Reviewby Christopher Macdonald, Dec 18th 2001
Love Hina (TV)
DVD 1: Moving In
One of the funniest anime of all time! After being rejected twice from Tokyo University, the hapless Keitaro Urashima becomes the manager of an all-girls apartment complex! But will he be able to concentrate on his studies? Could one of his tenants be his long-lost love? Will his tenants leave him alone? Heck! Will he survive the school year?!
Based on the Love Hina manga by Ken Akamatsu, the TV series is very funny, and also very 'ecchi' ['ecchi' from japanese pronunciation of 'h' from 'hentai'--Ed]. At this point it's hard to actually feel sorry for Keitaru, but it is very easy to laugh at him. Slightly sexual, ecchi humor abounds, making for an extremely amusing and lighthearted series.
The first three episodes serve simply to introduce the series, with the first episode introducing the setting and main protagonists, Keitaru and Narusegawa as well as a number of other supporting characters. The second and third episodes each serve to introduce a new character to the story all the while also developing these characters. It seems reasonable to expect that the early parts of the series will have at least one episode devoted to each character.
As always, Production I.G delivers faultless animation and art; the character designs are clean, the colors vivid and the animation fluid. One particular new technique that Production I.G used while animating this series was to blur a part of a single frame during high speed action sequences. Infinitely better than speed lines, the technique serves to trick the eye into believing that an image on the screen is moving extremely fast.
The opening and ending songs, as well as the background music throughout the episodes are hyperactive and do a great job of adding to the funny nature of the series. However, with the exception of the opening and ending themes, the music is entirely synth music that isn't worth listening to on its own, it's merely there to provide background sounds. The opening and ending themes are complete pieces of music, but listening to them outside the context of the series is a bit like watching Pikachu on speed; hyper spastic and too cute.
Overall, the voice acting and direction on the English dub is quite good. While the English script writer took a lot of liberties from the literal translation, for the most part the overall spirit of the original script is kept. Unfortunately some of the more subtle jokes are completely lost. What's aggravating about this is that most of the changes weren't necessary, and those changes that were necessary could still have been done so as not to change the original meaning of the lines. One of many glaring examples in the first episode is when “Right, there's an open-air bath here!” is changed to “I don't remember this place having an outdoor hot springs bath.” The other major issue that stands out on the English dub is the accents of Mitsune and Kaolla. While the Japanese voice of Mitsune does sport a small Osakan accent, it isn't nearly as blatant, or as overdone as the American South accent they chose to give her in the English dub. The accent stands out enough that it will probably annoy quite a few viewers. Kaolla, who is supposed to be an exchange student from India, on the other hand is given a very discreet Indian accent; just enough to be noticeable without being blatant. Her accent fits perfectly with the part.
There's also a small issue with the volume of the English dub, you'll have to turn up your center channel significantly to be able to hear the voices clearly over the background sounds & music, of course, this is a bit more of a problem to solve if you're listening to the show on a traditional sound setup.
In terms of extras, the DVD includes “Keitaro's Sketchbook” and a character photo gallery. Keitaro's is a bit of a short “crayon diary” featuring Keitaro's wishful meanderings put to small, cute pictures that he has drawn. It doesn't include the very nice pencil sketches that are shown in his sketchbook during the series, hopefully these will be included as an extra on a future DVD. The character photo gallery includes a short bio of each featured character and a series of screenshots featuring the character. This volume's photo gallery features Naru and Keitaro, it seems reasonable to expect a similar gallery featuring other characters on the future DVDs.
The DVD menus are decent and easy to use; the only item really worth mentioning about them is in regards to the design of the main menu. Quite amusing actually, if the viewer doesn't know better they'll probably think they're looking at the menu for an H-game or video.
The DVD cover is sort of reversible, with the back side including full length (front & back) copy of the cover image. The box also includes a folded insert with a cute look at Naru from Keitaru's point of view, and a partial list of the Japanese credits.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : A
Animation : A
Art : B+
Music : A+
+ One of the funniest shows in recent memory, great animation.
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