|Love Hina character|
|Created by||Ken Akamatsu|
Keitaro Urashima (husband)
Kanako Urashima (sister-in-law)
Naru Narusegawa (成瀬川 なる Narusegawa Naru?) is a fictional character and the female protagonist in the Love Hina series by Ken Akamatsu. Known for her fiery temper and tendency to use physical violence to punish central character Keitaro Urashima, she is the first female introduced in the series who is trying to pass the University of Tokyo entrance exams. Her studies along with her developing relationship with Keitaro is one of the focal points in the manga and anime. The word Naru means "to become" while her surname Naruse-gawa means "the Naruse River" or possibly "to become a raging river". Her Japanese voice actress is Yui Horie and her English voice actor is Dorothy Elias-Fahn.
Early character design
Ken Akamatsu initially designed a character named Midori who would later become the basis for Naru. Her appearance was identical to Naru with the exception of the signature hair antenna. Midori was to be the complete opposite of Naru in character, acting very kind and nice like Mutsumi in personality, (i.e. clumsy and keeping on her own pace yet being kind and very gentle to everyone she meets). Upon first encountering the main character she was to fall naked from the ceiling on top of him, losing her memory in the process. Because of her amnesia, not much is known about her past. She stays with the main character who instantly falls in love with her, and gets a part time job as a waitress yet due to her clumsiness she's prone to tripping and falling while carrying food.
Some of the sketches of Midori's facial expressions and outfits were still used for Naru in the anime. Before finalizing her design and description, her character was renamed multiple times before the start of the series. In particular, her eyes were worked on the most to match her personality.
At the start of the story, Naru is a 17-year-old student and resident of Hinata Inn. She came to live there when she was just in junior high. Naru is characterized by her signature hair antenna (which is only shared by one other character in the series, Mutsumi), short and hot temper, immense strength and agility despite her size, and physically aggressive nature when it comes to Keitaro. Because of this, Naru is described as being "one fuse short of a cannon". This side of her is usually reserved for Keitaro. The other residents of Hinata Inn, of whom she is protective, care for Naru like a sister. She is reliable and responsible. They all cheer her on and support her during her studies. As the story progresses, the girls become envious of Naru, because of her beauty  and most importantly because of her relationship with Keitaro. Some are driven to the point where they start to dress and act like her. Despite attempts to break them apart, the girls eventually see Naru as a role model to follow and be like in the future.
Of all the girls in the Hinata House, she is victimized the most by Keitaro's clumsiness which often results in her being naked or exposed in some fashion, touched or grabbed inappropriately, or lying in very suggestive positions, she is also the one who usually hits him when he is in this situation with other girls (despite the fact that half the time it wasn't even his fault). This is further tempered by the fact that his room is directly underneath hers, a hole in the ceiling connects the two making for easy access, and they study together most of the time. Once, she beat Keitaro up because she entered his room while he was changing and later explained that hitting him had become an involuntary reaction. These situations along with her quick retribution thereafter are a recurring element in the series. Her attacks become increasingly more volatile as the story progresses. Despite her reactions towards him, Naru finds her day to feel highly off-center without any of Keitaro's unintentional perversions. She develops strong feelings for Keitaro, though initially has great difficulty in coming to terms with them. Naru's conflicting emotions causes her to become extremely jealous of his closeness with the other girls while at the same time stay in a state of denial and emotional unsteadiness. Because of her aggressive yet caring personality, Naru is a best known example of the tsundere character archetype.
Naru owns a Liddo-kun doll that Keitaro gave her when she was two years old; it was originally Mutsumi's but she gave it to him to give it to "Na-chan" as a love gift. She is also given a flying onsen turtle, Tama-chan, and a kiss as a sign of forgiveness and thanks for helping her get back home after the entrance exams.
Her character follows along with the beautiful-nerd disposition with the exception that she is actually very spontaneous and sometimes quite clumsy. Like Keitaro, she strove to get into Tokyo University because of a promise she had made to someone in the past. She is very intelligent, having placed Tops in the nation on the college practice entrance exams at the same cram school that Keitaro was enrolled in. However, this was not always so as was shown that several years before the beginning of the story Naru was like Keitaro, having horrible grades and little hope of passing. She was able to overcome this by constantly studying under the guidance of Noriyasu Seta, whom she had a crush on at the time. However, this resulted in a decline in her social activities  as well as damaging her eyesight. When not using contacts, she has to wear glasses with thick lenses. Despite her dedication to her studies she failed to pass the Tokyo University entrance exam the first time but was able to pass the second time around. One of her goals is to become a teacher.
Towards the end of the series she finally confesses her love for Keitaro. In the anime, she does this several times in the specials but eventually culminates in one moment when she screams it out and kisses Keitaro passionately.
Manga vs Anime
There is a toning down of fanservice involving Naru that is more prevalent in the manga than the anime. Her first encounter with Keitaro in the hot springs is more revealing in the manga after she mistakes him for Mitsune "Kitsune" Konno due to her not wearing her glasses or contacts at the time. She then proceeds to follow him relentlessly, after several embarrassing run-ins around the house, so as to protect the other girls. She is also more prone to being exposed, grabbed, or depicted in very provocative positions which are heavily played on in the Love Hina series.
