Ouran High School Host Club's Creator Has A Few Rules For Writing Haruhi

"Ouran High School Host Club" is beloved for its cheeky comedy, but the anime series is especially groundbreaking because it challenges gender roles.

The series revolves around Haruhi, a female scholarship student at a private school. When she accidentally breaks a vase in one of the club rooms, she finds herself indebted to the Host Club, a group of boys that entertain and flirt with schoolgirls for a fee. Mistaken for a male student due to her short hair and androgynous outfit, Haruhi starts working as an errand boy to pay off her debt. When the other club members make her a host, her soft-spoken nature becomes popular with the clients.

When Haruhi first appears on the show, she is dressed in a "commoner's" outfit because she can't afford her school's uniform. The male and female uniforms differ drastically, so her gender-ambiguous clothing leads the Hosts to believe that she is a boy. School uniforms are used as a signifier of gender consistently on the show. Haruhi truly pretends to be a boy when she puts on a boy uniform and acts as a host. In the moment where her true gender is revealed, she puts on the girl's uniform and it suddenly becomes clear.

Even though Haruhi eventually poses as a boy for the club, this was not her initial intention. "The interesting thing about Haruhi was that she just happened to be wearing a boy's uniform, and there was no intention of looking like a boy in the first place," manga creator Bisco Hatori pointed out to VizMedia. This premise created some guidelines that Hatori used to write Haruhi's character.

Haruhi remained a girl at heart

Since Haruhi is not trying to act like a boy, much of her behavior is still distinctly feminine. "She was always not really meeting societal standards of being more masculine. So, for example, she's never rough," Hatori explained. In fact, her gentle nature is precisely what attracts the clients to her. Hatori would also draw Haruhi in "subtle cute poses" to maintain her feminine nature even in her boy uniform.

On top of being cute and gentle, Hatori also wanted Haruhi to be a nurturing character. "She always had this intent of doing something for someone," he recalled. This intention guided Haruhi's behavior, particularly in conflicts. "Something that Haruhi would never do would to be discriminatory against someone," Hatori revealed.

When Tamaki discovers that Haruhi is a girl, she insists that "it's more important for a person to be recognized for who they are rather than what sex they are." By toeing the line of gender ambiguity, Haruhi proves that the most important part of being a woman is being yourself, whether that person is more feminine or masculine. The performed aspects of gender, like haircuts and outfits, come second. Even in a totally masculine role — pretending to be a boy — Haruhi maintains her femininity. This is a strong message for young girls that has kept "Ouran High School Host Club" relevant for decades.