Ouran High School Host Club Live Action Episode 1 Recap
I know I have said this before and I stand by it: manga to screen adaptations do NOT always translate well. Slapstick and exaggeration that isn’t bad in manga or anime really doesn’t work the best in a live action adaptation. I admire that they tried to stick verbatim to the manga in certain respects, and I did like this episode and chuckled through it, but the manga effects and exaggerations just left me shaking my head as well. And, for the most part, I do like the cast in this series, but also feel some of them did not meet my expectations in the first episode. Hopefully they will grow on me more as the series goes on.
I was surprised that this was only a half hour long series. That makes recapping it a little nicer, plus it helps that I have read quite a few of the manga volumes. I think I own up to like volume 9 or 10 and have read scanlations online after that. So, here we go down the rabbit hole.
The series opens with our hapless heroine Fujioka Haruhi [Kawaguchi Haruna] running to make it to school on time. Her hair is a mess and she is dressed in a boy’s clothing- but not the official Ouran uniform [they actually don’t explain why she was dressed like this until later in the manga, so you don’t get the story as of yet in this episode, but for those who don’t know, Haruhi wasn’t intentionally cross-dressing to hide her sex at all]. The school Haruhi attends is one of the top school’s for Japan’s wealthiest youth. Much like Tsukushi in HanDan, Haruhi is amazed and appalled by all the goings on and expenses at the school and how idle the rich students really are.
Her main complaint is trying to find a quiet place to study after school. Haruhi goes from room to room in search of a nice, quiet place for her to hole up. Apparently she also wants nothing really to do with any of her classmates [she never really comes out and says this in the manga at all]. Is it because she is poor while they are rich? Who knows? While trying to find a place, a dark shape trailing mist passes her by and warns her that her life will be changed forever if she keeps walking forward. This doesn’t really phase Haruhi and forward she keeps walking still in search of a quiet place to study. She comes across a music room and thinks that just maybe she has found a place at last.
However, behind the ornate doors is not a quiet place to study, but rather Ouran High School’s very own host club! This shocks Haruhi as she didn’t even know the club existed. Tamaki [Yamamoto Yusuke], oh the long winded Tamaki, gives his speech about how the beautiful, bored club members got together to form the host club to entertain the equally bored females of the school. Hikaru and Kaoru [played by real life identical twins Tagaki Shinpei and Manpei] recognize Haruhi as they are in the same class. They find it boring that it is a “male” student that came in. Tamaki scolds them saying that even males are important customers as well. Tamaki then shocks Haruhi by calling her by her full name. How does he know when she doesn’t even know who he is? Kyoya [Daito Shunsuke] has out is iPad telling Haruhi that she is quite bold to be a scholarship student. Hearing herself described as bold surprises Haruhi as she doesn’t really think so.
Enter another one of Tamaki’s speeches and grandiose movements about how poor Haruhi will be scorned or ignored in Ouran because of her status as poor. This annoys Haruhi as it is true, but does Tamaki really need to go so far as say all that out? Tamaki ignores everything and continues with his soliloquy [saying long live the poor] and stating that the club had not realized that Haruhi preferred men. LOL. Well, she is a girl after all. Tamaki then asks what type she likes and introduces the members: cool Kyoya, the forbidden romance of twins, lovely Honey, wild Mori, or [grabbing Haruhi’s chin and bringing their faces closer together] perhap’s Tamaki’s princeliness is more to her liking?
The embarrassed and flustered Haruhi breaks free from Tamaki’s grasp and says that she was just looking for a quiet place to study. She backs away from the club members and backs right into the expensive vase she first admired when she came in. Of course, she is unable to save it from falling and it smashes to pieces. The twins ask Haruhi what she will do since she broke the vase and Haruhi immediately pulls out her wallet and offers to pay – the only problem is that the vase is 8,000,000 yen! There is no way that she can repay that. Kyoya asks Tamaki what shall be done and Tamaki decides to make Haruhi the host club’s slave until she manages to work off the debt. This knocks Haruhi flat. And thus starts Haruhi’s days with the Host Club.
