Love Hina

A young boy named Keitaro once made a promise to a girl, that someday they would get into Tokyo University together, and live happily ever after. The little girl later moved away, and her name is now forgotten. Years later Keitaro fails for the second time while attempting to pass the Tokyo University entrance exams. To this day he's never had a girlfriend, so in a way he views this as his last chance. Dreading returning home in shame, he instead decides to visit his grandmother's inn, and hopes to convince her that he can stay there while studying for his third attempt next year.

Then Keitaro's life is thrown into chaos.

His grandmother's Inn converted into a girls dormitory a few years ago. His grandmother is away, but struggled to maintain the inn anyway, and makes Keitaro the new manager. For a guy with little experience with girls, Keitaro finds living with them much harder than expected. Among them is a girl he finds a he has a lot in common with. She too wants to enter Tokyo university. Naru however wasn't particular on Keitaro at first, but as the two study together, her feelings changed... Of course things are never so simple...

Will things work out for Keitaro and Naru?

Will Keitaro get into Tokyo University?

What about that girl he made the promise to?

What will Keitaro do if he actually gets into the university?

About Japanese University Entrance

In Japan passing an entrance exam is required to attend a university. Not a generic test like the ACT or SAT, but a specific exam for each respective university. The exams can have a wide range in difficulty, with the more prestigious universities having the toughest exams. Tokyo University is one of these. For many high school is only a sideshow to preparing for college in Japan. Many students attend additional schooling after regular school hours to "get ahead". Most students take exams for different universities they wish to attend for more options. In Love Hina, Keitaro only takes the exam for Tokyo University, which makes little sense as it's among the hardest university exams, and his score was pathetic to begin with...

Students failing entrance exams sometimes wait, and try again next year. The term often used for them is rounin. The term rounin refers to a wandering samurai. In feudal Japan samurai were expected to have allegiance to somebody, but due to some circumstances a samurai sometimes ended up without anyone to serve. These samurai would wander the country side looking for a new master, or general work. In other words, they didn't belong anywhere. It's said that if Motoko, the girl who lives by the code of the samurai; fails the exam after high school, she'd be a rounin in two ways.

Author & Info

  Name:          Ken Akamatsu
  Age:           34
  Blood Type:    B
  Sign:          Aquarius
  Height:        168 (cm)
  Measurements:  (classified)
  Occupation:    artist

Love Hina is the creation of Ken Akamatsu. His first manga A.I. Love You had moderate success, but eclipsed by Love Hina. Akamatsu considers himself to be a shounen artist; although his titles tend to have a more broad appeal. After Love Hina, he created Magic Teacher Negima! Which ran until 2012. His current work is UQ Holder!

Rumor has it, he attempted to get into Tokyo University himself at one time, but failed and became a manga artist instead. His favorite character in the series is Motoko.

Ken Akamatsu is truly living the dream from an anime fan perspective. As a manga artist he's had a very successful career, and these days he's considered a anime/manga philosopher in discussions of the genre. He's a proponent of releasing out-of-print works for free with no restrictions, and founded the website J-Comi. Yes, you can download Love Hina (in Japanese) free of charge with no restrictions legally. He's also married to a former pop idol.

Love Hina was published as a serial in Shonen Magazine Weekly. Oddly enough it wasn't a flagship title in the magazine, instead included in the lesser knowns "other stuff" section. The serials were compiled into collections (tankoubon), spanning 14 volumes. The publisher, Kodansha; released bilingual translations (English/Japanese) of Love Hina for 8 volumes (one of my prized treasures). Tokyo Pop acquired the English distribution rights.

Love Hina has thus far been translated to a 24 episode anime series that aired on TV in 2000. There are also a few TV specials, and a OVA series called Love Hina Again

Thoughts & Other Junk

Love Hina remains my favorite manga series to this day. Those who've only seen the anime would find that strange, as the anime is generic and rather weak in many respects. But I wasn't hip on the anime either, so I see where they're coming from. Things just didn't come together the right way, compared to the manga which had a good balance in a fun package. Still, it's hard to describe what makes this series good when it doesn't seem to differentiate itself much.

What I liked most about the series, is personal growth. Keitaro doesn't simply transform from loser to achiever. He goes through many struggles and cycles of failure. But towards the end he realizes it's up to him to seize his destiny. Sitting back and allowing life happen to you, isn't how you get what you want out of life. I also loved the crazy antics against the MolMol Empire. Explaining this to someone who saw the anime would only get you blank stares - because none of that happens in the anime.

I recommend picking up a volume of the manga and checking it out for yourself. Hopefully Tokyo Pop won't sue me into oblivion, but here are a few examples. These are fan translations by the way. I refuse to mash and bend my own cherished manga, and these were already scanned. Quality is lacking and translation is armatureish, but you get the idea.

Read right to left.

sample1 sample2 sample3 sample4

<-- Back

© 2001 AAP