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Number One: Ouran High School Host Club

02 Jan

My History: Host Club was one of those pleasant surprises that turned into something of an obsession. It was one of those things that I saw all over the place but didn’t know what it was. So naturally I looked it up and went to watch the first episode. Unfortunately that was back when subs still gave me some trouble and upon watching the first five minutes of it saw the word gay and decided it was some awful yaoi anime and left it at that. Luckily I had a friend to set me straight and I went back to it sometime later and fell quite in love with it. I didn’t get into the manga until sometime later when I found the first volume on another friend’s shelf. I will admit right now that I like the manga better, but the anime is so well adapted that my love for it is not diminished in the slightest by my love for the manga. It’s probably the anime that I’ve watched the most times and I find myself constantly going back to look at the manga of which I own nine volumes.

Overview: Ouran High School Host Club is the adventures of a common girl in a school for the super rich. High school freshmen Fujioka Haruhi is a special scholarship student at Ouran Academy High School where only rich students can afford to go. When she is taken for a boy and accidently breaks a vase the Host Club was going to auction she finds herself 8,000,000 yen in debt. The only way to repay this debt is to work it off. Ouran High School Host Club follows her adventures and struggles as she’s dragged along by the rambunctious group of rich high school boys.

Characters

Fujioka Haruhi: Haruhi is a girl from a common middle class family who dreams of being a lawyer like her late mother. To accomplish this she became a special scholarship student at Ouran Academy. In her search for a quiet place to study she stumbled upon the host club in an unused music room, where she was immediately assumed to be a boy because of her baggy sweater and short hair. Being Haruhi, she simply could care less what they think of her and allows them to believe she’s a boy until slowly, one by one, they figure it out. Haruhi, for all her intelligence and insight is kind of spacey. She doesn’t pick up on subtle hits or even obvious ones when they’re directed at her. She’s clueless when it comes to the romantic feelings of the boys closest to her even though it’s pretty obvious to us that three out of six boys are totally into her. She’s very down to earth, thinking practically even in impractical situations. She’s the only one who can tell the twins apart, which makes her very special. She lost her mother at an early age, to an illness of some kind. If they said what it was I didn’t catch it. Since then she’s taken on the responsibility of taking care of the house and her father who is a queen. Haruhi is kind hearted but conservative. She’s a natural host and pleases the girls just by speaking normally or standing and spacing out. She’s kind of misunderstood in the club simply because she’s a commoner, which they will never let her forget, and she thinks differently than they do. “Those rich bastards” is practically her catch phrase.

Suoh Tamaki: Tamaki is a very special person. He is the founder and “king” of the host club. He is the one who went around two years before the anime takes place and convinced each of the members to join the club with him. He is a very childish person, very innocent and naïve, but kind hearted and thoughtful when it comes to the happiness of others. He is extremely sensitive and easily wounded, but he bounces back quickly, so it’s okay. Tamaki has somehow established a family within the host club consisting of him as the father, Kyoya as the mother and Haruhi as the daughter. In the manga it includes the twins as Haruhi’s brothers, but they don’t get into that in the anime. They also leave out a lot of ‘mom’ references but that’s okay, they’re not important. What’s important is that he has set himself up as Haruhi’s father to justify his feelings for her, without acknowledging that he is in love with her. Again, they go into it a lot more in the manga, but it’s sufficiently covered here. He gets jealous because no father wants to give his daughter to another man, he feels protective of her because that’s how father’s are, he doesn’t want other guys looking at her in a swim suit to ‘protect her virgin skin’ or something like that. It’s amusing because she rejects this ‘daddy’ idea at every turn, yet from episode one to twenty-five Haruhi is his daughter and he’s her papa. Tamaki has a fairly tragic past. His father is the superintendant of Ouran Academy and owns a fairly extensive company, but the real power behind it is his grandmother. His mother is French and she and his father had an affair while his father was still married to another woman. When Tamaki was born he intended to divorce his wife and marry Tamaki’s mother, but the grandmother wouldn’t allow it. Tamaki’s father divorced his wife anyway and since Tamaki is his only child, his mother decided to allow him to come to Japan and be the successor of the company on the condition that he can never see his mother again. Despite missing his mother terribly and feeling very sad for having to leave her, Tamaki smiles and laughs more than anyone. He doesn’t want anyone to be brought down by his tragic past and wants to see everyone happy more than anything. Tamaki also likes to stick his nose in places it probably doesn’t belong. If he sees injustice, or tragedy that he can change he will do everything in his power to do so.  He’s incredibly charming and suave and is a huge hit with the ladies, hence the title of ‘host club king.’

