My Love Hina Marathon
As many of my regular visitors know by now, I live in a pretty rural area, where it's 65 km to the nearest small town and an even longer trip to the big city. Well, Earlier this week I had the opportunity to travel to the big city to pick up the complete Love Hina DVD collection. When I say "complete" I actually mean season 1. There were also a few subsequent Holiday Specials and a three-part Original Video Animation entitled Love Hina Again that I have to get my hands on still. So I'm going to get that the next time I'm in the city. It's pretty common in anime for the show to change it's title between seasons, mainly as a way of signifying the start of a new story arc.
I had never seen Love Hina before, despite it being one of the more popular animes, so I decided it would be fun to pull an all nighter marathon and watch all 25 episodes in one night. Here is my account of that night.
I popped in disk one at about 6.30pm. Sat down on my couch and instantly fell in love with the Love Hina theme song. The credits are all in Japanese, despite the fact the theme song is subtitled, and I have the option of watching the show with either Japanese or English Audio. The first episode was a little hard to watch, but subsequent episodes get much better.
Basically, the first episode sets the storyline, which is to be expected. I learn that Keitaro Urushima is a young male with his eyes set on enrolling in Tokyo University because of a promise he made to a girl he liked back fifteen years ago. Of course, in classic slice-of-life/sitcom style, he can't remember her name.
He also accidentally is hired on to become the new manager at Hinata Inn - an "all girls" apartment complex that his grandmother owns. And the girls are not happy to have a male around, as pointed out by the fact that fifteen of the twenty-two minutes of the first episode are spent by watching Keitaro-kun daydream, do something stupid, and then get beat up by the girls. The girl who becomes the central female lead in subsequent episodes - Naru Narusegawa - packs one hell of a mean punch. In the second and third episodes (chronologically speaking, parts of episode two actually overlap with episode one) introduces two new tenants: Shinobu Maehara (In episode two) and Motoko Aoyama (episode 3).
Shinobo-chan comes to the Inn due to family turmoil, which Keitaro-kun's first real duty as manager is to help her. Aoyama-san was on a swordsmaster retreat when Keitaro had been hired. Keitaro's duty of the day is to prove himself worthy to this thirteenth generation swordmaster.
At 7.30 I pour myself a coffee and watch as Narusegawa-san and Keitaro-kun go on a vacation to Kyoto where they meet the lovely - and almost as accident prone as keitaro-san - Mutsumi Otohime. Hilarity ensues. It also begins to become painfully obvious that Shinobo-chan has a crush on Keitaro.
At 9pm I pour another coffee and pop in disk 2.
Congratulations! You're Still Reading this!
I would not advise marathoning through this collection.
I'm going to reduce the amount of times I use honarariums at this point. It's probably easier to understand if I just use the cast members first names. New coffee in hand and a cigarette break later, I'm settling in to watch another disk of Love Hina.
There's not much to report here, actually, except that Episode 10 is definately going to make for some nice Anime Music Video material, as Naru becomes a pop sensation, falling behind on her Tokyo U studies, and getting frustrated with Keitaro when he actually plays the responsible one between the two of them. With quite a few segments of Naru singing, it is perfect for AMV footage.
I had just poured myself another coffee before watching this episode, which started at about 10.45pm. By this point, I had already grabbed my blanket and was now laying down on my couch to watch the show. Shinobu's feelings for Keitaro were explored in depth in another episode, Kaolla Su has some cool magical powers, and a new cast member is introduced: Dr. Seito, a professor at Tokyo University - also Naru's former tutor, crush, and the man she made a promise to in order to enter Tokyo University.
Cigarette breaks, bathroom breaks, and coffee breaks combined, I pop in this disc at about 12.30 in the morning. At this point I was getting pretty tired, and had just poured myself another coffee, not to mention my cat starting to get pretty demanding - he loves attention and can get hyper when ignored - I was starting to become a little distracted, so forgive me if I accidentally mention an episode on disk 4 in this group, or vice-versa.
The story arc on this disk covers two things: Keitaro trying to come to terms with Naru's feelings for Seta-sensei, and a trip to the beach to restore a coffeehouse that is also owned by the Hinata family. As usual, Naru gets mad at Keitaro because he does something clumsy, and by the time they leave the beach (the coffeehouse arc covers three episodes) things are not exactly resolved, but Naru decides to forgive Keitaro anyways.
