I hesitate to call the live-action adaptation of Ouran High School Host Club a drama. That doesn’t seem accurate at all. It’s more like a sitcom – twenty-some minutes of breezy situational fun without much connective plot threads from episode to episode. It treats every character and issue with good-natured earnest mockery, allowing the story to be silly without feeling stupid. That’s quite a feat to pull off. Episode 4 goes meta on us, with the members of the Host Club filming a movie within a drama, courtesy of a PD named Renge (FYI: it’s pronounced ren-gay).
Episode 4 recap:
France: a young girl is playing a cosplay video game where a fictional character who looks alarmingly identical to my Kyoya is professing his secret love for her. This girl, Houshakuji Renge, with a penchant for wearing a ginormous bow smack in the middle of the top of her head, announces to her daddy that she wants to marry “him”.
Daddy says fine and shows her a picture of his clients’ family back in Japan that he recently dined with. Renge takes a look at the picture and immediately her eyes widen.
She stands up and asks daddy to keep his promises. Renge runs off and hops onto a plane, shouting for her prince to wait for her. She’s coming! Nekozawa-senpai is walking outside when he senses a dark presence this way comes. He looks up as a plane descends towards Ouran High School.
The doors to Music Room #3 open to welcome guests to a Host Club currently decked out in Japanese traditional attire.
A guest wonders why Tamaki looks so handsome in a kimono? Tamaki just wants to keep her eyes fixed on him, and her gaze fills his heart up with happiness. The guest is utterly touched. The twins explain that their beautiful kimono was designed by their mom, and put on by their grandmother. But taking it off – that’s their obligation to each other.
Haruhi watches this display and looks disgusted that the twins are doing their schtick again.
Honey walks in and pouts to Haruhi that he’s missing one slipper. Some guests offer to go look for it, which is when Mori arrives and slips the now-found slipper back on Honey’s foot. He explains that it dropped outside. Honey grabs him for a bear hug. Haruhi turns and asks the camera what the heck is the relationship between Honey and Mori? You and me, sister, you and me.
Kyoya informs Haruhi that a guest has just requested her. In fact, her regular guests have now stabilized and she needs to work hard to earn back the money for the vase.
Haruhi wonders how they make money if they don’t charge guests? Kyoya explains via his trusty IPad that they make money off selling merchandise. For example, pictures of Haruhi are selling like hotcakes in online auctions. Haruhi wonders when those pictures were taken of her?
Kyoya says that if she doesn’t like it, she can find other ways to make money for the club. But it’s Kyoya’s responsibility to make money for their clothing and food expenses. Kyoya notes that while the pictures are selling, it’s not a must-have item. He wants to find more innovative products to peddle to the girls. Haruhi looks at Kyoya and mutters that he’s like a slumlord.
Tamaki waltzes over to flash some pictures of himself that he saved for Haruhi. She doesn’t want them. He wonders why? She can put them under her pillow and it can help her sleep if she’s got insomnia. Haruhi pushes him off her.
Before they can start their usual back-and-forth, they notice Renge lurking outside peering in. She’s silent so Tamaki approaches her, welcoming her to the club and asking if she’s been stunned into silence because of his beauty? He offers her a rose.
Which is when Renge’s palm hits Tamaki’s forehead with a “THUD”, sending Prince Tamaki stumbling backwards.
Renge points her finger in accusation that such a crappy and fake guy could possibly be the Prince of this club? She cannot understand it. Tamaki is like a secondhand item, in addition to being narcissistic, brain-addled, and lame. All her hurtful words go flying towards Tamaki, who takes each insult like a punch to his gut, until finally he goes flying backwards, defeated by Renge.
Everyone huddles around Tamaki, remarking at this new attack, and the fact that Tamaki fell down in slo mo. Kyoya turns around and finally sees Renge, who runs towards him and hugs him around the waist, calling him her personal prince. She ends the hug and turns around to announce to the entire club that she has decided to become the club’s manager!
Renge sits down and explains: she is Kyoya’s fiancee just returned from France. Kyoya confirms that Renge is the daughter of his dad’s client, but other than in pictures, this is the first time they’ve met face-to-face.
Everyone turns to check on Tamaki, who is crouched in the corner rolling back and forth on his heels, completely traumatized still by what Renge said to him. LOL, his ego, is so fragile.
Renge explains that it was love at first sight for her. Kyoya is someone kind to even wild flowers, who cuddles abandoned kittens, whose soul is as blemish-free and pure as a just bleached white sheet.
