Ouran High School Host Club 1.3: Beware the Physical Exam!

Everyone knows real doctors don’t have stubble.

Check-ups and mess-ups! Ouran Academy is having its yearly physical exams, which threatens to expose Haruhi for who she is. The boys get together and hatch a plan (several plans actually) to save Haruhi and protect her secret female identity. Meanwhile, a deadbeat dad sneaks into the school to find his daughter, only to get kicked in the face by Tamaki.

After the introductory tone of the first two episodes, the show is finally starting to loosen up, get deeper into its characters, and play around with the format a little. The biggest thing I noticed today is the show’s willingness to break the fourth wall. There are two separate occasions where this happens — Tamaki commenting on the genre of the show, and mentioning something that happened “last episode” — and they both work really well.

Usually I find fourth wall breaks to be a little cheap (“What is this, a TV show? Lol!”) but Ouran is so wacky and flexible that they fit right in here. We’ve already had blinking arrows, non-diagetic cutaways, and tons of text jokes; so a few overt references feel very appropriate to the tone and structure of the show. At this point I wouldn’t be shocked if Tamaki literally reached through the screen and kissed me on the cheek.

The other major aspect I noticed is Tamaki. He’s such a major element in this episode, and in particular his emotions are put front and centre. He’s in love with Haruhi, he’s jealous of the twins, he’s afraid of the exam, he sympathises with the father; he really opens up and shows us who he is: a freakishly energetic pinball of emotion who’s constantly bouncing off of everyone else around him. Usually it takes some time for a show to tell us what a character’s really about, but Ouran isn’t afraid to show us everything it’s got as soon as possible.

Sadly, there was one element here that I didn’t like, and I feel like I should talk about it in detail, instead of just dumping it in the notes. The subplot with the absent father really didn’t work for me, for one big reason: it’s a bummer. Ouran is such a happy and carefree show, so I don’t feel like it’s very compatible with such a sad character and a downer plot.

I’m not saying you can’t have negativity in this show (you kinda need it, really), but the deadbeat dad is such a departure from the usual tone that it makes the entire second half of the episode feel a little sour. It’s like if you were watching The Muppet Show, and there was a subplot about someone calling in a bomb threat to the theatre. Of course it’s a depressing idea, but it’s also a little too grungy and real for such an outlandish show. It just doesn’t fit.

Some more notes before anyone else takes their shirt off:

  • The dub is going well, I still think comedy is the only genre compatible with dubbing.
  • I’m not entirely sure if “Princess” is a pet name for Tamaki’s clients, or if some of these girls are actually legitimate princesses. Neither would surprise me.
  • I like that Haruhi actually wants to be in the club; she’s not some hoity above-it-all girl only doing this because she has too. Pro tip: your characters should enjoy themselves!
  • It’s incredibly stupid that Kyoya didn’t report the creepy guy the moment he saw him; that character would 100% call security on a weird scruffy jerk wandering the halls.

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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