I think I finally understand the Tamaki/Haruhi hook. Every couple needs a hook for the most part, except when the onscreen chemistry threatens to combust and then no one cares why two characters make sense to be together. Since alterna-shipping in Ouran High School Host Club is futile (it’s like thinking Bella should be with Jacob or Hermione should be with Harry), I’m trying to find my way back to the canon pairing, which is frankly a steep uphill climb for me.
All the hints have been laid since episode one that Tamaki is special. I don’t mean he rides the short bus, only that he is someone who is of importance to each member of the host club, for whatever reason. So while the entire host club can fall for Haruhi, most won’t ever do anything because they see how much she means to him. Haruhi is the first girl who doesn’t see Tamaki as Prince Tamaki, but more like earnest silly doofball Tamaki. Episode 7 allowed them to interact for the first time in an ordinary setting, and it was sweet how she grounds him in reality while he raises her emotional meter from placid to engaged.
Episode 7 recap:
Tamaki walks down a darkened staircase, fearful in his hesitant steps but soldiering on ahead. He enters into the lair of the Ouran High School black magic club. Everywhere he turns, he’s confronted with club members performing strange incantations and odd chants.
Tamaki is approached by a girl asking if he’s here to read his future? Tamaki confirms that is the reason for his visit. Nekozawa senpai pops up and joins the girl in looking into the crystal ball. Tamaki says he’s about to go to his daughter’s house….no, scratch that…..he’s about to go to a girl’s house. He wants to know what her daddy likes. Tamaki is warned that it’ll not go well, and a transvestite will take a great dislike to Tamaki.
A Hummer stretch limo pulls up next to an ordinary apartment complex. A crowd gathers to see who this strange filthy rich creature is who has come into their commoner midst. The driver opens the door and Tamaki steps out. He’s ready to strike a pose when suddenly he’s pushed out of the way by the twins, who exit the vehicle, followed by Honey, Mori, and Kyoya.
The boys ooh and ahhh over this good-sized residence with quite a lot of windows. Kyoya calmly explains that this is a communal living structure and the entire building is NOT Haruhi’s home and she lives in only one unit.
Tamaki prances over to the corner and grabs a milk crate, which he promptly sets on the ground and steps on top of it like a general on a platform addressing his troops. He announces that since Haruhi’s transvestite daddy might be home, they have to watch what they are saying. The twins especially better not be heard exclaiming that the home is so crappy, so small, so poor. They cannot do anything that might make daddy kick them out of the house. The twins and Honey salute their leader and say aye aye.
Haruhi returns home right at that moment, announcing to everyone to scram, they are not entering her house! She pushes past Tamaki and walks upstairs while everyone follows behind her. They are so excited to be here, but Haruhi says she didn’t invite the rest of them, and she won’t let them in.
Honey shows her the cakes he brought as a gift, and Kyoya deftly adds that these are speciality cakes crafted by a very popular master patissier. Haruhi swallows and stares at the cakes in Kyoya’s hand (or at Kyoya, I can’t decide). She makes them promise to leave after eating the cake. The guys happily agree.
Haruhi opens the door and welcomes the guys into her apartment, which is small but quite clean. Kyoya marvels at how compact the residence can be structured so it has everything neatly stacked. The twins open the closet and Tamaki sees the blanket-warmer-table that he has only heard about as a myth but never seen before. He’s overcome with emotion and wants to drag it out right away to use it.
Everyone looks around and touches everything. Honey runs out of the bathroom screaming, grabbing Mori’s legs and yelling that the bathroom is so small. Haruhi grits her teeth and apologizes for her place being so damn small. Tamaki is hugging the warming table while Haruhi tries to tell him to put it away since the place is so small. Tamaki suddenly jumps up and announces that in a small place like this, they must all adopt the perfect space saving body position.
Tamaki sits down and pulls his legs into his chest, and the rest of the guys (minus Kyoya) clap at Tamaki’s brilliant deduction and immediately follow suit. LOL, they are like trained monkeys around Tamaki, their clueless leader. Haruhi sighs and says she really shouldn’t have let them in.
Everyone sits down to enjoy the cake. Haruhi enjoys her cake and Tamaki and twins watch her expression of happiness and exclaim that she’s so cute. Kyoya asks Haruhi where her dad is? Haruhi explains that the owner of the transvestite bar is sick today and her dad went to take care of him. Tamaki reminds everyone to be well behaved until transvestite daddy comes home so they can make the best impression.