Even Kyoya looks up in shock, and everyone simultaneously says “no way, no way” while shaking their hand to the oblivious Renge. But she will not be deterred.
Renge is positively absolutely certain that her Kyoya is kind to everyone, asking for nothing in return. He is someone lonely on the inside. She flashes a picture of her video game prince and announces that Kyoya has the exact same personality as that guy. ROFLMHO.
Everyone finally realizes why Renge appears to be missing a couple of marbles. Kyoya looks at the picture and back up at Renge, also clued in now. The host club has a meeting to discuss what to do. Kyoya knows she’s transferred her video game prince love onto him. But they need to treat her properly because she is the daughter of an important client of Kyoya’s family.
The boys get a splendid idea, turning to their Haruhi and telling her to handle everything from now on. They do a military jog and skedaddle.
Renge announces, as she’s playing video games, that she wants to personally make cookies for Kyoya, who happily says sure. Haruhi mutters that it’s such a hassle since they will need to borrow the kitchen and find the key to access the kitchen.
Kyoya stops her and flashes his keys – to prepare for any emergency, such as this, he got a copy of the keys to every room in the school. Haruhi mutters that he’s such a dark and plotty guy. Mmmmm, dark and plotty, just the way I like ‘em.
Haruhu and Renge are baking cookies in the kitchen. Renge is pretty much clueless and burns the chocolate by melting it in high heat. The boys, led by Tamaki, sneak into the kitchen and make moon eyes at the perfect picture of their Haruhi baking in the kitchen.
Tamaki vows to commence his project to make Haruhi feminine again and find her girly side. He’s in the middle of a grand dramatic gesture when Renge nonchalantly walks past him, bearing a plate of cookies, and telling him “shut up, fake prince.”
Tamaki immediately crouches on the ground in complete and utter defeat. Renge offers the cookies to Kyoya, which is when Honey scurries over and asks if he can have some, in his most cute voice and expression. He picks up a cookie and notes that it’s burned. Renge pinches Honey cheeks, which leaves the boy yelping in pain and running back to the safety of Mori.
Haruhi eats one of her cookies and mutters that it’s quite tasty. The twins come over to flirt with her, leaving Tamaki yelling at them to stop and keep their distance. Tamaki chases the twins while Mori comforts Honey. Renge watches this and gets more and more annoyed. She stands up and tells at the gang that they are all too scattered.
Their characters are too scattered. Without a more defined character, their video game playing customers will get sick of their routine quickly. She wonders if everyone here wants her Kyoya’s operation to go under? She’s decided that she will restructure all of their characters.
Starting with Honey – cute face and dessert loving greedy heart. Mori gets abused and secretly likes it.
The twins love playing their fantasy and are too mired in their own world of worries. Haruhi is a poor student with a scholarship and is too well protected.
Tamaki she saves for last. He’s someone whose appearance gets high points, but he’s secretly self-loathing and is lonely on the inside.
Tamaki listens to this and looks upset. He walks towards Renge and grabs her shoulders, telling her that the character she picked for him is just…..perfect. The others shake their hands and say “no way, no way.” Renge hops over to Kyoya and says that he’s just perfect so needs no changing. Kyoya thanks her prettily.
Tamaki prances over and asks Renge how best to portray his inner loneliness? Shall he point towards the distance? Renge says yes, but he needs to point over there, even farther away. Or point towards the sun.
Renge and Tamaki practice their prancing and pointing as everyone else runs over asking Kyoya if he’s going to allow this to happen? Kyoya takes a bite of the cookie and says why not, it ought to be interesting. He smirks his Kyoya patented smirk.
A camera is filming a basketball game. The twins pass the ball to each other and one of them makes a basket. One twin falls down and tells the other twin to keep going and win the game for them. They walk outside and see Tamaki looking lonely outside. They ask why he’s so sad when he’s the prince of the school? Tamaki sighs and says that he may be the prince, but he doesn’t have a single person who understands him.
Haruhi is getting chased and she falls down. Honey calls her a poor thing that is about to be taught a lesson. Mori tries to interject and Honey tells him to shove it unless he wants to sample some pain as well. Honey walks forward, saying he hates poor people making the school dirty.
Suddenly Honey’s expression changes and he quickly rushes over to tell Haruhi that he doesn’t hold any of those beliefs. The camera pans out and we see that the kids are, of course, in the process of filming. PD Renge screams “cut, CUT” and yells at Honey to stay with the script. She calls a break to the filming and bemoans that it’s all a mess.
