"Let go of me! What if your low grades are contagious?!"
A classic in Harem/romance subgenre, Love Hina tells the story of clumsy loser Keitaro Urashima, a ronin who has failed three times to qualify for Tokyo University. He is driven to make it into Todai because of a promise he made to a little girl fifteen years before -- they would both go to Tokyo University, get married, and live happily forever after.It would probably help if he could remember who the little girl was, but he has only the vaguest memory of what she looked like, and no memory whatsoever of her name.His parents are disgusted with his persistent failure and refuse to support him through another year's study and testing. But his grandmother, the owner of Hinata House, a hot springs resort, has offered to let him lodge there and study while she goes on a round-the-world trip. Keitaro leaps at the chance.When Keitaro arrives at Hinata House, he discovers that his grandmother has left already without leaving any instructions, and worse, failed to warn him that the former resort is now a girls-only dormitory. The inhabitants are less than pleased with the incursion of a "perverted male" into their domain, but he eventually convinces them to let him stay, on sufferance and with much vigilance on their part against any future misbehavior.Through the course of the 14 volume manga, and its 25-episode anime, two movies, and a three-episode miniseries, Keitaro not only wins over the girls of Hinata House, he finds self-confidence, a career, love and his promise girl. Just not all at the same time. And he has an extremely painful time achieving all of the above.Thought by many to be the archetypal example of the harem genre, Love Hina is a comedy with a dramatic thread running through it. The story has a strong ensemble cast that adeptly brings together a wide variety of characters and character types into what can arguably be called a family. As one of the first anime to be produced entirely on computers, the art is crisp and clean and never suffers from the usual loss of quality that can affect traditionally-animated series during deadline crunches. Although Keitaro is subject to a large amount of cartoonishly slapstick violence at times, it is not just a love story but the story of his growth into an adult.Compare with Maison Ikkoku. Contrast with Mahou Sensei Negima! (by the same author, and implied to be in the same universe.)The Anime adptation is notable as the first Anime to be digitally produced as opposed to using the traditional hand-drawn celluloid method.
This show provides examples of:
Absurdly Sharp Blade: Motoko and Tsuruko just love slicing rocks in half. WITH WOODEN SWORDS. She also managed to slice a log and have it turn into a mecha figurine upon hitting the ground again in episode 6, although she feels a little ashamed having to do this for money.
Tsuruko is introduced SLICING A MOVING TRUCK IN HALF just as it was about to run over Keitaro. And the driver (who was drunk off his ass) survives!
Accidental Pervert: Keitaro. Countless times. Inverted in one instance where Naru walks in on Keitaro changing, promptly screams that he's a pervert and punches him. She sheepishly explains it as a reflex action.
The Ace: Seta seems like an average archaeologist until Motoko challenges him to a fight during the play. He dodges or parry all of her attacks, to the point where Haruka believed them to just be using some kind of special effects.
Special mention to his insane driving skills. His van seems to take a lot of damage, but it always somehow drives away, even if the vehicle is turned on its side.
Adaptation Expansion: Siblings and parents only mentioned in the manga show up in the anime; Shinobu's Dad, Suu's brother and sister, and Naru's little sister.
The anime also either adds detail to, or sometimes outright changes the supporting cast's backstories - leading to exploration of themes such as childhood and growing up, memory, selflessness, love and dreams in a more in-depth manner than simply sticking to the primary plot's story would allow.
Unfortunately, this is slightly undermined by the fact that because the second series was cancelled, the primary plot of the anime ends about two-thirds of the way through the manga's story.
In volume 9, Keitaro gets a giant onion dropped on himnote that was in fact the ornament that rests atop the Nippon Budokan Hall. Even Mutsumi had a Heroic BSOD!, breaking his leg for a week. Su asks him:
Motoko herself has one during her second duel with her sister in the manga.
Animals Hate Him: Ken Akamatsu seems to get a kick out of this - if one character is particularly depressed and runs away, they're likely to end up getting bitten in the ass by a dog when they try to pet it. This gag is used TWICE in volume 9.
On the way to the Tokyo U entrance ceremony, Keitaro suddenly attacked by a pack of wild dogs and then a murder of crows for no particular reason (that is, other than making him a Cosmic Plaything).
Between My Legs: In several episodes of the anime, for example, at the end of episode 21.
Big Damn Heroes: Seta has a few moments like this...though of course with a comedic twist.
