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?


  1. You bring up an excellent point – when a series does something great, there are going to imitators, and generally bad ones. Love Hina’s a good example. I don’t think it gets the credit it should – it’s a wonderful manga, and I think a better anime. I still enjoy it when I watch it from time to time.

    Tenchi Muyo! is another terrific example. Considered the granddaddy of all shows harem, Tenchi Muyo! Is an amazing series that holds very else in common with today’s harem series. Some might dislike the series precisely because of the imitators it spawned.

    And about getting that feeling back again – that’s a good question. I have definite nostalgic memories associated with Love Hina, among other series, that I rarely feel these days. A lot of it is because those feelings are a product of the time – dependent on the series, where I was in anime fandom when I watched the series, my tastes in entertainment at the time, my life situation, etc. I can remember the feelings, but I don’t think I can duplicate them toward a new show again these days.

    1. I gotta say that LH anime was only half as good as the manga, but yeah, I still enjoy it even now. Sadly I never watch Tenchi Muyo; I never liked 90's art.

      I know what you mean, that our tastes matured and it's hard to wow us as it did before. But something incredibly "old" like this did "wow" me once again, even after so long. It's hard to see why it can. Can it be just nostalgia?

  2. Love Hina was one of my early series too. I've always felt that Love Hina and Tenchi Muyo! were the original harem anime, and like you pointed out, they weren't just all fan service but had genuinely good emphasis on story and character development while still delivering laughs. I wouldn't say they're the reason fan service harem anime has become popular in recent years - I think it has more to do with how technology has made it easier to produce anime, thus more anime series are released each season than back in Love Hina's time, thus there's a lot more crap and copycatting. Good anime of the same genre as Love Hina are still being produced, they're just harder to find.

    Incidentally, I actually read all of the Love Hina manga first. I remember laughing out loud at a lot of things but I never felt "dirty" for reading it. I liked the characters very much too. Several years later I watched the anime and didn't like it as much. Not sure if it was just my changing tastes or that the anime really is inferior.

    1. I'd say that the anime is inferior. And I think many people share the same sentiment...

      Good anime of the same genre isn't just harder to find, they seems to be insanely hard to find... I can recall just one that is up to the mark, Shuffle, and that was pretty darn long ago. I've never had the impression that LH was something really good, but perhaps it's more than I give it credit for.

      Maybe I just didn't realize hoe great Ken Akamatsu was.