Love Hina - 3: Kendo-Girl In Love? (Swordplay)

Title:Love Hina
Episode:3: Kendo-Girl In Love? (Swordplay)
Flashback (ancient camera technology ;-): Motoko performs a demanding training in her kendo camp; Keitarou as well as his friends Shirai and Haitani have to face desastrous results in another test at the Sasaki seminar; his friends tell him to forget about learning; they walk through the rain trying to find some girls to have fun with; Keitarou suggests to stop this; they meet four girls and attempt to invite them to karaoke; the largest girl (Motoko) knocks them down with her umbrella; only Keitarou is unhappy enough not to run away in time, so Motoko is going to teach him a lesson. But when Keitarou can't breathe anymore Motoko suddenly blushes and feels weak...
Back at Hinata-sou, Keitarou feels like getting a cold. But the first person he happens to run into there is that very kendo girl who had just beaten him up! Motoko draws her sword... Shinobu (who hasn't ever seen Motoko before) is scared to death but the other girls explain to Motoko who Keitarou is. Motoko isn't willing to accept a man in an all-girls dorm but none of the other girls seem to have any problems with that.
Kitsune convinces Keitarou to talk to Motoko who is performing her daily training, cutting airborn leaves with her sword. Motoko feels bothered by Keitarou and threatens him once again - but suddenly she faints, and he can barely catch her before she can fall to the ground. Which of course annoys her even more once she has regained her senses...
Alone again Motoko wonders why just having eye contact with Keitarou makes it difficult for her to breathe and lets her heart beat faster. Could this be...? "Your first love", the town elders are telling her.
Motoko still refuses to accept the new manager but Naru tells her that this is something grandma Hina decided - and that the atmosphere has changed for the better since Keitarou arrived. Not a good moment for Keitarou to peep though the hole in the floor of Naru's room, earning him another sword strike. But Naru defends Keitarou as this hole is not his fault and has been there for a long time already. And the other girls all agree that Motoko is overacting. Right when Motoko repeats she'll never accept Keitarou as manager she faints again - and it becomes obvious that she has caught a cold.
Motoko is out of her mind now: She blames Keitarou for her cold and for "playing with her feelings". So she challenges him for a sword duel where the manager job will be at stake! Motoko chases Keitarou though the house (causing some unfortunate 'visit' of the boy in Naru's room) and up to the rooftop where he is finally cornered. But before she can finish him off Motoko loses out to her cold for the third time, falling down the roof - had Keitarou not grabbed for her arm in time! Motoko still rejects being rescued by him but Keitarou insists he's the manager and it's his duty to help her. Right when Motoko is saved the weatherstrip breaks and Keitarou plunges into the abyss...
In the outdoor spring the girls think all problems are solved now. But Kaolla has found something in the water: A wallet containing a "College Prep School ID card for Urashima Keitarou"!
(2004-03-26, Devil Doll:)
"Keitarou, was the earth blue from up there?" (Kaolla Su after one of Motoko's sword strikes.) The concept of having Keitarou chased through the house is getting old now, so hopefully the forthcoming episodes are going to be less repetitive. Then again Keitarou acts surprisingly successful during his fight with Motoko, blocking one of her strikes and avoiding the other!
Although I don't like this episode too much I believe it was a good idea to keep Motoko out of the anime until this time, unlike in the manga (where her training camp visit takes place in volume 2). Keitarou's position at Hinata-sou is weak enough anyway, and having Motoko (his main opponent for some episodes to come) on the scene already would have made it even more incredible that he'll manage to stay there. But now he has at least two girls as support on his side - Shinobu (who believes in him) and Naru (who has to keep his secret). In the manga this problem is solved by simply making Keitarou inherit the whole mansion under the condition to become the manager there - I like his fragile position in the anime much better because as heir of Hinata-sou he might just have given Motoko notice to vacate.
The idea of Motoko falling in love without knowing was rather forced IMHO. Having her believe in such a thing may only serve as to show how inexperienced she still is, despite being such a great fighter - which is her main problem throughout this series: She hates to be weak and won't confess that to anyone, let alone accept help. This is something she'll have to learn with time, as well as to clear up her relation to her older sister. Right now she cannot even handle the admiration by her "fans" but this is going to change until episode 26.
Another concept that will continue throughout this story is that Keitarou, despite being weak and stupid, always has to pay the bill even when he is absolutely innocent. He's a classic Charly Brown character at that stage, earning sympathy from the audience - but the many setbacks he has to endure because of this injustice will prevent him from trusting his own abilities for a long time (probably until episode 28). Until then he really needs to be "immortal" as Kaolla names it, as today's being "good at heart" earns him nothing but a fall into the water and worsening the cold he already had. Motoko will remain silent for the moment but she's not on his side as Shinobu is. And she will call Keitarou by his family name "Urashima" throughout the whole series, like a stranger - compare that to how the other girls Kitsune, Naru and Kaolla all name Keitarou by his first name!
Naru was clearly on Keitarou's side this time (very different from the manga at that stage - watch her face when Keitarou has survived his fall into the water!). She's acting responsibly, and she is practically in command of Hinata-sou now because both Kitsune (too lazy) and Motoko (too self-centered) don't really care about many things. We'll have to return to this point in episode 28.
Shinobu-chan names Keitarou "Urashima-san" but when talking to Motoko she already changes that to "Urashima-senpai" which will be her expression of respect (and shy affection) towards Keitarou from now on. Despite being shy by nature and moreover being the newcomer she's the first one to stand up and support Keitarou's position as manager - she must know best how important it is for Keitarou to have a place to live as he did the same for her in the previous episode. Here the anime differs a lot from the manga (where Keitarou has his biggest problems with Shinobu right at the start).
Kitsune and Kaolla are still tricked by that "Toudai student" fake; Kitsune probably believes she can use Keitarou, Kaolla probably doesn't think at all at this time. And Naru (who knows better) just turns Motoko's own words against her. So you can see how weak Keitarou's position must become once his lie is uncovered - exactly what happens at the end of this episode! So the next one is going to be really interesting.

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