Ouran High School Host Club

So, I might be late to the party.

This has pretty much always been a popular manga and anime among the Japanophiles that I am acquainted with. This said, these Japanophiles have always been obsessed with media from Japan that I... well... I simply hated. Naruto, One Piece, the moste detestable Vampire Knight (OH GOD), and about ten other shoujo manga set in high school that have more or less the same plot albeit with minor variations in blandness and ridiculousness have always earned nothing less than my utmost detestation. And my dear friends with mutual interests could not get enough of these damn series.

This is not to say that I haven't had a few guilty pleasures. For the longest time, I was the most embarrassing Death Note fan. Hell, I still am, though I'm glad to say that I've graduated from reading it solely for the dubious hotness of Mello.

Hot, to a fourteen-year-old of very little brain

This is, of course, an example of my judgement in that time; not exactly informed. It was this same judgement that kept me from trying out the other more popular shoujo series because I was determined to avoid any more of the high school cliches and the expenditures associated with such long-running mediae. Ouran High School Host Club especially seemed like soemthing to avoid. All the promos I saw, what little video clips there were, and its fans' reactions (well, the ones I came into contact with, anyhow) made it seem like THE prototype for all screwball shoujo manga. Not exactly a dealmaker for me.

So it was one day, yesterday to be exact, that I decided I needed a mildly diverting and very vibrantly animated anime to watch and shut off my brain with. Ouran fit the bill.

I was, by the end of my bright animation binge, shocked by just how good this series actually is.

The cast of Ouran High School Host Club (left to right): Mori, Kyouya, Tamaki, Kaoru, Hikaru, Honey, and Haruhi

The general plot, if you need it:

Due to incredible marks and not any substantial wealth, an honour student named Haruhi has been recently accepted into Ouran Academy, a prestigious institution for the incredibly rich. Haruhi is promptly conscripted into the Academy's host club, which in this rather sanitized concept of the idea means geishas, except guys are entertaining girls rather than vice versa. The catch? Haruhi is a rather boyish girl. The boys in the club are nonetheless willing to have her host even with her contrary gender in consideration. She doesn't seem to care, either way. What ensues is a comedy of errors that can be very silly and sometimes very affecting too.

For characters, see Wikipedia. I'm lazy.

First, there is a great deal of thought put into characterization, which was really qute surprisng to me. In anime, I find that there is often character growth, though mostly in the ways of Flanderization rather than actual believable development. In Ouran, the characters remain constant and their motivations are shown slowly, often with very surprising results. They grow as real people would; you don't really notice it until you compare their characters from later with the same characters in the first episode.

The stories are also fun, and best of all details of these stories are referenced later on, and not just forgotten. They are conveyed with a well-paced and witty script. The style is very episodic, to its detriment in my opinion, but the bizarre and over the top situations that the characters are constantly perpetrating with little care for logic more than makes up for it. Ouran talks about things like Japanese culture, socioeconomics, gender, sexuality, friendship and culture clash in a very sophisticated manner, though none of these episodes have any real danger of turning into a PSA.

Best of all, so many tropes that I absolutely hate in this sort of anime and manga are lampooned viciously. Every single cliche or plotline or trope is used and then turned on its head in Ouran, but in a fresh and funny way, not a self-referential and smarmy one.

I was really taken aback by how adult a show about high-schoolers could be. This show not only appeals to its apparent demographic, but to people who are disenchanted with shoujo manga or manga in general. It's also surprisingly thought-provoking with great dynamic between its well-thought-out characters.

My only caveat- the English dub's voice actor for Tamaki turned me off right away. this wouldn't be such a big deal if Tamaki weren't such a huge character in the series. But it just seemed to me that he was totally miscast. Tamaki should probably have a sexy voice, not a bloody stupid one.

But otherwise, I'll admit it: I'm an Ouran fan!

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