Naru is much more tolerant of Keitaro when he first arrived in the anime, however, half-way through Volume 1 in the manga, she participates in the "Get Rid of Keitaro Plan" devised by the other girls and becomes the coldest of the group towards him.
In the manga, Naru made promises with three people that she would get into Tokyo University. At first, she did it because of her crush for Seta. However, it started when Naru was only two years old and living in Hinata when she and Keitaro promised to go to Tokyo University together. Because she was too young, Naru could not remember that promise. She had also promised Mutsumi Otohime to go to Tokyo University in an effort to be reminded of her promise with Keitaro. In the anime she talks at length about her promise to Seta, and the promise to Keitaro is revealed in a flashback in the beginning of the first episode, but the promise to Mutsumi is left out.
The manga also follows Naru's relationship with Keitaro longer and more closely after they both pass their entrance exams. The main focus of the story switches to their feelings, commitment mishaps and problems, and insecurities—all of which are often depicted in comical manner. Rather surprisingly, Naru is initially the one to ask Keitaro if he wanted to take their relationship to another level. The series ends with them having developed a more mature and committed relationship.
In the epilogue set four years later, Naru marries Keitaro fulfilling their childhood dreams. The anime ends before this happens.
In a poll among the manga series' fans, Naru was rated #1 despite her temper. Naru was ranked #67 Favorite Heroine by fans in a 2002 survey conducted by Newtype Japan.
The company Tokyo Mint, LLC obtained the rights to release a series of cold-cast resin statuettes featuring the girls from Love Hina, of which three were dedicated to Naru. Because of Naru's popularity, the first figure in the series- a 1/8 scale size of Naru in a bikini- was the first ever sold-out statuette made by the company. Two more releases were produced, "Naru in pink" and a 1/6 scale of "Naru in yellow" which were the last in the line for her character. Six-hundred of each release was imported and distributed in North America.
Yui Horie, who voiced Naru in the Japanese version, is also noted for singing the opening theme song Kirari Takaramono (lit. Glittering Treasures) and ending song Be for me, be for you for the Love Hina Again OVA.
Notes and references
- Akamatsu, Ken (May 7, 2002). Love Hina Vol 1. TokyoPop. Character notes. ISBN 1-931514-94-1.
- Akamatsu, Ken (September 16, 2003). Love Hina Vol 14. TokyoPop. Chp 118 pg. 116. ISBN 1-59182-120-7.
- Akamatsu, Ken (August 12, 2003). Love Hina Vol 13. TokyoPop. Chp 106 pg. 8. ISBN 1-59182-119-3.
- Akamatsu, Ken (May 6, 2003). Love Hina Vol 9. TokyoPop. ISBN 1-59182-116-9.
- Akamatsu, Ken (September 16, 2003). Love Hina Vol 14. TokyoPop. p. Epilogue II pg. 185. ISBN 1-59182-120-7.
- Akamatsu, Ken (August 12, 2003). Love Hina Vol 13. TokyoPop. Chp 106 pg. 9. ISBN 1-59182-119-3.
- Akamatsu, Ken (November 12, 2002). Love Hina Vol 7. TokyoPop. ISBN 1-59182-018-9.
- Dorothy Elias-Fahn. Love Hina episode 6 (Anime).
- Dorothy Elias-Fahn. Love Hina episode 5 (Anime).
- Akamatsu, Ken (May 7, 2002). Love Hina Vol 1. TokyoPop. Chp 3 pg. 121. ISBN 1-931514-94-1.
- Akamatsu, Ken (September 16, 2003). Love Hina Vol 14. TokyoPop. Chp 118 pg. 139. ISBN 1-59182-120-7. "What do I wanna do? something involving teaching...oh, duh! I could be a teacher!"
- Dorothy Elias-Fahn. Love Hina Christmas Movie (Anime).
- Dorothy Elias-Fahn. Love Hina Spring Movie (Anime).
- Dorothy Elias-Fahn. Love Hina Again OVA III (Anime).
- Akamatsu, Ken (September 16, 2003). Love Hina Vol 14. TokyoPop. p. Epilogue II. ISBN 1-59182-120-7.
- Akamatsu, Ken (August 12, 2003). Love Hina Vol 13. TokyoPop. Chp 112 pg. 141. ISBN 1-59182-119-3.
- Akamatsu, Ken (September 16, 2003). Love Hina Vol 14. TokyoPop. Chp 113 pg. 8. ISBN 1-59182-120-7.
- Akamatsu, Ken (September 16, 2003). Love Hina Vol 14. TokyoPop. p. Epilogue II pg. 186. ISBN 1-59182-120-7.
- Newtype USA, Vol 2 - Issue 4. April 2003.
- "New Love Hina Statuette "Naru in Pink"". Anime News Network. 2003-03-11. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
- "Tokyo Mint Announces Naru Narusegawa in Yellow Statue". Anime News Network. 2003-10-26. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
- Jensen, K. Thor (February 9, 2011). "Maya Natsume - 50 Hot Girls We Wish Were Real". UGO Networks. Retrieved July 28, 2013.