May 25th, 2010 16:17 EST
Welcome to the Ouran Academy Host Club
For people unfamiliar with anime, it`s usually sorted into one of three genres:
1. Shonen, where the target audience is guys. This genre has the guns, the explosions, the action. Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece fall into this category.
2. Shojo, girly manga. Romance, flowers, magical adventures, and weird talking furry cute things are commonplace here. Sailor Moon, Saint Tail, and Fushigi Yugi are the most popular.
3. Hentai... I know nothing about this genre other than it`s the porn section.
In these three categories, an anime fan will usually find what they like in one, and not need to venture into titles in the other two. So, for an anime to have an appeal to both shojo fans and shonen fans is either really good, or really distracted, plot wise.
With this knowledge, you can see why I place Ouran High School Host Club among the great series of anime. While very obviously shojo, there is as much of a male following as for female. A friend in college introduced me to Ouran Host Club, and at first I wasn`t going to think twice about placing it in the shojo pile and be done with it. All the artwork was feminine, and to be honest, it didn`t pique my curiosity in the slightest.
Persistence in the part of my friend won... eventually, and I sat down to watch this series. In the first episode we are introduced to the main character: Haruhi. She`s on the low end of the financial stick, but somehow managed to get into the elite and filthy rich Ouran Academy. One day while looking for a quiet place to study, she stumbles into an empty music room. Only it`s not empty, or really a music room. A pleasant voice describes the host club that makes its home there as a group of filthy rich guys with too much time on their hands entertain the single, beautiful young women of the academy, also with too much time on their hands.
While being introduced to the entire host club, Haruhi knocks over and breaks a vase that was to be featured in a school auction starting at 8 million yen, which is a bout 89 thousand dollars. Since Haruhi is flat broke, she now becomes the dog of the host club, fetching snacks, coffee, and whatever else they need. Crazy thing is, they put this job on her thinking she is a guy.
Now we get to meet the people of the host club, starting with Tamaki, who is sort of in charge. He`s very outgoing and immediately takes Haruhi under his wing, not even knowing her gender.
Then there is Hikaru and Kauru, the twins. They have the whole forbidden romance thing going on. If you don`t believe me, go to any fanfiction site and look up their names. There are enough dirty fanfictions to make every skeleton in Japan turn over in their graves. In their defense, however, they are very well voiced in the English dub. In front of their... clients, they practically act gay, but I think they aren`t. I think.
Kyoya heads up the record keeping and the financial aspect of the host club, yet still finds time to entertain the ladies who come to visit.
Mori and Haninozuka (called hunny for short) are the oddest best friends I have ever seen. Mori is strong and silent, always looking after hunny, who has a sweet tooth big enough to give me a cavity just watching. It follows suit for anime that he, of all people, is the oldest member of the host club.
Each of these characters fill a certain "role" in the host club based on their personalities. Throughout the series, there is a lot of romance, a lot of fun - look out for the episode marked "Haruhi in Wonderland" - and some really good writing.
After watching all 26 episodes of the first season, I give it high marks for two reasons: First for having a story that draws as many guys as girls, and second for being a good series to listen to in English. Usually, I`m a stickler for the Japanese subtitles - I`m still pissed at Toonami for their gross mutilation of One Piece - and avoid English dubbing like a plague. But this one is very well dubbed, and makes for an enjoyable series to watch. I`d even be willing to list this as a great introductory anime, for those interested, but not wanting to get addicted.