Looking back upon my first anime...
Well, okay. Love Hina wasn't exactly my first anime ever; I have vague memories of Nintama Rantarou as a kid, and at that age I'm pretty sure everyone have some memories of Gundam or Slayers or Cardcaptor Sakura, etc. But the first time where I began to see anime as anime and not just cartoon begins with Love Hina.
I gotta admit, I begin to see the difference between cartoon and anime mainly due to fan-service and moé. And even until now, it's still one of the main reasons I watch anime. It's a kind of appeal you don't find anywhere else, and it'll be hard to let it go after you got hooked to it. And back ten plus years ago when I bought my first ever manga, Love Hina is probably one of the best examples of these two traits. I was taken aback by what Love Hina tried to be, because I've never seen anything like that, nor did I thought anything like that was possible. Granted, Love Hina's fan-service is tame compared to the level they take it to nowadays, but back then it got popular because of it.
But somehow, somewhere around my 100th anime title, I began to see the likes of Love Hina as the culprit for the huge amount of crappy fan-service injection into anime. Whenever I see a customary harem fan-service anime of the season, I dismissed it as a tasteless sell-out that attracts attention based on how much T&A it has, "just like Love Hina". Even until recently, like Highschool DxD, Maken-Ki, Kampfer, Campione!, etc etc.
A few days ago, for no reason at all, I picked up the first manga I ever bought and read it. I'm surprised to realize how much I actually enjoyed it back then, and even more when I realized I still enjoy it as much as I did back then. It wasn't just trying to stuff the pages with as much tits as possible, it actually had a good story, characters, development of their relationships. And although the story went full-retard towards the end, it wasn't a string of poor excuses to bring in fan-service. It had meaning. It had the feel of the characters.
Where did it go wrong? Was it because Love Hina was part of the beginning of the chain of crappy fan-service titles? What was it that still set Love Hina apart from the long list of titles that follows? Was it simply the brilliance of Ken Akamatsu, it's originality, or because it's a pioneer? What was it that has amazed me back then, and surprised me a decade later?
How can I get back that feeling again?