Manga Reviews

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Love Hina

Love Hina
Licensed by Tokyopop
14 Volumes (Complete)

Topic: Harem, Romance, Ecchi, Comedy

Urashima Keitaro is a third year ronin, a student who has failed the university entrance exams twice so far. The problem is that, when he was four years old, he made a promise with a girl that they would both make it into Tokyo U, the most prestigious university in Japan. That girl then moved away and he hasn't seen her since. Since Keitaro isn't too bright, he's failed the exam twice already. After having failed the second time, his family gets fed up and kicks him out of the house, so he's forced to go live with his grandmother, who just so happens to own a female only hot-spring inn.

At the inn, he meets five different girls, with completely different attitudes. Yet one of them, Naru Narusegawa, seems to have a connection to Keitaro's past. Could she be the girl that he remembers? And will it even matter? Keitaro's clumsiness constantly lands him in bad situations, causing the people around him to hate him. Will his naive charm and ernestness be sufficient to win over the inn's tenants before they get fed up and boot him out as well?

This manga is full of fan-service, with panty shots and shameless situations in every chapter. If you can get past that (or if you enjoy that sort of situation), this manga has quite a lot to offer, including a fairly elaborate storyline. The author manages to make the story progress decently, while inserting many comedic situations involving Keitarou's incompetence and his earnet naivete. My primary plot complaint is that the author runs out of story at around volume 10, and tacks on a fairly useless second "story arc" to artificially prolong the series.

The background art for Love Hina is fairly detailed, with plenty of distant perspective shots. The character art is excellent, with each character having his or her own quirks. The expressions are very well drawn and manage to convey more information than the average manga face. I found that the character development was sub-par. Outside of Naru and Keitarou, the other characters have cursoury backstories told but never finished. The two main characters are explored more thoroughly but their actions still come across as a bit forced, as though the author didn't plan out the pacing of their relationship from the beginning. That said, all the characters do grow on you and it becomes easier to overlook these shortcomings.

I'd recommend this manga for those who are in search of a fan-service manga with a bit of a love story behind it. If you're emphasis is on the love-story portion rather than the fan-service portion, I'd point you towards Living Game instead.

Rating: 6.0/10.0


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