The fun and silliness continues as Tamaki and the gang live out the lives of high school host club members.
What They Say
Ouran Academy: an institution of extravagance and prestige where learning is secondary to luxury. Haruhi began the year as an out of place scholarship student, but she's found new popularity as a member of the Host Club. Playing the part of a sensitive suitor and wooing the ladies of the school has become a full-time job. Of course, now that Tamaki and the other boys can no longer deny the charms of her girly side, life feels more like a storybook daydream.
But not all fairy tales have a happy ending. The King will have to choose between reality and fantasy - and his decision might force the Ouran Host Club to close their doors forever!
Contains episodes 14-26.
Ouran Host Club has a pair of relatively straightforward stereo mixes for both the English and Japanese language tracks that are encoded at 192kbps. The series is really just dialogue driven along with some outlandish sound effects and incidental music so a stereo mix suits it perfectly well and captures the intent nicely. Dialogue has some good placement at times but nothing that’s really noteworthy in general, especially on larger setups, but it does a solid job overall if conveying the wackiness of the series in a clean and problem free manner. We didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.
Originally airing in 2006, the series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Comedies still tend to be done in this format though it’s still somewhat surprising to see even from 2006 a full frame series. The show has a lot of great visuals to it and a lot of it looks fantastic across this two disc set of thirteen episodes presented in a 7/6 format. Ouran Host Club has a lot of very vibrant colors to it and they generally look quite good. There are intentional soft scenes here and there but by and large it’s a very appealing show. There is a bit of noise throughout certain scenes as well as some banding that’s prevalent because of the shows budget, but nothing comes across as overly distracting or terribly problematic. The few problems that there are here are pretty small when taken into context of the entire set so it’s just a few minor bits here and there that are occasionally visible.
Ouran Host Club second set is done up in a two disc thinpak set inside a simple cardboard slipcover to hold it all. The front cover of the set is really ncie as it’s heavy on the purples with the uniforms, but it’s well balanced by the actual character designs and colors as well as the pale pink background. In addition to the full sized characters, there’s a small grouping of the rest of the club as well as they’re spread around the cover with cute expressions and actions to them. The colors are very girlish with soft pinks and purples as well as the numerous roses. The back cover is fairly traditional as it has a good cast shot of everyone in their regular mode along the top and then a solid summary of the basics of the series premise. Add in a few shots from the show itself in a strip and a listing of the discs total number of episodes and the extras and you’ve got a solid package overall, though it may once again scare the boys away a bit
The two thinpaks inside are quite appealing as well. The first one has a full headshot illustration of Honey which is soft due to the coloring while the second has Kyoya, albeit with a purple background instead of the pink that Honey had. The back covers show darker images of both of them in a different way along with a very simple breakdown of what episode numbers and titles are on each respective volume. Each cover is also fully reversible with the first one showing Mori while the second has Renge.
The box set also has a really great bonus to it in the form of a 2009 calendar. It’s two months to a page and each is filled with some really great pieces of full color artwork of the cast doing various things. The top panel tends to do the really good serious animation look to it while the bottom with the actual calendar days plays up the super deformed side of it with character artwork.
The menu design is simple but one that sets the mood well. With a bit of instrumental music to set the atmosphere, each menu is made up of a cast shot of the characters. The first one uses the cover artwork from the slipcover for example and it looks all the more vibrant and appealing here. The navigation is along the left side slightly and it’s all very easy to move about with. Submenus load quickly and access times are nice and fast. The layout is certainly basic but it’s one that works well and fits the show nicely enough. As per usual, the discs did not read our players’ language presets and defaulted to English language with no subtitles.
The bulk of the extras are on the second volume though it depends on what you consider bulk. The first volume has a commentary track and the second one has a coupe, but you only see it if you go into the actual episode selection menu as there’s no actual extras menu. The second volume has an extras menu to it and it’s in there that we see the manga pages that Viz has presented, a lengthy eighteen minute session of dub outtakes - which are certainly amusing and quite welcome - as well as the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second half of Ouran Host Club is an interesting companion piece to the first where certain things are played out of importance. The first set of thirteen episodes focused on Haruhi and how she was brought into the Club and then affected everyone. As a catalyst, she was ideal as her involvement brought out parts of each of the other members rather easily and they all changed for the better. This second set takes the approach of letting that settle and become comfortable while showing how Tamaki was the catalyst before her that brought all these people together – Haruhi included.
