Blondes Are Better: Why Was Mori Side-Lined In The Ouran High School Host Club Anime and Manga?

Ouran High School Host Club Mori and Harushi

Bisco Hatori’s rom-com manga Ouran High School Host Club (2002-2010) published by LaLa Magazine is considered a classic, and in this writer’s humble opinion, is an ideal, if not the ideal entry-level work for someone who claims to “not like such things,” for many a reason.

Here, I can think of six right off the bat… 

Tamaki, Kyoya, Hikaru, Kaoru, Honey, and Mori of Ouran Academy’s Ouran Host Club.

All joking aside, Ouran is a rom-com that deconstructs and pokes fun at other rom-coms while never letting up on its own shenanigans (and gender politics to boot!). The manga and its anime treatment by Bones Inc. (2006) strike a perfect balance between comedy, romantic beats, and strong broships and friendships.

It also takes artistic liberties with its finale in a way that doesn’t detract from the original story! While Ouran’s anime adaptation and its stellar English dub succeeded in leaving hosts of fans wanting more, I do have a couple of hang-ups with the TV series.

Despite Ouran having a “reverse harem” set-up, the anime and manga push protagonist Haruhi Fujioka, a scholarship student-turned-errand boy-turned host and the host club’s “prince” Tamaki Suoh as the main ship, hard

And as much as I appreciate Tamaki’s antics and optimism, I’ve always been more of a Mori girl myself.

And for a few fleeting moments in the anime, I thought our practical Haruhi would come around to him too.

The romantic moments that stick with me in particular include the strong and silent Mori literally sweeping Haruhi off her feet so as to protect her from the surrounding jungle life in Episode 7. Another exchange worthy of note is when Mori gives her the strawberries off his own pastry knowing how much she likes them during the host club’s surprise visit to the latter’s house in Episode 10.

Sure, the chemistry between Haruhi and Mori may have been more on the subtle side, perhaps even subdued, in comparison to that between her and Tamaki, Hikaru, Kaoru, and even Kyoya, but it was there nonetheless. 

Theirs is a bond that feels natural, a bond of like minds and trust unspoken.

Which is the reason why I think he got passed over in favor of Tamaki. 

That and the fact Tamaki is blonde.

What Makes A Main Character?

It doesn’t take much meme and trope-surfing to notice the type of character/love interest that tends to be considered “main ship” material in anime and manga. 

Should you be a kind, patient, and overall put together gal or guy, but with recognizably Japanese features, I’m afraid that just won’t do when competing with love interests with English, French, Italian, Russian, etc. roots.

As human beings, we’re drawn to beautiful things, “exotic” things. It’s our nature.

With that said, it makes sense that a number of shoujo would go down the “exotic” route and favor pretty half-Japanese guys like Tamaki.

On one hand, I think including biracial characters in media is great for those who wish to see themselves represented in said media. There aren’t many cultures in which biracial children don’t face bullying or personal issues for not being born “pure,” and to Ouran’s credit, the story doesn’t shy away from a young Tamaki’s forced estrangement from his French mother.

On the other hand, I can’t help but feel there’s a bit of romanticization of non-Japanese looks and tragedy in play as well.

The rom-com manga Maid Sama! (2005-2013) and Princess Jellyfish (2008-2017) were released around the same time as Ouran and partake in the same trope with their “love interests” Takumi Usui and Kuranosuke Koibuchi.

The half-English Takumi and presumably half-Italian Kuranosuke are framed as princely types like Tamaki who want nothing to do with their family businesses.

It could be that I just happened to happen upon three shoujo with similar backstories for their love interests, all three being compelling in their own right, but that would make for quite the coincidence…

What Should We Expect In Ouran Season 2?

It’s obvious that Tamaki’s appeal doesn’t come from his features alone, however.

While pretty looks a love interest makes, they aren’t worth much without a big helping of damage on the side.

The fantasy of a guy with damage, a “project,” who requires a protagonist’s gentle hand speaks to a lot of people.

Mori is anything but.

Bisco Hatori herself may have planned for Mori to serve as competition for Tamaki in an early draft or two, but alas, it was not meant to be.

It’s been a whopping fourteen years since the Ouran anime’s finale and I’ve since come to terms with Haruhi and Tamaki being endgame, but what of the stories in-between?

What should we expect from Mori and the rest of the Ouran Host Club in a hypothetical Season 2? 

We have yet to receive any official dates or news regarding Season 2 despite rumors of the English voice actors being in talks to continue where Ouran left off. Should it come to pass, I would love it if Mori’s relationships with club members other than cousin and “liege” Honey were explored in greater detail.

The man may have been done in by his personality, but he’s got a lot to say.

Bisco Hatori / Hakusensha
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