Keitaro has a few straight instances of this, like when he dives out of a zeppelin to rescue a falling Naru.
Hilariously averted in one episode when Su has Kentaro suited up in some PowerArmor to retrieve Keitaro, only to have him pass out from the sheer exhaustion of walking with that thing on.
Big Eater: Su has a prodigious appetite for a girl her size, and her first impulse on hearing a word she doesn't know is to ask if it's tasty/edible.
Big Ol' Eyebrows: A minor case, but Mutsumi's eyebrows are much more prominent than anyone else's. Strangely, this makes her cuter. Kitsune's eyebrows are noticeable thicker than the rest of the main cast as well. A case of Author Appeal, too, as Akamatsu admitted he likes designing cute girls with these.
Blind Without 'Em: Keitaro and sometimes Naru. There's a whole episode centered on this.
Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Mutsumi's non-sequiters, puns and general daffiness are patterned after the idiot side of the routine, with Keitaro or Naru reacting like the straight man. (Though Keitaro is usually the one that ends up getting hit.)
Bound and Gagged: Kanako does this to Shinobu, when she stumbled onto her sniffing her brother's shirt and later imprisons Su and Sarah when they barge in on her room and see she had been impersonating Shinobu a few seconds ago.
This being Kanako's specialty, she ties up every character at one point or another.
Can Not Spit It Out: You could practically make a drinking game out of the number of times Keitaro tries (and fails) to confess his feelings for Naru in the manga.
Don't try it, you'll die of alcohol poisoning halfway through the series.
And when he finally gets around to it, he passes the trope right over to Naru, who arguably has an even harder time with it. Particularly since he always knew how he felt, whereas she tries to vehemently deny her own feelings.
Which causes a lot of problems because several girls who like Keitaro call her out on it (mainly Kitsune), and wonder why she won't let them near him (due to her tendency to knock him into the air when he's with another girl) but at the same time invokes this trope.
Reaches it's most logical extreme in physical circumstances when half of the Japanese media is chasing after her due to thinking she's a terrorist.
Motoko: 'Don't worry, I used the flat of my blade' (only in the anime).
Cat Smile: Su often has one. Tama has one as well.
Celebrity Is Overrated: Naru becomes a singer in episode 11, but quickly learns to despise it, even going so far as to jump into the hot tub that Keitaro is using in order to hide from her manager.
Of course seeing as her manager was Jerk Ass Kentaro that would explain why she was having problems.
Censor Steam: Opaque enough for the audience, but apparently not enough to spare Keitaro's hide.
On a related note, we have, at one point, Censor Suu. This sort involves hanging one strategically-folded Kaolla Su around Motoko's neck, and letting her run around the screen for a few panels before and after to justify her presence.
Cool Car: Seta's van. Never runs out of gas (unless the plot requires), never breaks down (despite crashing it into every available surface), and will always hold as many people as it needs to. Overlaps with The Alleged Car.
Cry Cute: Aunt Haruka, Narusegawa Naru and Aoyama Motoko. Kanako does this occasionally, when Keitaro can't remember his promise to her.
Cute and Psycho: Motoko's older sister Tsuruko is usually calm and graceful, but when Motoko makes the mistake of... erm... being creative with the truth in front of her, out comes her Ax-Crazy side (complete with daemon eyes). Because of this and her Implausible Fencing Powers, Motoko goes back and forth between admiring her and being scared shitless of her.
Kanako is also introduced this way, what with the misery she actively puts the girls through because of their mistreatment of Keitaro.
Date Peepers: Naru in episode 21 while Keitaro is on a date with Mutsumi. Kitsune and Mei, Naru's little stepsister also spy on them on their own.
Death Glare: Kanako gives a particularly vicious one to Naru after running out from shampooing Keitaro's hair and learning that he didn't remember his promise to her.
Deep-Immersion Gaming: Episode 8. It turns out to have been a dream, although it does help break Motoko out of her mold a little when she sees the other characters having fun and inviting her to join them.
Defeat Means Friendship: Happens to Kentaro after he "loses" to Keitaro in one episode at trying to win Naru's heart. He even helps them out, such as flying Naru to the island Keitaro went to in the Spring episode. He does drive his car towards Keitaro in one episode, but it's largely by accident, due to Tama flying at him and distracting/freaking him out.
Defrosting Ice Queen: Motoko and Kanako (though she still doesn't take it well that her brother wound up with her rival).
