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Ouran High School Host Club 20 (Raw)

I've been avoiding this episode for a while. I'm not a great fan of the Yaoi Twins, though I like Kaoru as a singular character. Since the last bunch of Ouran eps have been rather twins-focused, this has lent itself to me being a bit grumpy about the show. Nonetheless, I am glad I watched this. It is good characterization for the twins, and the story was far less annoying than I initially expected.

Key to this, perhaps, is that the story is told in Kaoru's voice, as he reminisces about how far the twins have gone in their relationship with other people. Rather than being the single organism everyone else perceives them to be, the twins have always believed themselves to be two individual persons. Their pranks, and their constant desire to challenge people to differentiate themselves from each other, stems from this need to reinforce their individuality. Because no one has been really able to tell them apart, they spent their time up till high school living only to mock everyone who regarded them as precisely the same. Haruhi's arrival, therefore, was the first validation they ever received from an outsider that they were, really, different people.

But before that, the first person to believe in them as two separate people, even though he couldn't tell them apart himself, was Tamaki. Episode 20 works not just as an Origins story for the twins, and continuing from Episode 18's trend of showing everyone hooked up, but also as a means of looking at Tamaki from the outside in. He appears at important junctures in this story, in this case to patch up the trail of damage the twins have left behind, and to try and befriend them (for his own nefarious boy-whoring purposes, but he's a perceptive guy).

The actual history of the Twins is straightforward enough. They spent their entire childhood playing pranks on anyone they could get their hands on, as mentioned above. One day, they chance upon a maid (who looks like an adult Haruhi) trying to rob their family's safe. The boys threaten to rat on her unless she plays the "Which one of us is Hikaru?" game, under which case, if she guesses right, they would go so far as to give her the safe's combination. Later, the maid steals the combination from them and makes her escape without indulging in their game. As she escapes, she tells them she believes no one could ever tell them apart. This scars the two for life, as they despair over the fact perhaps they really are just a single soul.

This could also be why the twins feel such a strong desire to lash out at girls, in particular. By middle school, the two lads attract quite a number of female fans who can't tell them apart. They take advantage of this by setting them up with one twin, making the girl believe she's actually with the other twin, before breaking her heart. Enter Tamaki, who wants them to join his proposed Host Club. There's a very cool series of shots as the twins challenge him to the differentiation game in order to gain their allegiance, where we see both the twins and Tamaki reflected in a fountain as they explain their stances. Tamaki, in his cheerfully ditzy way, agrees to their challenge, being confident he'll win, and spends the next few weeks trying to figure them out.

Another cool shot of the twins during this time: Hikaru draws out the mazes, and Kaoru reads Jung to provide the messing with people's heads. Or maybe they're still trying to figure themselves out as individuals. Or both. It's still a great look at the different approaches each twin takes with himself.

Meanwhile, Tamaki continuously fails at telling the twins apart. He tries to enlist Kyouya's help, but Kyouya thinks the Host Club would survive even without them, and doesn't particularly care either way. Tamaki pretty much haunts the twins, going so far as to visit them at home before school and selling his Club to them, or his proposed boy-whoring tactic to sell them as the dangerous symmetrical Hitachiin Brothers. (Read: The Yaoi Twins.) They both think he's being a drama queen, not to mention something of an idiot. (This is the part where I really hoped he lured Mori into the Club by challenging him to single combat, getting his bum totally whipped -- but that's moot, since Mori probably just followed Honey in.) However, both twins do seem to be getting disturbed the boy is taking the challenge so seriously.

They tell Tamaki the game is over, though he denies it is. They call him on trying to make up for his own loneliness by forcing them to befriend him. Rumours in school say he's not really the chairman's son by his wife. In fact, the real location of Tamaki's mother is unknown. It's a great reference to the ongoing issue about Tamaki being outted as the chairman's son since Episode 16, which has yet to be resolved (and which is probably the main plot BONES will be running with till the end). Tamaki's own response to this is repressed rage -- he's clearly upset at what the guys are saying, and I frankly want to smack the two twits now myself. He keeps quiet, however, letting the twins put him down further by saying they, unlike him, will always have each other.

