Ouran High School Host Club Series 1 Part 2
Ouran High School Host Club is a school for the rich, famous and beautiful and in the case of Haruhi Fujioka a scholarship student who is unfortunate enough to break a several million yen vase and end up being forced to work as a man in a Host Club. This is not a hard-hitting exposé of the life of cross-dressing hosts, but a lighter than life comedy about an unfortunate girl who stumbles across more than fortunate boys.
Part 1 of this acclaimed anime series left us on a high, Haruhi had just been through a vision roughly based around Alice in Wonderland where she was being tried for various crimes before she realised that she was in a dream. We catch up with the unlikely group of people back at school and the school newspaper is suffering from a decline in readership and need the Host Club to help them get back on their feet.
The next twelve episodes of Ouran High School Host Club mange to continue with the high quality that was experienced throughout Part 1, with fun being poked at class, gender and many facts of life for “normal people” as well as expanding into areas of emotion and divide whilst maintaining the easy going flow of the show. There is hints of a complicated storyline being developed by the latter episodes of Part 1 and Part 2 only go to expand upon that. Whereas many animes attempt to have multiple plots running at the same time end up being a mess of random episodes tied together, Host Club effectively manage these plots and subplots throughout the entire series. There are some references that only the “otaku” culture may understand, such as growing mushrooms in a dark corner, but for the most part the universal humour that was seen in Part 1 has translated through to the remainder of the show.
Granted Host Club is entirely unbelievable in almost every aspect – super rich kids essentially enslaving a poor person at a school where apparently no work is done and teachers allow half naked boys running around empty music rooms. But the character development is strong, for the entire cast, not just the two lead characters. This is a rare occurrence in any form of media, let alone anime. Based on the first volume of this series it would be easy to believe the characters to only be 2.5 dimensional, a bit flat with a tiny bit of history. This volume really fleshes the characters out from the twin’s insecurity, Kyoa’s inferiority complex, Honey and Mori’s extensive history to Tamaki’s less than pleasant relatives. These issues are also all dealt with, but in a manner that leaves other issues open for the characters to inhabit and dwell in, of course this is a comedy show and all issues are dealt with in amusing ways. Fake feuds, exaggerated worry and various other techniques are used to keep the viewers attention but keep the emotional undertones in full view.
To maintain this level of detail the script needs to be next to perfect and fortunately the same high quality writing has managed to be marinated throughout the entire series. This has led to no filler episodes and even fewer duds. As this is only a 26 episode series with nothing on the horizons for a Series 2 the writing and plot has had to be very tight and this attention to detail shines through.
The animation quality also remains very high, with every character being bright, distinct and easily recognisable. There are a few scenes where characters are doing fiddly jobs and the animation is smooth – the temptation to simply have music playing the background whilst there’s a freeze-frame on the character has fortunately been ignored.
In terms of voice acting, the Japanese cast is best; however, the US voice actors have done a superb job at getting much of the maniacal laughter and emotion across. All of the characters match their voices and it’s all performed very well – just unfortunately they’re not as good as their Japanese counterparts.
In terms of extras, well last time I managed to get a copy of the US disc and there were some amazing specials that didn’t fly across to the UK release which is a huge shame. Those extras really made the DVD super special. Unfortunately the extras again have been missed off of the second volume for the most part. Maybe next time eh?
With a gentle storyline that helps the character’s development and engages with the viewer, Host Club manages to achieve what many anime attempt and miss: an engaging, personal experience.