Coming back from grocery shopping, she enters the host club where the guys are busy entertaining. You can see Tamaki’s suaveness and Kyoya tells her that Tamaki is the number one host. Haruhi’s attention then caught by the twins, dramatic play of forbidden love. Haruhi doesn’t understand how such a thing is popular. Kyoya then introduces the cute Honey who is busy eating cake. Haruhi cannot believe that Honey is a third year, but acting like an elementary school student. Honey catches sight of Haruhi and throws himself at her. Haruhi cannot believe how Honey seemed to shrink. Mori comes over and grabs Honey off of Haruhi, telling Honey to go back. Kyoya tells Haruhi she was just seeing things [meaning Honey’s amazing shrinking act]. He then introduces the silent Mori. Still, Haruhi just doesn’t get why these guys are so popular that girls gush over every little thing.
Haruhi goes to sneak out while Kyoya’s back is turned, but he catches her and says she is welcome to run away, however, he has all of her moments captured. He then brings up a file and shows Haruhi picture after picture of her embarrassing moments thus far at Ouran. He tells her not to underestimate their information network and tells her to be careful and keep working at the club if she wants to graduate smoothly. He personally introduces himself to her and smiles. Haruhi comments that it is the devil’s smile. Kyoya is known for that. Hard to believe that such a person as he could be a host.
Tamaki then comes over and tells Haruhi not to act like she is otherwise she will scare off girls. He then starts talking about the club’s mottos, which Haruhi could care less about hearing and she tells him there. Haruhi says that male or female, it doesn’t matter. Along with appearance, the only thing that matters is what is on the inside. Tamaki tells her to think that if it makes her feel better. Guess he didn’t get that she really mean it. That is just Haruhi’s personality, she honestly doesn’t care about looks or sex/gender distinctions. Tamaki then talks about how being born pretty is really troublesome. They must constantly strive to make themselves more attractive. He then begins explaining all of this such as angles, etc while Haruhi tries to figure out just how to define Tamaki. She finally comes up with the word “annoying” and says it out loud. Tamaki’s monologue is interrupted and the mere utterance of the word sends him crashing into the wall [in the manga, Tamaki was just enshrouded in shadows and crouched down at the words – the chose a more dramatic effect for this].
This shocks Haruhi and the rest of the club members. They come up and say that she is amazing and praise her new offensive technique. Mori even shakes her hand. Haruhi says she was just saying how she honestly felt when the coffee she bought comes rolling out. Kyoya picks it up –what is it? Haruhi explains that it is instant coffee which immediately excites the boys who have never seen nor tasted instant coffee before. Looks like the rumors were true that poor people couldn’t even grind their own beans. Tamaki manages to pry himself from the wall to look at the coffee. Hearing all the comments about it, she grabs it from them, exasperated. She apologizes for not buying them high quality beans and goes out to buy some, when she is stopped by Tamaki who grabs it from her and says that he wants to drink it.
One of Tamaki’s regular goes to leave and complains that since Haruhi became involved in the Host club, it had become a mess. Haruhi overhears this as she was meant to. The girl apologizes and then says she will come back to drink commoners coffee another time. Tamaki then calls Haruhi over to show them how. Thus begins the demonstration. Afterward, the girls are all too afraid to try it, but Tamaki easily gets them to agree to it by offering to feed it to them.
After the club, Haruhi begins cleaning up and mutters to herself that she was only looking for a quiet place to study. Tamaki comes over and asks why she just doesn’t study at home – isn’t that more convenient? Haruhi replies that her father works at night, so he rests during the day. Tamaki then asks about her mother and Haruhi replied that she got sick a long time ago. She never comes out and says her mom is dead, but Tamaki pretty much understands that. He asks why Haruhi must have such a pitiful life. She is poor and even has an 8 million yen debt. Tamaki tears up and pulls out a hanky, startling Haruhi who cannot believe he’s crying. Tamaki then says he will help Haruhi eliminate her debt even faster utilizing the age-old method…of becoming a host! Haruhi, obviously, is not keen on such a thing, but is given no choice in the matter. Her debt will be forgiven if she can get 100 customers to request her.
Tamaki then begins her training. One of the first things he teaches Haruhi is how to set a cup down. Haruhi just clunks it down, which is unseemly. Tamaki shows her the proper way and then goes through the rules of the club that Haruhi didn’t care to hear about earlier. As Tamaki goes over studying to become a better man as the 2nd motto, the twins come over and say manners isn’t the problem, it’s looks. Tamaki agrees that Haruhi’s looks leave something to be desired. He gets up and takes off her glass, complaining about how they are out-of-date. Soon all the members gather and stare in shock at Haruhi. I do find it interesting that they never actually show what gets the boys all worked up, but you know.
