Haruhi Fujioka is a pretty well known character. The protagonist of a reverse harem, she isn’t the usual bland or blank slate centre around each of the bishounen cast revolve. Instead, she’s smart, sassy, at times vulnerable, and incredibly well rounded character with her own goals, history, hang ups, and motives. While credit does need to be given to the male cast for holding up their end as well, it is fairly easy to say that Haruhi is the beating heart of Ouran High School Host Club and the reason so many people love it.
We first meet Haruhi when she’s looking for a place to study. At the time, due to her appearance, she’s largely mistaken for a male student, and it takes the first episode before all the members of the host club realises that Haruhi is a girl.
The idea of gender identity isn’t deeply explored by Ouran, but nor is this facet of Haruhi ignored. She doesn’t mind in the slightest that people mistake her for male and doesn’t really feel like it makes a difference. However, what the audience sees is the way the attitudes of the boys in the club change toward Haruhi as they realise her gender and how gender roles comes up again and again.
The scene at the beach where Haruhi puts herself in danger and incurs the anger of the other club members is a prominent moment where the theme takes centre stage, as are the moments where we meet Haruhi’s father or the members of the rival club from another school that try to recruit Haruhi. Then there’s the medical examination episode which mostly uses Haruhi’s hidden gender for amusement purposes.
Ultimately the anime manages to look at gender without making too many judgements or preaching at the audience allowing consideration of an idea without taking away from the entertainment of the story, and all of it centres around Haruhi’s character. It makes her fairly memorable.
But that isn’t all there is to Haruhi. In a more heavy handed fashion the anime also explores social class and wealth division with Haruhi being a ‘commoner’ and being at the school on scholarship. This theme is less nuanced and is largely played for laughs throughout the series, but again is a clear part of Haruhi’s identity within the story.
While it would be easy to define Haruhi by the themes and issues that are centred on her, that isn’t really fair to her character. What makes Haruhi interesting isn’t that she is poor or that she doesn’t see gender roles in black an white terms. What makes Haruhi interesting is the way she interacts with the other cast members. Her commentary on the antics of the club, her determination to succeed at her goals, the way she refused to pick up social cues from others when she doesn’t agree with them.
While watching Ouran High School Host Club it is really easy to rally behind Haruhi. She’s just such a fun and entertaining character to spend time with and even though she starts as an interesting character she still grows and changes through her interactions with the members of the host club. All and all, she’s a character I remember fondly and enjoy going back and spending time with.
What about you? What did you think of Haruhi Fujioka?
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