You know what I love about Ouran High School Host Club? Every. Single. Thing. Ok, I take that back, but when fuzzy manga preview DVD extras are the biggest complaint you can come up with, there is something very right going on. In this case, it happens to be the financially-challenged, andro girl pretending to be a boy-and not just any boy, a pro, if you will-so she can repay her debt to yes, the Ouran High School Host Club.
“Handsome boys with too much time on their hands entertain and charm girls, who also have too much time on their hands-” the definition of the Host Club as laid out in the show itself. Presumably there are still pockets of humanity (even in Japan) where the lush companionship found in Host/Hostess bars is still unknown. In any case, the high school setting tones down the massively expensive champagne to tea, the occasional foray into “commoner’s coffee” (read: instant), and cake, which fits the refined atmosphere of a private academy. Haruhi is only there due to her exceptional grades and airtight study habits, so you have to wonder how she keeps it together after breaking a vase belonging to the Host Club, and becoming their indentured host-inFujioka -training.
A few cosplay themes later, Haruhi fits right in and is just as popular as any of the actual boys-the “cool” one, Kyoya Ootori; incest-implying, identical twins Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin; Shota complex-inducing loliboy, Mitsukuni “Honey” Haninozuka, and his stalwart bodyguard, Takashi Morinozuka; even Tamaki Suou, the ultra popular “king” of the club. The characters all fit convenient archetypes so there is sure to be something for every guest at the club, which also works out in favor of the viewers interested in how the reverse harem will work out.
Tamaki definitely has a crush on Haruhi-that is for sure. 13 episodes wasn’t enough to see how that will play out (and I can’t really imagine that anything will come of it, since the whole point is to be frivolous boys together all day) but it was definitely enough to see how medical exams play out when you’re trying to keep your female nature a secret, why the twins get in a fight, what happens when Honey forgets to brush his teeth, who Haruhi’s dad is, and where rich kids go on vacation. The second disk ends with a trippy, Alice in Wonderland themed episode, which was kind of surprising, actually. Not at all as corny and stupid as it could’ve been, while pretty much acing the disorienting strangeness of the dream world.
I don’t know if I’m just acclimating to dubs or if the ones I have been hearing lately are actually top notch, but Ouran High School‘s English is great. Vic Mignogna’s Tamaki felt just snobby enough without pushing him into the category of someone you dislike, while Caitlin Glass’s Haruhi was gender-indistinct rather than outright boyish. Besides the polished product, you also get treated to a lengthy outtakes reel.
Ouran High School Host Club definitely gets my recommendation if you’re looking for something silly. For a high school sitcom that isn’t Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, it has grabbed my attention very well. Part 2 just came out last week, so I hope the finish can be as strong as the start. Kiss, kiss, fall in love!
© Bisco Hatori / Hakusensha. © NTV/ VAP/ Bones/ Hakusensha