Saturday, November 22, 2008

Anime - Ouran High School Host Club

I suppose I’ve already covered two anime that are pretty shounen-esque (shounen meaning “intended for boys,” remember?), so I will now review an anime that is quite close to my heart—but it is also unabashedly girly. Keep in mind, I’m actually the type of girl that loathes chick flicks, but I am a girl and thus, some shoujo (“anime intended for girls”) do have appeal, even to me. The following anime is one of my favorites in the shoujo genre. It’s called a “gender bender,” which just means the main character is generally mistaken for or (as is often the case) is masquerading as the opposite gender. It’s called Ouran High School Host Club, and if you haven’t heard of it, you no longer have an excuse not to watch it! This addictive anime centers on Haruhi Fujioka, a “commoner” in an ultra rich private school (called Ouran). Through sheer brain power, Haruhi has made it into Ouran High School in her dreams of intellectual ambition. A bookworm by anyone’s standards, Haruhi finds little satisfaction in her somewhat drab physical appearance, and as she is looking for a quiet place to study, she is thrust into the world of the Ouran Host Club. A quick cultural note, in Japan, a Host Club is a place (usually a restaurant type setting) where you request a particular host (meaning an attractive person of the opposite gender) to entertain you (by pouring you drinks, offering flirtatious conversation, singing, dancing, etc.) and, in essence, you pay for them to spend time with you. Haruhi stumbles upon an array of six attractive gentlemen (the “hosts”) and succeeds in shattering an extremely expensive vase. As a consequence, she must pay back the enormous debt by working for the host club! It sounds disastrous (and it is), but Haruhi is a peculiarly androgynous character (with short hair and a thin frame) and is often mistaken as one of those cutely effeminate boys, so she becomes a host to raise the money to repay her debt. The series centers on Haruhi’s various misadventures with the crew of hosts, each a different sort of “romantic” interest for any shoujo fanatic. There is Tamaki, the “prince” and enormous flirt type; Kyouya, the “cool” type with glasses and a hidden agenda; Honey, the “cute” type (he looks a lot younger than he is); Mori, the “wild” type (I’ve still yet to understand what that means. Think super stoic for his character); and lastly, twins Hikaru and Kaoru, the “mischievous” type, who specialize in their brotherly love technique. The hilarity ensues as sometimes girls fall for Haruhi and also the hosts themselves take a liking for her, particularly Tamaki. The love tension is pretty great and also very cute, if you are into that kind of thing. I really enjoyed the anime series—it made me laugh out loud, clench my fists in suspense, as well as get a little misty-eyed when it was all over and done with. There is also a manga (graphic novel) which the series is based after. The manga is much longer and more detailed (and, unfortunately for fanatics like myself, not finished yet), and if you couldn’t get enough of the story in the anime (like myself, once again), then you’ll enjoy it. If you decide to watch the series, I highly recommend finding it in its original language (Japanese) with subtitles, the series was recently licensed by Funimation and dubbed into English and the new voices are deplorable and the opening and closing songs are even more horrendous. Then again, I tend to enjoy most anime in its original language, so if you don’t like to read subtitles, you might have to suffer through the onslaught of miscasting (once again, this is my opinion). So if you are a girl that loves all things romantic, or even if you just have a weird sense of humor and don’t mind watching a developing love story as well, you should certainly check this anime out right away, its well worth your attention. Sayonara and until next week!
-Katie Bogdanowitz, Layout Editor

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