Ouran High School Host Club 1.2: The Job of a High School Host!

I wonder who has to sweep up all these damn flower petals?

Tea and trouble! Haruhi is getting situated into the Host Club when she meets Kanako Kasugazaki, a student with a secret past. Turns out, Kanako’s betrothed to fellow student Toru Suzushima, but their relationship is strained due to Toru’s shy and indecisive nature. The Club enacts a plan to reunite the couple at an upcoming dance party, and Haruhi dresses up like a girl to convince Toru to man up. Also, there’s kissing!

Something I’m really starting to treasure about this show is its gleeful, relaxed attitude towards plot. There’s a planned story in every episode, of course, but the pace is so gentle and cavalier that you almost forget about it until the end. A lesser anime would front-load all this marriage plot and spend the whole episode chewing on it, but Ouran is comfortable enough to chill out, lay down some breadcrumbs, and patiently work its way up to the climax.

Of course, sometimes this technique doesn’t work flawlessly. The early interactions with Kanako were honestly a little confusing, and her run-in with Toru delivering the teaware raised questions that take a lot of time to be answered. I would have preferred a teensy bit of front matter — “Oh, that’s Princess Kanako, isn’t she betrothed?” — just to give the audience something to work with as they experience the Haruhi/Kanako scenes. Still, I think the majority of the episode worked well.

Speaking of things that worked well, the cinematography and general visual design were genuinely amazing this episode. There’s an obvious floral theme, with petals falling like rain everywhere we go, but there’s also a subtle “windowpane” motif where major conversations take place in front of windows and glass, with the flowers falling behind. It makes for some striking imagery (see above), and it strengthens these pivotal scenes. The characters could just be talking in empty rooms like they always do, but these big bright windows act as a highlight, teaching us that what’s being said is more important than usual.

Finally, I personally enjoyed the way these windowpane dialogues were presented. Normally a scene with two people talking would show both two people in the frame, but instead Ouran “cuts” these scenes in two by showing back-and-forth shots with either character on the far left or far right edge of the screen. It gives the characters a sense of loneliness and longing, like they’re stranded on the wrong side of the conversation. Nice touch!

A few more notes before Haruhi changes costume:

  • Still not sure I like Haruhi’s inner monologue to her mother, right now it just feels like a cheap way to handle exposition.
  • It’s good that we get to see Haruhi actually being skilled at hosting, I hate shows where the protagonist is a worthless screwup for the first 90% of the show.
  • I do love how the show plays with Haruhi’s debt; it’s obvious the boys couldn’t care less about the money and are just using it to mess with her.
  • Tableware is kind of an odd choice to centre the story on, don’t you think? Although I admit, it’d be hard to find an industry more relevant to a host club.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow for the next episode of Ouran High School Host Club!

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