Let’s start off with a cliché shall we. “Never judge a book by its cover.” One sentence that can apply to so many situations it's unreal. You can’t always predict what something is going to be like merely by examining what it looks like. Ouran High School Host Club fits this category perfectly. Looking at the cover, it screams "girls only!" It's a series that, from looking at the artwork, is clearly in no way, shape or form aimed at me. So why the hell do I like it?
The Ouran Academy is a school that the super-rich send their children to. Only the cream of society get to walk these hallowed halls, and fewer still enjoy the priveledge of joining the schools Ouran Host Club. A place where the most beautiful boys with too much time on their hands entertain the girls of Ouran Academy (who also have too much time on their hands). The series kicks off with Haruhi Fujioka stumbling into the Host Club when looking for a quiet place to study, breaking an 8 million yen vase and then being forced into the club to work off the debt.
Lets get this straight right off the bat - If you are looking for a romantic comedy series with plenty of story and character development, then you are way off the mark here. The series is fluff, pure and simple. The characters are pure stereotypes; one dimensional people who think of nothing more than being hosts to the legions of girls who swoon over them. Hell, even the characters poke fun at themselves by breaking the fourth wall and talking about how cliché some of the situations are. There is no underlying story arc. No personal growth. Nothing like that appears at all during the course of the DVD and the series knows it full well.
Yet I watched the entire thirteen episodes in one sitting with the biggest grin on my face. Don’t get me wrong, unless you enjoy your comedy and don't mind the pretty boy aesthetic, then you might well think I’m crazy. I'm so far away from the intended audience it's actually bizarre that I like it as much as I do. Ouren... is a fun comedy that clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously and because of this it makes it that much more enjoyable. It doesn’t try to shoe-horn in some overblown love story or arching plot that ends up overpowering the entire series, it is there purely to have fun. The downside to all this is that the series becomes very episodic and formulaic in its approach, but you’ll be so mesmerised by what’s happening on screen, it’ll be unlikely that you’ll actually care.
It’s partly down to the animation and the colour palletel. The animation is consistent and of a decent quality, while the different array of colours will beam out of your TV like some sort of hypnotic rainbow giving everything just that little bit of extra life. For the most part, beyond the previously mentioned lack of plot, there is little else to find wrong with the series.
Technically the DVD is of quite a high quality with subtitles actually giving explanations to some of the Japanese text on screen. and the timing is spot on. The visual quality is nothing to sneeze at either and just adds a layer of extra sheen to an already pretty shiny package.
Clearly if you don’t like this kind of anime or you find the idea of guys getting too friendly with each other (though to be fair it is done in context and to add to the humour), then Ouran High School Host Club is unlikely to change your mind on such things. I went into this thinking I would hate it. I’ve been pleasantly surprised and say to those looking for a new comedy to give it a try, which goes for the guys as well as the girls. If you feel that strongly about it, just keep a copy of Hellsing next to you incase you feel the need to manly again after watching and laughing your arse off.
We get the usual Japanese and English soundtracks, with textless opening and closing songs along with the usual trailers. But what is special here is the manga pack, which has some extracts from the manga being released by Viz Media, as well as some audio commentaries from the English voice actors.