Anime Review: Love Hina Again

Anime Review: Love Hina Again

Keitaro’s adopted sister Kanako decides to pay Hinata Inn a visit. Her untamed feelings for him from the past create some friction between her and Naru, and predictably, chaos engulfs the girl’s dormitory. Upon Keitaro’s return, he has to sort out his feelings for Naru while fending off Kanako.

Plot

Before I get to the heart of the review, let me first say that while a flying turtle in Love Hina had a little cuteness and oddity, a talking, magical cat here fails to produce that effect. If you’re hoping for Love Hina Again to have some shred of intelligence or dramatic diligence, stop right now. This OVA is almost completely without merit, without rhyme or reason, and is transparent in its purpose of cashing in on Love Hina‘s success.

Kanako’s introduction doesn’t add anything new to the series. The possibility that Keitaro made his promise with someone else has already been done (done better, too) in the series. The way in which she is inserted is completely implausible, and the antics that follow are too stupid to pass as comedy. Does Kanako catalyze any kind of meaningful exploration of the nature of Naru and Keitaro’s feelings for each other? Not really. And suddenly, it seems like all the other characters are too stupid to figure out that some kind of subversion is going on.

The only segment I found interesting was in the last episode, where Naru reconciles her feelings with the help the other characters. Of course, the way this sequence starts out is totally nonsensical, but it does give some insight into how Naru and Keitaro have affected everyone else’s lives. I also liked the tie-in to episode 20 of the TV series, which I consider to be the best of the bunch.

It’s not the rehash-y nature of Love Hina Again that averts me from this OVA. It’s the fact that it says nothing at all about the central dramatic device (the romance between Naru and Keitaro), and instead makes a mockery of it using fantasy elements that seem entirely out of place. Ditching legitimate storytelling for excessive fanservice is as sure a method as any of earning my disdain.

Characters

The only new character is Kanako, Keitaro’s “sister” who harbors wholly inappropriate feelings for him. Apparently, they’re not blood related, but what’s the motivation for having her be his sister at all? Their family connection doesn’t serve any real purpose, but it could have been an opportunity to put a new dynamic into Keitaro’s improbable harem.

Kanako follows the “quiet mystery girl” archetype to the letter. She’s cold, self serving, and very aloof. This isn’t a huge problem in itself, but then the story expects us to eventually begin sympathizing with her. Well when her introduction has her antagonizing all of the established cast, and manipulating them toward selfish ends, sympathy isn’t the first thing you’d feel for her.

Everyone else seems to get extremely ditzy suddenly. I could say the original Love Hina cast wasn’t very thoroughly developed in the first place, but it still seems like all the characterization got simplified for OVA purposes. Even worse, we don’t have any kind of growth as far as relationships go. I mean, Keitaro’s affection for Naru has already been established through the series and its two specials, so why would all of that suddenly be forgotten for Love Hina Again? Besides, I think the Christmas Special was much more artful about the delicacy of their feelings.

Technical

Along with a higher budget comes improved production values. The character designs are closer to Akamatsu’s manga version, and the animation has improved noticeably. The sound direction from Love Hina carries over, so the overall tone will be familiar.