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Love Hina

Love Hina is based on the popular shounen (male-oriented) romantic comedy manga of the same name by Ken Akamatsu, and, like the manga, there is plenty of fanservice for male otaku. But if you belong to the other half of the population, don't let that dissuade you from giving this series a chance. In my experience, females have enjoyed this show just as much as their drooling, sex-driven counterparts.
The premise? Keitaro Urashima has applied, and failed, to get into Tokyo University (the most difficult and prestigious university in Japan) multiple times, but he's about to try again. Why? Because when he was young, he made a promise with a girl (see purplish picture above) that they would attend Tokyo U. together and get married. The catch? The girl moved away shortly thereafter and he didn't remember her name. While he studies for yet another round of tough entrance examinations, always wondering who his "promise girl" is, he happens to move into, and subsequently manage, his grandmother's Hinata Inn--only now the inn is an all-girls' dormitory. Six girls and one guy stuck in the same building? Needless to say, chaos ensues.
What separates Love Hina from the rest of the romantic comedy anime series is not originality so much as execution. Everything in this series raises the bar to a new level--the humorous and touching script (half the episodes end with a WAFF--a Warm And Fuzzy Feeling), the exceptional character designs, the fluid and colorful animation, the energetic voice acting, and the addictive, hyperkinetic music.

If I had seen this series on the shelves, I don't think I would have spent the money on it (the words "romantic comedy" more often than not make me think of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan). But I had heard a lot of good things about Love Hina and I had the opportunity to check out a few episodes, so I did, and I was immediately hooked. By the end of the series, I had let down my guard and was completely caught up in the romantic side of the story, sympathizing to an eerie degree with the characters involved. The series made me laugh, but it also made me cry, which is a sign of a very good series, as I don't cry all that often when watching animation (or live action, for that matter).

Verdict

If you're in the mood for some energetic, humorous romance with a fair amount of fanservice, or you'd like to take a break from darker, heavier anime, Love Hina is a great series to check out.

Love Hina links