Explorations in Japanese Culture
Haruhi is a poor tomboyish student at a school for the ultra-wealthy, able to attend because of a scholarship, and unable to even afford a uniform. One day, she stumbles across the decidedly peculiar but very popular Ouran Host Club. She tries to leave, but accidentally breaks a vase, and unable to pay for it, she’s told that she’ll have to stay and do odd jobs. That is, until they decide she would be more valuable as a club member. Not realizing she’s female due to her appearance, they fix her up and give her a male uniform. She’s an instant hit, so they decide to have her keep up the charade even after they find out the truth. Haruhi, being average almost to a fault, doesn’t know what to make of the unconventional activities of the Host Club (or of the even more unconventional members), but having little choice, she plays along. Before long, real bonds are formed, friends made, and Haruhi finds herself accepted in a way she could never have been otherwise in this affluent school.
Ouran Host Club is a very character driven anime. I fell in love with all of the characters and they are very well developed over the 26 episodes in the series. Each character has very distinctive personalities and roles, all of which compliment and play off one another. As the show progresses each is introduced and often given their own episode of focus. But the best of all is the relationship between them all. All the members are friends and depend on one another, but they really shine when it comes to the love story at the center of it all between the two characters Tamaki and Haruhi. What can I say, I am a bit of a sucker when it comes to a love story and Ouran is a great one. The romance is not as blunt as one might expect, and that is what will really make you fall for them. Tamaki is hopelessly in love with Haruhi from the very begging, but Haruhi is a bit of a tomboy who often brushes him off. This relationship continues throughout the entire series, with one of the most rewarding climaxes!
A friend of mine explained to me why she loves Ouran:
I remember stumbling upon Ouran on youtube when it just came out in Japan (2006), so I only had like two episodes to watch at the time! I like that Haruhi is a reluctant protagonist (or heroine) and doesn’t fit into the cutesy, lovey dovey, energetic mold that so many girl characters fall into harem and reverse-harem shows. And I like the fact that they mock that character model as well as other characteristic and romantic cliches (and break the 4th wall at times). I think that sucked in a lot of viewers (mostly girls) that were tired of the same old romantic elements in anime.
I think Kristina does an excellent job really articulating what makes Ouran so special. It is the uniqueness of the characters and the way the anime pokes fun at the cliches of the genre. Some of my favorite moments are when the obsessed otaku fan of the club springs out from the floor to direct the club members to fit into the traditional roles of the genre.
Tamaki is definitely my absolute favorite of all the characters. Since getting to know him and understand his motivations is such a key part of the story I will have to be very vague in describing why I love him so much. Tamki is a character who has a lot of passion and excitement for what he does and those that he loves. All of his friends and the club are represent a family to Tamaki and I really can identify that as I put so much care and love into my relationships with my friends. As you learn more about what brought the club together, I am sure you will also fall more in love with him!
The show is based off of the Japanese phenomena of the host club, where good looking men and women are paid to essentially entertain those of the opposite sex. They often spend the majority of their time fawning over them as well as enjoying food and drinks. Hosts are paid to simply give their clients attention and make them feel special. There is nothing sexual about their services, and you will absolutely not find that in the show. The show additionally does not spend much of its time on the actual hosting, and more about the setting up of situations and character interactions. So don’t get turned off thinking that you will constantly be watching hosts entertain girls.
Ouran Host Club is a very straightforward anime, there are no essential OVAs, movies or anything you need to know aside from watching from the very beginning to the very end. This is one of those recommendations where it is hard to put my finger on exactly why I love the show, but if I describe too much I might ruin it. I hope that you will give it a chance and don’t let the strangeness get in the way of enjoying a really good show.