Honey tells Haruhi that he wants to eat lunch cooked by Haruhi. Everyone else chimes in their concurrence. Haruhi has to go buy lunch and everyone gets up to join her because they have never been to a commoner supermarket before. Everyone walks out except for Tamaki, who stops and goes to say hello to the shrine of Haruhi’s mom. Haruhi is touched by his thoughtfulness, explaining that her mom was a public defender attorney who worked hard to help the less fortunate.
Tamaki says Haruhi looks just like her mom. The boys are outside waiting for Tamaki and Haruhi when transvestite daddy walks up to the apartment. Tamaki stares at Haruhi in tenderness. But as he moves to get up, his foot gets caught on the floor cushion and he falls on top of Haruhi. Which is when daddy walks in the door! Tamaki knows how awful this looks, but it was an accident and he didn’t do anything wrong.
Daddy walks up to Tamaki and pulls him off Haruhi and throws him smack into the window. He helps Haruhi up, asking why she’s sleeping there in the middle of the day? Haruhi asks if daddy heard this big noise and her dad says the noise sounds just like if he used his left arm to toss the world’s biggest creep against the window. Tamaki pipes up and offers to make tea for dad.
Dad pushes Tamaki on the ground and steps on him, asking why this creature dares to call his daughter Haruhi by her first name? The other boys open the door and ask what their Prince is doing? The twins steps over Tamaki and go say hello to Haruhi’s dad. They explain that Tamaki treats all the ladies like they are playthings. Tamaki gets up and says that his true feelings for Haruhi is that of…….he wants to treat her like she’s his daughter. Haruhi stares at him like the freak he is.
Dad sits down and is pleased to meet the members of the host club, which he has heard so much about. Tamaki is shoved in the closet like the annoying pest he’s been branded as. Dad tells the boys to call him Ranka, going around the table and correctly identifying all the guys by their name. Everyone wonders why Ranka knows so much about them? Ranka takes out his cell phone and says he’s been getting daily updates from……Kyoya-kun!
Kyoya smiles and thanks Ranka for being his source of so much Haruhi information. Tamaki grabs Kyoya’s shoulder and asks why he’s never known about this before? Kyoya says that Ranka entrusted his precious daughter to their club, they ought to keep him informed, and should have been a task Tamaki undertook since he’s the president of the host club.
Ranka thinks that Tamaki is sure a lousy and useless president, probably because he spends his free time toying with the ladies. Tamaki takes an arrow to the heart. Haruhi wonders why her dad never told her he was communicating with Kyoya? Dad says it’s because she won’t tell him about her life at school.
Haruhi tells Tamaki to stop growing mushrooms in her closet. Ranka adds another dig that Tamaki is such a useless host club president that he never figured out Haruhi was a girl. Tamaki flails out of the apartment, crying his apologies for being such a useless thing.
He goes to sob and wail pitifully at the bridge. God, his theatrics appeared to have increased in intensity. Haruhi finds him crouched down weeping and calmly asks if he wants to go grocery shopping with her. It’s easier than taking the entire crazy bunch with her. She asks if there is something he wants to eat? Tamaki says he wants nabe (hot pot). Haruhi wonders why he wants to eat nabe on such a hot day, but agrees.
Tamaki grabs Haruhi’s shirt tail as they walk towards the market. He childishly asks her to make sure they add lots of shrimp and crab, and then put udon in at the end. It’s his dream to have a family meal around a nabe pot.
The twins bemoan that they wanted to go to the commoner supermarket as well. Ranka shows them adorable pictures of young Haruhi. He’s upset that his beautiful daughter cut her hair and started dressing like a boy. But he’s happy she’s made friends at school and appears to be enjoying school life now. He asks the boys if they want to play a game with him, with a wink and a smirk.
Tamaki gapes as he enters the supermarket. Haruhi has to restrain Tamaki from going crazy. Everyone crouches behind a ramen display to spy on them. Honey correctly notes that they are quite conspicuous, as we see girls standing behind them snapping pictures on their cell phones of these hot boys. Haruhi grabs Tamaki’s hand to lead him away and the twins seethe at this skinship.
Tamaki asks why Haruhi is grabbing onto his hand. She explains that if Tamaki keeps running around she’ll never finish shopping. We see Mori and Honey lurking in the background, and the twins purposely plow between Tamaki and Haruhi to break them apart. Finally Tamaki sees Kyoya buying instant coffee as he mutters that he better stock up while he’s here.
