Episode One…in which our heroine is the star of Victor-Victoria…Irashaimase~!
Scruffy scholarship student,
Harry Potter Haruhi Fujioka, grumbling about the noisy rich kids who need to STFU SRSLY or maintain SILENCE IN THE LIBRARY, Doctor, accidentally discovers the secret lair meeting place of Ouran Academy’s Host club. Though initially taken aback by “the Pretty” of a reverse-harem Stylized Freeze Frame, surprise overcomes her hormones when they mistake her for a young gay man. The club members’ casual condescension of the resident “commoner,” as well as a flamboyant, glittering boy-Diva not of the Cullen-pire persuasion, make her eager to make her escape. In her haste to get away from a clingy Loli-Shouta, Mitsukuni Haninozuka, a.k.a. “Hani Sempai,” she knocks over a vase worth $80,000 (8 million yen, roughly) that the club was planning to use to con money out of the rich fan girls put up for auction. In order for her to pay back her massive debt, the club forces elects her to act as the club’s dogsbody until she graduates, or leaves Japan forever…whichever.
Diva-pire club president and “King,” decides to teach Haruhi how to be a gentleman. He mistakenly thinks he is doing her a favor, and Haruhi’s chagrin is felt by all. Her blunt dismissal of all that glitters, a.k.a. Tamaki, as an annoyance gains admiration from the token incestuous…er, devilish twins, Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin. Tamaki, like a puppy, is easily distracted and his fascination with Haruhi and all things “commoner” leads to an endearingly idiotic exploration of “common foods,” including instant coffee, which becomes a favorite among Hosts and their chronically giggling clients. The only one not impressed by this is Tamaki’s stalker regular client, Ms. Ayanokoji, who bitch-faces in her little corner of Bitch Central. After the twins try out their Ambiguously Gay Duo seduction routine on Haruhi, they decide that she’s too scruffy to ever be a part of such a “symmetrically beautiful” pairing. This is enough for attention whore Tamaki to declare MAKE-OVER TIME, BITCHES. Thus, Haruhi is thrust into the life of a High-Class Escort Host.
The Hosts are almost insultingly surprised by how cute Haruhi is, in her gender-neutral way, and the Dark Over-lord of All, Kyoya, suggests that they
pimp try her out with some of their fan-girls. Haruhi turns out to be a natural Ladies’ Man, so to speak, and Tamaki takes to lurking around the newest Host. This gets awkward, as he tends to be handsy, and eventually Haruhi is forced to ask for Takashi Morinozuka, a.k.a. Mori Sempai, a.k.a. Tall, Dark, and Mute to save her from the crazy King with his “Just Call Me Daddy” complex. Ms. Ayanokoji, witness to Tamaki’s shameless man-handling affection and jealous that her (Damn it, HER) Tamaki is fondling the “commoner,” begins to act out against her love rival Haruhi.
When a tactless Haruhi is able to resist swooning over Hikaru and Kaoru’s twincest routine, as well as tell them apart, she unintentionally gains a duo of mischievous
minions fan-boys. It is during her conversation with the twins’ kinky-as-all-hell-for-liking-that-crap clients that we discover that our beloved cross-dresser has been finding razors hidden in her textbooks and pins in her jackets. The bullying of that-stalker-chic-that-goes-unnamed-though-we-all-Totally-Know-it’s-her increases, till Haruhi finds her bag dumped into the random campus pond. Ignoring her suspicious run in with Bitch-face on her way to retrieve her soggy belongings, Haruhi is confronted by Tamaki for skipping out on her Man Whore Host duties. Tamaki does step in and help Haruhi collect her things, if only to give us a lovely “shirtless, wet Bishie” moment.
Things go from “what is this bullying b.s?” to “crazy did what??” when Ms. Ayanokoji designates Haruhi as her Host, despite thinking she’s a gross, common commoner who is too common to live. Haruhi is having her “what is this Twilight Zone bull” moment, but Ms. Tamaki Fan-Girl 4Eva clarifies things by, well, clarifying things with an inappropriately possessive speech: “…best you don’t misunderstand his interest. The reason you have his attention right now is because of your unusual background. But there are those who might not see that as harmless and will get upset…”
Haruhi, Queen of Tactlessness, calls it like it is by calling Tamaki’s fan-girl jealous. Ms. Ayanokoji of the Supreme Bitch-face lashes out, overturning the table and screaming like a Scream Queen. She attempts, and fails, to have a Hollywood Starlet moment by dramatically accusing Haruhi of making lewd suggestions, demanding that “the commoner” be thrown out immediately. Haruhi’s fan-boys-in-training, a.k.a. the twins, dump water on Ms. Ayanokoji’s head, quickly shutting her the hell up. Kyoya Ohtori, the
Lord and Master of Us All Host Club’s sly Vice-President, mocks the wench with photo evidence of her “in action.” Bitch-face makes one last attempt to simper and puppy-eye her way out of trouble with the Golden God Tamaki, but the Diva delivers with a speech that’s summed up thus: REJECTED!
