Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

Dated 22 May 2010: Love Hina and its place in anime history

Love Hina opening credits
At least there's no spinning watermark.

Although I own all the DVDs, I chose to re-watch my archive of Love Hina fansubs over the past few months. As you might expect, the video and audio quality is atrocious by modern standards, with 320x240 15fps encodes being the norm. (The entire season fits on two CD-Rs.) Depending on the group, the subtitles themselves can also be quite poor by today's standards. Many lines are poorly timed and some episodes were clearly finished by non-native English speakers. Every single episode was generally inferior from a technical perspective than the samples in my recent Chu-Bra!! PSP experiment. Nevertheless, Love Hina in this crude form invokes a certain nostalgia when remembering the brief, recent history of anime distribution in America.

Motoko and Keitaro
Try a little tenderness, Keitaro.

Love Hina was one of the first shows successfully distributed widely in entirely digital formats. Although the initial rips came from analog broadcasts, the Internet (and sneakernet) distribution of Love Hina episodes was accomplished digitally. Heretofore, American anime fans typically purchased, traded, or copied videotapes of fansubs. This is how I first watched All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, for example. For those unfamiliar with the medium, videotapes are purely analog, so the quality degrades significantly after each generation. If you were lucky, you got to watch something that was low enough on the copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy chain that it did not look like mush.

Tsuruko, Motoko's sister
Aneue > Onee-sama.

What a long way we've come in merely a decade. Fansubs today appear with soft-subs that can be turned off and video quality that surpasses DVD limitations by a large margin. No wonder the anime DVD bubble collapsed so quickly. I, like many buyers, contracted my buying habits once DVDs became clearly inferior to recordings of initial broadcasts—waiting for Blu-ray releases. I'm still waiting. FUNimation is taking cautious steps, but I won't be cajoled long by lackluster upscales.

Keitaro and Mutsumi
Keitaro's dilemma at the end of Love Hina is not
unlike Shinji's struggle with Instrumentality.

So what about Love Hina itself? Many former fans have recanted their affection for the title, disclaiming, "I hadn't seen much anime at that time, so I didn't know better." I still find Love Hina as charming and funny as ever. It balances a winning combination of absurd mechanized turtles and emotional resonance. It's a relic from a time of the big-boobed tsundere (before the stereotype turned into a complete joke), to be sure, and its harem comedy roots were unoriginal even then, but its cast remains engaging. Megumi Hayashibara is still absolutely dead-on as Aunt Haruka, and a round or two with Motoko reminds me how sorely Asakawa Yuu is missed. Likewise, the motif about promises still rings true today; it carries more import than the typical canned motivations anime characters generally spout. And perhaps it also implores viewers to remember a past they once loved and should not forget.

Dated 18 January 2010: There sure are a lot of panty shots in this show about underwear

Nayu and Haruka
Nayu loves underwear. Haruka feels okay about underwear.

I've chosen Chu-Bra!! as my PSP Experiment show. This decision was loosely based on various impressions and qualified praise gathered from around the Internet regarding the shows in question. For example, Divine called Chu-Bra!! episode two "a semi-serious depiction of the insecurities and embarrassment girls feel when their bodies are developing," and the creator of Danbooru claims "durarara > vampire bund > gentei shoujo > chu-bra > baka to test > hidamari sketch > sora no woto > ookami kakushi > ladies versus butlers."

Yako, not so much.

Through two episodes, I have to admit Chu-Bra!! is not as mindlessly insipid as I was expecting. In fact, the second episode did manage to convey the awkwardness and self-conscious humiliation some girls must feel during those awkward years. To be honest, it's going to require this type of emo teeth gnashing to keep me from jumping ship mid-season to Ladies Versus Butlers! instead. If the show turns into mindless fan service, I can't see myself making it past episode four. Whether or not this has anything to do with the fact that I'm watching it on a Playstation Portable is yet unknown.

Dated 12 January 2010: The Anime Experiment of Winter 2010

Ladies Versus Butlers! random screenshot
Entirely random Ladies Versus Butlers! screenshot.
That someone gets groped comes as no surprise.

I am looking for a currently airing series to watch exclusively on my Playstation Portable. This will have to be a low-expectation series I would not otherwise care about, because I don't want to "waste" a show for a dubious experiment. Hopefully this will work out better than this experiment.

Ladies Versus Butlers! random screenshot
Another random Ladies Versus Butlers! screenshot.
Holy crap, that is a lot of hair.

Every single anime series I've watched for the past six years or so has been on a television (aside from episodes on a computer while traveling or times I re-watched something without giving it my full attention). My theory is that everything is better when viewed on a home theater setup instead of on a computer monitor, and even more so when compared to the streaming video formats that have grown so popular recently. I believe these practices make some viewers less tolerant of shows they might otherwise enjoy were the viewing conditions more ideal.

Ookami Kakushi random screenshot
A random Ookami Kakushi screenshot.
I want to mow my lawn with a scythe.

So, I'm going to find a series for which I have low expectations and try by to watch it entirely on my PSP to see how it all pans out. Besides, I never use my PSP for anything. The only question now: Which series? I'm thinking Ladies Versus Butlers! because of The Ayako Doctrine. Another possibility is Ookami Kakushi, mostly because I love FictionJunction Yuuka. Hell, maybe even Chu-Bra!! if SDS is serious. I don't really care what it is, as long as it's not unwatchably bad or so good I'll wish I had watched it on a TV. However, regardless of the show, I refuse to do my own re-encoding even though it's pretty easy to do. It's a matter of principle.