Love Hina is a series I have something of a conflicting connection with. As an adult, I probably would have ignored the show based on its description, and most certainly would have been repelled by the show’s often juvenile tone. But, having first seen the show at a younger and more naive age, I share the sense of nostalgia of many others who were first introduced to anime through it. The show itself belongs to the (now-tired) category of anime in which a male character finds himself in the center of a cast of women, and, like many in this genre, relies often on suggestive fanservice scenes that are used to tease the male viewers as well as a sometimes immature treatment of its romantic subplot.
However, as I mentioned above, Love Hina was my introduction to anime at the age of 12. At that time and age, I had no experience with anime cliches, nor did I recognize the gratuitous content for what it was. Instead, I saw the series as a story that blended a very enjoyable and fun cast (and setting) with a sweet love story, which, simple as it sounds, is not really something that is found commonly in media aimed at younger males in North America and was quite new to me at the time. What heightened the effect was the down-to-earth likability of the characters – who are students cramming for exams. Eventually, having become an anime fan, I would go on to find other series which exemplified these attributes in a much better way, without the weaknesses of Love Hina. One example is Maison Ikkoku. Despite that, there has always been something of a wistfulness associated with the anime that first opened my eyes to the kind of attachment one could develop for these characters.
Recently, I decided to revisit the show, which was an interesting experience as my anime hobby grew steadily due to this anime and has recently started to decline with age. I knew my memories of the show were somewhat distorted, and I was more or less expecting my enjoyment to have gone down drastically. And indeed, as an adult, it was harder to ignore the moments when the show would show its immaturity. From the constant shots of the female characters lounging in the hot springs, to the reliance on mildly perverted encounters for humour, it was not easy to get back into the mood of enjoying the series. Initially I felt as though it was simply something I had grown out of entirely.
And yet, with a tinge of nostalgia coming into play, I did manage, in the end, to find that trace of sweetness I had remembered from my younger years, and I did manage to recollect the fondness I once had for these characters. And, indeed, as the show progressed, I found those innocent emotions that the occasional touching moments had once evoked feeling familiar again. For whatever its faults, this was the show that led me into a hobby that was very influential in my formative years. For that, I will always reserve a bit of appreciation for it, even if my fondness for it seems to be in a constant battle with the author’s intentions.
One response so far