Deliberately Bad Example(s): Shirai and Haitani, who really are perverts and whose lecherous behavior is exactly what it looks like.
Somewhat averted when he re-breaks the same leg right in the next chapter due to Kitsune tickling him.
Disproportionate Retribution: As noted various times, the girls tend to humiliate or beat up Keitaro simply because he arrives at the wrong time when they are changing or violate them accidentally. Its even more absurd when one also remembers that they themselves are perfectly all right with it if it's with themselves. Furthermore, the girls frequently "punish" Keitaro for their own mistakes, such as walking in on him naked. One chapter has them worrying about his marks, so they try to cheer him up by letting him bathe with them. When he tearfully thanks them and mentions his score (which is quite high - their concern had made him worry he'd done a terrible job), they attack him, even though they'd assumed he'd failed, and none of them had bothered to ask him how he did.
Does Not Like Shoes: Kaolla Su is usually barefoot. Also, her sister Amalla Su is barefoot all the time.
Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: If anything turns you off of this series, it will be this. Had any of the genders been reversed...they'd quickly be arrested. The anime has it somewhat less frequently, but gets correspondingly more violent when it does happen. Kanako does call them on it very late in the manga, subjecting the worst offenders to almost a volume's worth of Humiliation Conga.
Motoko even beats up Haitani and Shiirai for talking to the girls while they're on the beach.
Averted when Motoko gets a stern warning from the police for hitting a man who supposedly groped her.
There's a joke amongst the fandom that Keitaro should have studied Law instead of Geology at Tokyo U; that way, he could get payback by filing excessive force lawsuits against the girls, and win really big.
Defied in the manga. The girls like to assume an unlikely worst-case scenario of Keitaro killing himself if hit with extremely bad news or misfortune. So they try to keep him away from the problem or just be exceptionally nice to him for a change.
Foregone Conclusion: Despite all of the noteworthy action between Keitaro and Mutsumi, it's ridiculously evident that Naru will be with him. By the final three volumes, there's literally no hope for the other girls.
The Four Gods: The pets in the series resemble the Four Gods; Team Pet Tama the turtle (Genbu), Tsuruko's Shippu the crane (Suzaku), Kanako's cat Kuro (Byakko), and in the epilogue Ema has Leon the chameleon (Seriyu). The final page of the manga is the four of them on the roof.
Fourth Wall Observer: Kentaro Sakata's comments to the audience about the anime, its plot, and his role therein.
"Well. I suppose that's all the screen time I'm getting this time."
Genius Ditz: Mutsumi. Both Naru and Keitaro are shocked that she gets perfect scores and wonder how she failed the exam as many times as he did. She either forgot writing her own name down, or got lost on the way to the examination place.
Greek Chorus: The Three Old Men Around Town in the anime, who may be ghosts.
Funnily enough, in the episode where Motoko dreams that she and the girls are in an RPG, they are NPCs, whose speech consists of only the same phrase over and over (which Su points out to Motoko when she reacts in confusion).
Green Rooming: Motoko (along with her "groupies") is introduced in the first minutes of the first episode, but she immediately leaves on a training excursion, thus freeing up screen time for introductions of the other characters before she gets her turn to take center stage in the third episode.
Heroic BSOD: Motoko has one in an episode where she believes that due to not wearing her traditional battle dress, she can't use her special attacks. At least until Keitaro snaps her out of it, and tells her that the clothing didn't matter, and that she was still the same person no matter what she wore.
Mutsumi gets her own Heroic BSOD in In volume 9, When Keitaro gets a "giant onion" dropped on him and it snaps his leg.
Harsh Word Impact: Very heavy use of this in the manga, especially metaphorical knives.
Ill Girl: Mutsumi, until the end of the Okinawa arc.
Also Naru in flashbacks. In fact, had she not been an ill girl with severe asthma, she wouldn't have been taken to Hinata Sou as a little girl, and thus she would've never met Keitarou and Mutsumi there.
Imagine Spot: Keitaro has tons of these. They sometimes blur the line between imagination and reality.
Invisible Parents: Keitaro's parents are never seen, although his mom can be heard in the first episode. Also played straight with Su, Kitsune, and Motoko, although the other girls (Sarah, Naru, Shinobu) avert this trope.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: SO. MANY. TIMES. When it's played for comedy, the person (usually Keitaro) is certain that the beloved (Naru) would be happy with someone else, and doesn't waste a moment to let her get a word in edgewise.
