The anime series, Love Hina, is the TV adaptation of Ken Akamatsu's beautiful and humorous manga which is part love story and part fan service. The series follows the adventures of the hopelessly romantic Keitarou Urashima who is looking to fulfill a promise with his childhood sweetheart to go to Tokyo University (Toudai) with her. Too bad he can't remember who she is or pass the entrance exam to Toudai.
His dreams shattered, and with no real will to try again he when his grandmother leaves him the job of running Hinata Inn (kanrinin) while she goes on vacation. Hinata Inn is an all girls dormitory built around a hot spring and if you can't see the fan service opportunities in this setup then you're blind. While he is initially rejected by the occupants because he's a guy (and, on top of that, a pervert according to Narusegawa), he is later accepted when shows his genuinely caring attitude towards the residents.
Keitarou's dream of going to Toudai and living happily forever with his destined lover seems more like a day dream than reality. But, if he grows up and learns not to just take the easy route through life he may have a fighting chance at bliss. Will he? You'll have to watch to find out!
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The show's humour is frequently caused by Keitarou accidentally mishandling (Keitarou! No touching girls there!) the girls or walking in on them while less than fully clothed. Narusegawa usually punishes him swiftly and appropriately in a violent and painful manner. Keitarou's accidental lechery and his suffering for it is the basis for the show's humor. Combining slapstick comedy with fan service has its limits and Love Hina sometimes goes a bit beyond good taste.
Several episodes include parodies of samurai films, Godzilla movies, japanese idols and more. Rounding out the comedy is Suu. She adds a comedic element to many scenes with her antics and inventions.
Love Hina's love story is interesting but fairly shallow. Almost all of the time in the shows 24 episodes are spent instead with introducing and dealing with characters as they grapple with their personal problems. By the end of the series, all the characters have been remarkably well described. There's just never any real doubt who Keitaro will end up with.
The production company, Xebec, ran out of money after the 25th episode and the series "finishes" halfway into the manga. The final episode (never aired in Japan) was a recap that was supposed to lead into the next season. The enormous success of the show allowed production of specials to tie up the story in a disjointed fashion.
The series uses digital animation which gives the series its clean look but as a result it sometimes suffers from clunky unnatural feeling animation. This problem is more or less fixed in the specials but they have even more story per episode compressed into them than the series tried to.
Even with these problems Love Hina is still one of my favorite series. Its nutty sense of humour, rich set of characters and uplifting story keep me coming back to watch it.
Love Hina definitely misses no opportunity to show the beautiful cast lounging around the Hinata hot spring and anywhere else where the dress code is scantily clad. This is definitely a show that is well worth watching and I don't just mean for fan service. It's got plot, too! Similar anime series include Ranma, Tenchi and DNA.