When you open the door at the end of the North corridor, in the third music room, you’ll enter…the Host Club!
Today, I’d like to start a bit of a project. I’ve long been in love with the anime Ouran High School Host Club, and well, we’re gonna talk about it. A lot.
I can not believe this show is ten years old. Over ten years, most likely, by the time you’re reading this. Wow. It does not feel like it’s been that long. The current waive of teen otaku were just babies when this show came out.
Ok, putting that aside for a minute, here’s why you should care about this show. Or rather, why I care.
It’s good. It’s really good, I promise. I feel like it doesn’t get the attention it deserves, because it comes off as being a little frivolous. And hell, it is frivolous; it’s about rich boys running a fancy club to entertain bored girls. It’s also beautifully animated, wonderfully directed, and surprisingly deep. When I first watched it, I was pretty skeptical. I probably would have stopped after a few episodes, if I hadn’t been watching it with friends. But I didn’t stop. And then I got hooked.
I’ve been wanting to do a detailed analysis since I first fell in love with the show, back in college, but, well, I never quite knew how to approach it. It’s so hard to tackle a whole television series; there’s just so much material to work with. After years of putting it on the back burner, I decided that the best way to analyze it is the way I originally fell in love with it: one episode at a time.
I’m warning you now, there will be spoilers. I’ll try not too spoil too much of the later plot, but I can’t really analyze an episode without spoiling that episode itself, so ideally you’ll have either already seen the episode before you read my post, or you never intend to (who knows, maybe I’ll even change your mind). I think in my perfect scenario, you’re watching this show as I analyze it, an episode at a time, so we’re completely on the same page.
In a nutshell, Ouran High School Host Club is about a club devoted to entertaining guests, at a rich private school. It follows the antics of the club members as they struggle with growing up, coming into their own identifies, and learning to be a part of their world. The main theme of the series is: be who you are, and do something you love.
Primarily, Ouran is a satire of the shoujo (“girly”, relationship-driven) genre of anime and manga, but it’s a gentle satire; more of a send-up. It’s a “reverse harem” anime, which means it’s got one main female character, and an array of pretty-boy side characters/love interests. In this case, our main character is Haruhi Fujioka, who is a truly unique (and refreshing) heroine. As someone who’s not overly concerned about her appearance or gender presentation, Haruhi is mistaken for a boy at first, and roped into joining the club after she accidentally breaks a very expensive vase.
Each of the side characters begin as an archetype, and develop over the course of the series into fleshed out characters. In the beginning, they embody different “types” of men—princely, stoic, devious, etc. We’ll get into these types more when we discuss the first episode, but suffice it to say that if you’ve watched much anime, you’ve encountered these characters. And if you haven’t watched much anime, well, you’ll understand soon enough.
I should add that this is not exactly a starter anime, but it does make for a fascinating introduction to the genre. I’ll try to explain cultural references—both traditional Japanese, and anime fandom specific—as they come up, but this show will make a heck of a lot more sense if you already know something of the genre. I’m hoping it’ll still be entertaining even if you don’t. I’ll try to keep my analysis pretty universal, so that even if you know nothing about anime, you’ll still have some idea what the heck I’m talking about. Shoujo fans will probably like this show without explanation, so I guess I’m aiming at the rest of you.
Join me next Sunday, for the first episode! (I’m going to try to update this weekly or biweekly from here on out, but, well, we’ll see…)