After the stalker is sent packing, Tamaki dramatically Freeze Frames and PWNS Haruhi by upping her Host bail to1,000 designations. Haruhi’s chagrin is the chagrin of ages, but Tamaki’s Diva demands penance for losing an admirer and for being forced to partake in manual labor…you know, the strenuous act of splashing in a pond to help look for a wallet. In a strange twist of fate that is not at all Plot Device-y, Haruhi’s wallet ends up on the floor and Tamaki actually glances at the student id as he retrieves it for his “cute rookie.” Haruhi is recognizably of the female species in this picture, and Tamaki’s brain explodes.
Haruhi shows how much of a Rock-star she is by completely not giving a shit about either gender-identity, or typical gender-roles: “I figured it would be easier if you thought I was a guy since you already bought me the uniform. Can’t say that I fully appreciate the perceived differences between the sexes anyway…”
The chapter wraps up with Haruhi hinting at bisexuality, and debating over how to successfully get away with her cross-dressing charade.
This parody has balls.
Mind you, they are made of pink, bedazzled Marshmallow Snowballs, but they are there.
From the “fuck it” attitude of our rock star heroine toward gender-roles and -identity, to the blatant use of incest by manipulative twins to woo their (secretly?) kinky clients, this Manga is not afraid to laugh at fandom. Hatori Bisco lovingly pokes the harem and reverse-harem genre fans with kittens, even as she pays tribute. It’s in every Freeze Frame, every Twinkle, every rose petal, and it is glorious. The fact that she does so without diminishing the characters, or taking away from the multiple story lines, just shows her power over us all, her loyal subjects.
Why this works:
When you have a fandom with such a range of tastes, it is hard to find something that can and will appeal to the majority. Hatori Bisco, Manga-ka Goddess on High, was able to combine a High School drama setting and a harem/reverse-harem set-up, and then parody it and give us a chapter worth reading again, and again. It is an orgy of pink, palatial school grounds, ridiculous extravagance, sparkling boys with flowery freeze-frames, and lots and lots of fan service. Fans of every reverse harem archetype can find their own bit of man candy here:
First up, you have Tamaki Suou: flamboyant, glittering Diva though he may be, he is all about the ladies, and is a gentleman, as well. He is truly the Princely Type, and as long as you don’t mind a personality that switches from sunshine and puppies, to gloom corner with tiny sad violin, he’s the man for you. Of course, his ego does have the power to drain all oxygen from the room, so it’s something to watch out for.
Next is our shadowy overlord, Kyoya Ohtori: quiet and watchful, this young aristocrat knows how to play it cool (perfect for the Cool Type) and knows when to fade into the background. His smiles may lie, but that is just part of his charm. As long as you can ignore the fact that he probably knows more about you than your government’s Central Intelligence Agency, he’s just the man for you!
Then we have our double dose of sexual confusion, Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin: though they play the part of “forbidden lovers” quite well, they keep things close to their chests, so you can’t tell whether they’re in earnest, or just fucking with you. This mischievous pair love to play it up for their fan girls, who are by far some of the kinkiest bunch of the lot. If you like a boy toy for each arm and have a kink for a matching set, these boys are right for you!
Let us not forget our resident Loli-shouta, Mitsukuni Haninozuka: cute and cuddly, and with a gag reflex that allows for entire cakes to disappear in one bite, this boy is fodder for those who like them young. Where is Chris Hansen, or Pedo-Bear, you ask? Why, nowhere in sight, because despite this boy’s youthful looks, he is quite legal…one of the oldest in the bunch, in fact. Good news for all!
Strangely silent for the supposedly “Wild” Type, Takashi Morinozuka: this mass of Tall, Dark, and Handsome may not say much, but he sure is pretty to look at. Also, he and Hani come as a pair, so if you want some eye candy, but need a bit of conversation to go with your ogling, you’re in luck. Built like a brick wall with a face that otaku-dreams are made of, this silent sexbot might be right for you!
