Western perspectives on OHSHC

Western perspective of Ouran High School Host Club is varied. Many forums and comment sections on the topic of anime, particularly for first time viewers of anime carry the same attitude “don’t start watching anime with Ouran High School Host Club”; reason being that you’re going to be watching this brilliant but weird show that just won’t make sense to you yet. The contrasting Western perspective on the show is pretty well displayed in the video I referenced in my blog post “Ouran High School Host Club… again.” on digital storytelling. The video has an anime fan who is all about Ouran High School Host Club and someone who is new to anime who says it’s just weird.

For Western viewers I think it’s such a great insight in to certain aspects of Japanese culture that aren’t really well known and are also such a contrast to Western culture. It’s also a way for Western audiences to be able to understand why things like otaku, doujinshi, Boys’ Love and yaoi are so hugely popular.

Ouran High School Host Club is a combination of genres – drama, harem, romance and comedy. Sometimes with animes the comedy aspect is not necessarily translatable to Western culture but I think with Ouran High School Host Club it does work very well. Often the comedy of anime can be that Western viewers are watching and laughing at the “quirkiness” of the show rather than the jokes of the show. Anyone who watches it and is either well out of their teenage years, or just out of them or wishing they were out of them can relate. It’s obviously over exaggerated, as is the nature of shōjo animes, but that’s what makes it so hilarious.

The whole idea of my autoethnographic study is to explore how prior knowledge can affect your experience. Without an understanding of anime characteristics and stereotypes the point of the show is completely missed. Many anime fans who start watching the show believe it to be a silly romantic anime but after watching discover the complexity of the show through its satire and social commentary. My own personal experience definitely followed along those lines; I had no idea what I was getting in to when I first started watching it. I’ve since watched the series again and I swear it gets better every time.

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