thing, acts like a complete emotional screw-up, and allows Kanoko's poorly thought out plans to ruin her relationship with her boyfriend. Why doesn't Naru stand up for herself? Why does she have no problem knocking Keitaro into the stratosphere for confessing his love to her, but when his sister smashes her breasts in his face, she won't beat her down? It's incredibly annoying to watch.
Once the final episode comes around, they bring back Mao the robot girl (inexplicably inserted in to the television series) and the plot revolves around a magical inn that spiritually seals the love between two people once they spend the night together. Of course, confusion happens and Keitaro winds up accidentally confessing his love to Kanoko, who is apparently perfectly happy in a forced relationship with someone who clearly does not love her. What does Naru do about this? She runs away, of course, and doesn't do anything about it except whine and complain to herself. What does Keitaro do? Nothing, he's a milquetoast. Naru waits until the end to blow up the inn and confess her love for Keitaro (for what, the fifth time in this series?), so all of the emotional payoff is in the last few minutes of the show, and it's something we already knew. It just isn't worth it. The journey at this point is so long and arduous and full of huge shiny breasts and short skirts that you'll have gone mad long before the end.
It doesn't help that the English dub is a complete disaster. It's like they went out of their way to totally miscast everyone in the series. Naru is high-pitched and whiny. Kaolla Su should be renamed Kaolla Nahasapeemapetilon (I'd pay money to hear her voice actor say “thank you, come again!”). Kitsune is cursed with one of the worst fake southern accents ever; it's obviously being forced, and a forced bad accent doing poor line readings of inane dialogue is enough to make your ears bleed. Everyone else has generic English anime dub girl voice. Just watch the Japanese version. For your own sake.
The animation, by Production IG, is of course very well done and fluid, so there are no complaints there. By and large, this thing is bound to be a total disappointment for Love Hina fans. All of the characters seem to take a few big steps backward, and any progress that was made between Keitaro and Naru is lost, so they act like they were never a couple. This is really lazy and irresponsible storytelling, folks. There's no reason to pay money to get an emotional payoff you're supposed to have already seen, except this time with more breasts and explosions. Stay away.
Overall (dub) : F
Overall (sub) : D-
Story : F
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : B
+ Good animation, decent music.
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