OK, so this isn’t exactly a film. It’s a Japanese anime series (but, there’s only 1 season, so go watch it anyway). In fact, this was the first ever anime series I ever watched in my entire life. I loved it so much, I watched it again, and got even more from it the second time around. I had watched very few anime films beforehand, so this should tell you how green I was to the genre. Even after taking Japanese in college, I still wasn’t interested. I will also warn ANYONE who is familiar with the anime genre, please please PLEASE forgive me. I don’t know all the terms. Even the sub-genres I DO know I won’t bring up here, because I don’t normally write about anime, and I’d like the review to be for those looking for an adventure.
OK, enough warnings.
I won’t go into the entire series, just mostly break down the show via the first episode. If you decide to watch the first episode, you’ll know whether or not you’ll want to keep watching. It’s definitely not for everyone.
This anime pulls out all the stops. It’s incredibly self-reflexive. It knows it’s ridiculous, but it also knows it’s super fabulous because of it. The show follows a girl, Haruhi Fujioka, as she stumbles upon her school’s host club looking for a quiet place to read. She’s startled, breaks a vase (that we ALL are made aware will happen well ahead of time) and she owes an insane debt to the host club. She’s poor, they think she’s a boy (because, you know, short hair and baggy clothes) so what’s the only solution? Kyoya “glasses” Otori, the club’s treasurer, suggests that Haruhi pay the debt off by working in the host club. Initially, she is the “dog,” or basically their servant, but she quickly becomes a great asset as another host. Because the girls love her, naturally.
The show is fun. Sure, it’s really sexist a lot of the time, because there’s the constant “woman needs to be saved” theme running through it. But Haruhi notes it every time. She’s strong and independent, and she “keeps up with the boys” by opening up, connecting, and becoming close friends with them.
There are also a lot of sexual fantasies represented and addressed (from different Manga genres) that go beyond the typical heterosexual relationships. Most of them incredibly taboo. Just go with it. Incest, pedophilia, domination/rape, you name it. But the show is very far from explicit. It’s all tame. There’s no nudity, the language is subtle, and the few times it’s outright, you are mostly laughing about it. Because they turn it into a joke (this is the reflexive part). I wouldn’t exactly watch this show with young children, but if you did, I don’t think they would understand anything. But you’d have a lot of explaining, so, careful.
The style of the animation itself is very flowery. Literally. You are pelted with rose petals and glitter a lot. It’s wonderful. The style is expressive too, which means, we see their moods very dramatically (for instance, our Prince, Tamaki, sulks a lot – it got so bad at a point that he grew mushrooms all over himself). There are no boundaries, and that’s something I LOVE about anime. There’s no need to be realistic. You are drawing a reality, so you can make it whatever you want. And Ouran is beautiful.
I think that’s all I’ll go into it. I recommend watching the first episode (they’re 20 minutes long, so it’s not a huge waste of time if you hate it) and see if you like it. This show made me love all other anime so much more deeply. I actually understand it better. Sometimes, it just takes one show. I’ll definitely watch and review another down the line. In fact, writing this review really makes me want to not do anything but binge watch anime all day instead of work.
Another side note: The first time I watched it, I did so with English dubbing, and I thought it was great. I normally HATE dubbing, but the American actors are insanely great, so don’t feel bad if you want to watch it that way. The second time, I tried to watching with subtitles, but I couldn’t keep up with the fast dialogue and also there’s a TON of other translated narration you have to read within the anime (signs, words, etc). And after a couple of episodes, I turned it off because I couldn’t enjoy the animation.
Production Company: Bones
Currently streaming on Netflix.
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