Reviewby Bamboo Dong, Jan 17th 2003
Love Hina X'mas Special - Silent Eve
A rumor is going around Japan that if you profess your love to someone special on Christmas Eve, all of your wishes will come true. In the meantime, Su and Sara find a letter in Naru's room that contains the words “I always loved…” in it. Naturally, Keitaro soon finds out and decides to profess his love to Naru. Will it be reciprocated?
Bandai did an amazing job with the Love Hina Christmas Special, which they renamed the Christmas Movie. Not only does the disc include the special, but also a special episode 25, which they stuck into the extras section. Also included in the extras section is a textless version of the ending theme. While this isn't an incredibly exciting feature, the ending theme is cute enough, and provides plenty of fanservice shots to viewers, who might appreciate not having any credits to obscure their view. The DVD packaging is also done well, as it features a reversible cover, with one side showing the Love Hina girls decked out in Christmas clothing, and the other side showing them with their New Years kimonos on. Included as a DVD insert is also a mini foldout 2003 calendar, marked with the character's birthdays, and amusingly, the release date for the Love Hina Spring Special. Altogether, the packaging of the DVD, and the disc itself is loaded with fun and cute extras, providing a very nice release for the special.
The Christmas Special is by far better than any of the Love Hina television episodes. It concentrates more on the characters and their interactions with one another, rather than overdone slapstick comedy, though that also finds its way into the release. It can easily be said that this one release has more emotion in it than all of the episodes combined, making it a very worthwhile purchase for Love Hina fans everywhere. Within its one hour run time, it manages to focus on Naru and Keitarō, while still exploring the feelings and thoughts of the other characters. Interestingly, while it has, by far, the most emotion of all the episodes, as well as a plot line that is stronger than the entire series combined, it also has the most fanservice shots. These shots occur often and plentifully, from breast shots, prolonged implied nudity, to panty shots. While sometimes they seem too forced and overdone, they don't detract from the release, whose main focus remains the story and the strong emotions felt by the characters. The extra episode 25 was also a very nice treat, and although it ran along the same low quality par as the Love Hina episodes, it was still enjoyable to watch, and made a very nice bonus.
Another characteristic especially pleasant about the Christmas special was the music. The soundtrack ranged from catchy JPop tunes to slow melodic instrumentals that fit the spirits of the scenes perfectly. The only complaint is that sometimes the cheerful holiday music in the background combined with the background noises clutters the dialogue tracks more than they have to. Given the fact that some of the scenes take place in the middle of Tokyo around Christmas time, this is understandable, but on occasion, it can be slightly distracting. Nevertheless, the JPop is sure to win some fans over, as they are infectious and perfect for Christmas karaoke parties.
The animation in the special is just as choppy on occasion as the television series, but with all of the action occurring on the screen, it's not too noticeable. The art, also, is nothing extraordinary, but serves its purpose well. The characters and backgrounds are clear and largely uncluttered, which allows it to be free of any unnecessary line distractions. Another aspect of the art that has always been commendable is the successful way that facial emotions are shown in all of the characters. Coupled with the emotional scenes that appear near the end, this enhances the effect of the feelings that the director tries to portray. There is one particularly disturbing aspect of the art, though, and that is the way snow is drawn. Most of the times, it's shown as just balls of white fuzz drifting from the sky, which is nice, but on occasion, the camera will attempt to show zoomed-in snowflakes. These appear as large popcorn-esque chunks of white material, which can invoke a rather puzzled feeling from viewers who aren't used to seeing balls of styrofoam rain from the sky.
Another nice part of this release is the two dialogue tracks. The Japanese voice actors did a splendid job with their lines, giving the characters the emotions that matched their scenarios perfectly. Every nuance in the script was done correct, even the shy hesitations, or the embarrassed stuttering. This display of emotion was also matched by the English voice actors. Although the casting continues to grate on many an auditory nerve, the actual lines were delivered superbly, leaving nothing wanting. As with Bandai's usual display of finesse, the Japanese script was translated faithfully, with slight changes only made on occasion to fit character's mouths, or the lengths of certain lines.
The Love Hina Christmas Special is infinitely better than any of the Love Hina television episodes, and Bandai definitely does this release justice. The dialogue was done nicely, the video transfer was clean and crisp, and the disc contents were handled extremely well. For Love Hina fans everywhere, this is a must-have for your collection. As for everyone else, if you only plan on buying a few Love Hina DVDs your entire life, then plan on making this one of them.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : C
Art : C
Music : B-
+ Ep. 25 included as a bonus
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