Ootori Kyoya: Kyoya is the shadow king of the Host Club. He controls everything from the finances to the merchandise to the group itself really. No one does anything unless Kyoya gives the okay… or at least doesn’t object. The Ootori family is very powerful in the medical field and has branched out to other ‘health related’ industries such as relaxation theme parks and so on. They also have their own special police force which Kyoya is not afraid to use, if only for threatening people into doing his will. And he does it quite charmingly too. Kyoya is the third son and as such, under the most pressure from his father. His older brother’s got by with scoring top of their class and what not. But Kyoya, as the third son, is expected to do better, yet not surpass his brothers in any way. It’s all rather confusing. At any rate, nearly all of Kyoya’s actions are done with his father in mind. If something won’t bring him merit of some kind and advance his position in his father’s favor he is simply not interested. He comes off as kind of a jerk when not in the presence of polite society and we do get to see him alone with Haruhi somewhere in the middle of the series. Kyoya has another weakness, though and that’s Tamaki. He does do things, however much he tries to hide it, to help Tamaki and to keep him happy. They’re complete opposites and yet they have a special sort of friendship.

Hitatchiin Brothers: Hikaru and Kaoru Hitatchiin are twin brothers who take on the ‘brotherly love’ persona for the club. They are two of my favorite characters and when I first watched this show, my best friend and I became them. She was Hikaru, the older and I was Kaoru, the younger, which is backwards, for us, but the personalities fit better. Anyway, the twins grew up pretty much on their own since their parents were very busy and they formed an unbreakable bond between them. They didn’t have any other friends growing up, rejecting anyone who tried to enter their own little world. No one can tell the two apart, though Hikaru always parts his hair to the left and Kaoru to the right (when watching it’s reversed since we’re looking at them). Hikaru also has a deeper voice than Kaoru but you can’t tell that when they’re younger. They like to pull pranks and mess with people as much as they can. Haruhi became their toy soon after she joined the club and they’re very close to her because they’re in the same class. As I said, she’s the only one who can tell them apart, no matter what, and she is the first person to truly penetrate their world. The twins want to be told apart but they make every effort to be identical. For a long time before they met Tamaki they considered everyone around them idiots for not being able to tell them apart. They call Tamaki ‘my lord’ in most translations since he talks like a lord from ancient times. He’s the one they love to tease the most, especially since they can mess with Haruhi while doing it.

Hikaru: Hikaru is the bolder, rash, head strong twin. He’s the oldest and in their persona he’s the one taking care of Kaoru, teasing him and generally being the seme of the two. As Haruhi would put it, Hikaru is ‘one level meaner’ than Kaoru. He’s very possessive of his friends, especially Haruhi, whom he has a crush on.

Kaoru:  Kaoru is more level headed than Hikaru and while he does get angry and frustrated by the same things, he tends to keep his emotions inside rather than letting them spill out everywhere. And above all he always thinks of Hikaru first. Almost anything he does is for Hikaru’s sake, to expand his world, to define them as individuals rather than as twins. He realizes that they have to break apart sometime, and that it will be hard on Hikaru, and he does everything in his power to try and ease that. In the anime, Kaoru really is the more developed of the two, even though he’s the younger twin.

Haninozuka Mitsukuni (Aka Honey): Honey is a very short high school senior who is in love with anything cute or sweet or both. He’s known best for eating cake and the pink stuffed bunny he carries around at all times. He’s super cute and fluffy and wonderful. He is hardly ever seen without his cousin Mori with whom he is very close. He often rides around on the taller boy’s shoulders and does the talking for him. Despite all his fluff and childish charm, Honey is pretty insightful and can often pick out the root of problems before the others do. However, he prefers to let them figure it out on their own while he watches with Mori from a distance. Honey tends to see the big picture rather than just the little bits everyone else sees. The Haninozuka family is actually a family of super martial artists and Honey just so happens to be the best of them all. He also has type A/B blood which means he has two personalities. He has low blood pressure when he first wakes up and is thus very grouchy. Honey is really super scary when he really wants to be and can easily kick pretty much anyone’s ass.

