A HEALTH AND SAFETY INSPECTION OF THE ONLY HOST CLUB APPROVED FOR 18YRS OLD AND BELOW
Every girl who is familiar with the shoujo genre, romance narrative marketed for young girls in animé and manga is mildly aware that she is involved in many conceits.
In a shoujo series, the heroine is a bright eyed, bubbly girl who, by luck or fantastical circumstances, finds herself in the company of beautiful young men (of different types). She will be involved in a whirlwind of love “encounters” and will be torn in a love triangle. She will be courted, attempted to be taken advantage of, will be swept of her feet when her love interest saves her from danger. Almost all, if not every men in his life will be serving her interest and her own survival alone. She is not beautiful, but she’s a little cute, but for some reason, every guy seems to fall in love with her…even those who swings the other way!
Well, there is one manga/animé series which dared to expose these conceits, clichés and stereotypes and save the female population from extreme misrepresentation of romance and love in real life…or not!
It’s the laugh-a-minute, genre defying gang of OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB!
OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB’s main character is Fujioka Haruhi, the unwilling heroine who found herself in the strange and weird world of the rich and famous at Ouran High School. Because of accidentally breaking an oddly placed (highly expensive) vase in a certain “third music room”, she is forced to work for the more strange and weird club at school, the legendary HOST CLUB! At a high school setting that is…the heroine as a host, nonetheless.
Things are by the book a shoujo animé in every respect, but the genius of this series is its self-consciousness of the genre itself and the female audience cooperates as it laughs at its own silliness. Definitely, it is in this cooperation and engaging nature of the series that makes this a very special shoujo serial in recent years.
In the first episode, we meet the different stereotypes of male characters one can find in a shoujo series. Indeed, everyone thrives in the stereotype including heroine Haruhi who has to “pretend she’s a boy” to stay in the all male Host Club so she can pay off her debt (the expensive broken vase).
One prime example of the self alluding nature of this series is the introduction of the female otaku character, Renge. While Haruhi is the “common man” anchor of the story (no pun intended there), who sees and reacts at what the unacquainted to shoujo would normally do, Renge’s character is the personification of genre savvy audience in the show. Renge would point out the stereotypes of the genre, recommending even that “it is common in these days to have an appetite for those kinds of relationships” (pertaining to subtle homoerotic clichés in the genre).
The animé version even breaks the fourth wall with the intrusion of “subtitles” and characters talking to the audience. The male characters are more or less aware that they are commodities in the female imagination, while the female population is very much aware that they are merely consumers of this otaku culture, cultivated by the Host Club.
I highly recommend OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB to those acquainted with the shoujo genre or even to those unacquainted with it. This series made sure everyone has something in it for them, just like any Host Club should.