Haruhi wonders where the camera crew came from and Kyoya says Renge borrowed them from Hollywood. Haruhi wonders why they are making a movie? The twins correctly say that it’s to satisfy her whims and her runaway imagination. They wish someone could knock some sense into her.
Thespian Tamaki comes bounding down the steps screaming “Director” on the top of his lungs. He asks PD Renge how his acting is? Does he need to add more melancholy? Renge agrees and Tamaki starts practicing his shadow. Nekozawa-senpai pops up and asks Tamaki if he wants to join him in the world of darkness since Tamaki wants to make himself darker.
Renge checks out Nekozawa-senpai, remarking that he’s quite handsome. She removes his cloak and Nekozawa-senpai screams in pain and agony. Once he covers himself again, he warns Renge that tragedy will befall her for having done something as dangerous as what she just did.
Renge drags Haruhi off to where three school hooligans are hanging out. She asks Haruhi to act out a scene with them. She doesn’t know these guys but she thinks they would be perfect playing bad guys for this film. One guy is pissed and pushes Renge, who falls backwards towards some poles. Haruhi steps behind her and blocks her fall.
Tamaki hears noisy clatter and he rushes over to find Haruhi sitting on the ground with her hand in front of her face like she is in pain. Tamaki grabs the guy and pushes him against the wall, warning that he’s going to pay if he hurt Haruhi. He walks over and she removes her hand.
A lone tear falls and Tamaki looks so distressed. But it turns out that she just lost a contact and her eyes hurt.
Renge calls the crew over and asks that this perfect plot development must be filmed. Haruhi is in danger at the hands of thugs and Tamaki saves her and they enter into a forbidden love. Suddenly a rock smashes the camera lens. We see it’s Kyoya who has destroyed some valuable property.
He walks over and tells Renge not to put his actors in danger for her filming, otherwise that will piss him off. Reality is not lining up for Renge, who thinks Kyoya ought to pet her head and tell her she did a good job. Tamaki says that the Kyoya she described isn’t the real Kyoya at all.
Renge goes to cry by the stairs, holding the picture of her video game prince. A gust of wind blows the picture into one of the locked classrooms. The secretary refuses to lend Renge the keys to open that classroom. Renge is distressed but thinks this is her punishment for not being able to differentiate between reality and video games.
Renge asks Haruhi if the imagination is a bad thing? Haruhi says of course not, but insisting that people are behave only in a certain way misses out on their many facets. It’s more interesting to find out something unexpected and new about someone.
The boys all arrive and ask if they can help her. Kyoya steps forward and shows off his keys to the entire school. Haruhi asks Renge if this is unexpected?
She asks Renge to put away her preconceived notions about people and get to know the real person. Perhaps she can like them for who they really are. Renge apologizes to everyone at the club for all the trouble she caused. Later, Renge sits outside and writes a letter to dear old dad about how her prince turned out to be different, but she’s learned a lot.
The boys sit Haruhi down to watch a video of the footage they filmed for Renge.
Turns out Kyoya produced a DVD of the footage, which is selling as well as he expected. Haruhi realizes that this was Kyoya’s plan all along, which is why he allowed Renge to do her movie cosplay game with everyone. Brilliant, sneaky Kyoya.
Tamaki is mooning over his own performance onscreen. He thinks that perhaps he ought to adopt a more melancholy vibe in real life? Haruhi smiles and tells Tamaki that he’s fine just the way he is right now.
Tamaki’s heart pops out of his chest and starts to beat uncontrollably as an arrow hits it dead center. He falls backwards while whispering that he’ll stay just the way he is.
The others crowd around the fallen and smitten Tamaki, while Haruki addresses the camera with her worry that Tamaki will be even worse if he added melancholy to his roster of tricks.
Thoughts of Mine:
What a cute episode. Not as off-the-wall hilarious as the earlier eps, but nevertheless continues to deftly balance all the characters and their unique interactions and defining characteristics. I don’t get any urge for the romance to start, but am savoring all the friendship moments between the host club brethren and their one cross-dressing cutie pie.
Renge was a fun foil for an episode, swanning in with her immunity to Tamaki’s charms and her preconceived notions of who Kyoya was. I like how this episode subtly asked a video game and entertainment obsessed youth culture (not just in Japan, but in many countries) to set down their remotes and actually interact and get to know real people.
I’m not sure if Ouran is ever going to get serious, and how the story will balance those elements when it does arise. For now, it delivers on the original story and concept so well I’m perfectly content with these little episodes of nutty goodness once a week.