A shoujo slice of life comedy with an interesting twist, Ouran explodes into the UK with a lot of laughs.
What They Say
Ouran High School. An institution of extravagance and prestige where learning is secondary to luxury. Bookish Haruhi can't afford to slack, being on a scholarship and out of place among the moneyed. No matter The Host Club is now open! A group of handsome boys dedicated to selling their charms to their bored female classmates, Haruhi is suddenly in debt to the club after breaking an expensive vase in their lair. The only way to pay for the damage? Haruhi will work as a Host! The only problem? Haruhi is a she! Between the wildly inflated ego of the expert escorts and the potential calamities of constant cross dressing, Haruhi's freshman year looks like it will be one to remember
For this review, I watched the show in Japanese. Set in a standard 2.0 format, it still works very well and is very clear – there are no transition issues between sound and subtitles, and switching to English in the 5.1 format I encountered no problems either. Very concise and clear especially considering a lot of the zanier effects and intertwining with the voices (especially with the twins).
The video on it’s own is fine – very clear and concise and no problems in timing with the vocals and subtitles, and in gorgeous colour it works very well with widescreen effects. However, there are major problems. The biggest problem is the subtitles with the signs. Whenever a subtitle appears which requires a translation of a sign, on it’s own it’s not a problem. However, when someone is talking at the same time, it causes a lag between sign subtitle and verbal subtitle, meaning it’s very out of synch. In other releases (both US and UK) this problem is resolved normally by having one subtitle at the top and the other at the bottom, but for some reason, both subtitles are done at one end, one after the other, causing a bit of a problem to say the least. This is a problem in the English version as well as there is no separate option to just use the sign subtitles so if you want to know what everything says, you NEED to put the subtitles on, causing a lot of annoyance. This error is very noticeable and hopefully it will be rectified in Part 2.
No packaging was provided with this disc.
The menu is a basic set up allowing for selecting to play all, episode select and extras, upon a pretty background of Haruhi and Tamaki in a backround of roses. It’s very simple and unexciting as no movement or background music, but it’s simple and does it’s job.
The only real extra is a selection of pages from the Viz release of the Ouran Host manga. This is pretty neat if you’ve not read the manga and where to see where it came from, but the fact that the UK got this, and the US got several English commentaries for a number of the episodes, this seems to be a bit of a cop out by Manga in their release. Admittingly it’s a good price for 13 episodes and if you didn’t know beforehand (or not a dub fan) it’s not so much of a problem, but knowing this information I found it a tad annoying.
Ouran Host is a series that has a big fanbase, and being familiar with the manga I was wondering how the anime would take the series. It basically takes it on an animated freelance comedy journey where you had to smile at least once through each episode.
We are introduced to Haruhi Fujioka, a scruffy looking honour student who looks out of place at Ouran Academy, a snobby upper class looking school where the rich lead out their student lives. Looking for somewhere quiet to study, Haruhi finds a music club, but as the doors open, Haruhi discovers the host club, a group of boys who as leader Tamaki puts it are there to provide enjoyment for the girls who have too much time on their hands…as they have too much time on their hands as well.
It leads to the boyish Haruhi being flumuxed by these ‘damn rich people’ where in turn, accidentally destroyed a priceless vase worth a LOT of money. Haruhi is quickly suckered into becoming the Host Club’s dog’s body – running errands for them (such as buying their coffee – integrating the Host Club into the never worlds of instant coffee) and wondering how this turned out, where a seemingly harmless look at removing the errand boy’s glasses turns out that Haruhi is quite good looking, so the Host boys immediately change plan to repay Haruhi’s debt and after a makeover, now want Haruhi to service 100 customers to clear the debt. Haruhi to the surprise of everyone, is a natural at the task, making him a firm favourite immediately much to the ‘king’’ both worry and curiosity, as he can’t stop fawning over Haruhi. It leads to a jealous customer trying to cause damage to Haruhi’s property, but the Host Club are surprisingly in tune with it, and defend Haruhi – which leads to the big plot twist…as Haruhi changes out of the wet clothes, it’s revealed Haruhi is in fact…a girl.
