Love Hina Volume One is a manga by Ken Akamatsu, and it was published in North America by Tokyopop in 2002. The series is rated “OT” for Older Teens; after reading this volume, I would generally agree with this rating.
The main character of Love Hina is a young man named Keitaro Urashima, a hapless and clumsy loser who has never had a girlfriend. When he was child, he had promised a girl that they would meet at Tokyo University when they grew up. The girl moved away, but he intended to keep that promise and hoped to find her. Unfortunately, Keitaro has already failed the Tokyo University entrance exams twice, and is attending a preparation school. Frustrated by his failure, Keitaro’s parents have kicked him out of the house.
Keitaro goes to his grandmother’s inn to ask if he can stay there while he attends school; however, he finds out the inn has been converted to an all-girls’ dormitory, and that his grandmother has left on a trip. Unfortunately, due to various hijinks and misunderstandings, Keitaro makes a bad first impression on the residents, who range in age from twelve to nineteen. Keitaro’s aunt, who serves as the dorm mother, receives a fax from Keitaro’s grandmother, saying that she is transferring ownership of the dorm to Keitaro under the condition that he serves as the landlord. He accepts, and the hijinks continue through the rest of the volume.
By the time I finished this manga volume, I didn’t find myself wanting to continue following the series to find out what happens to the characters. It’s essentially a harem manga series, and employs many of the tropes associated with this particular genre. I really didn’t get the impression that Akamatsu was trying to bring anything new to make this series stand out from others that are similar to it.
When it comes to the art, it is interesting to note just how often the squiggly lines on the face to indicate embarrassment or feeling hot are used. This trope becomes overused very quickly in this volume. It’s also interesting to note in a panel where there should be some female frontal nudity, the female in the panel isn’t entirely anatomically correct. My guess is that this was censoring done by Tokyopop when this volume was published in North America. As for the overall art style, there’s really nothing there to make it stand out from other similar manga series.
With such a “cookie-cutter” feel for Love Hina’s story and visual style, I’m not planning to chase down future volumes of this series to find out how it progresses. However, if you’re a fan of the harem genre, then you will probably enjoy this volume of Love Hina.