Laser-Guided Karma: Happens to Motoko who, through most of the first part of the series, constantly belittled Keitaro's attempts to get into Tokyo U. Come the second part, she finds out first hand that it's not as easy as it looks. Naru also finds herself on the receiving end of this in the second part when having to deal with Keitaro's half sister and subjected to the torture she put Keitaro through in the first part (specificlly trying to drive him out by overworking him when the girls initially didn't like him) Naru even wails out an apology for doing so (and rightly so, it was out of anger for an out of context comment from Keitaro). Not only her, it must be said, because Kanako succeeds in driving all the girls but Naru out due to this method (though everybody returns just a few pages later).
Lost in Translation: In the official English translation Tokyo University is always called Tokyo U. Not a big deal? Wrong. In the original version Tokyo University was always referred to as Toudai. The problem with the official English translation is that when they finally reach the Toudai Ruins it becomes clear the story about two people going to Toudai is referring to the ruins, not the school. In the English translation Tokyo U being called Toudai is off-handedly mentioned by Mutsumi out of nowhere when they're actually at the ruins. In the Japanese version that same line is instead her curiously pointing out the ruins are called Toudai as well. The result is that the big plot twist about the Tokyo U, one of the core pieces of the entire plot, seems to come right the fuck out of nowhere and the significance is completely lost in translation.
Nigh Invulnerable: The only explanation for Keitaro's survival past the first chapter, considering how much the girls attack him. The characters are aware of how odd this is, however: At one point, they're chasing an airplane as it's on the runway (long story) and they tell Keitaro "Jump! Don't worry, you're immortal!" Then another time he is hit by a car and gets up with nothing worse than a minor head wound, and all the strangers run away screaming "Monster!"
The Peeping Tom: A bored Kitsune, Shinobu, and Su in episode 13 drills three holes into Naru's room to spy on Keitaro trying to kiss a sleeping Naru, but he stops himself. Naru, apparently awake the whole time, responds with a punch, and then pokes her finger into each hole to punish the three girls for spying on her
Running Gag: When the Amusing Injuries go to the extreme (the first time being when he is thrown off of a terrifying and rocky cliff, only half played for comedy), Genre Savvy characters start remarking that Keitaro is immortal. After this turning point, the joke is used here and there throughout the rest of the series, usually in an offhand way.
Su wants to eat Tama. Aside from the Accidental Pervert and subsequent beatings, this is probably the second most frequently used gag in the series.
Samurai Maid: When Motoko is defeated by her sister and left with her sword and her honor broken, she decides to "live as a normal woman". What does she do? Snatch a spare maid outfit from Kitsune's closet, do the chores around the inn and give the other residents her own brand of discipline!
Scenery Censor: Usually played fairly subtly, but it's all over the place in the manga.
Sdrawkcab Alias: Of the syllabic variant. When Naru and Kanako are competing against each other in a fighting game at an arcade, Naru's character name is Luna, Kanako's Konaka (who's also totally a Captain Ersatz of Ibuki).
Sealed Evil in a Can: The Urashima family owns an heirloom katana that happens to be the vessel for a powerful demon that nearly obliterated all of Kyoto. The seal isn't particularly strong — simply drawing the sword will unleash the demon, allowing it to possess the wielder.
The Youto Hina appears in Mahou Sensei Negima!!. In Setsuna flashbacks recognizing it at Tsukuyomi's hands, Tsuruko says this. "This is the magic sword passed down in the East. Youto ‘Hina’. Today, this was lent to us by the East as a lesson." East or Kanto is where Hinata is at.
For all her forcing herself on him (drunk or otherwise, but mainly drunk), Kitsune honestly and openly ships Keitaro/Naru.
Naru herself tries to do this towards Keitaro and Mutsumi in the manga, while her sister tries it in the anime. The scene where Naru is dressed up like a nerd while Mutsumi is wearing a pretty dress is the same in both versions, although Naru does this herself in the manga, while her sister does it in the anime.
Hell, Mutsumi's been shipping Naru/Keitaro since childhood!
Keitaro also jokes with Motoko about having Su find them an EVA to fight Tsuruko.
There are also a lot of Star Wars references, Seta's van has a license plate reading "R 2 D 2", and Naru gets stabbed by a lightsaber at one point.
A subversion of sorts: In the final episode of Love Hina Again, Keitaro falls down through the ruins of a haunted building holding the engagement ring he was going to give to Narusegawa. His pose, and the fact that he's holding a ring, are immediately reminiscent of Gollum falling into the Mount Doom crater.