Haruhi is certainly a fun character and watching her go through the learning curve she had with the first set was very enjoyable. As she got to know the characters, much as we were, we could see how good all of them are but how much they’re fitting into the molds of their lives that have been made for them. This set of episodes is about them finding out about the lives that they really want, tinged with knowledge that this Club cannot continue on forever and that they have to begin thinking about that. While Haruhi is given a lesser role in these episodes, she’s still very much a key component of it all as she’s the modern catalyst for events.
Each character has some time spent on them where we see their past and the things that have shaped who they are. Some are more interesting than others to be certain, such as Honey and Mori’s stories being the weakest ones for me. Honey’s past where he was the ace karate instructor isn’t bad, but the way he’s confronted by his brother who thinks he must be an alien because of the way he devours sweets just feels out of place. Having Tamaki being the one who “saved” him years earlier from the life of being just a karate instructor and unable to enjoy the sweets that affect him so is cute and all, but Honey has that kind of personality about him that’s difficult to really get into. He swings from one side to the other in personality only once in awhile and the serious side of him feels awkward at best.
Most of the characters are rather well developed however. Twins Hikaru and Kaoru get a good bit of time as they’re working down two particular issues with their lives. Their past where they were told that they’d likely never find anyone that could tell them apart pushed them towards games where they mess with others for their own amusement and they continued to become cold and distant towards most people. Tamaki made a dent in them with his capricious ways but also with his insistence on figuring out who was who without any help and without just guessing. His persistence sort of won them over in the end, but it was more how he approached them by talking about their inconsistencies being their best trait. More interesting however is the plot where Kaoru has started to realize that the two of them must start finding their own paths and they can play the role of twins like this for only so long. With Hikaru being rather infatuated with Haruhi, there’s some cute play going on there as Kaoru encourages Hikaru to explore his emotions.
The most interesting character for me was with Kyoya as we see how he’s lived his life as the third son of a powerful man, knowing that he can never formally exceed them nor take over the family business. His past when he met Tamaki is fascinating since he’s working hard to live within the framework that he’s been given for his life, but Tamaki is showing him a way to exceed that and to live the life he wants. Kyoya’s initial friendship with Tamaki is driven because of Kyoya’s father and the way he sees everyone as potential for a deal of some kind. But Tamaki isn’t the kind of personality that can allow for that and he frustrates and overwhelms Kyoya as things go on. Watching Kyoya during this is one of the best parts of the show, especially when he’s the “lost boy” in the department store with the gang and shows a very different side of himself with Haruhi.
Of course, the series must end by dealing with Tamaki and exploring his past as well. His life is one that’s certainly complicated as we learn with his flashback as Kyoya explains it to Haruhi. Being an illegitimate son, he’s in an awkward position where he can inherit everything, but there are issues to be overcome. The one that’s strongest in his life is his grandmother who has a deep dislike of Tamaki and issues with her own son over what happened in the past when he went to France and took a wife there. With how events sent him back to Japan, it explains a lot of his personality but also explains why things turn decidedly dark at the end as he has to figure out what to do with his life.
That seems to be one of the main themes as this set plays out, some achieving a better idea about it than others. When Tamaki’s grandmother arrives at the school for the school fair, it sets the stage for an unsurprising ending in that the fate of the club is challenged. With so many parents disliking where their children are because of the club, Tamaki’s belief in what he does is shaken and other things start to color his perceptions. While this segment plays out rather predictably, and with some very fun white knight and white princess moments, it’s the epilogue piece that really sold me even more on the show and made it all worthwhile. The conversation between Tamaki and Kyoya’s fathers was priceless, again for Kyoya more than anything else, as it shows exactly how these young men are growing up to take control of their lives and on their own terms. You couldn’t end on a better message.
With a long wait from license to release and not caring much for the manga, Ouran Host Club was not a show I was looking forward. Yet it turned out to be one of the best comedy shows I’ve seen in 2008 as it did everything right. With great character designs, wonderful set designs, very enjoyable characters and lots of comedy with all sorts of character expressions, it came together in a way that was highly appealing. A lot of shows can be difficult to watch this much of at once, especially for comedies, but Ouran Host Club gets it right in every way. FUNimation has done a bang-up job with this show and its release which makes it all the better. Fans of the series won’t want to miss this. Very recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary Tracks, Dub Outtakes, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.