Kyoya is soon putting a call in for a new uniform and the whole crew sets about getting Haruhi all spiffed up. Hikaru and Kaoru take care of her messy hair and general appearance and Mori and Honey are sent for contact lenses. After everything has been prepared, Haruhi steps out of the changing station to the praises of the members. She is cute and very good looking. Getting customers should be no problem. Tamaki is in total thrall and says “kawaii,” surprising the club members. Tamaki backtracks and says everything is working out as he imagined…right. The next day Haruhi’s life as a host will begin.
Haruhi’s entrance to school the next morning causes quite the stir among the girls who cannot believe how cute Haruhi is. In the host club, Haruhi, despite not wanting to be a host, is quite the natural in conversing with the clientele. Tamaki watches on, amazed, neglecting his own customer. This annoys her. Haruhi has drawn quite the crowd and pulls out a childhood photo and talks about learning to cook from her dead mother. The other members watch on amazed at Haruhi’s naturalness as well. Out pops Nekozawa who tells Haruhi to come to the Black Magic Club if she has any troubles she needs worked out. Evil spirits are quite useful for curses. Haruhi basically ignores this and asks if Nekozawa isn’t hot in his hood. She pulls it off his head, exposing him to sunlight and causing him to freak out and run screaming from the room. The members rush over, not believing that Haruhi did something so bold as Nekozawa is afraid of the light. Tamaki puts his arm around her and tells her to pray so she doesn’t end up cursed.
The mirror in Haruhi’s locker is broken. She hides this from the twins who have come to get her. She tells them to go ahead and wonders what happened to her school bag which is missing. Haruhi looks out the window and sees her school bag floating in the fountain. Haruhi wonders if it is bullying. Nekozawa comes and says that Haruhi has been cursed by someone. Haruhi then realizes that her wallet was in the bag. Uh-oh. Tamaki’s number one customer comes and says it doesn’t matter as there is only 10,000 yen in the wallet. Haruhi says it is very important to her and goes to leave, but the girl stops her and asks if she is jealous of the rich lives of Haruhi’s classmates. The girl then warns her to be aware that jealousy will make others hate her. She tells Haruhi that she will absolutely never drink commoners’ coffee and walks away.
Haruhi slowly collects her school bag and its contents, but she cannot find her wallet. Tamaki comes out and asks what she is looking for. Haruhi tells him and Tamaki joins right in as that is Haruhi’s living expenses [he takes off his shirt to do this, totally not necessary, but more for eye candy]. This shocks Haruhi who is surprised that he comes right in and starts digging through the water. Haruhi tells him he doesn’t have to and Tamaki says the water can’t hurt pretty boys. They are then joined by the rest of the club [it was solely Tamaki in the manga] and they all search for the wallet together. This helps build their camaraderie and make the girl even more jealous of Haruhi.
The next day the girl requests Haruhi and asks if the wallet was found. Haruhi replies that it wasn’t [Tamaki and Haruhi did find it on the first day together in the manga], and since it was getting late, she sent the boys home. The girl then complains that Haruhi trouble Tamaki-sama and the others. The girl then tells Haruhi that Tamaki only treats her special because she is a novelty to him – nothing else. Haruhi then asks if the girl is jealous. Bingo! This enrages the girl who stands up and goes to throw water in Haruhi’s face. Haruhi goes to dodge, but is covered by the quick-acting Tamaki. He says water will never hurt handsome men. The girl immediately tries to cover for herself, but the other club members approach and reveal they know all about her bullying of Haruhi. Tamaki then kicks her out, barring her from the host club forever. The girl gives Haruhi her purse as amends and runs out.
Haruhi runs after her. She cannot accept the purse which hs definitely worth more than the missing living fees. She gives it back to the girl and says that it is her own fault that she doesn’t carry her wallet on her own person. Haruhi then says it is only 10,000 yen living expenses thus Haruhi is not mad. The members approach and congratulate Haruhi. She is cool, they all lose to her and her “foolishness.” This makes the girl feel bad. Tamaki then says there will be a commoners coffee party next week and he explains the third rule of enthusiasm for duties. The girl is then invited back to the club and Haruhi smiles and asks her to join them once again. In the manga, the girl is band for life and doesn’t come back.
