The first half of Ouran High School
Host Club was a cute,
light comedy that made fun of traditional shojo and harem shows. The stories weren't very deep and played for
mild laughs and it was fun to watch. The
second half of the series however is a bit of a different creature. Not content to rest on their laurels and
finish the show off in a predictable way, the creators raised the drama
notch by delving into the backgrounds of the club members and making
dimensional characters. They haven't
forgotten the humor however and the show is still just as funny, but
Haruhi Fujioka is a student who earned a scholarship to the
prestigious, and very expensive, Ouran Academy. While looking for a quite place to study in
afternoon, Haruhi goes into Music Room three, which is supposed to be
unused. Unfortunately another group of
students got there first, and they've spent the last year turning the
room into a host club. (A place where
women can go to have attractive men fawn over them while spending money
overpriced drinks and food.) Haruhi is
pretty surprised and turns to leave, but accidentally bumps a pedestal
very expensive ($80,000) vase on it, which falls to the floor and
shatters. Since Haruhi is too poor to
even afford the school uniform, the club decides to let the young
off his debt by being a host. There's
only one problem: Haruhi is a girl. Because of her androgynous clothes and her
short hair, everyone in the school thinks she is a he.
But without her working as a male host,
she'll never be able to pay off her debt.
So the Host Club vows to keep her secret and teach her the art
young girls happy.
The second half starts off much like the first half, with
Haruhi getting a job at an inn during her summer break.
When the rich boys of the club discover where
she's gone, they descend on the small hotel and cause all sorts for
the young girl.
As the series progresses, it starts to look at the
backgrounds of the characters and just why they're in the host club. Though it seems as if they lead care-free
lives, all of the rich young men have troubles that aren't apparent
outside. Tamaki Suou, the extremely
president, is in line to be the head of a very rich and powerful family. His problem is that he's the illegitimate son
of the only heir, and his grandmother hates him because he was born out
wedlock. She's gone out of her way to
make his life miserable, going so far as to arrange things so that he
see his mother again.
Kyoya, the quite vice-president, also has his share of
trouble. He's ambitious, brilliant, and
the member of a family that has made a huge amount in pharmaceuticals,
also the third son. This two older
brothers are being groomed to take over the family business, and his
lot is to
eventually work for them, and never getting into a position of real
Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin, the identical twins who always
talk in unison and are possibly homosexual lovers have a unique problem. Their parents never had time for them, so
they grew very close together. So close
that they couldn't really relate to anyone else. They
pushed anyone away who tried to get near
them, playing their game of "which one is Hikaru" to embarrass and
anyone who wanted to be their friends.
The one thing all of the members of the club have in common,
aside from being rich and having a lot of problems, is that host club
is a place
where they can forget about their problems and focus their talents and
on something positive, even if it is a little frivolous.
They don't really recognize that until
Tamaki's grandmother interferes and orders him to close the club down.
This second half of the show is much better than the first,
which wasn't bad to begin with. Expanding the main characters and
fully realized people makes the show much more interesting, and the
they were able to do that without sacrificing the comedy ofr
nature of the show was wonderful. Each
episode still has a lot of laughs and is a delight to watch.
These discs come with the original Japanese audio track as
well as an English dub, both in stereo. While
I'd normally chastise a release for not having a 5.1 track at least in
this show doesn't really call for one and the stereo audio suits it
well. The English voice actors did a fine
job but I
have a slight preference for the Japanese track. There
were no audio defects worth noting.
The full frame image looked pretty good without any
significant problems. The colors are
bright like the typical shojo anime, and the lines are tight. The level of detail is also fine.
On the digital side, things also look
good. There's a little aliasing and some
minor banding, but that's all.
This set also includes some manga pages from the series, a mildly
amusing reel of outtakes, and a clean opening.
There're also a few commentaries with the ARD director and
members of the English cast.
I really enjoyed the first set, but this second one is even
better. This is a slightly strange but
never-the-less laugh out loud funny anime raises the bar by fleshing
characters and making the problems they face a bit more pressing. They do that while continuing to poke fun at
anime in general and harem shows in particular.
This is a nice light show that deserves more attention. Highly