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Review – Love Hina Orchestral Score/Soundtrack

Sample clips montage (lowered quality) : “Hinata Inn Theme” , “Hinata Hot Springs Station” , “Serious”

This post is not a discussion on the Love Hina anime – which is not the kind of anime that I typically enjoy but with which I have something of a history with.  I’m not going to get into that debate about the show itself in this post.What I am going to do instead, though, is praise the absolutely fantastic symphonic soundtrack (score) which was produced for the second half of the television show.In case you are unaware, a “score” is the background music that accompanies various scenes.In case you are even more unaware, “symphonic” refers to music played by a traditional classical ensemble (strings, woodwinds, etc).

Love Hina’s soundtrack is actually divided into two parts.The first is mostly synthesized music, some of which sound nice, but the majority of which is rather forgettable.The second part (CD), though, contains the orchestral soundtrack, which is, quite simply, some of the most wonderful music I’ve heard in a television anime series.You won’t find complex orchestration or sophisticated thematic development.What you’ll find, however, are lovely melodies supported by charming instrumentation and good sound quality.I would recommend the CD even to those who have never watched the series.Much of it is original material, though a few tracks reference the opening theme songs, and the moods range from playful to sentimental to outright depressing.

The CD opens with “Hinata Inn’s theme”.Unlike the synthesized “Hinata Inn” track from the first CD, this orchestral composition feels lively and sincere, due in part to the fact that expressive human performers are now behind the performance.The main theme, repeated more often in the series than on the soundtrack, serves it purpose well.It sounds inviting, homely and welcoming (just as it should), played mostly by the violins as the lower stings dance underneath.After such a great opening, the rest of the soundtrack has a lot to live up to it.And it certainly takes up the challenge well.

“Date” opens with playful woodwinds over pizzicato bass strings.It’s a very cheerful piece which moves along at a walking pace and delivers more attractive melodies.The first mood change is brought to us in “Sadness”.This is an emotional cue, not quite tragic, but certainly nostalgic and bittersweet.That same feeling is brought up in many different tracks, and is one of the things I enjoy about the soundtrack.It never quite feels like it’s descending into clichéd sentimental writing.All the sad and emotional cues feel genuine and heartfelt, and this is a quality that’s missing in many soundtracks.The next cue, “Serious” is one of my favourites on the CD.It’s difficult to classify it under one mood – it begins with a string passage that embodies a sense of longing, then transforms into a more extended passage that feels very wistful.

“Hinata Hot Springs Station” is another highlight that at times even begins to echo the compositions of my favourite American film composer, Thomas Newman.It begins with a lonely harp drifting up and down the scale aimlessly.The quiet is then interrupted by a solo bassoon and then clarinet.I absolutely love how full the individual instruments sound when they play alone.

There are a few comical and almost action-like cues tossed around as well, which include “Follow” and “Pursuit”.They usually still manage to squeeze in a melody or two.The nostalgic emotion of the previous tracks returns in “Sorrow”, and again in “Kimi Sae Ire Ba”.The former is a symphonic rendition of one of the title songs, but it has been transformed into a touching orchestral piece.Just wonderful.

I suppose I should stop picking highlights because there are simply too many of them.I also want to make a brief mention of a track from another CD, and that is the instrumental version of “Winter Wish” from the Christmas Special soundtrack.This is another song that has been transformed into an orchestral piece, in this case, carried by an oboe, and later, strings.It is also a very touching piece that I recommend.

In case it wasn’t clear enough, I really enjoy this soundtrack, and I’m even a bit disappointed that it is part of the Love Hina soundtrack.Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying any opinion about whether Love Hina is good or not, I’m simply mentioning that a lot of people think that Love Hina is a shoddy fanservice-fest and nothing else, so as a result, this wonderful music will be ignored.I don’t think many people realize how much quality is present in this score.I’ve noticed many times that reviewers will bash the series for its “cheap synthetic, cheesy score”, but that’s because they only watched the first few episodes and never were able to hear this great music.Certainly, it is one of the best (television) anime soundtracks I have ever listened to. 

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