After the beach/coffeehouse storyline, I really needed to use the bathroom. Interestingly enough, I also brew a fresh pot of coffee at this time. It is now 2.45, and sleep deprivation and an attention-seeking cat were struggling to take me away from my marathon. I was also starting to get confused as to whether the show was just a show, or real life - In other words, I was dreaming while I was awake.
There are a few more episodes, in which the clumsy Mutsumi moves closer to the Hinata apartments so she can enroll in Tokyo U, Kaolla's past is explored (again), and Keitaro and Mutsumi are enchanted by a doll/remnant (ghost created by a promise from someone's ancestor).
3.45, I'm ready to watch the last disk in this collection.
Disk 4: The Final Disk
Disk 4 covers a significant and important story arc, so I'm really glad I didn't fall asleep. Naru begins to become painfully aware of her own feelings for Keitaro, and we also find out more about Mutsune's feelings concerning Keitaro. The trio's history is fleshed out in full here, and we find ourselves with what would be considered a romantic comedy, if not worthy of Ryan Gosling, then at least Hugh Grant.
Of course this seems like a fitting conclusion and leads up to the moment we have all been waiting for - Naru to finally realise she is in love with Keitaro. This of course becomes complicated when Naru finds an old photograph (actually found by Naru's stepsister) that leads her to believe that Mutsune is the young girl that Keitaro made his Tokyo University promise to, several years ago. This jealousy is also partially what awakens her to her feelings as well.
The storyline unofficially begins when Naru's younger stepsister, Mei, comes to the Hinata Inn to try and get Naru to give up on Tokyo University and come home. Mei seems to think that Keitaro is the person that is preventing Naru from leaving, so she goes out of her way to try and bring him closer to Mutsune. At 4.30 in the morning the storyline is getting really interesting, as it's been known for a while that Mutsune has feelings for Keitaro.
Meanwhile, while Naru begins to feel more and more jealous, Keitaro has a long talk with Mei, and begins to understand why Mei would want her sister to return. As well, Keitaro's grandmother "Granny Hina" moves back, announcing renovations that will force the Inn to be closed for a few days. While the girls are all deciding where to stay - Keitaro will be staying with Mutsune - Keitaro tries to convince Naru to return home with her younger sibling - because of his earlier conversation with Mei. Naru gets confused, thinking that he's changed his mind and fallen for Mutsune, and gets pissed off at both Keitaro and herself.
At this point, I'm once again daydreaming - at 5 in the morning, and decide to take a cigarette break and make yet another pot of coffee. I give my cat a few treats and sit up on the couch to make sure I don't fall asleep. I then unpause and find Naru in conflict with herself. She reveals to Keitaro her knowledge of his Mutsune's promise and runs away in tears, leaving Keitaro conflicted between the girl he loves, and the girl he made his promise to.
Of course, everything gets resolved in a nice little package - thanks to Shinobu's efforts and a whirlwind of confusion. Surprisingly, I'm a little worried that they did not invoke the "deus ex machina" clause in anime, in which everything resolves itself in the last three minutes of the storyline. In fact, it took a full episode to resolve all the conflict created in the last few. How did it get resolved? Well, I don't want to put in any more spoilers than I already have, so you'll just have to watch it yourself.
As well, there seems to be a tradition in anime that they always complete the main story before the season actually ends, and this is no exception. I believe it's because they order seasons on a per episode basis, so when they ordered twenty-five episodes of Love Hina and the season finale was on episode twenty-four, they had to create some filler. As such with this one, the final episode has little to do with the main plot, as Mitoko's sister comes to pass on the dojo under one condition: Mitoko must defeat her sister in battle within three days, or else marry Keitaro.
6.00 am, three pots of coffee, 25 episodes, four disks. This was one fun night, but I am going to have to watch the shows again, at a much slower pace. I was thoroughly impressed with the storyline, but to get a deeper understanding of the series, follow it better, and maybe get some ideas for a few more "Anime Philosophy" articles, I'm going to need to let my brain absorb some of the information. I did enjoy the show, but I can't properly critique it unless my mind rests between a few episodes. Plus the whole confusing the show with reality kind of scared me, so I think it might be a while before I do that again. Oh, did I mention I had to work that day?
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