J-Drama Review: Ouran High School Host Club

After procrastinating for so long, I finally got around to finishing this drama. Overall, it was a light and enjoyable watch. My purpose for watching Japanese dramas is to pick up vocabulary and get used to the rhythm of the language while being moderately entertained. The drama did its job. But once upon a time I was into animes and Ouran was one of them, so I did have some strong opinions on how the drama adaptation turned out. For those new to Ouran, I tried to rate the drama as a stand-alone, but I couldn’t stop some of my biased thoughts from creeping in.

Genre: School Comedy

Year: 2011

Starring: Kawaguchi Haruna as Fujioka Haruhi and Yamamoto Yusuke as Suou Tamaki

Frequently Used Vocabulary:

  1. Hosuto (ホスト) – host
  2. Futago (双子) – twins
  3. Musume (娘) – daughter
  4. Otoosan (お父さん) – father (honorific)
  5. Himetachi (姫たち) – princess (plural)

Summary: Fujioka Haruhi is an intelligent girl from a low-income family and is attending the prestigious Ouran High School on a scholarship. She stumbles upon a group of young men who run the school’s infamous host club and accidentally knocks over an expensive vase. In order to pay her debt, the hosts suggest she becomes one of them. Can she keep her true identity a secret?

What is a host club?: Before I begin, I think the word “hosuto” or host, needs to be defined for anyone new to Japanese culture. A host club is a real life concept and the male counterpart to a hostess club. At a host club, female clients pay the male hosts to pour them drinks and entertain them. The hosts do things like sing, dance, perform magic tricks and flirt. Nothing “shady” goes on during regular club hours and it is basically a way for females to pay for attention from good looking men.

Review: Now that you know what a host club is, you may be wondering why this type of club would exist at a high school. Ah, yes. Welcome to the world of Ouran! If you’re looking for a realistic, teen angst-filled, romantic type of drama, then this is not for you. Within each half hour episode, the club faces an obstacle and learns a lesson at the end, much like the anime. While the actual plot does progress through each episode, it is not prioritized as it is in other dramas. The acting is exaggerated, the characters over-the-top and the comedy very slap stick. It’s as if someone took the anime and just stuck real actors in it. This is an aspect of the drama that really got in the way of my full enjoyment. This happens to be a pet peeve of mine when it comes to J-dramas. I like animes and I like dramas, but I don’t like elements from animes mixed into live action dramas. You might be thinking, well what teen rom-com ISN’T exaggerated? Let me give an example. When someone hurts Tamaki’s feelings and a particularly harsh word is thrown at him, the katakana letters form into stone blocks and LITERALLY get thrown at him and push him against the wall. When he sees the object of his affections, Haruhi, his heart begins to LITERALLY thump out of his chest. This type of comedy really isn’t my style and I had higher expectations.  I also had trouble connecting to any of the characters. As much as they tried to give them a backstory, they remained nothing more than a punchline throughout the drama. The story just felt rushed and was lacking emotion. I understand that it’s a comedy, but you can tell the writers tried to give each character a story, it just didn’t work out.

Anime Vs. Drama: I’ll try my best to keep spoilers out of this one! One of the main reasons I was so let down by the drama was because I was moved more by cartoon drawings then actual people. How can that be? As much as I despise long episodes, I feel the drama could have benefited from the usual 45 minute episode length. For one, the romance between Haruhi and Tamaki was barely touched upon. And the secondary characters were not given a sufficient backstory. I remember when I first watched the anime I truly fell in love with all of the host club members. I felt they left a lot out when they could have done so much more. As ridiculous as the setting already is, I somehow expected that the drama would have taken it up a notch and given it just a bit more of a serious tone. I feel like the drama was aimed at an even younger audience than the anime was.

Rating: 5/10

Check it out if you are a fan of the manga/anime or don’t mind slapstick-style comedy. Keep in mind that you will have to check your brain at the door!



About L

Interested in Japanese language and culture, J-Pop, K-Pop and Asian Dramas.
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One Response to J-Drama Review: Ouran High School Host Club

  1. sakuyahime89 says:

    I am happy that you reviewed it! I tried to watch it some time ago and I kind of was turned off by the actor who plays Tamaki. This same actor was in Hana Kimi (one of my personal favorites because of its comedic elements more than emotional) and to me it just didn’t, I don’t know, feel right to see him play that role. Also, like you said some anime just doesn’t translate well to a drama setting.
    Shows like Hana Yori Dango in my opinion is an example of an anime that profited from being turned into a drama. But it took a lot out of the manga and anime story line, which to be frank made it more interesting. But Ouran at least from what I have seen of the anime is not one of those that can easily be trimmed down because unlike Dango it’s story line does not repeat itself repeatedly.

    All and all I again thank your for your review, because lately I had been wondering if it would be worth trying to watch it again. Thanks 🙂

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