Tamaki worries about Ranka, but he sees a little girl shopping alone for groceries and watches her tenderly. Ranka walks up to Tamaki and explains that Haruhi was just like that, so mature as a little girl trying to take care of their family. We see little Haruhi shopping for groceries while Ranka hides behind her to make sure she’s okay. Some boys walk up and make fun of Haruhi’s dad for being a transvestite, but Haruhi calmly says this is her dad’s interest and there is nothing wrong with it.
Some grapefruit falls on Haruhi and Ranka covers her and protects her. In the present day, Ranka says Haruhi’s independence and reluctance to rely on anyone else makes him more worried about her and wanting to protect her. Tamaki concurs, he’s reluctant to let her out of his sight because he wants to protect her.
Ranka pinches Tamaki’s cheeks and yells at him to stop over stepping his bounds. He just met Haruhi for a short time and how dare he try to usurp Ranka’s place as Haruhi’s protector!
Suddenly the little girl shopping alone runs her shopping cart into a display of cans which topples towards Haruhi. Everyone notices but it’s Tamaki who runs over and shields Haruhi from the falling cans. He asks Haruhi if she’s fine? She thanks Tamaki, but goes to ask the little girl if she’s okay? They tell the little girl it’s okay. Ranka watches and murmurs that he’s role as Haruhi’s protector might be coming to an end.
Everyone sits down around the nabe pot. Haruhi asks if they can turn off the warming table since it’s so hot. Tamaki says not yet, this is his dream come true. Ranka offers to get some food for Tamaki, to thank him for saving his Haruhi. Tamaki starts blubbering, calling Ranka dad and promising to protect Haruhi forever and never let her out of his sight.
Ranka’s face freezes and he tells Tamaki not to misunderstand. He never asked Tamaki to take care of Haruhi! In fact, he will never relinquish Haruhi to anyone. He gives Tamaki a bowl full of psychedelic mushrooms that we saw Tamaki growing in the closet earlier. Ranka declares that Tamaki is his enemy from now on. Tamaki stands up and howls in agony.
Thoughts of Mine:
What a cute episode, one which mostly adds color to Haruhi and Tamaki’s personalities and background. Nothing terribly mind boggling, but lovely to see nevertheless. Tamaki clearly hasn’t had much, if any, family warmth in his life, seeking a meal around a nabe pot and a warming table as his dream. I feel like none of the boys have had much familial warmth, coming from such rich families that perhaps don’t have the time or inclination for bonding time. Which explains why they’ve clumped together in the host club, with Tamaki as the titular heart and Kyoya as the functioning head. Ranka was a hoot, and his instant dislike of Tamaki I’m sure will become a running gag of sorts. I like that Haruhi’s family life is as functional as I pictured it, considering just how perfectly normal she is. The fact that her dad is a transvestite is nothing even worth mentioning, because it’s just the life of a single dad working hard to care for the daughter he adores to pieces.
Sigh. The live-action version of Ouran has turned out to be such a conundrum for me. A story where what I see doesn’t really jibe with what I feel, or what the story wants me to feel. For all intents and purposes the live-action is true to the manga/anime, with actors that are portraying the essence of their characters, setting aside the Yosuke is not good looking enough beef some fans have. But like any adaptation that translates from one-dimension (book – see) to two dimension (anime – see and hear) to three dimension (live-action – see, hear, breath), the dynamics are liable to change. Regardless of how off-the-wall funny and totally selling the character of Tamaki, I just don’t feel the Tamaki/Haruhi connection even as I logically understand why it works on paper.
When Tamaki/Haruhi reenacted the exact same scene Kyoya/Haruhi did in episode 5, where he laid on top of her, it was so lacking in any sizzle or squee I kinda yawned and checked my watch. As opposed to any Kyoya/Haruhi scene when I rewatch umpteenth times. Is it because Tamaki is just too cartoonish for me to buy him as a leading man? No, because the scenes where Tamaki calms down really work in cementing him as a very charismatic and sincere young man. I think it simply boils down to Haruna and Yosuke not having any romantic chemistry. Not sure how this will get rectified towards the end of the drama, and how the movie will make the OTP work. But I have faith, both are great young actors and I’m praying they can peel me off the KyoHaru ship at some point.