We continue with part 3 of Cheesy Romance Month 2 with a look into the wonderful world of Japanese Culture that is Anime. Oh anime, you are such an odd and wonderful thing. We have covered the subject of anime on multiple occasions for this site but one series that has not been touched on is the anime/manga series known as Love Hina.
Probably one of the most universally known anime/manga series in existence, Love Hina is the quintessential harem anime. What is a harem anime you might ask? Well it is a unique anime genre in which a young man is surrounded by a handful of lovely women with very different personalities that all want to bone him for various reasons. It also helps if the young man in question is a bumbling nerdy socially inept dweeb who will lose the ability for rational thought at the mere instant a female lays a single finger on him whether platonic or otherwise. There are of course reverse harems that feature one woman and a multitude of men/women but for the context of this review we will keep this description short, sweet, and to the point. While other anime like Sekirei and Rosario + Vampire come to mind, it is in this critics opinion that Love Hina is the king of all harem animes and the bar to which other harem anime aspires to reach. The story of Keitaro Urashima and his awkward bumbling through Hinata Inn are known even by casual anime viewers. Considering its fame and the fact that fits the mold of a Cheesy Romance, I feel it is high time to talk about this interesting television show.
Set in the Kanagawa Prefecture, Keitaro Urashima is a ronin student attempting to gain entrance into the prestigious Tokyo University. A ‘ronin’ for anyone who needs to know in this context is a person who did not receive high enough grades to gain entrance to the next level of study and is now doing independent study to retake the test for admittance the following year. After promising his childhood love that the two of them would attend Tokyo U together, Keitaro is dead set on fulfilling his childhood promise, attending the prestigious university, and find the girl of his dreams.
After his parents kick him out after failing the entrance exam twice, Keitaro goes to the Hinata Inn run by his grandmother. Upon reaching the Inn he learns through a series of mishaps that the Inn has been turned into an All Girl’s Dormitory. Just before the girls are, in a quite literal sense, about to kick him out of the building, Keitaro’s aunt appears and informs everyone that Keitaro’s grandmother has given the Inn to him. So Keitaro finds himself the manager of the all girl’s dormitory.
While working at the Inn, Keitaro meets a barrage of interesting women, the primary of them being Naru Narusegawa a very abusive young woman who constantly beats Keitaro due to unrequited love and all that non sense. Thus we have the plot of our anime. Keitaro from episode to episode lives out his days managing the Inn, trying to attend Tokyo U, and being put in awkward situations with the numerous attendants.
I’m a critic who enjoys him some light hearted fun and Love Hina is just that. It is light hearted fun. There isn’t much at stake when all things are considered… I mean the anime does get into some pretty interesting stuff from time to time, but for the most part it is just Keitaro living out his life in this all girl’s dormitory. In every episode hijinks and mad cap comedy are the root of all things as Keitaro accidentally stumbles into one of the women naked or on more occasions then ever should happen accidentally finds himself buried chest deep in one of the character’s massive bosoms.
I can’t fault it too much as it does tell its story well and it can provide some good sources of comedy as well as a slice of life style of anime. I think I would be hard pressed to find a person that lives this kind of life in the way that Keitaro does, but it is a lot of fun and you can find yourself being lost in the insanity very fast.
The Classic Harem Anime
As I said in the opening, when it comes to ‘harem anime’ Love Hina will most likely be the first thing that comes to many Otaku’s minds. It is the classic style of harem anime in which a bumbly guy by random happenstance finds himself surrounded by beautiful women who all want a piece of that sweet nerdy ass. Now when it comes to this, you have to ask yourself the basic question, is harem anime your cup of tea?
The reason that this section is in the harem anime is for the fact that this is not in what I would deem ‘my cup of tea’. I have several problems with the mere concept of harem anime. First off I dislike the mere concept of an entire relationship built around the one love interest surrounded by several suitors. The idea of this is that each person watching formulates their own opinions on who the main character should be with. However there is always the fallacy of choice. There is always a main love interest in the series that the character is destined to end up with no matter what the outcome. Keitaro and Naru are always meant to be together. To think that Keitaro will end up with any of the other women in the anime will just equate to you being very disappointed.
