Love Hina (ラブ ひな Rabu Hina) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Ken Akamatsu.
Thought by many to be the archetypal example of the "Harem" genre, Love Hina is a comedy story with a dramatic thread running through it as, although the main character, Keitaro Urashima, 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.
It was originally serialized in Weekly Shōnen Magazine by Kodansha from October 21, 1998 to October 31, 2001 and was published in 14 tankōbon volumes by Kodansha.
The manga was licensed for an English language release in North America and the United Kingdom by Tokyopop, in Australia by Madman Entertainment and in Singapore by [[wikipedia:Chuang Yi]|Chuang Yi]]]. Two novelizations of Love Hina, written by two anime series screenwriters, were also released in Japan by Kodansha. Both novels were later released in North America and the United Kingdom by Tokyopop.
The story is a shōnen comedy that takes place in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan in a town called Hinata, and centers on Keitaro Urashima and his attempts to fulfill a childhood promise that he made with a girl to enter Tokyo University together. However, he has forgotten the name of the girl he made the promise to and hopes to be accepted into Tokyo University in order to find her. Despite failing the entrance exam twice, he becomes manager of the family-owned girls' dorm Hinata House and must balance his new responsibilities with his attempts to pass the university entrance exam. At Hinata House, Keitaro meets Naru Narusegawa, who is also studying to enter Tokyo University. Naru ranked first in the whole of Japan on the practice exams, and Keitaro convinces her to help him study. Keitaro accidentally reads a small section of Naru's diary and as the two grow closer through their studies, Keitaro becomes increasingly convinced that Naru may be the girl he made the promise with. On the second day of the Tokyo University exam, Keitaro asks Naru about the promise and is stunned when she tells him he is mistaken. Despite their studying, and Naru's mock exam results, they both fail the exams. The pair then have an argument and independently run off to Kyoto to clear their heads. While on their trip they settle their differences and meet Mutsumi Otohime, who lives in Okinawa and is also studying for the Tokyo University exams.
After returning from Kyoto, Keitaro and Naru eventually decide to retake the exams. After a while, Mutsumi moves to Tokyo, and the three begin to study together. During this period, Naru becomes convinced that Mutsumi is Keitaro's promised girl, but Mutsumi states that she made a childhood promise with Naru, not Keitaro. During the Tokyo University exams, Keitaro believes he has failed them once again and runs away before finding out his results. After learning of this, Naru chases after him without checking her exam results, and is eventually followed by the rest of the residents of Hinata House who announce that Keitaro and Naru both passed the exams along with Mutsumi. However, at the Tokyo University opening ceremony, Keitaro has an accident and is unable to attend the University for three months. After recovering from his injuries, Keitaro decides to study overseas with Noriyasu Seta. As Keitaro leaves, Naru finally confesses her true feelings to him at the airport and decides to wait for him to return.
When Keitaro returns, he and Naru finally begin to express their feelings for each other. After they deal with new obstacles, Grandma Hina returns to Hinata House and reveals Naru is the girl of Keitaro's promise. Three years later, a wedding ceremony is held at Hinata House for Naru and Keitaro as they finally fulfill their childhood promise to each other.
The initial sketches for the series were created between September and December 1997, after the completion of A.I. Love You.
Early storyboards with initial character designs were created between December 1997 and January 1998, and further character designs and location sketches followed between January and April 1998. The last storyboards before serialization were created between April and August 1998.
Around six months before the start of serialization, character designs were still going through several revisions before being settled upon. Several characters underwent complete redesigns and name changes. At one stage the character Naru was named Midori, and she was supposed to fall through a hole in the floor naked, bump her head on Keitaro and lose her memory. Naru's name was changed many times before the author settled on Naru Narusegawa, and her final design is similar to Saati Namba from A.I. Love You. Mitsune "Kitsune" Konno's money-grubbing nature and her older, jaded, and more mature personality were originally intended to be used for Kaolla Su. Shinobu Maehara's nature was settled on from the beginning of the series, however her physical appearance and age were extensively redesigned as the series concept was shaped. In her early design, Shinobu had a similar appearance to Forty Namba from A.I. Love You.
