The strongest episodes in the Ouran High School Host Club are essentially nothing more than character development. In them, the show will take one of the characters and crack his very soul open for all to see. The standouts are by far Kyouya, a self-proclaimed egoist who ends up being anything but, and the identical pair of twins, whose need for personal individuality conflicts with their inability to relate to anyone else.
Unfortunately, excluding both the brilliant beginning and the fantastic character-building episodes, much of the storyline feels uninspired and dull by comparison. While watching through many of the middle episodes of Ouran, one gets the feeling that the writer is complacently leaning too much on his characters. The biting satire of the first few episodes eventually gives way to safe and surprisingly routine comedy, a problem that is compounded by the fact that there is no significant plot until near the end. Worse still, the wonderful character development is limited to only a handful of episodes; in the rest of the show, the characters remain tragically static.
The result is somewhat uneven. There are superb episodes, but sadly, Ouran is not quite the superb show that I was hoping for. At no point is the plot ever bad, but with more ambitious writing, Ouran could have been the best of its genre.
The character designs are appealing and colorful, which is almost all that a shoujo show really needs to be good. However, Ouran also happens to excel in other departments as well. Backgrounds are detailed and lively, and movement is never jerky or awkward. However, the best part is probably in the surprisingly clever and creative visual humor. In particular, I enjoyed the deliberate overuse of roses and sparkle effects – a nod to the visual techniques of other shoujo shows.
One cannot mention Ouran’s characters without praising the remarkably talented seiyuu behind them. Put simply, these characters would have only been half as likeable with lesser voice acting. The most obvious case of this is with Haruhi. Due to the character’s transgendered nature, voice-acting the character in a way that was at the same time believable and pleasant is something that few seiyuu could actually do. However Sakamoto Maaya (who was equally wonderful as Lark in Gunbuster 2) pulls off the feat fantastically. The rest of the seiyuu are nearly as impressive – there isn’t a weak link anywhere.
The music is serviceable without ever standing out all that much. Suitably wacky songs play during the (numerous) comedic moments, while pleasant instrumental music is used for the more serious moments. I enjoyed the OP, but didn’t like the song enough to actually download it.
The characters are easily the best part of Ouran Host Club. For one, in an age of generic, unmemorable shoujo leads (the interchangeability between Full Moon wo Sagashite’s Mitsuki and Fruit Basket’s Touru comes to mind), Haruhi stands out as a unique and thoroughly loveable protagonist. As in other shows, she serves as a “normal” grounding to contrast with the comparably wacky supporting characters. However, at the same time, she is anything but average. Equal parts intelligent, blunt, and pragmatic, her piercing wit doesn’t ground the other characters idiosyncrasies so much as puncture them. The result is always hilarious, and makes for one of the best characters of the year.
For the rest of the characters, the show brilliantly recognizes the numerous archetypes of the shoujo genre, and manages to build its characters in a way that both lampoons and transcends the stereotypes. To mock these shoujo “staples,” the anime’s characters cynically play to them in an effort to garner popularity among the girls of their high school (one character deliberately acts like he’s eight for the lolicon points).
On the other hand, to transcend the stereotypes, all of the characters in the show are far more complex than they initially appear. Beneath each one-dimensional façade is a compelling, loveable, and unique character of surprising depth and believability.
Ouran Host Club is a good show that could have been extraordinary. Anyone who watches the first episode can see the amazing potential in the show; the premise is clever and feel-good, the characters are loveable and unique, and the seiyuu are just plain wonderful. Oddly enough, only a lack of ambition on behalf of the writers really prevents the show from rising to the amazing heights of shows like Azumanga Daioh and Princess Tutu.
However, the fact that this anime could have been more doesn’t change what this anime is: an undeniably witty and charming shoujo comedy. If you enjoyed Fruits Basket, there’s very little chance that you won’t love this.
This won't be a good review because I honestly don't know what to say except I loved it. I didn't like the shoujo genre, still don't, but I love this.
First off some complaints:
1) I wish the opening credit animation style was used in the anime every once in a while. Its a very neat style that I couldn't take my eyes off of.
2) It stops. At only 26 episodes. I know the manga goes further than the anime and I wish that the anime could have continued on. Reboot anyone? :)
3) *spoiler* because I realize this might be an important thing for some, just skip to 4.
Haruhi doesn't get with anyone. My ship didn't sail, your ship didn't sail. To continue with the metaphor, the dock is full and no one wants to leave apparently. They spent the last few episodes hinting that some of the boys would start declaring their love for Haruhi but it never happened, I assume because the rest of their school thinks that she's a boy. But still. I want to see friendships deepen and romances blossom. Is that too much to ask?
