REVIEW: Ouran High School Host Club

*SPOILERS: Don’t read this if you don’t like being spoiled.*

It’s rare for me to watch two shows in a row that I really enjoy. Luckily, Ouran High School Host Club delivered that second consecutive show experience for me!

Background:

Ouran High School Host Club is a reverse harem (one girl, many guys, for those that don’t know) about a girl named Haruhi who dresses androgynous due to her attitudes on gender that stumbles into the host club at Ouran High School, a club about entertaining girls who have nothing better to do because the boys there have nothing better to do. They mistake Haruhi for a boy, and she’s coerced into being a host to repay the debt she incurs from breaking a very expensive lamp. And then they find out Haruhi’s a girl.

It’s a great premise for a reverse-harem because it explores a lot of different topics that a typical harem (reverse or not) explores. Funny how two comedies in a row are deeper than most dramatic anime I’ve seen thus far.

Plot Direction:

Ouran High School Host Club acts like a typical harem-style show, but completely turns it on its head every episode. There’s the episode for every character, the beach episode, the summer vacation episode, the school festival episode, etc… but it does keep a small overarching plot line.

The plot is not the main focus here, however. The show thrives on poking fun at the typical, and besides the characters, this is probably the best part of the show. It’s one of the funniest shows I’ve seen in a while, and that’s because it’s unabashed in how blunt it is in making fun of everything it comes into contact with. I really enjoy how it deals with stereotypes, especially when it comes to gender and social/economic status. That’s where the comedy really hits its mark.

The show itself ramps up in drama and character near the end. It’s very slapstick and lighthearted in the beginning. It’s pretty impressive to see that pulled off well, but what I think is most impressive is how they play with Protagonist and Main Character.

Character:

Again, the characters are the pinnacle of this show, and the reason why their comedy succeeds so well. I could go on about every character, but I think Haruhi deserves a special mention here. In most harems I’ve seen, the protagonist (generally the guy in a harem, girl in a reverse-harem) are the protagonist and the main character. Sure, the other characters go through some change, but it’s really the guy/girl that go through the biggest arc. Haruhi doesn’t. Her arc goes from being forced to work as a host to enjoying working as a host, but it’s incredibly subtle and not really touched upon until the end; to be honest, it’s not that important. So what’s so great about her?

She’s only a main character. And to be honest, I found it really refreshing.

She’s the one that drives the entire host club into changing, but has no real internal conflict to get through. She’s just a catalyst for everyone to change, and that leads me to my next point – most of the host club members are protagonists. Most of them have some conflict that they need to resolve that Haruhi brings out – the twins have to deal with the fact that they can really open up to someone else besides each other, Tamaki has to deal with his feelings of love for Haruhi and his feelings of keeping the Host Club like a family because he was stripped of his own, Kyoya has to deal with being the third son in his family. Honey and Mori have their own episodes, but they’re pretty set in how they are during the show. Honey changes during flash backs when Tamaki convinces him to join the Host Club, but Mori is very much a main character alongside Haruhi, although I’d put him more as a secondary main character.

This combination of protagonist/main characters and have multiples of each usually falls flat because there’s too much going on and the drama usually kills the comedy, but the show does an amazing job of tying everything together and weaving together the dramatic moments with the comedy. The execution is simply superb.

——

Ouran High School Host Club is a comedy first, but like The Devil is a Part-Timer!, where I think it shines best is its characters. This is the second comedy in a row I’ve watched, and both have been fantastic because there’s a deeper level there than just comedy, but it’s not so dramatic that the lightheartedness is taken away. I think having excellent character execution is why these two comedies were so great. I think this direction for comedy – where there’s some real character growth and well-defined character roles, is amazing, and it lets the funny moments be even funnier while not letting the inevitable dramatic moments get in the way because they’re so craftily executed.

Ouran High School Host Club does this in dazzling form, and I didn’t even talk about its dazzling animation and music. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Animation/Art: 8/10
Music: 9/10
Plot Direction: 8/10
Character: 10/10
Final Score: 8/10

Just sayin’

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