Fujioka Haruhi has worked hard her entire life, and her dedication and persistence has finally paid off: she has been given a scholarship to attend Ouran Academy, a school reserved for the children of the most rich and powerful members of society. Her good luck quickly runs out as she accidentally breaks a 8-million yen vase belonging to a club… The members of that club gang-press Haruhi into joining their club to work off her debt to them. The only problem is that the club members are operating under the false impression that Haruhi is a guy, as the club’s purpose is to entertain the girls of the school by flirting with them.

Haruhi’s mistaken identity doesn’t last long amongst the club members, and they come to her aid to keep their clientele fooled as Haruhi fills a gap in the club’s collection of male shojo character tropes… as well as for the reason that Tamaki, the ‘prince’ and head of the host club, has taken a liking to her. What follows is a comedy of ridiculous proportions as Haruhi dutifully fulfills her new cross-dressing role of flirting with her classmates to pay off her debt while slowly becoming close friends with the members of the Ouran Host Club.

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This is not a formal review, but rather a more intimate look at what the two of us found enjoyable or otherwise, collaboratively written from both our viewpoints. Neither of us had watched this anime prior to us watching it together.

For Us: The Right Amount of Ridiculousness

Anime can be weird. Ouran High School Host Club hits the weirdness sweet spot. It takes character archetypes and dials them up to the point of satire. It places those characters in completely unrealistic situations. It justifies those situations by making all the characters rich beyond imagination. It treats its own inner workings respectfully while always remaining true to its own tongue-in-cheek sensibilities. Plus, the visual flourishes play up the tone perfectly: there are plenty of flowers, long gazes, costumery, and all around weirdness that enhances the whole experience.

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Our advice: Just go with it. Ouran High School Host Club isn’t a show you should be picking apart looking for logic holes… you’re bound to find them, fall in, and never return. As long as you can buy in to the ridiculousness, as my wife and I did, you’re in for a fun and wild ride.

For Us: A Great Dub

My wife doesn’t like reading subtitles. I don’t like bad dubs. Ouran High School Host Club has a dub, and it’s pretty great. I know purists sneer at the idea of watching a dub, but it was a welcome change from watching so many subs as of late.

For Him: The Prince

While the female lead, Haruhi, is the center of the plot… she doesn’t drive the plot forwards. Her deadpan reactions lend her to be the viewer’s proxy into this fictional world of the ultra-rich. As such, she can only have so much personality. The viewer is meant to identify with Haruhi and place his/herself in her shoes… This frees the writers to use Tamaki as her foil in every possible matter. Make no mistake, the star of the show is Tamaki, the self-styled ‘prince’ of the Ouran Host Club. He is the uniting force behind the Host Club, and it’s his energy that infuses and informs the show. The Host Club is Tamaki’s brain child, and his influence can be felt in every aspect. The show lives in Tamaki’s fantasy made real… from the premise of entertaining rich boarding-school girls, the week-to-week theming, and hand picked hosts. Tamaki is a dreamer living in a world he realizes could be taken from him at a moment’s notice. He never lets his serious side show, and instead throws himself into the his role of uniting a group of friends to live life to the fullest. Even when he was being a pain, his genuine concern for his friendships made me forgive his minor slights. Since I enjoyed Tamaki, I enjoyed the show.

For Her: The Heart Behind the Club

First of all, through watching all of these animes with my husband, I have learned that there is a huge emphasis on youth joining clubs and organizations within the Japanese culture. I LOVE that! The Host Club is hilarious, and reminds me of a teenie-bopper-G-rated-reverse-Playboy Mansion. I thought that the themes of the parties were delightfully funny. The Host Club’s goal is to entertain the young ladies while balancing the delicate relationships amongst club members and bureaucratic social circles. All of the young ladies swoon over their ‘favorite’ fellas, and they are always made to feel special. The whole premise of the club seems superficial, but you can’t help but to fall in love with each of the club members. It is evident that there are real bonds between them. They care about each other, and it is a joy to watch them plan off the wall events while protecting one another’s hearts.

For Us: Twin-cest

Ouran High School Host Club features a stable of male character shojo tropes. One pair of characters are twins, and their niche is the forbidden sexual tension between themselves. Some girls in the show go crazy over the two twins fawning over one another and sharing loving gazes. My wife and I found it unsettling. While it might be a shojo trope (although I am unsure of that), it made for some uncomfortable viewing at first. Eventually the antics of the twins became part of the background noise of the hyper-accentuated character archetypes, and their act lost its strangeness… but be forewarned: Ouran High School Host Club certainly likes to play up the taboo nature of their incestuous relationship.

For Him: What is the Host Club For?

To quote Tamaki, “Only those with excellent social standing, and those from filthy rich families are lucky enough to spend their time here, at the elite private school Ouran Academy. The Ouran Host Club is where the school’s handsomest boys with too much time on their hands entertain young ladies who also have way too much time on their hands. Just think of it as Ouran Academy’s elegant playground for the super rich and beautiful.”

At first I thought the purpose of the Ouran Host Club was inherently shallow… and then in the first couple of episodes the members use their power and influence to act as matchmakers for some fellow students. I thought that making other students’ lives better was going to the be the secret agenda of the Ouran Host Club, and it gave me hope that the series would give the club a deeper reason for existing. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out that way after the first few episodes. Yes, the Ouran Host Club is as silly and shallow as Tamaki’s narration makes it sound. If it has any secret purpose, it’s that the club is a vehicle for Tamaki to bind his chosen friends together. The club doesn’t really concern itself with the other students outside of it, which I thought was a missed opportunity… However, by the time I found myself caring I had already signed on to the rest of the premise.

For Her: Twin-cest

I know that we addressed that both my husband and I did not like the ‘twin-cest’, but I need to reiterate... GUHHHH!!! GROSSS!!!!!

Because this is not an official Ani-TAY review, we have eschewed the normal review card.

I wouldn’t recommend Ouran High School Host Club as the first anime to share with your significant other. There are a lot of things present in this series that might confuse, upset, or simply not connect with a first time viewer. As my wife and I had watched a number of anime prior to this, we were as prepared as we could be for the cavalcade of silliness that graced our screen. If you think your significant other is ready for the weirdness that can come with watching anime, we think you’ll enjoy Ouran High School Host Club. If your significant other is not there yet, play it safe with other series until they can handle what Ouran High School Host Club has to offer.

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Ouran High School Host Club can be watched on Hulu streaming service. Ouran High School Host Club is based on a manga series by Bisco Hatori, serialized in Hakusensha’s LaLa magazine . The series was adapted into an anime directed by Takuya Igarashi and produced by Bones and is licensed for regional release in North America by Funimation Entertainment.

Interested in watching anime with your significant other? My wife and I have written a guide based off our experience watching anime together that offers some tips.