4) The Lobelia Girls. I realize they were designed to be hated but that was a bit too much. They went beyond harassing Haruhi to try to get her to leave Ouran and make a bad name for ordinary feminists with their over the top man hating ways. No thank you.
That aside, here's what I love:
1) Haruhi. She's very relatable and loveable. She treats the boys of the Host Club with loving sarcasm and is unafraid to question them. Smart, dependent and absolutely not worried about getting a boyfriend, she's a breath of fresh air in the ridiculousness of this anime (in a good way of course).
2) The anime is funny. It makes fun of itself, whether there's cross-dressing, or overly dramatic shoujo moments. The entire thing highly unrealistic, but it recognizes and embraces this, using Haruhi to point this out. At the same time, it doesn't cross the line to offensive (at least most of the time. Those damn Lobelia girls need to learn a thing or two about respect and the signs of harassment dammit!)
3) The twins. As a twin myself, they were by far my favorite (and the most attractive) characters in the show. Though the fake incest thing that they pulled in the Host Club irritated me, their humor and loyalty to themselves and their friends won me over.
4) Everything? Like seriously, I love this anime too much. I need more, I'm addicted. Yeah, I can read the manga and I will, but the anime needs to get on it and be more!
So 10/10. Because I'm obviously a reliable and non-obsessive compossed reviewer here. :)
THE STORY IS: Haruhi Fujioka is a middle class girl who gets a scholarship to attend the high class Ouran Academy. While she roams the halls trying to find a quiet place to study, she comes across the Host Club, a group of six males who entertain female clients. Shortly after stumbling upon this group, Haruhi accidentally knocks over and breaks a very expensive antique vase. In order to repay for the broken vase, Haruhi is forced to work as an errand boy for the Host Club. The group soon realizes that Haruhi is a natural at being a host and they decide to promote her to full-time host, which will also pay off the debt quicker. The members discover one by one that Haruhi is also a girl. With that, they decide to keep the fact that she is a girl a secret.
This was one of those animes that I did not understand why it was rated real high or why it was so popular. Much like The World God Only Knows, it seemed to follow the same formula. Ouran started out that way in the beginning and got increasingly better as time went on. The story wasn't anything to brag about. Just a show about 6 guys in a host club and 1 girl that is charading as a guy and shananigans with every episode. There was not a set story to be followed. Ouran was funny at times and there were times where some of the stuff kind of got old, but it always mixed it up avoiding repetition and annoyance. This was definitely a decent anime. One of those animes that if it appeared on tv, you couldn't help but watch it. Just like an old cartoon. It may not have a definitive story, but it does have goofiness. Ouran definitely starts out a bit boring and slow, but just like The World God Only Knows, it gets better over time. The further you get into the anime, the better it is and more it's style has rubbed off on you.
ANIMATION & SOUND: The animation was a bit questionable. It reminded me of an anime made in the late 90s or early 00s. I don't know if it was supposed to be made like that. If it was, I'm cool with it. It didn't bother me one bit. It fit the overall theme they were going with.
The Sound was well rounded. The voices fit the characters and they were very good expressing the emotions and personalities of the characters. Music was good. Mostly stereotypical orchestral music, nothing special, but fit the anime well.
CHARACTERS: Every character was different, but more or less, the same in Ouran. What I mean by that is they had different personalities that made them their own person and were developed quite well for all characters. They were all the same in the matter of having the same "Crazy-high-class-rich" attitude. The characters called middle class people "Commoners" and get excited to see what a commoner's lifestyle is like with ordinary grocery stores, malls, and fast food restaurants. Besides having the same mentality of a rich person, they seem to all respect Haruhi, who is considered a commoner in their eyes. Haruhi is not rich by any means, but doesn't flaunt it. All the characters have some sort of background story to tell and it fits nicely within the realm of the actual anime. The cast of Ouran are some of the best characters I've seen in a while.
OVERALL: Ouran High School Host Club was a very good anime all around. Like mentioned earlier, it doesn't have a story that will blow your mind. Just a typical run-of-the-mill school life show. It will rub off on you the further you get into it. I was skeptical on whether I was going to be disappointed or not. I didn't want to watch a really popular anime and be one of those people that said it was terrible. It just took a little bit getting used to the flow of the show and it became quite a charming anime overall.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more impressed with any other title in the shoujo genre. The pacing and character development is absolutely remarkable. It is because Ouran Highschool Host Club was so successful that it has become the roots of other titles in the reverse harem genre that have attempted to be its equivalent. But no matter what else comes out, it seems that Ouran Highschool Host Club will always be the best in the world of one girl and many guys. It stands alone in the fact that its main characters see that friendship, family, and getting along are more important than having a hot boyfriend or girlfriend.