Once alone, the twins discuss their contradictions. They want to be two individuals, but they don't want to be recognized as such either. To them, it was something frightening, better kept locked away. They play their usual trick on another admirer, with Kaoru pretending to be Hikaru. As the girl runs away, and Hikaru is about to rip up her love letter, Tamaki yells out that the guy holding the letter is Hikaru. (A correct guess.) The twins are so momentarily stunned, they forget to lie, which gets Tamaki excited. They do quickly make up for it, however, and pretend nothing's happened. Tamaki is willing to take this at face value, and apologizes because he might never be able to tell them apart. However, he would like to think of them as the Hitachiin brothers, even though he knew they were two separate individuals. The twins accuse him of being a hypocrite. Tamaki says there's nothing hypocritical about this at all. This was how they were -- contradictory, and it was indicative of their personalities. This sets both twins off badly, which was well deserved. Tamaki was able to get back at them in a far more honourable way than their underhaded tactics. However, he still reassures them that even if he lacked the ability to differentiate them, he promised them that someday, someone with that ability would arrive. And with that, he offers them his friendship: Would they like to join the Host Club with him?

At the start of the new term, Haruhi is seen arriving at the school for the first time. Kyouya has also just arrived at school. Upstairs, Honey and Mori are looking out of a window. Honey asks Mori if its alright for him to like cute things and eat cakes. Mori responds he should do whatever he likes. The bell rings. Tamaki is shown waiting at another window. The twins enter Music Room 3.

Thus, I think this was a good episode. We gain more insight into the twins' own insecurities, giving them more reason to do what they do than just being the annoying pair. At the same time, we learn something about Tamaki as well -- intriguing information. I sincerely wonder if, given that Tamaki is a half, and now this stuff about his mother, if the series will eventually tackle any fears of fitting in from a cultural angle. There have been hints about this before. Tamaki is certainly extremely interested in all the ways he could fit in, including that fascination with "commoner" culture. (The manga does state more explicitly he has an actual thing for Japanese culture.) What we have seen of his home life shows that he's very detached from his father. We have been shown next to nothing about his mother outside of brief mentions that she was sick. He has real hangups about mothers and families. It's clear he seems to really sympathize with Haruhi's lack of a mother this way. The twins' observation that he pursues friendships so blatantly to fill in the loneliness in his own life seems to be not without basis.

I'm very curious to know how the anime plans to wrap up everything at this point, as the stories are still up in the air. So far, the anime has been, according to what I've been able to ascertain, actually close to the manga. Although they did seem to have skipped a volume and changed timings very slightly, if the trend continues, we will get a background story for each character (as of writing, they've gone up to Kyouya). I have also heard, without good confirmation, that the series has just been extended again, to 36 episodes in total. This gives a lot of time for them to cover a certain school competition arc I hope they get into, and which I've suspected for a while might be how they intend to end this show (it's a good segue, anyway). So yes, lots of interesting stuff for them to get into before the end. Until then.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 16th, 2006 09:33 am (UTC)
aaaugh, the suspense. I hope the anime doesn't screw this up...I love Tamaki now with these "background" stories. He can be a twit, but is quite the unifier. :D
Sep. 19th, 2006 02:01 pm (UTC)
I like the background stories too. Wish they'd give Mori more airtime. Hopefully the clash with Casanova isn't it. And it wasn't much of a clash either. :/

Tamaki's background gets darker from here on out. The upcoming "school competition" story sort of kicks that into gear. I don't really know how much they plan to show in the anime from the manga, but as they have been consolidating a lot into each episode, we should get all of Tamaki's story at once. It's great stuff. And his twitness is endearing. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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