Morinozuka Takashi (Aka Mori): Mori is my absolute favorite character in the series, which is odd because he gets the least amount of development. He’s the tall quiet kid who just looks cool. He is very attached to Honey who he’s been looking after since they were kids. Mori’s family has served Honey’s family for generations and it seems to run in his blood. He cares more for Honey than he does himself. Mori usually gets only a few lines if any in an episode, most often just the word ‘yeah.’ He just sounds so damn cool while saying it. *u* You can feel his emotions even when he’s not expressing them. When Honey is missing you can feel his concern and his distress. When Honey’s made at him over the sweets ban you feel his pain. He’s absolutely adorable in every way!~ He’s also really good with animals, though you don’t see that in the anime.

Houshakuji Renge: Renge is a very special Japanese girl who grew up in France. She’s kind of spoiled just like most of the rich kids and is obsessed with a visual novel game in which the main character looks just like Kyoya, which brings her to the host club. Renge is kind of crazy and she sets herself up as the host club’s female manager, though after her initial episode she doesn’t really influence the club very much, other than to pop up now and again and spout information on various topics. Usually they call her out when they need to transform someone’s character. A young boy wants to be trained as a host, the call Renge to find a persona for him. Nekozawa wants to be more prince-like for his little sister; they call Renge to transform him. I’m really surprised they didn’t bring her out to help with Kasanoda, but meh, whatever. Renge is very over the top flamboyantly enthusiastic about fangirlisms and she’s pretty much a crazy otaku, but she’s useful, so they keep her around.

Nekozawa Umehito: Nekozawa is another of my favorite characters. He is the photophobic president of the Black Magic Club who for whatever reason likes to appear in the host club from time to time. As his name may imply, he is very fond of cats and his family has worshiped cat-like images for generations. He always carries around a yellow cat puppet named Belzeneff w ho he claims is cursed. Under the black cloak and dark wig he always wears, Nekozawa is actually very fair and handsome with long blond hair and fetching blue eyes.

Nekozawa has a little sister named Kirimi whom he loves very much. The problem is Kirimi is afraid of the dark and Nekozawa is afraid of the light. Kirimi dreams of her ‘prince-like onii-chama’ that is depicted in a portrait of Nekozawa in their home, but she refuses to believe that he is the same person from the picture, no matter how often she is told. She also is really into shojo manga. The host club tries to help Nekozawa get over his fear of light to help reunite the siblings, with little success. However, when Kirimi is confronted by a very fat and scary cat, of which she is most afraid, Nekozawa does not hesitate even the slightest bit before jumping out a window to rescue his sister. And that’s what makes him awesome!

Kasanoda Ritsu: Again, one of my favorite characters, Kasanoda is the red-haired successor to the most powerful Yakuza group in Kanto, the Kasanoda-gumi. Kasanoda was born with a scary looking face and because of it has had trouble making friends and interacting with people. He wants more than anything to play kick the can with his underlings who adore him and just have fun with everyone. This is what brings him to the host club, specifically to Mori-sempai. He wishes to be Mori’s apprentice since Mori also has a scary face and yet everyone really loves and admires him. This throws Mori for a loop, of course, since he’s not used to such attention… or being told he has a scary face. Since he doesn’t know what to do, the host club takes over, failing miserably, except for Haruhi who manages to make him feel better about himself, just by not being scared of him. Kasanoda is really a very gentle and kind hearted character, despite his frightening and off putting appearance. His underlings really do admire him and want nothing more than to see him happy.

