Love Hina Spring Special
If you understand that statement, then you might be in the market for the Spring Special episode of Love Hina. It's a follow-up to the hit TV series and the Love Hine Christmas Movie, and without those as reference, there's not much hope of appreciating it. It provides closure to a few issues still left unresolved at the end of the first special, and for that, I'm appreciative. There's also an infectious nature to this show: the more you see, the more you like. However, there's about 10 minutes of this special that moves the overarching story. Sadly, the rest of the story is filler, and we get yet another dreaded turtle story, a gimmick that was already beaten to death by the TV show. I've grown to get a kick out of the characters, who I've grudgingly grown to like after a few weeks spent with the show. At the same time, after the Spring Special, I'm ready for this one to be over.
In the Spring Special, we see Naru, Keitaro, and Otohime taking the exams for Tokyo University one last time. Amazingly enough, Keitaro is doing really well on the test. So well, in fact, that he starts daydreaming about his wonderful life with Naru after he gets into college...and before he knows it, there's only five minutes left! He scrambles to answer the rest of the questions, but he's left dumbstruck. Too ashamed to face Naru, he runs off from the testing center and finds himself through an unlikely string of events on a steamer as a deckhand. Luckily enough, his friend Seta is on the boat, and he's going to go looking for the lost Turtle Civilization of Paralantis. Keitaro decides to join him on his quest.
Meanwhile, Naru is simultaneously worried and blowing a gasket over Keitaro, and she eventually finds a way to catch up with Keitaro on an island in the middle of the Pacific. Of course, there's a misunderstanding when Naru believes that Keitaro has the hots for Nyamo, an island girl who is searching for her adventurous grandfather. Of course, that's not the case; it just makes for a longer story. As all the inhabitants of the Hinata Inn eventually reach the island searching for the twosome, chaos breaks out when the turtles come out en masse. But this is Love Hina, and all will turn out right by the end of the episode.
There really is some great material left in the Spring Special, and it's a welcome sight for those who have followed this short saga through. Getting the leads into university has been a lead plot point since the very beginning, and seeing the culmination of their efforts is rewarding. The fact that Naru and Keitaro repeatedly try to kiss (and get interrupted) shows us just how far these two have come in terms of caring for each other. Unlike the Christmas Special that ends on a sour note, the ending of the Spring Special is genuinely sweet. The humor hasn't left either; there are still plenty of fun spots throughout.
The issues that exist within this episode have to do with the writing, some of it based in the original manga story that was compressed for time. First, turtles equal fluff in the Love Hina universe, and to have yet another narrative involving them compromised the proceedings. The character of Nyamo was thin, and besides, why the heck are they introducing new characters at this late point? At this point, I was hoping to see more of Naru and Keitaro's relationship development. They've certainly earned it! Instead, we get another lame A plot with the enjoyable love story once again reduced to the B plot. The show also reaches way too far in getting all the cast out to this remote island. There's just no point in it. Not only that, but it reduces the time we have with the couple that we really want to see. (Apart from plotting, there's also a bit more fan service here than average. I could swear that every female member of the cast over the age of 16 has grown a full bra size over the course of this series. I don't see that as a good thing, but many of my readers may disagree.)
If you've gotten far enough that you're up to the Love Hina Spring Special, then this review shouldn't stop you. I actually came out with a nice warmhearted feeling after watching it, despite its repeat offenses and despite my better judgment. The deeper you look at it, the more flaws you'll see. How deep you want to look is your own choice. Only the fans will have made it this far, most likely, and I think most of them have already learned this lesson about Love Hina anyway.
Love Hina Spring Special -- fan service -- B