The Great Ouran Analysis

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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…)

Posted in Anime, Movies / TV | 5 Comments

Do you Gorge, or Graze?

My roommate devours book. When she’s reading one, she gives it 100% of her free time. Its the same with tv shows, comics, youtube channels…really any media consumption. I tend to get a little jealous, because she’ll plow through a book in a day that took me two weeks to read.

I’m more of a grazer. I read a chapter or two a night, maybe another one or two during the day. I watch tv shows a few episodes at a time, a few times a week, and I tend to consume multiple forms of media at a time. A tv show while I have dinner, a book before bed, a few youtube videos over breakfast.

I also find I consumer different types of video games differently. Console games replace television, while I pretty much only play computer games when I’m visiting my parents, and handheld games take the place of reading. This means if I’m playing my DS a lot, I’m not doing much reading. It can be frustrating when I see my “to read” pile glaring at me, but it serves as a nice break.

Occasionally, I will marathon a show or read a book in a day, but it’s pretty rare in my life. I actually prefer the slow approach, personally. It lets me spend more mental time in that fictional world, as the story and characters follow me through my day. I have more time to ruminate on the last chapter, and theorize about what’s to come. It’s part of the essential experience to me, and is also why I think books make better tv shows than movies.

The only exception is when I’m sewing or otherwise crafting. I need something on in the background, and usually something I don’t have to pay 100% attention to, so this is when I tend to rewatch my favorites. I’ve watched Friends and Charmed a lot this way.

But, the “gorge” method my roommate has isn’t wrong. It works for her; it’s what she likes. She’s able to focus completely on that one book, or tv show, or game, and often remembers details better than I do.

Are you a gorger, or a grazer?

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Interesting…

One thing I’ve noticed while trying to revive this blog: I have a tendency to write a lot of blog posts, but never post them. I have 50 posts in my draft folder. 50! I’m sure a bunch of those aren’t usuable (either they’re two old, or they’re literally only like 2 sentences), but that’s a lot of effort just sitting there going to waste. So, I’m going to go through and finish up a bunch of those posts over the next few weeks. That’s the plan, anyway!

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Hi, 2016…fancy meeting you here.

E-gad, it’s been a year since I updated this blog! …my bad.

To be honest, I’m still trying to decide how I want to use this blog. When I was running Blog Town for RainTown Press, I had a clear focus: book reviews, and small press announcements. The book blogger community is so vast and productive, and I used to really want to be a part of that.

But these days? Well, I love that community, but it’s just not where my passion currently lies.

I want this blog to be an expression of me, and the area where my professional and personal sides collide. Like most budding authors, I struggle with that question of what to share and what not to share. I love writing and I love storytelling (books, movies, podcasts, etc), but I love a lot more than that, too. I still want to make this blog focus beyond just books and writing, but I think reviews may not be the way to go. Not for me, not right now.

So, lets get back to the basics. Writing.

Here’s where I am right now: I have a handful of full or partial manuscripts from doing Nanowrimo for ten years. Some of them are over 50,000 words, some are barely pushing 20,000. Some of them I love. Some of them I’m less fond of. Some of them are the same story, tackled a few years apart. I also have a few short stories kicking around, and a ton of story ideas. I need to start moving forward with this writing thing.

So, for now, my plan is to start posting project updates. It will help keep me motivated, and hey, they may even be enterainining. Once I’ve gotten into a better swing of things, I’d like to branch into other types of posts, but we’ll just take this one step at a time.

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Intersteller

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If I could sum this movie up in one word, it would be: intense. I was biting my nails, gripping my arm rests, and straining my eyes trying not to cry, through much of the movie.

The pacing in Intersteller is almost flawlessly stressful. Although it was easily 2 hours long, it never dragged. That said, it was a slow movie, taking plenty of time to introduce the eerily possible “present” of the movie, where the Earth is locked in a dust bowl that may very well be the end for humanity. As the movie ramps up, you’re as invested as any of the characters.

The world feels very, very real, in that dirty, mundane way. Even the shiner later stuff has that tarnished, desperate veneer that keeps it feeling more realistic than flashier movies. Using music (and silence) perfectly, Christopher Nolan created a gripping, often uncomfortable atmosphere. It feels like the 2001: A Space Odyssey for this generation.

I saw this in a regular theater, but if you have a chance to see it in an Imax, jump at it; I bet it’s amazing!

 

 

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How to Train Your Dragon

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I pretty much love this movie. In preparation for the sequel, I ended up watching it twice in one week with different people, proving that I can’t get tired of watching it (at least not easily), and that I’ll notice new things every time.

The main character, Hiccup (or Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, as he’s known in the books), is quirky, sarcastic, and utterly relatable, and Toothless is the perfect cross between a cat and a lizard; adorable without being too cute.

It does fail the Bechdal test, but at least manages to have two whole female characters with names and lines, both of whom are fairly badass. All in all, the supporting characters are pretty wonderfully entertaining, and manage to have great character development even with limited screen time.

I wasn’t too sold on the Big Bad (a giant dragon on a far off island), but the emotional conflict of Hiccup trying to prove himself to his father, and change his village’s entire way of thinking, was strong enough to carry the plot for me.

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IRL

This story was one of three finalists in LadyLike Book Club‘s 2014 fiction contest. It takes place in a world I’ve been playing with since high school, and I hope to incorporate it into a larger story eventually.

It was just an ordinary door. Dark wood, brass handle, old-fashioned knocker at about eye level. Obsidian didn’t know much about doors, but it seemed like a nice one. There was absolutely nothing threatening or ominous about it.

So why was she shaking?

The knocker felt like it weighed a thousand pounds, and when she tapped it against the door, it sounded like a gong through the large house. She glanced nervously at the address for the thousandth time. The numbers all matched. Just the same, it would probably be the wrong house, or the wrong street, or no one would be—

The door swung open just as Obsidian was convincing herself to walk away, and the first thing she noticed was the mass of magenta curls that popped out to look at her. Under them, smiling openly but every-so-shyly, could only be Amber.

“Hi,” she said, gesturing for Obsidian to come in. “Sorry if that took awhile, I wasn’t expecting you for another ten.”

“Oh,” Obsidian said. She’d been disastrously early, and had sat in her car, parked around the block, for as long as she could bare it.  “I’m sorry, if I’m too early I can come back…”

“No, wait,” Amber grabbed her arm before she could make it back out the door. Obsidian was acutely aware of the softness of her hand, the way it radiated heat and gentle tingles all the way up her arm. “Don’t leave now, you just got here!”

“Sorry,” Obsidian said.

Amber beamed at her, letting go of her arm quickly, and Obsidian could swear she was blushing. “Sorry about that,” she mumbled. “Want to go up to my room?”

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