Ouran Highschool Host Club falls into a category of storyline plots that I like to call “Young People Doing Things For Fun”. When I put an anime in a category like this, it means that I know there isn’t some deep or spontaneous plot line that I need to pay attention to but I do expect to become fond of the characters and watch them develop as the show goes along. This also means that introduction of characters is critical in order to impress me and make me want to see the next episode. I will be honest with you for the first 2/3 of the first episode, I was very tempted to just drop the show. The guys seemed like such jerks; they acted so full of themselves and looked down on people who weren’t rich. All of my sympathy went to the female protagonist who had unintentionally gotten herself involved with the host club. However, during the last third of the first episode, the guys did something that rarely any character does in an anime.
They stood up to a girl who was bullying Haruhi!
After that I loved the guys and was willing to give the next episode a shot. So after that terrible introduction, I continued to watch the show and found myself loving it more and more. We learn more about each main character as we follow them on their comedic adventures in daily life and become attached to each of them in some way. The same kind of attachment can be said for the characters as their bonds with each other grow stronger the more they are together. The Host Club guys gradually change their opinions about middle-class people and Haruhi changes hers about rich people. The last few episodes are probably my favorites though. It’s during those episodes that the characters’ friendship is put to the test. That is when we see the real strength of the characters that we have followed since the beginning and I just love how the power of friendship made the last episode so epic. So overall, the things that usually come to my mind when I think of Ouran Highschool Host Club are not the weak beginning, but the many good qualities of Haruhi, Hikaru, Kaoru, Kyoya, Hunny, Mori, and Tamaki and of course, all the funny moments.
Best looking school I’ve ever seen! I don’t think that in any other school-related anime, I’ve seen that so much detail has been put into the actual school. Usually the school is just there, and we’re not supposed to think about it too much. But here, they’re not afraid to flaunt everything the school has to offer and make us believe that Ouran Academy is every rich person’s paradise. I loved all of the bright colors because they went perfectly with the show’s comedic, hyper, and generally friendly atmosphere. It is also important to note that some of the funniest faces I have ever seen come from this anime, particularly from Tamaki. Basically the animation is one of the main reasons why Ouran Highschool Host Club is such a lol-fest. It will either direct your attention at certain objects to make you anticipate an upcoming funny moment involving that object (those moments are always hilarious) or someone or something random will appear when you least expect it too (silly face, monkey, random role-play, etc.) and the end results are always priceless. And even more important than that, the guys in this show actually fit the definition of a bishounen! They have every right to brag about their looks because they really are hot, especially during close-ups!
The pop opening was nice and fit with the anime. The ending was awesome; it’s sort of a pop-rock kind of song. It’s just such a treat to listen to, kind of like a bonus dose of happy so that the feeling of excitement stays with us even after the episode is over. The music played during the show is good too! As for voice acting, I prefer the Japanese version and I liked the twins’ voices the best.
I love Haruhi! She’s just one of the most amazing heroines I’ve ever seen! Others could learn from her example! And obviously the guys are great too, they have a lot of qualities that set them apart from other characters from similar animes; plus also they are loveable. But man I love Haruhi! She’s clever, blunt, level-headed, confident, and non-judgmental! What more could you possibly want?
The reason why I have given this rating for the characters actually has nothing to do with Haruhi and the Host Club guys at all. It was some of the minor characters who brought down the quality of the show. Sure, they only appear in 1 or 2 episodes, but the episodes they’re in are practically centered on them and we end up putting up with them instead of enjoying time with the main cast. However, this is only a few episodes so of course we still get to see a lot of Haruhi + guys but some of those minor characters were just not necessary and certain episodes would have been better without them. Besides, the only thing these minor characters proved was just how selfless the Host Club is.
Good minor characters include: Arai, Ritsu Kasanoda, and Isao.
Bad minor characters include: The Lobelia Girls, Shirou Takaouji, and Kanako Kasugasaki.
I would also like to bring up a secondary character who goes by the name of Renge Houshakuji. She seems to be one of the most hated characters in the franchise. To be honest, I did not think she was a bad character. I actually kind of liked her. She wasn’t mean or anything and she was occasionally funny. My only problem with her is that she is so unoriginal. I don’t mean that her whole character concept is unoriginal, it’s her ideas. She claims that she knows everything about what a guy can do to win a maiden’s heart, but in reality she just uses visual novels to tell her what girls like and does not come up with anything by herself. Until she has her own ideas, she needs to stop bragging about a talent that she does not have.
In the end, all I have to say is please give this anime a chance if you haven’t already. This series has so much to offer with quirky characters, pure (good) nonsense, stunning character design, feel-good sensation, happy moments, and more. I think most people will find that they like many aspects of Ouran Highschool Host Club and it might even become one of their favorites.