I also hate the idea of how these characters interact with one another. They do not feel like real people, even by differing cultural norms, they just don’t feel real, they don’t even feel like caricatures. They just feel odd. One of my biggest complaints in anime is the bumbling nerdy guy lead in which the mere concept of a girl touching the guy is enough to send him into fits of frenzy complete with the character’s nose gushing blood. Compound this with a bunch of surprisingly abusive love interests and you have what is the harem anime.
I just can’t get behind it, I do not like it! I don’t like the way the character interact, I don’t like the way the main leads are portrayed, and the mere concept of the show just isn’t for me. The reason it finds itself on the ‘meh’ section of the review because I can understand that this may be something that you would like and that is fine. If this is your cup of tea, check it out. But if not… Well you are going to have a bad time.
My views on the harem anime itself aside, I still cannot stand the characters of this anime. Even if the anime is light hearted fun, I have said it before and I will say it again: If you do not like the characters of the show then you will not like the show. Just about all of them find new and different ways to annoy me. Most of the cast seems to overreact to any situation they are in. Some react with rather vicious aggression, others with promiscuity, and some with the quiet ‘please love me senpai’ type of attitude. But my major derision falls onto the shoulders of our two leads, Keitaro and Naru.
Keitaro I have already alluded to through most of this review, but I can’t stand the bumbling nerd stereotype and Keitaro fits this description completely. The guy constantly finds himself in insane situations that has him face deep in some woman’s breasts or fall into the women’s bath with all of them naked inside and his response instead of acting like a normal person is to stumble, fall over his words, and comically get punched into the next city. Even when he is trying to simply talk to Naru or any of the girls he can barely function and constantly gets the nose bleed anime boy syndrome of someone whose body just seems to completely short out when their mind and their dick try to function at the same time. I understand that there are different cultures and different norms when it comes to anime and I am looking at this from an American perspective looking into Japanese perspective, but I would like to think that Japanese men have at least some level of clout when it comes to interacting with human beings that does not send them into fits of completely bodily melt down when acknowledging a member of the opposite sex.
But as much as I dislike Keitaro, I can’t stand Naru. Out of all of the women, Naru is the one that annoys me the most. Not only does she not give Keitaro any slack when it comes to an honest mistake, but she is downright verbally and physically abusive to Keitaro and it is played off for laughs. She is constantly verbally abusing him and physically abusing him throughout the series and at times for no other reason than she cannot keep her feelings in check. I do not find the fact that she will on a regular basis hit Keitaro across the room for merely looking in the room at the wrong moment. It is cruel, mean spirited, and Naru merely acts like an immature child. It is only through this strange mix of childhood destiny and brain damage that Keitaro falls for Naru which makes me wonder how this relationship will ever work out if they do stay together. This is not a healthy relationship and both parties are stupid for staying with one another. It is a bad idea to build a house on shifting sand just as it is a bad idea to build an entire rom com show on weak romantic leads.
It is easy to see why Love Hina is so polarizing. From the response I have heard from people I know and critics on the internet, you either love the series or you hate it. When it comes to me, I somehow fall into the middle of the two and leaning more towards the latter.
It can be light hearted fun, but for the most part the characters are insufferable, the setting is not enough to hold it up to merit, and the show just lacks any depth. Mixed in with two horrible leads, I just cannot recommend this show. If you want to watch a good harem anime watch Sekirei or High School DxD before you watch Love Hina.
Final Score 2/5
Thank you for reading and as always if you enjoyed this review then please like and subscribe for more from me. Next week is going to be a big week as we take a look at a handful of new movies, the conclusion of cheesy romance month 2, as well as dip our toes into the water that is the 2015 video game season so stay tuned for them.