Friday, January 30, 2015

Rewind: Ouran High School Host Club

It's difficult to get very far in anime fandom without learning about Ouran High School Host Club. This popular shoujo aired almost nine years ago and only lasted 26 episodes, but it still pops up in discussions and fanart from time to time. Why? There's decent character development as the characters mature socially and emotionally. But mostly, it's fun. Really, really fun.

There are several elements to OHSHC that could make certain conservatives squirm, though, especially in relation to gender and sexuality. I'm not going to examine these closely right now, but they're interesting to note:

1. Harhui, a girl, is mistaken for a guy. This is unintentional at first. But when she's pressed into service as a member of the host club, she must continue the charade. She doesn't mind too terribly. She doesn't consider gender (especially biologically) to be that important. When asked, she says, "What's important as a person is what's on the inside, right?"

2. They're in a host club. These boys aim to please girls... which mostly, it seems, meens making them squeal. It's relatively innocent, barely sexualized at all, but... Look, I like the idea of charming men paying attention to me. But when I try to picture myself in such an environment, it just doesn't feel right. Not to mention the ways it reminds me of certain seedy establishments...

3. Note I said relatively innocent. Apparently, a lot of yaoi fangirls frequent the host club. Kaoru and Hikaru take full advantage of that. These twin brothers have a close relationship anyway. But they put on a show of being lovers as well as brothers. Their guests swoon over it. Does their relationship really cross the line? Nope. Their facial expressions often tell the viewers their real feelings. It's amusing, actually. Still, their sexualized facade must be noted.

4. Haruhi's dad is a cross dresser.

5. The students from Lobelia Girls' Academy idealize both womanhood itself (as they see it) and relationships between women. Of course, like all the characters and character groups, they are extreme for comedic reasons.

I don't want to make a judgement or dive into theological stuff right now, though I think it's important to realize what messages OHSHC is sending. I do, however, find my reaction interesting. None of these elements ruffled me enough to impede my enjoyment.


Could it be? Am I actually posting before midnight PST? How did that happen? Well... Remember how I said it would be a couple weeks before my first Beneath the Tangles post? It turns out that I can't wait that long. I'm writing something I'm excited about for BtT. I can't wait to get it finished and posted, but I wanted to make sure I got this done first. 

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