Tentacle-Free Anime: "Ouran High School Host Club" (2006)
- by Kazekun, 14 March 2017
Honestly, TFA Tuesdays doesn't have that bad of a ring to it... but really, I'm only saying that because I've sucked twice in a row now. It truly has been a busy time here and things are only looking to be getting busier for the next few months. But I'll continue to try my best to make sure this delay in our scheduled TFA week doesn't happen again. For now, thank you for being here and let's get started!
At first glance, you may not find Ouran High School Host Club's feminine aesthetic or its heavy focus on rich kids at a prestigious academy as very interesting if you've never watched the series before. For me, the latter was definitely more true than the former for a long time before I finally sat down to watch it and learned why so many people within the anime community praise the series as a classic.
The lovely cast of Ouran is made up by the titular Host Club members: Haruhi Fujioka, Tamaki Suoh, Kyoya Ootori, Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin, Mitsukuni "Honey" Haninozuka, and Takashi "Mori" Morinozuka. Each character is explored in depth as to what makes them tick, what brought them to the host club, and what their wants out of life are. Though with one conceit, I do believe Mori gets the least amount of character exploration, but his personality is a lot more simple and built on unabashed loyalty to Honey than any of the other characters.
Discussing Haruhi first, she's our main protagonist and is the only one of the Host Club members not coming from a prestigious family. In fact, she got into this elite school by her smarts, but thankfully she's never annoyingly smart. In fact, Haruhi is the most down to Earth character of the series with a more moderate lifestyle. So of course she'd be more down to Earth.
However, while it is incredible to see such a smart, relatable young girl as the main character that is able to reign in the hellions of Ouran, that's not what makes her down to Earth in my opinion. It's that she has a very unique outlook on life that I wish could be adopted by more of the world at large. One of the big draws of Ouran as a series is its ahead-of-its-time way of taking on the discussion of a non-binary way of thinking about gender by introducing us to an incredibly androgynous character who spends the majority of the series dressed as a man with the outlook that its her body, she can look the way she wants. And no one should be able to tell her otherwise.
It's also great that her dad is a drag queen, something her mom was very open to, giving Haruhi an even stronger outlook and down to Earth tolerance of people and how they choose to conduct themselves. Its this restraint from intolerance that allows Haruhi to look at things from a more personal and yet logical perspective and keep the boys in line for how they act throughout the series.
Tamaki is our other main protagonist who runs the Host Club as its founding member, daring to do good and please the guests who frequent their on-campus establishment. Though I don't want to get into too spoiler heavy territory with what goes down with Tamaki later on in the series – as its truly interesting stuff – I will say one of the more interesting aspects of this guy is his treatment of Haruhi for most of the series. They're the two leads, a boy and a girl, so logic would dictate that these are the two that are meant to end up together, right?
Well, funny enough, Tamaki ends up spending majority of the series treating Haruhi like a daughter. It's a quirk of his – not incestuous mind you, he simply wishes to protect her. To a near mythical smothering effect more-so as the series runs along. It leads to many great interactions between the two and definitely throws the will-they-won't-they trope on its head.
I won't spend a bunch of grand paragraphs on each individual member of the Host Club; however, I will lay down some key points for the rest of its members. I discussed Mori very briefly earlier, but there's also Honey, who is the “little brother” of the Host Club so to speak and someone Mori has an incredible amount of loyalty towards. An intelligent young boy with a love for sweets, who I will tell you holds a pretty damn awesome secret as well. Kyoya is the finance manager for the group and Tamaki's right hand man. A logical, calculating man who's family lineage means he must work harder in life than his older brothers, leading to someone who's driven at every opportunity to get ahead.
And finally there are the infamous Ouran twins, or every young girls wet dream made animation, so-to-speak. Hikaru and Kaoru are the “lovers” of the Host Club, playing up the incestuous tones between them to give their adoring fans and customers something to swoon over. I mean, literally take Fred and George from Harry Potter, make them incredibly rich pretty boys, and have them be more prone to just-very-nearly kissing one another and you get, well, these two. Both sets of boys are prone to pranks, however.
There is a sort of eclecticism surrounding the large cast of Ouran that definitely keeps things interesting and fun throughout. The atmosphere is also definitely feminine – it's based on a shojo manga – but really, why should that be an issue for anyone looking to simply partake in a good story? While much of the show is “pretty” to look at, with pristine animation quality to backup its pristine school backdrop, I feel this unique look for the show actually quite helps it feel more inviting and enjoyable.
This is meant to be a fun series after all, not to be dreary or taken too seriously. Ouran High School Host Club is a series you can simply put on after a long day's work and just watch without needing to put a heavy amount of thought into it. That's commendable for a show that will also move you, if you let it. There's nothing done by accident with Ouran. Like Hahuri, it's just an all around smart show with a down to Earth outlook on life. And that makes for one compelling series.
If I had to say one bad thing about this series, I'll focus on two points that I mentioned above: That Mori is the one character who is slighted the most as not getting that much to do story wise. We do learn some about him, but not enough in comparison to the other club members. And secondly, that the series is – even at 26 episodes – only half the story.
Giving the series another 26 episodes at least would have allowed for the entire manga series to be adapted. Granted, the manga didn't end until 2010 – which is insane – but considering it's only been 7 years since then I think we fans are overdue for a finalized animated story. If Mushi-Shi can get a second season after 9 years, then I think Ouran should eventually get the same treatment.
Finally, I will give a quick shout out to the dub which is how so many – myself included – viewed the series. This, along with Ed from Fullmetal Alchemist, is what sort of catapulted Vic Mignogna's career as a voice actor for his stellar performance as Tamaki. If you plan on watching this series at all, please watch the dub. It truly is a great one. Also it's a good introduction to nearly every single voice actor under FUNimation's roof – who all appear one way or another in almost all of their dubs even to this day.
So to reiterate, if at first glance you don't find Ouran High School Host Club's feminine aesthetic or its heavy focus on rich kids at a prestigious academy as very interesting, then that's all the more reason to give this series a chance. It really will surprise you.
Final Score: 4.5 Broken Vases out of 5
Have you seen the fourth volume of "OHSHC"? Let us know what you thought of it below!