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Love Hina Spring Special Anime DVD Review

7 min read
What Love Hina Again comes down to is whether you care enough about these characters to want to see more.

What’s a little more silliness and fanservice between friends.

What They Say
Keitaro, Naru, and Mutsuki are about to take the Tokyo University entrance exams again. Everyone is hopeful and in high spirits, but Keitaro falls asleep during the test! Fearing the prospect of failing yet again, Keitaro runs away where his friends can’t find him. But Naru and the rest of the Hinata Sou girls are determined to bring Keitaro back, even if it means traveling to a remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English dub, both of which are encoded at 224kbps. The special has a solid stereo mix with some nice areas of noticeable directionality across the forward soundstage, usually in the form of someone going flying from a punch. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we had no issues during regular playback with distortions, clipping or dropouts.

Video:
Originally released in 2001, the show is presented in its original full-frame aspect ratio. Coming from the same production team as the TV series, these final OVAs manage to take an already beautiful looking TV series that wowed big time at the time and a few previous OVA releases and raises the bar a bit more. These episodes really look fantastic, clean, and crisp throughout with lush layered colors. It’s clearly a product of its time but it still has a charm that shines through. No cross coloration or visible aliasing marred this during our viewing of it. Colors are nicely saturated and some of them just have a fantastic depth to them. The original openings continue to be used here and all aspects of it are soft subtitled.

Packaging:
The cover here goes right for the fanservice, though parts of it look somewhat cartoony (such as Motoko), with Naru and the newest character showing up in their leaf bikini’s while everyone else is in the background all smiles. The back cover is done up in the style of the series with lots of little text bits all over as well as a number of nice little character shots to highlight the story summary. The discs features and extras are clearly listed though the text is a bit hard to read and the usual production and technical credits are all easily available. The insert has another shot of the front cover but it opens up to provide a nice fanservice shot of Naru and Nyamo together on the beach. The back of the insert provides the full cast credits and matches up actors for both languages to their parts.

Menu:
The menu layout is nice and creative here as it brings a number of images into play that give the impression of a vacation slide show, right down to someone making the rabbit ears go across the screen. Some music plays along with it, giving it a really spot-on feel and appropriate for the content. Access times are nice and fast and since there’s not transitional animations, getting around is quick and easy.

Extras:
There’s some most-wanted extras on this volume, things that should have shown up on other discs but ended up here for some reason. There’s basically four textless opening/endings here that make up various parts of the series, though the Christmas Special has it’s own textless material on its discs. There’s nothing duplicated here at least. We get a textless ending to both TV episode 24 and the spring special itself. We also finally at long last get the textless versions of the TV series opening and ending sequences, something that should have been on the first or last volume of the TV series itself. It simply does not belong here, but at least they put it out instead of dropping it entirely.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Love Hina has proven to be an interesting viewing experience for me, as part way through the disc release I ended up getting into the domestic manga release. What quickly happened was that I’d see a new DVD and then read the original manga story it came from, as well as the additional bits that never got animated. Sometimes they were painfully close, other times they were wildly apart. Having just read the manga for this particular story, I was rather eager to see it as I felt that it was one of the better stories.

Unfortunately, while they got part of it right, they missed out on a big part of what made this “Spring Special” so much fun. The episode is set up easily, as Naru, Keitaro and Mutsumi are doing their last night of studying before they take their second and final exam. So off they go to Tokyo U. to take their test, and wouldn’t you know it, Keitaro gets into fantasy mode not long after the test starts and he realizes he knows so much of it. He starts dreaming about his marriage to Naru, her being stolen away and all the usual things he fantasizes about.

Of course, he then wakes up with five minutes left in the test.

Realizing how badly he’s sucked, he decides to really chuck it all and ends up on a ship heading out to an island in the south Pacific where he runs into Seta. Seta’s once again up to an archaeological dig and offers Keitaro the chance to work on it. After some very poorly done gags, the two end up on the island and he’s proving to be an able assistant. But Seta figures something is wrong and lets Naru in on what’s going on.

Naru, surprisingly in tears over his disappearance, is now furious now that she knows where to find him, packs and heads off with almost no discussion and no cares about whether she got in or not. While she heads off to the island, everyone else goes with Mutsumi to see who got in. And much to everyone’s surprise, they all get in.

Here’s where the bad deviation goes. Here, everyone ends up coming to different reasons for wanting to go find Keitaro and they all eventually get together and head off to find him and see how he’s dealing with Naru. In the manga, it’s revealed very early that once you pass, you have five days to submit your papers, so they all head off to find them so that they can get all three of them to get into Tokyo University. In the anime, that becomes a last-minute credits gag, totally blowing the reason for everyone being so frantic in trying to find them.

The time spent on the island is also dramatically reduced, from where we had several days worth of Naru and Keitaro getting closer and knowing each other better, especially as Keitaro starts tanning and seeming more mature about things, it’s all rather rushed here and the entire aspect of the native island girl Nyamo and her mystery is given the short end of the stick. There’s some amusing moments throughout, but it all feels so rushed. I hate comparing the manga to the anime, but with the added runtime here, they could have done this so much better.

And yes, I even disliked having Akamutsu being in the show as himself.

In Summary
After the wonderful Christmas Special, I figured we’d have a good episode of fan service and frivolity. There’s a healthy dose of each in here, but there’s also some plain bad plotting going on. Whether that’s going to detract from your enjoyment or not is dependent on how you felt about the series as a whole. With the shorter running time and the full price nature of it, it’s definitely something that I can see people having a problem with. It’s not bad, but it could have been oh so much better.

Features
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Outtakes, Textless Opening, Textless Ending, Episode 24 Textless Ending, Spring Movie Textless Ending

Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Release Date: March 18th, 2003
MSRP: $29.98
Running Time: 45 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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