Haruhi Fujioka

Written by @EllieDangerous
Haruhi Fujioka is completely indifferent to the concept of gender, and this has made her the most popular boy in school. Voiced by Maaya Sakamoto and Caitlin Glass, Haruhi is the main character in 'Ouran High School Host Club', an anime so grand and lovely it feels like being served a wedding cake when all you expected was a cracker. Haruhi has absolutely no interest in romance and its foibles; so how come all the boys and girls are so in lurve with her?!

Spoiler Alert
First we gotta zoom out. Ouran is a satirical feast for fans of anime and manga, particularly high school comedy, harem drama, shōjo, yaoi and the whole wide web of otaku culture. Ouran’s setting and genre coalesce to throw dozens of romantic expectations at us. We expected accidental kisses, hopeless suitors, adorable cosplay, flowers on bishies, and mood whiplash. We also expected traditional Japanese gender conventions. Yup, we got what we expected!

But we didn’t expect Haruhi. She’s bewildered to find herself an object of attraction, and no wonder; she doesn’t tick the conventional boxes for either gender. The girls are supposed to fall for the Types covered by the Host Club — the smart one, the stoic one, the cute one and so on — but Haruhi doesn’t fit neatly into any of these categories. She’s divergent! Meanwhile, the boys are expected to fancy the blushing, swooning fangirls they’re surrounded by. No one in the Host Club predicts giving their heart to the defiant curiosity known as Haruhi Fujioka.

It should be acknowledged that the anime totally does this on purpose. Although it’s still a fabulous ride if you take the whole thing seriously, it pokes affectionate fun at clichés and stereotypes across the board. The Host Club itself is one big moe joke.

But let’s be serious here. Serious like Haruhi. Everyone fancies her. Why?

For one, she is well and truly herself, and that’s pretty rare in a school for pretentious swans. She’s labelled a “natural” charmer because she doesn’t even try, and she’s not being untrue to herself by dressing “as a boy”. As she explains to her senpai in her usual frank manner, “I don't really care whether you guys recognize me as a boy or a girl. In my opinion it's more important for a person to be recognised for who they are, rather than for what sex they are.”

We’re all told that, right? When we want someone to like us, we’re told to just be ourselves. Haruhi doesn’t need this advice; she follows it as a way of life, and one consequence of this is that people keep floating little cartoon hearts at her. ♥

But this isn’t all that makes Haruhi an awesomely exotic creature in the world of Ouran. She and her father are wallowing in extreme poverty! Actually, that isn’t true at all, is it, but it’s how the ultra-rich students of Ouran see it: she’s middle-class, which makes her an oddity like no other. While they live in great mansions, being served molten gold by a thousand servants, Haruhi is out buying groceries, keeping an eye on the budget, and maybe having some gourmet tuna as a treat. What a strange bird!

She finds these “rich jerks” deplorable in return, totally exasperated by their ignorance and insensitivity, but then she realises her hypocrisy and learns to appreciate them for who they are; not the bed of money they were born in.

Haruhi’s humble lifestyle reflects how she is on the inside; she’s always been modest. Compared to the self-entitled prima donnas of Ouran, she’s positively self-deprecating. There’s always something nice about someone who doesn’t realise how cool they are.

The fact that she defies expectations at all is in itself a reason to admire her. It makes her stand out, even though all the flowery, whimsical drama queens around her are desperately trying to do likewise. Scruffy little Haruhi is special!

Ouran is fuelled by endless infatuation, and it’s so fun to drink up, because it’s either hilarious and satirical, or innocent and sweet. It’s an ideal of young love, even while it laughs at itself. Haruhi is at the centre of all this, defying stereotypes and uniting hearts~

She’s a standard-bearer for the message that real love is about being yourself, with plenty of baffling unpredictability along the way. But Haruhi wouldn’t want to be lauded as a champion. “I'm not a hero, I'm an honors student”.

Oh you. (♥ω♥*)
If you judge people by their appearance, you're stereotyping them and you'll never see the person inside.
You guys have way too much fun. You know that, right? I have to admit it though... around here I can hardly even tell when I'm awake.
Ellie Ball is the founder of Good Characters, and someone who enjoys coffee cake a great deal. She is a graduate of the Scriptwriting MA at Goldsmiths, University of London. For fun and respite, check out her TV analysis articles on Bang2Write or tweet coffee cake at her @EllieDangerous.
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Published on 8 October 2015

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