ANIME NOSTALGIA SERIES
Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
- Animated by studio BONES, which means the production values will be great but the story will be messy… What? It doesn’t have much of a story? Well, in that case it is a great show!
- Directed by Igarashi Takuya, who also took up Sailor Moon Stars, Soul Eater, and Star Driver. I can’t say I love all his works but he is definitely versitile.
Ouran is a fine example of how a seemingly tired formula can be presented in an interesting way. Make no mistakes about what the premise is; it’s still the same old stereotypical shoujo where a frail dumb girl is surrounded by a bunch of hunks. What makes it so special is how it made use of ALL the clichés, then made fun of then in a sort of parody of the genre, and after than DEVELOPED the characters past their mold. So in a way it is three things at the same time (a good reverse harem, a parody of reverse harem, and a developed reverse harem). Depending on which one of these elements you choose to focus on, chances are you will like the show no matter what your preferences are. Yet it is only by seeing it as a whole where the beauty of the whole thing surfaces.
Let me make it clear that I am not a fan of reverse harems. Not by a longshot. I find them all retarded idealistic romances for prepubescent dumb girls who are still waiting for the prince from the fairy tales to appear and have a dreamy time together. So I didn’t fancy the (standard) reverse harem aspect of the show yet I must admit that it’s pulling the shoujo strings perfectly. We have the “Poor-good-hearted-dumb-chickTM”, in an elite school of super perfect rich bishonen stereotypes, having to cross-dress in order to pass as a boy, while fending off the romances from other chicks and having to deal with the constant erotic teasing of the hunks. The premise is so damn ideal to the point it works fine for its genre. Plus, the production values further make it cooler than it already is by making everything look dashingly splendid. The school is brimming with luxury, vivid colours, and snobbism, to the point you get to love it for what it is.
Then there is of course the parody of the whole thing, where they take every single stereotype and create puns and misunderstandings based on common belief. This is a nice extra if you just got fed up with the genre and want to make fun of. Most of the jokes are ok, although they do feel like they repeat after awhile. Not that I minded it that much; it is after all a parody of clichés and did the best it had with the material it was offered.
The best part of the whole show is of course how it eventually builds up on the premise and fleshes out its characters. Most such shows barely try to present their cast as anything other than a collection of statues, permanently frozen in a boring predictable and simplistic mentality. In this case though, they actually provide far more juice to each character by offering backdrop stories that excuse their attitude. So although the show begins with a group of snob bishin caricatures (and a token dumbass girl in the middle) along the way a line of flashbacks and dialogues provide revelations of how each one of them is more than he appears to be. Which is cool.
Before you start imagining that I am making it look like an amazing portrait of psychological immersion, let me make it clear that it is by no means a deep, thought-provoking personal drama. The characters grow over their initial image but they are still from super fleshed out personalities. And the overall plot is not complicating at all; in fact most of it is a storyless parody of the initial premise. It is the fact that unlike most of its genre, it moves beyond the obvious and tries to excuse everything being as such. Basically, everybody is just playing a role, imposed by his social status and the expectations of his family and fellow students. It is a direct contrast to how the heroine is forced to cross dress as means to follow certain demands, imposed by her status as a poor person in dept and making use of her natural beauty. On a basic level it is very captivating as it is showing how people are forced to play roles they never chose, while at the same time doing the best of whatever privileges they were born with, bodily or economic.
So without trying to present this show as the most amazing socio-political dramatic comedy of all times, I am just going to say that it is the best Reverse Harem ever made in anime, for the reasons stated above. Its story is by no means the best thing after sliced bread, and the characters never feel so alive that you think they can jump out of the screen or something. It’s the combination of very good production values, along with a premise that goes beyond the obvious, and a set of characters that become very sympathetic to you for excusing their ideal role to be just a façade. Marvelous!
Highly recommended if you are fans of reverse harems, school comedies, or just want to make fun of decades old clichés.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (looks nice)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (plenty)
SOUND SECTION: 8/10
Voice Acting 3/3 (fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 7/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 2/2 (rich context)
Plausibility 1/2 (so-so)
Conclusion 1/2 (simple)
CHARACTER SECTION: 9/10
Presence 2/2 (bold/funny)
Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 2/2 (everyone gets some)
Development 2/2 (everyone gets some)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 9/10
Historical Value 3/3 (all-known)
Rewatchability 2/3 (high if you like its style)
Memorability 4/4 (extremely well-made to the point of forever remembering it)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 7/10
Art 1/1 (looks nice)
Sound 1/2 (sounds ok)
Story 2/3 (feels generic at first but develops nicely)
Characters 3/4 (they are good for what they are)