One issue that fans often have with anime is that too often the guy and girl in a series never end up together – by series or season end they “kind of” confess without actually making the leap into a relationship. Love Hina never had this problem. By my count, in the anime there were at least three confessions from the girl to the guy. But my favorite of these isn’t the one in the finale of the show – it’s in the Christmas special, which remains one of my favorite anime episodes from any series.
If you remember, Love Hina focuses on Keitaro, a ronin who is studying to get into Tokyo University (the very one that our own Kaze attends) so he can meet the promised girl from his youth. Naru may be this promised girl – she, too, is trying to get into Todai. Keitaro isn’t too bright and he’s totally helpless. Naru is smart, beautiful, and very, very violent.
During the Christmas special, the two are studying (along with Mutsumi, another “promised girl” possibility), though Keitaro is having trouble focusing since it’s Christmastime and the rumor is swirling of wishes coming true if one confesses on Christmas Eve. Naru find Keitaro’s lack of commitment bothersome, and is especially angry when she finds that Keitaro has further avoided studying when he takes a part-time job. Of course, there’s a good reason for his job, and after Keitaro sees Naru possibly confessing to a past love, lots of angst ensues in an episode focusing what might be thought of a peculiar topic for a Christmas special – sacrifice.
This special finds no one acting like they do in the rest of the series. Perhaps because it’s Christmas, just about every single Love Hina character pushes him or herself to do more, to go further. Shinobu has Keitaro fawning over her, but doesn’t take advantage of him; Matoko gets involved in bringing Keitaro and Naru together, despite usually keeping herself out of such matters; and even Kentaro, the rival, helps Naru chase down Keitaro in the middle of holiday, Tokyo traffic.
All of these characters are making sacrifices for each other, Naru and Keitaro most of all. Keitaro works in the cold, with a banged up foot, to buy Naru a coat she wants (and one that, by her actions, she doesn’t deserve). She, too, sacrifices, acting cold toward Keitaro for his own good and then running around Tokyo to find the Keitaro’s gift after she left it on a train, attempting to make up for her selfishness from earlier in the episode.
All these troubles make the declaration at the end of the episode that much sweeter.
Sacrifice is a funny theme for a Christmas episode, but it works, because it demonstrates love (it’s also present in other Christmas anime). This season, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to ponder upon God’s gift to us – salvation brought into the world as a baby and celebrated on Christmas Day, a demonstration of love through sacrifice of a pure, perfect lamb, a confession of God’s love for a people that don’t deserve it.
Rather, it seems, Christmas is all about sacrifice after all.