Show: Ouran High School Host Club.
Made by: Nippon Televsion Network.
Season (s): 1 and 2.
Episode running time: 22 min.
This is an anime based off of a popular magna series of the same name created by Bisco Hatori, based on the story of a girl from modest means who earns a scholarship to an exclusive school for the rich. In the process of looking for a quiet place to study, she stumbles across the host club, and accidentally breaks a valuable auction piece. To make up for the cost she is given the ultimatum of working there herself.
From the technical end of things, the character style (done by Kumiko Takahashi) is not as completely faithful to the manga like other anime such as Inuyasha and Naruto for example maintain, but it doesn’t veer off to much leaving them still relatively recognizable, if a bit more cartoony. This character style works with the bright upbeat tone of the show, even with the few moments of seriousness that pop up.
The school’s design as well is also good as the pinkish opulent stage that much of the plot is set in, and its animated rendering is made perfect for the melodramatic characters and exaggerated qualities of the rich lifestyles it is portraying.
The main character, particularly the main focus of the show Haruhi, is the shining light of this show. She breaks the usual mold of female characters in high school based anime, or even other teenage girls in television from the Western end, and is a delightful mix of straight-man, brutal honesty, caring, a little apathetic, and Charlie Brown.
She is also indifferent to gender binaries and is comfortable with both her masculine and feminine qualities, with one of her defining characteristics being that one’s gender or sex doesn’t define one’s choices.
The rest of the Host club characters themselves makes its business in the narrative on playing up qualities of tropes of the different types of teenage boy found primarily in shojo (manga typified in style and story content as geared towards female audiences) such as the Princely type, Cool type, Little devil/Mischievous/Forbidden love, Lolita-shota, and Quiet Type. You certainly get an introduction into what classifies these tropes are, even Haruhi is one of these male tropes as “the natural.”
Normally, highly trope based characters, especially main characters as the host club, run the risk of quickly becoming uninteresting one trick ponies if not handled right; but in this case, these characters work almost a parody of these tropes, with just enough personalities themselves that exist outside of those tropes to let you know that the characters are not solely defined by their type.
The character dynamics themselves work well, particularly between Haruhi and Tamaki, as Tamaki brings her out of her shell a bit more by livening things up and Haruhi, corralling Tamaki with her on the nose remarks. The dynamic between her and the rest of the host club is also good, though isn’t quite as fun as her and Tamaki.
The voice acting for both the original Japanese release and the English dub (done through FUNimation), were great talents that conveyed each character exactly, particularly Haruhi (Caitlin Glass), with her believably gender neutral voice. Tamaki in particular was a joy to hear, capturing his flamboyantly narcissistic gung-ho qualities well.
The story itself is great, each episode consisting of a great deal of hijinks, which are a good collection of zaniness using both expected and not so expected elements, with little quiet moments to appreciate the moral (for episodes with morals) of what they were trying to get across.
Overall this show presented the style, tone, characters and narrative premise beautifully, upping the natural ham that made it so enjoyable from the source material, even filling in and improving on some things from the first manga volume without it veering to far from its source material until, that is until somewhere in season 2 when it veers away drastically. While it could have done to run a bit longer, perhaps taken a break to correlate with the manga a bit, and the ending of the series felt a bit rushed, it is still an enjoyable with its great characters, fun narratives, and excellent animation making it a great watch for everyone.
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