Ouran High School is an elite academy where only those of the highest pedigree may attend. They’re the children of CEOs, politicians, and the like, which means they all have a lot of money and free time. The popular spot for the female students to hang out is the Ouran High School Host Club–a club of the six most handsome and eligible male students who seek only to make their clients happy. Well, actually the Host Club has seven members now. Haruhi Fujioka is one of the few scholarship students at Ouran without any ties to money, so when she accidentally breaks a vase worth eight million yen, she gets roped into the club to pay off the debt. To be fair, it takes a while for the entire Host Club to realize she’s a girl since she never dresses like one. So begins the tale of this poor girl surrounded by a bunch of rich idiots.
I can probably count on one hand the number of shoujo anime I’ve watched all the way through. (Side note: I was right.) It’s just not one of the bodies of anime I tend to look to when searching for something to watch. But, I like rom-coms, and I’ve heard for the longest time that Ouran High School Host Club is one of the better ones out there. And since I like broadening my horizons during the Summer of Anime, I decided it was finally time to give it a shot. Glad I did.
First off, Ouran is decently funny. It’s not the funniest anime I’ve seen, but it often made me smile. I do wish it had gotten me to actually laugh out loud more, though. There were a lot of jokes that just didn’t hit as hard as they were meant to. Especially the fourth wall-breaking ones. I do think that type of humor can work–hell, it works 90% of the time in the Deadpool film. But, I don’t think Ouran has the chops to pull it off that much. There was one where Tamaki Suou declared he was the main protagonist and the rest of the Host Club his homosexual supporting cast. That one got me to laugh and led to some good payoff later in the episode. The rest, though, fell short. Maybe if I was more familiar with shoujo series, then the rest of the jokes in the show would’ve gotten me. At least I smiled most of the time.
Other than the humor not getting me to laugh all that much, my biggest complaint with the show is the lack of an ending. I’m an old hand at rom-coms and an even older one at manga adaptations, so I get that a lot of these anime don’t actually end. Character arcs go nowhere, there’s no romantic resolution, ass-pull plots for the final two episodes, etc. I get it, but that hurts Ouran a lot. Sure, it’s obvious Tamaki and Haruhi will get together sometime in the future since they’re the main protagonists. Show could’ve really helped their relationship along more, though. Also, the twins don’t get anymore to their divergent paths, and Kyouya’s family issues just get dropped like someone who’s had one too many drinks. I’m surprised Ouran has never gotten another season to give this show an ending it deserves. Yeah, some of the emotional stuff here is built up well enough that it’s earned real closure. Maybe the first season didn’t do all that great; maybe the creators feel like leaving it open-ended means more money. I don’t know.
Those are my only real big complaints, though. Being my introduction to the reverse harem genre, I quite enjoyed it. I liked seeing that set-up from the other side. It was fun thinking of character type equivalents in harem and reverse harem shows. Again, I have to assume the Host Club here are making fun of established tropes in shoujo anime since I don’t know that much. Haruhi was a pretty good protagonist. Being raised by an extravagant transvestite father, the antics of others’ don’t phase her much, and she is hardheaded to a fault. She’s actually not that much different than a shonen harem protagonist: She’s the straight-man, she’s oblivious, she’s catnip to everyone around her, she’s got a burning desire to help people. Yet again, it’s interesting seeing the character types that carry from one genre to the other.
Even though the ending’s weak and the comedy bunted more than it actually hit, the cast is genuinely fun, the emotional stuff is done pretty well, and the show is a really easy watch. Like, I was surprised when I realized I watched all 26 episodes in three days. Have I watched longer series in a shorter time? Sure, but I didn’t think I was watching it that fast. Ouran High School Host Club gets a 7.5. Better than good, but not good enough to be really good. You good?