Secrets to Success: Ouran High School Host Club

Genres tend to have calling cards, and Shojo is no different. But are those calling cards bad or just hilarious? Ouran High School Host Club says the latter, and the fans ate it up like sweet dango.

At the Prestigious Ouran Academy for the “Wealthy and Beautiful,” those with too much money and too much time on their hands know to head to Music Room #3. For a small fee, girls can spend some time with a Type of their choice and Fangirl to their heart’s content.  The club is especially active with their newest member, Haruhi Fujioka; a scholarship student who broke a priceless vase on their first visit, and now must work off the debt. The only problem? Haruhi is a she.

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Amazing what some gum and a lack of money for a uniform can do

Ouran High School Host Club has all the drapings of a Shojo Manga, all wrapped up in a tongue-in-cheek sense of self-awareness. The Fourth Wall is non existent; the characters are aware they are playing to Shojo Types; and the world around them goes the extra mile to point out when it’s following the usual Shojo formula. In short, one of the most famous Shojo series of all time is mercilessly poking fun at itself and everything like it, and still earns buckets of fans.

As to “how”, I have a three-part theory.

  • There is no Proper Parody That Doesn’t Love the Source Material

Free fun fact about me: I hate Teen Titans Go!

I’m a fan of the original show, so I unoriginally don’t like the parody remake. But I dislike the remake less on its new tone and more that it doesn’t understand its source material. The writers even admitted that they never saw the old show and that they purposefully write as stupid as  they can. Because they don’t get the source material, nor do they seem to like it very much, the show is more insulting than parodying.

Needless to say, Ouran has a different approach. It loves Shojo, candy-coated warts and all.

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Obligatory Tamaki Gif, blah blah blah

Shojo as a genre is loaded with cliches, repeated tropes, and plot lines that you’ve seen at least three other places. Ouran doesn’t just poke fun all these stereotypes, oh no;  it puts them on loving display and turns them up to 11. It’s clear the author loves Shojo Manga and Anime, so people who also love the genre are more likely to resonate with the jokes. If they felt like someone was putting down something they really loved, chances are they won’t laugh at the jokes.

  • You Do Better When You Recreate

The Mood is everything; especially in a visual medium. The story will have an overall tone or mood, dictated by various things on the screen, and that shapes how the audience absorbs the plot. The mood and the plot become one in the same in the eyes of the viewer, and the ability to recreate that mood becomes essential to making a gut-breaking comedy. After all, Young Frankenstein would not be as funny as it is if Mel Brooks didn’t recreate the feel of the old Frankenstien.

Anime is no exception, and Ouran hits the nail on the head so hard it split the wood in half. Ouran has an uncanny ability to recreate the feel of several types of Shojo stories: reverse-harem, school romance, romantic comedy, all of them. It sets the stage almost perfectly before proceeding to chew the scenery. With Ouran, it’s not about making something completely different, or more of the same. It’s about setting the stage and then throwing everyone for a loop.

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And the twins making snarky comments, because that’s what they do best
  • It’s Not Afraid to Make You Feel

Genre mixing is a difficult thing to do, especially when your first genre is comedy. Light-hearted, goofy material stands at a stark contrast to dramatic conflict and serious tragedy. This becomes glaring when the media in question involves heavy parody, and then you ask to have a serious storyline.

It’s hard, but not impossible.

By creating a stand-alone Shojo plot, Ouran works in real drama and character development into its self-aware comedy seamlessly, all while handling some super heavy conflict. For example, when Shadow King Kyoya Ootari isn’t scaring everyone with his cutthroat money and managerial tactics, he’s dealing with a family name that overshadows him completely, and two older brothers he constantly must compete with. Even the jovial Tamaki isn’t free from this kind of writing, with his family’s strict standards and his carefree nature.

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Everyone’s history gives me all the feels

I guess I could say that Ouran’s greatest strength is its ability to stay real, despite all the comedy. There’s a human element to it that stays strong through the series, something other cartoons could learn from.

  • At The End of The Day, it Just Works

Fans of Ouran High School Host Club understand that their favorite genre has flaws, but those flaws are what make it unique. Thus, when this show took the time to point them out and celebrate them, fans will happily follow along. Work, time, and love went into this series, as opposed to ego and easy jokes, and thus it became one of the most well-loved series of all time. Because, at the end of the day, people prefer to laugh with someone rather than laugh at them.

 

Are you a fan of Ouran High School Host Club? Do you think the show is an overated piece of garbage? Whatever your thoughts, feel free to share them below. And don’t forget to like and follow for more content just like this.

 

 

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