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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Ouran High School Host Club: Season One, Part Two
Ouran High School Host Club: Season One, Part Two
FUNimation // Unrated // January 6, 2009
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted March 8, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Series:
 
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 up a notch by delving into the backgrounds of the club members and making them three dimensional characters.  They haven't forgotten the humor however and the show is still just as funny, but much more interesting.
 
Series Background: 
 
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 one 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 music room into a host club.  (A place where women can go to have attractive men fawn over them while spending money on overpriced drinks and food.)  Haruhi is pretty surprised and turns to leave, but accidentally bumps a pedestal with a 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 scholar work 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 of making young girls happy.
 
This set:
 
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 trouble 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 from the outside.  Tamaki Suou, the extremely handsome 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 of wedlock.  She's gone out of her way to make his life miserable, going so far as to arrange things so that he can never 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, but he's 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 power. 
 
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 humiliate 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 energy 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 making them fully realized people makes the show much more interesting, and the fact that they were able to do that without sacrificing the comedy ofr light-hearted nature of the show was wonderful.  Each episode still has a lot of laughs and is a delight to watch.
 
The DVD:


Audio:
 
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 English 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.
 
Video:
 
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.  
 
Extras:
 
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 various members of the English cast.
 
Final Thoughts:
 
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 out the 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 recommended.
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