Later, as an apology, a year’s supply of instant coffee in various forms is delivered to the club room. This amazes Haruhi. Tamaki then announces that he found Haruhi’s wallet. He is all nervous, it’s cute. Tamaki smiles and Haruhi smiles brightly back and bows. This makes Tamaki drop the wallet. He picks it up and sees Haruhi’s middle school picture with her sailor uniform and long hair. He also notices her sex is listed as female. This shocks him. He asks if she is a girl and she replies she is without any hesitation. The others cannot believe that it has taken Tamaki that long just to figure it out. Tamaki is appalled that they all knew and didn’t bother telling him. Haruhi replies that she is sorry for not saying anything, but she honestly doesn’t care how she is treated [as male or female]. She then tells Tamaki he was cool, which completely bowls him over and we see the animated heart jumping out of his chest getting shot through with an arrow. Honey wonders if this means Tamaki is in love?
What misadventures lie ahead for this group?
Well, I must say, like in quite a few cross-dressing dramas, how on earth can they mistake Haruhi as a boy? Even in the beginning, despite the baggier clothes and shorter, messy hair, you could See Haruhi had a chest and was wearing a bra. Plus, after the makeover, she is wearing a fitted uniform that actually shows off her more feminine curves and she walks like a girl! Plus, she definitely looks more girlish with the new hairstyle and sans glasses. It just mystifies me. At least in Sungkyunkwan Scandal and Coffee Prince, you really couldn’t tell they were girls disguised as guys. Oh well.
Now for the actors.
Kawaguchi Haruna does a good job as Fujioka Haruhi. I am not sure she really has the disinterested air that is Haruhi’s trademark in the manga, but the girl can act well. So no real complaints there.
Yamamoto Yusuke as Suou Tamaki really worried me. I know that Yamamoto is a great actor, but I just didn’t see him fitting into Tamaki’s shoes. He does a great job as Tamaki with his monologues and grandiose movements. He also manages to catch the innocence that Tamaki has…innocence to the point of naivety. I am glad that Yamamoto is able to portray those nuances – although looks-wise he really doesn’t fit Tamaki’s princely character.
Daito Shunsuke as Ootori Kyoya. What to say? Kyoya’s devilish character has always made him a favorite with me. While Daito doesn’t do a bad portrayal, I think, as of this episode, he really lacks the spark that makes Kyoya’s character so great. He really doesn’t give off that smiling devil vibe, though he tries hard to. I hope to see him fit more into the role as the series goes on.
Nakamura Masaya as Moinozuka Takashi surprised me. In spite of the character’s relative simplicity, Mori is a difficult character to act. Sure, he’s silent and doesn’t have many lines, but he is also seen as robotic. Nakamura-kun has done a wonderful job emphasizing his silence and somewhat roboticness. His close relationship with honey, comforting him and controlling his childish antics could use a little more work, but they haven’t had too many moments as of yet.
Chiba Yudai as Haninozuka Mistukuni [Honey] is just not doing it for me. Granted, Honey is a hard character with his childishness and cuteness, not to mention that rather dark side that only comes out every now and then. Chiba plays Honey as a child, which isn’t bad, I just can’t stand the babyish acting that doesn’t seem natural.
The Takagi’s as the Hitachiin twins aren’t bad. In this first episode they do okay, but don’t quite seem to embody the twins just yet to me. They are missing, just like Daito, the certain verve to make them wholly believable as Hikaru and Kaoru.
Ryusei Ryo as Nekozawa. Well, not too much to say. Just that I don’t like it when people do that forced deep voice that he does. It makes him sound fake. The best scene he’s had was his more natural talking in the club room and when Haruhi ripped off his hood.
Yay for it staying pretty much true to the manga thus far. I have to wonder what will happen as this series will be between 9-12 episodes [most likely] and each is only a half hour long. Ouran is quite the long series, so what plots they will choose to use and which plots they will choose to skip remains to be scene. There are some scenes from the manga that I definitely want to see in the live action, but I don’t know if they will be or not. Kind of like in HanDan, but they pretty much kept the key plot happenings from that series, plus the episodes were a little longer.
Not loving them. They aren’t wholly bad, I just think a little over the top. But I am impressed at the decent CGI for a television series [the amazing shrinking of Honey and Tamaki literally being crushed by a single word].