A manga and televised anime by Ken Akamatsu. It's a seinen (directed towards college-age boys) along the lines of Maison Ikkoku and Video Girl Ai - a love triangle-type situation from the boy's perspective.

Premise

Keitaro is a 20 year student trying (and failing) to get accepted to Toudai (the ultra-elite school, alma mater of most all Japanese politicians and CEOs), because of a promise he made to a girl when he was five (they agreed to meet up at Toudai believing the superstition that if two lovers go there together, they'll never be separated). The problem is, he can't remember the girl's name or even what she looked like.

Keitaro ends up as the kanrinrin (manager) of the girls-only hotel/dorm/spa Hinata-sou, and the girls staying there (thinking he's already a Toudai student, of course) fall for him. From there, it's a lot like a dating simulation game a la Tokimeki Memorial, waiting to see which one Keitaro ends up with.

Characters

  • Boys (only one)
    • Urashima Keitaro - the guy, see above.
  • Girls
    • Narusegawa Naru - female lead; tenant of Hinata-sou; trying to get accepted to Toudai as well; most likely to punch Keitaro for various ecchi reasons.
    • Konno Mitsune - nicknamed "Kitsune" (fox), with good reason; oldest tenant of Hinata-sou; most likely to be drunk; most likely to be the subject of fantasies of dirty old men.
    • Aoyama Motoko - another tenant; big on traditional sports, especially kendo; most likely to not smile.
    • Kaora Su - one of the younger tenants; hyper; has lots of radio controlled inventions/toys that explode; most likely to bite when provoked.
    • Maehara Shinobu - youngest tenant (7th grade); polite, quiet, shy, good cook; easily flustered; most popular character from the show, at least in Japan.

Megumi Hayashibara sings the opening theme, and voices one of the employees of Hinata-sou. Instant ratings.

Hmm... From the characters, the show sounds pretty sexist. In a way, it is - it's told from the viewpoint of a 20 year old boy who hasn't kissed (much less talked) to a girl since he was 5. He's shy and passive, but incidents occur (fan service-type incidents, usually involving the girls' hot spring at Hinata-sou). And the way it gets the viewer to pick favorites is a bit much. Still, any chauvinist moves are well-countered by the girls and sometimes even (gasp!) acknowledged for what they are by the narrator or Keitaro, which really doesn't happen often in seinen works (at least, the manga brings these up - I can't speak for the anime yet but I assume it'll be less of an issue, since the late-night TV anime world thrives on fan service).

I definitely recommend this show for fans of the emotional aspects of Oh! My Goddess/Aa! Megamisama and the above-mentioned Ikkoku and Ai - pretty art, slightly ecchi jokes that don't go too far, and lots and lots of warm, fuzzy moments.

Love Hina has more characters now, but somehow everything is exactly the same as it was in volumes 2-8. Serials are like that, so it goes.

Characters not mentioned above, segnificant or otherwise:

Grandmother - Keitaro's Grandmother is rarely mentioned, but it is hinted that she is a force to be reckoned with

Seta - Naru's previous crush, a flaky proffessor of archaeology who is often involved in Indiana Jones style adventures, although these are never explored in detail. Keitaro occasionally works as an assistant to Seta

Sarah - The youngest member of the Hinata family, Sarah is a rambunctious child who constantly breaks Keitaro's earthenware. Seta was her guardian, but decided that it was better if she lived in one place, since he traveled so much, so now she lives at Hinata House

Haruka - Keitaro's aunt, Haruka used to be Seta's assistant. Nothing seems to surprise her.
Mutsumi - An often sickly and accident prone student who ends up studying with Keitaro and Naru. Also a third year Ronin

Tama-Chan - A flying hot springs turtle, Tama-chan was a gift from Mutsumi. Su often engages in battle with Tama-chan, hoping ultimately to eat her. Strangely, Tama-chan is more popular than Su.

Gidget - A giant turtle which falls in love with Tama-chan on Pararakelse Island

Mecha Tama-chan (I, II, and III) - Su builds three Mecha Tama-chans as part of the ongoing battle between them.

Mecha Tamago IV - Su builds Mecha Tamago in order to aid in crossing the Desert of Death to save Keitaro and Naru

Krishna-chan - A robot built (by Su, of course) to help Shinobu learn how to kiss.

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