At the end of his first episode he accidentally walks in on Haruhi changing and thus discovers that she is in fact a girl, which makes him feel better because he’s totally been falling for her the whole episode. In the next episode he goes back to the host club, this time as a guest to try and confess his feelings for Haruhi to her, causing a big ‘moe’ fest for the girls at the club. Haruhi, being, well, Haruhi, completely misses the signs and declares them friends, twice before he can fully confess his feelings, giving him that ‘I just got dumped’ feeling. He takes it well though, assuming it’s because she has to keep up her persona as a guy and dating another guy would be problematic, and so swears that they will be ‘friends forever.’

Story: Ouran High School Host Club is a collection of adventures that the host club has, not always in school. They drag Haruhi to a tropical resort and to a private beach. They also follow her to Karuizawa for summer break and generally cause trouble for her pretty much everywhere. With each episode we learn a little more about the characters around us. There really isn’t a lot of growth in the characters, other than the twins who are learning to be individuals and not rely fully on each other all the time. Most of the character’s growth as people happened towards the beginning of the club, before Haruhi got there. Haruhi herself isn’t really growing so much as discovering. She does learn to let others take care of her a little, which is hard for her since she grew up pretty much taking care of herself. Tamaki and Haruhi’s romance is kind of there but it doesn’t really go anywhere in the anime. It’s cute, though to see it just under the surface, waiting for the right moment to come out. However by the end we’re still not completely sure if they got together.

Ending: The ending to Host Club is actually a lot more exciting than one would imagine. It starts with the announcement of an engagement from Tamaki and the decision to end the host club after the Ouran Festival is over. This is mostly the fault of Tamaki’s grandmother who wants him to marry into some girl’s family since they’re taking over some businesses close to the Suoh’s. Throughout the Ouran Festival Tamaki begins to feel like he’s been inconveniencing everyone by making them be in the host club and that they would all be better off without it. So he dissolves the club and is planning to go back to France with his fiancé. Well, the host club will have none of that and as soon as they find out we get a fight, a carriage chase and a near death experience from Haruhi and Tamaki both. It’s actually really epic seeing Mori and Honey kick some ass, which we don’t often get to see. Haruhi, Hikaru and Kaoru take a horse-drawn carriage they were going to use in the festival and chase down Tamaki who is in a car on the way to the airport. Haruhi nearly dies falling off a bridge and of course, Tamaki gets to save her. This part of the ending I really like.

What I didn’t like about the ending was really only the very end when Tamaki’s father is conversing with Kyoya’s father. They talk about business stuff, the girl’s family Tamaki was supposed to be marrying into was going to take over a part of the Ootori business but I think Kyoya bought them out or something then gave it back to his dad. Something like that I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on. It’s just a random little bit that didn’t really have anything to do with anything at all except maybe Kyoya’s ambitions which were only briefly touched on in one episode. The part that really annoys me, though, is their conversation about Haruhi. They, being rivals I guess, have finally decided to be friendly with each other. Then Mr. Ootori makes the comment “You know that special student, Fujioka Haruhi? Yeah, I’m thinking of having her marry Kyoya, just keep that in mind.” to which Mr. Suoh replies, “I guess we can’t be friends just yet.” First off, the idea of Kyoya and Haruhi together is completely absurd. Secondly, why? What is the point in having her marry Kyoya? They wouldn’t gain anything from it, Kyoya isn’t interested in Haruhi at all and other than standing up for Kyoya at one point, she doesn’t do anything that might imply that she would be a good wife for him. And to think that Haruhi would even consider marrying Kyoya, let alone in an arranged marriage type deal, proves that he knows nothing about her. So why is he even thinking about marrying his son to a girl he knows nothing about? It’s dumb and it makes no sense. Buuuuuut other than that, I’m really pleased with the ending, especially the visual of Haruhi dancing with each of the club members, ending with Tamaki.

Wrap up: So that’s Host Club. It’s an incredibly character based anime, which is probably why I love it so much. The characters drive the plot and we get to know them so well throughout the series it’s easy to get attached to them. I love how they cover a wide range of personalities and how they interact with each other. I love the art and the music and ‘those rich bastards’ and their fascination with commoner’s culture. It’s a fun and colorful journey and it pleases me greatly. And that is why Ouran High School Host Club is my number one favorite anime of all time.

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Posted by on January 2, 2011 in Top Five Favorite Anime, Tops

 

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