Throughout the run of the manga, the series used digital editing processes. After a rough sketch of a page was created, the page layout and basic detail were drawn and scanned into an Apple Macintosh. The major page elements were then shaded or filled with patterns, and elements that were drawn separately were added digitally to the page. The manga also used a series of "banked images", which were basic line drawings of locations, such as a characters room. Instead of redrawing a location from scratch every time it was used, these banked images could be used as a base, and extra detail added to them depending on the requirements for the scene.
Both of these techniques lead to characters having white outlines when copied digitally onto the scene. Parts of Hinata Inn and other locations used were inspired by real life locations and designed from photographs collected during research.
A twenty-four episode anime adaptation of the manga series, produced by Xebec, aired in Japan from April 19, 2000 to September 27, 2000. It was followed by a bonus DVD episode, Christmas and Spring television specials, and a three episode OVA entitled Love Hina Again. The anime series, specials, and OVA were licensed for release in North America by Bandai Entertainment. In July 2007, the license was acquired by Funimation Entertainment, who released a box-set of the television series in February 2009. The series is also licensed in Australia by Madman Entertainment and in the United Kingdom by MVM Films.
The series has proved extremely popular around the world, both commercially and critically. In Japan, the manga sold over 6 million copies; over 1 million anime DVDs were also sold. The English release of the manga has been reprinted many times. Both anime and manga have received numerous industry awards in Japan and North America, as well as praise from critics.
The series has seen several video games released across several platforms. The Game Boy Color received Love Hina Pocket on August 4, 2000, and Love Hina Party on January 26, 2001. The Game Boy Advance received Love Hina Advance on September 7, 2001. The Dreamcast received Love Hina: Totsuzen no Engeji Happening on September 28, 2000 and Love Hina: Smile Again on March 29, 2001. The PlayStation received Love Hina 1: Ai wa Kotoba no Naka ni on September 28, 2000 and Love Hina 2: Kotoba wa Konayuki no Yō ni on November 30, 2000. The PlayStation 2 received Love Hina: Gojasu Chiratto Happening on May 22, 2003.
- Main article: Love Hina Soundtracks
Prior to the start of the anime, several image songs were recorded by the Anime cast members. Several maxi singles were released featuring some of these image songs as well as drama tracks, also performed by the anime cast. "I Love Hina" was released on April 26, 2000 and followed by Love Hina 1 on June 26, 2000, Love Hina 2 on July 26, 2000 and Love Hina 3 on August 23, 2000. Love Hina 1 came with a box to hold the other singles.
There have been several Love Hina soundtracks released. Love Hina Original Sound File (オリジナルサウンドファイル) was released on September 21, 2000 and contains all of the background music for the series as well as many vocal songs. "Love Hina — Winter Special Soundtrack" was released on January 24, 2001 and was followed by Love Hina — Spring Special Soundtrack on June 6, 2001. Love Hina Again Soundtrack was released on April 3, 2002. Two collections of vocal songs featuring the female cast members were released, Love Hina - Hinata Girls Song Best (ひなたガールズベストソングベスト) was released on March 16, 2001 and Love Hina - Hinata Girls Song Best 2 (ひなたガールズベストソングベスト 2) was released on October 3, 2001. Many of the songs featured on these two albums were written by Ritsuko Okazaki, who released the self cover album Love Hina Okazaki Collection on December 16, 2001. Two live concerts called Love Live Hina were performed by the Japanese cast members. The Tokyo Bay performance was bundled on DVD with Love Hina Final Selection, and the Osaka Performance was available separately.
- The Love Hina story derives much inspiration from the manga Maison Ikkoku.
- The stories and plots of Akamatsu’s various manga interlink with each other so much that fans have created a cumulative theory, called the “Akamatsuverse”, that each series is in the same, or similar, fictional universe.
- Love Hina won the Kodansha Manga Award for best shōnen title in 2001 and was selected as the "Best Manga, USA Release" at both the 2002 and 2004 Anime Expo conventions.