Last but not least, our Natural Ladies’ (not-a-) Man, Haruhi Fujioka: though not, in fact, the possessor of the Y chromosome, this Host’s blunt honesty and natural charm might just win you over. This Host has the bonus of doubling as the every-girl/reader proxy and the androgynous-boy lovers’ fantasy fodder. Give her a try, you might just find that she’s just the man you’re looking for.
What I missed the first time around:
Having watched the Anime version of this story a few times, my mind had automatically filled in the Manga blanks with what I’d seen on screen. Bad, naughty brain for being so tricksy. There is a wealth of little details hidden in conversation that the Anime changed, or missed, or gifted to another character, altogether:
The twins are brilliant. Let me just say this again: brilliant. In the Anime, their first duo Freeze Frame came about after Hikaru teased Kaoru about a bad dream he’d had. In this, it was because a half-asleep Kaoru made a mistake saving data he’s spent all night compiling. What. I don’t…I can barely get my computer to do what it’s supposed to do, and these playboys are compiling data for computer programs? SINCE WHEN ARE MY TWINS COMPUTER WHIZZES? I know this alone might not equal brilliant, but you add in their talent for manipulating guests (twincest and a cup of tea, anyone?), and their inscrutable nature, and I see the pieces falling into place. I am not saying they are MENSA candidates, but they are much more than the aristocratic play boys that my memory and the Anime gave them credit for.
It was Kyoya, and not Tamaki, who initially suggested that the Host club try Haruhi as a Host, after her rich-boy make-over. Though he did squeal and fuss over Haruhi, he didn’t mention a thing about her actually Hosting until Kyoya suggested that they try her out. He was, of course, quick to put things into motion, but only after the fact. Tamaki, Tamaki…dangerously pretty and just compelling enough that my brain was all too willing to give him credit for ALL THE THINGS. Was it the glitter, or the roses, or the fact that he was a non-Cullen Cullen-pire? I don’t honestly know. Maybe it’s the fact that he makes calf-eyes at Haruhi, then insists on her, “his precious daughter,” calling him “Daddy” that was distracting my from remembering. The world may never know.
Tamaki has a fetish for classic Japanese situational dramas…especially if they have to do with indentured servitude or the “common man.” Haruhi barely has to comment about her father’s penchant for over-spending on clothes before Tamaki, in true Drama Queen fashion, is in tears. His failed logic links any sort of money trouble to the worst possible outcome: Haruhi starving and homeless, or sold into servitude, or both. The fact that he’s been watching too many soaps is obvious in his tears and flailing, in how quickly his brain takes that leap, and Haruhi’s chagrin is almost tangible enough to punch Tamaki in the face.
This is incidental, but…I miss the fountain with its statue of the peeing boy. Though it doesn’t really add anything to the story, the fact that a school made of Delores Umbridge’s wet dreams would randomly have a fountain with a cherub taking a leak in the water is hilarious to me. In the Manga, there is a tiny pond, where Haruhi has to fish out her things after Bitch-face Bitch-faces all over her them. In the Anime, we get several hilarious frames of a smiling, cherubic statue peeing into the water in which Haruhi’s things float, and where our resident cross-dresser and His Blondeness, the Diva, are wading around. It’s a potentially romantic comedy moment set in a glorified toilet, basically. Comedy Gold.
The Corner of Fan-girling
Let me just say, after randomly finding and watching the entire run of the Ouran Host Club live-action episodes, there is a whole new level to my love of this parody. The combination of the plot-points and characters from the Manga/Anime, the television specific content, and the outrageously campy effects just made me appreciate this series all the more. It is all I could have asked for in a live-action show that still remained true to the essence of this outrageous parody.
From CGI rose petals and glitter, to FOR SERIOUS Gloom Corners, this show pays tribute beautifully. Realism does not exist, only the Glitter Gods. It was because of this live-action show of Epic What-the-Fuckery that I was able to see these beloved characters fully realized. I will now and forever more associate Daito Shunsuke to Kyoya, and that to me is glorious.
My Second Time Round (score for category tie-in) reading the first chapter of Ouran High School Host Club had me both cackling madly and feeling excited to revisit this loveable, insane story. So, to all those lovers of fluff, Funny, and flamboyant pretty-boys…till next time~!