In this 13 episode disc, once the 1st episode plot twist has been revealed, the show basically takes an episodic nature of the Host Club guys (and girl) getting involved in day to day adventures, showcasing their characters, and of course, the awkwardness of having a boyish yet still attractive Haruhi getting requests for fellow females, and the obvious possible interests that some of the guys have.
The characters are very varied, and each of them are unique and have their moments in the spotlight. The key one is Tamaki Suoh, a half Japanese/French young man with dashing good looks and a one-part narcissist, one part idiot personality. He gets strangely attached to Haruhi, often calling himself Haruhi’s ‘father’, whilst unconsciously insulting Haruhi’s much poorer lineage. However, he has his good side, especially in initially helping Haruhi in the first episode, and various other points (like when he finds out what Haruhi’s weakness is). And of course, along with the father, there is the mother, the much more cynical Kyoya Ohtori, a stand offish kind of young men of obvious intelligence and pedigree, who is the real brains of the Host club, both in ideas, finance and scheming. Kyoya seems to be the member with the most background and there are hints of it with his wealth and links, which probably mean there’s a lot more to him than meets the eye. Next we have the mischievous Hitachin twins, Kaoru and Hikaru, who play up the homosexual twincest image to the hilt much to the girls love, and they get a lot of focus in a number of ways, as Haruhi is one of the few people who seems to recognise which is which immediately, and in the episode where the two ‘fight’ it shows just how much of a scheming duo they are. Next is Mitsukuni Haninozuka, better known as ‘Honey’ is the smallest and surprisingly oldest member of the club, using his boy-lolita skills to the best of his ability, with a huge appetite for cake and a huge talent for martial arts. Lastly, we have Takashi ‘Mori’ Morinozuka, a friend/guardian of Honey who cares for him almost like a father, he rarely speaks, but his actions speak louder than words more often than once with his care of Honey and surprisingly, with Haruhi.
And then there is Haruhi herself. It’s joked by the twins that she’s not your typical heroine – indeed, she doesn’t react to a lot of the teasing in what you’d expect from a typical heroine, and doesn’t seem to mind flirting with other girls to get what she does. She ignores a lot of the idiocy of the Host Club, but can’t seem to help indulge in a lot of what they do, whether it’s food (Haruhi having a soft spot for otoro), going to the beach or searching for her friends and defending others, even when she has no chance of success. This does get her into a few scrapes with the other members of the club, but in the end, Haruhi is accepted quite readily into her new family. Family seems to be something important throughout the series, so despite the comedic nature, there are some points that suggest there is more than there is, especially near the end of the disc knowing about Haruhi’s deceased mother and her relationship with her father. A lot of the episodes focus on a specific member, such as the twins fight, the episode where Honey has a cavity, and they are also intertwined with mostly one ep characters, with the exceptions of two personal favourites, the Host Club’s manager, Renge, a raving otaku who had a crush on Kyoka due to his similarity in looks to a game character, and Nekozawa, the president of the black magic club who delights in ‘torturing’ Tamaki…his stand alone episode involving his sister was probably the funniest of the series, as it showcased all host members, plus him and Renge to their best.
It’s not a series that is serious at all, it pokes fun over the overreactions between the wealthy gap of Haruhi and everyone else (such as when they go to the supermarket, the instant coffee gag, Haruhi preferring the beach to the tropics, etc) and it’s not noteworthy of a plot other than Haruhi trying to pay off her debt. However, that’s not the point of the show – it simply something to sit down after a bad day, and to laugh at. And enjoy it I certainly did.
All the episodes are stand alone, from the ball to Alice in Wonderland, to training the new apprentice to visiting Haruhi’s home. Each one has plenty of laughs in it with a very unique cast. They are almost all equal in terms of screen time which is nice, though Haruhi and Tamaki are obviously the leads, and everyone will have their favourite member by their first run through. With an entertaining lead cast and a just as entertaining sidecast (particularly Renge and Nekozawa), it’s hard not to like Ouran Host despite the big video flaws. Recommended for a good laugh.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Pages from the Ouran Manga
Toshiba 37C3030 - 37" Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV – Tangent Ht-50 Home Theatre System Multi-Regional DVD Players/Speakers – Tangent Subwoofer 50-150 Hz, Impedenced 8 OHM.