It’s been almost a year since I was asked to look at a harem series. This one was written by Akamatsu Ken. In the year 2000 it was adapted into an anime by Xebec. You may remember them from Bakuretsu Hunters, Bottle Fairy, Mnemosyne & Zombie Loan. So, about half their stuff I’ve reviewed has been good. I don’t really anticipate this one joining them but let’s take a look and see what happens. Maybe it will surprise me.
Our tale opens with Keitaro, who I will refer to as Blandon for the rest of this review, our protagonist. He dreams of entering the prestigious Tokyo U, in spite of having failed the entrance exam twice. Why is he so set on this particular school? Because he and the only girl who ever liked him way back when they were really little promised to get into Tokyo U together and series like this have no attachment to reality so promises made when you were five or six are something you remember and still care about fifteen years later. Blandon’s parents are tired of him leeching off of them and they want him to find a job. Despondent over being expected to do something productive with his life, and having been invited, Blandon goes to visit his grandmother at the girls’ dorm she runs. He quickly finds out that she’s scarpered and he was called over to take over as the building manager. Shenanigans ensue as he finds himself surrounding by attractive young ladies who regularly beat him.
The biggest problem is with the romance elements. To put it bluntly, they are horrendous. First off, most of Blandon’s potential love interests are actively abusive towards him. Including Narusegawa, the one we’re supposed to be pulling for. Yeah, I don’t care how much Blandon lacks personality or what a loser in general he is. No one deserves to have an abusive partner. The only two exceptions are a junior high school girl named Shinobu and a ditsy girl named Otohime. The other four girls, plus some side characters, all act like sadists. Is Akamatsu just a masochist? Is the idea of being surrounded by girls who hit him just the ultimate fantasy for him? Even if that is the case you’d think there would be a safe word or something. This series also has an obsession with incest. We’ve got a nine year old girl who’s obsessed with hooking up with her father. But it’s okay because he’s just a relative who adopted her and not really her father. We’ve also got a subplot of Kaolla Su’s brother trying to marry her. But it’s okay because he’s really her cousin who was raised with her as a brother. We’re also expected to ignore the fact that he’s in his mid twenties and she’s thirteen. If Akamatsu really thinks this is romantic as opposed to incredibly skeevy, he really needs a psychiatrist.
The main narrative itself is also really predictable, but it’s going for humour rather than serious story telling so that’s fine. As long as the jokes work. The comedy is mixed, though. There are a lot of stupid jokes about Blandon being beaten because a man being abused by a woman is hilarious. There are also stupid jokes about him doing something perverted or something that just looks perverted out of context, which usually lead to him getting brutalised, of course. There are also some zany comedic bits and those can be funny at times. Overall though you’re probably looking at jokes that work maybe 30% of the time and that’s probably a generous estimate.
There’s really not much to these characters. Blandon is your typical harem protagonist who looks plain, excels at nothing and has no personality because he’s there for the audience to project themselves onto. Which is something that this and Twilight have in common with the difference being the sex of the character like that. Personally, I’ve always found that to be rather insulting for a character who’s supposed to stand in for the audience. I know that they do it so that anyone can put themselves in this guy’s shoes, but it’s still expecting us to project ourselves onto a massive loser with no redeeming traits aside from being generically good-hearted. The girls aren’t much better in terms of complexity. They’re pretty much a group of archetypes with no real personalities because, I guess, girls with complexity aren’t sexy? I mean, they might have their own thoughts and opinions on things and that would just be terrible. It’s much better if they’re really bland and super predictable. There’s also an issue in this series with the characters being extremely thick to the point of obnoxiousness. They can’t figure anything out unless it’s explicitly spelled out for them. Especially towards the end where the series assumes its entire audience is made up of morons and keeps repeating the same information so that they can hammer it into our skulls for the climax. Seeing these twits struggle to figure out the blindingly obvious really makes me miss Hyouka and the protagonist’s basic problem solving skills.
The artwork can be strongly summed up as “meh.” The backgrounds are pretty plain but they work well enough. The action sequences are passable but really repetitive. The character designs are fine. The biggest problem is the fan-service, sometimes involving the junior high girls because class is something for other people. All things considered, however, it’s neither good nor bad.
The sound is by far the best part of the series. We’ve got Hayashibara Megumi pulling double duty as Blandon’s aunt and Shinobu’s school friend. We’ve got a lot of other talented actors as well including Horie Yui, Asakawa Yuu, Kurata Masayo, Noda Junko, Yukino Satsuki & Ueda Yuji as Blandon. These are some highly skilled and prolific actors. This may not be any of their best roles but you can certainly tell that they’re a skilled group. The music is really good and I’m not just saying that because most of the lyrical stuff was sung by Hayashibara Megumi. That’s only 90% why I’m saying it. The music is well done though and has a good amount of energy and excitement to it.
There’s a bit. There are three scenes of girls sharing kisses, although it’s more played up as being hot because girls are kissing each other rather than being used to illustrate anything about the characters and their sexual preferences. Motoko has a trio of fan-girls who follow her around. There’s also a scene where you see two old guys holding hands.
Love Hina is a stupid, poorly written series. The romance is awful, the comedy has some moments but is largely weak, the characters range from being generic to being really annoying. The only thing that’s really well done is the music and you can easily find it without having to trudge through all the idiocy. My final rating is a 2/10. Next week, I’ll look at Love Hina Again. No, that doesn’t mean I’m going to be re-posting this review. That’s the actual name of the sequel OVA. Because someone thought it would be fun to have me review both this and its sequel. I hope he’s feeling hyper x giddy over that decision right now because I’d like one of us to find joy in this situation and I’m certainly not excitedly anticipating the sequel to this thing.