The "Mecha Tama 3" from the Love Hina Spring Special looks like a turtle. It also looks like Thunderbird 2.
Also, Final Fantasy shows up every once in a while. Such as: some of Mutsumi's costumes being based on Aeri* of Final Fantasy VII fame, a Cactuar on a shelf (next to a starship) while looking for a job; in Volume 3, page 37, frame 6, you can see Squall and Rinoa sweat-drop at Naru and Keitaro crashing into a shelf of plushies; and in Volume 13, Keitaro mentions copying Motoko's Boulder Cutting Blade as being like "Kimahri's Lancet ability."
There's also a minor reference to Chrono Cross during Kanako's advertisement parade, where Suu is dressed as Harle.
The Pararakelse chapter where Motoko, Shinobu, Sû and co. discover through the latter's radar that they're surrounded by giant turtles, and then are chased by those, with team member rescue sequence and flight with the help of a transporting machine to boot, is a clear Aliens reference.
Su's Turtle radar is a reference, to the Dragon Ball series ,as it looks just like the dragon radar. Keitaro even jokes about the possibility of getting sued.
Godzilla series reference, In the RPG dream there is two tiny twin Mutsumis who sing to call out a giant Tama,in the same way the twins who sing to call Mothra from the Godzilla and its spinoff films.
May also count as a reference to Gamera, who is a genuine flying turtle Kaiju!
Ma-kun gets a cameo appearence on the cover of chapter 71.
During the festival in Chapter 118, Shinobu has a fan with Chiyo's father on it.
The manga episode where Naru finally confesses she's in love with Keitaro with a screamed confession and a tasty deep kiss is called Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me (the "Kill Me" part strangely omitted, considering this is Love Hina).
In the first episode of Love Hina Again Naru is seen sweeping the path in front of the dorm with a wicker broom and apron that are suspiciously similar to those often sported by Kyoko Otonashi in Maison Ikkoku.
Shrinking Violet: Shinobu. She grows out of it by the end, and God help you if you cross her then.
Starving Student: A recurring subplot is Keitaro looking for a job to pay for his studies. Made worse in that he routinely loses money to the Pretty Freeloaders' hijinks (once Kitsune even gets him fired from a restaurant because she didn't want to pay the bill, and Keitaro didn't even have time to dig himself out of this).
Stealth Clothes: Keitaro wears the bandana-tied-under-the-nose getup when trying to move out of Hinata-sou without anyone noticing. It fails, but not in the common way (he is spotted, but escapes and isn't recognized until Naru finds the report card he left behind).
Suicide as Comedy: Motoko invokes this trope sometimes in both the anime and the manga.
Supporting Harem: Only Naru and Mutsumi had any chance with Keitaro. In a lot of media, Naru is also usually portrayed as the most prominent girl, either shown as the biggest character on the cover, or in the middle if they're all lined up.
Tsundere: Naru and Motoko make up opposite sides of this coin. Motoko, with her aggressive attitude (particularly around men) embodies Type Tsun, while the somewhat more soft-spoken Naru (who usually only goes ballistic around Keitaro) embodies Type Dere.
Umbrella of Togetherness: At end of the series before the epilogue, Keitaro shows Naru the Time Capsule they and Mutsumi buried in the old sandbox, and one of the items inside is a sheet of paper with a drawing of an umbrella with Naru and Keitaro's names under it, with Mutsumi's name over to a smiling face next to it.
Wendee Lee (in english dub): Kaolla Su, Amalla Su, and Tama the Turtle
We Really Do Care: Keitaro and Naru go off on their own vacations and wind up together anyway. Everyone else in the house believes they're going to commit suicide together, and rush out to stop them. They really weren't obviously.
The Worf Effect: Motoko is said to be an excellent swordsmen, but she loses to both her older sister and Seta, and even Keitaro sometimes. Her sword even got blocked barehanded by a turtle.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: He almost gave Sarah a spanking in the manga when he was getting sick of her antics, claiming she "had it coming" - too bad he tried to do it IN PUBLIC and all Sarah had to do was scream loud enough to make him chicken out.
Yamato Nadeshiko: Motoko has the classic apperance but is too brash and aggressive to truly fit. Her older sister, Tsuruko, looks the part, far calmer and more elegant, stopped actively practicing kendo to become a House Wife and is not someone to take lightly.