I finished rereading Ouran today.
You know the kind of thing that sticks with you, can make you feel giddy again and again upon rereading, and makes you want to reflect on yourself? Yeah, Ouran’s always been that for me, and I love it to bits.
There’s a particular bit of imagery in chapter 66 that got to me this time: early on, it starts with a young Tamaki making a house out of building blocks. But it turns heart-clenching when this changes to an older Tamaki, no longer building alone but with the entire club by his side.
They’re building a home together. They’re making a family. It’s silly and unorthodox and who knows how well it will last over time (except that they go live in Boston together, they fly to Madrid as a unit, even when they don’t have to, and you have to think that this means something, even if it’s really just for the purposes of story, even if the mangaka expects them to grow a bit more apart as they age.) But it exists, and it’s strong, and it’s oh so important.
And I wish I’d had something like that back then.
I have complicated feelings in answering if I have that now.
And once again, I’m reminded very much of how I relate very well to Mitsukuni Haninozuka.
I cosplay him. I roleplay him. If these are not well-known facts, well, they probably should be; I’ve been at it for almost a decade. It’s even odds as to whether or not I will refer to the characters by their standard names or Hani-senpai’s versions. And if I were to be asked my favourite, I’d be hard-pressed to choose between Mitsukuni and Takashi for… several reasons.
But this only scratches the fact that I relate to him.
One of the things we discover about Hani-senpai is that he struggled with balancing who he is with what he is perceived as and what he is expected to be. We also know that the way Hani-senpai presents himself is as much a construct as natural: his cuteness has a natural base, but his actions are largely performative.
I… felt these divides a lot back then. I struggled a lot with figuring out who I really was, and what parts of me were things I’d been told as opposed to what was truly part of me. (This may not have been completely solved, but a lot of clarity there and comfort with identity came with my 20s, something that I’m grateful for even as new challenges arose.) Perhaps I’ve never been quite the object of affection he has (understatement) but I’ve always been the short, cute one nonetheless.
One of my best friends in university related similarly, though with Mori. Although not particularly tall in the endgame, she hit her growth spurts early and was amongst the tallest in her year for a long while, and was quite taciturn, among other things.
…there may actually still be a couple people who know us best as Hani and Mori out there. We used those nicknames for a good while.
There’s another way that I relate to Mistukuni. It’s… a strength and a weakness both, in many ways.
In volume two, we’re introduced to the Host Club as a family through a series of 4-komas. There’s the father, mother, eldest sons, and eldest daughter. There’s also the neighbours (but we’ll ignore them.)
Of course, Hani and Mori are the ignored neighbours.
(For disclosure’s sake, I love these 4-koma and that is one of my favourite versions of Hani-senpai to cosplay.)
Really, this sets up the way relationships work in the host club. Everyone is part of one big happy family, but Hani and Mori are always slightly more to the outside. They’re a part, but apart.
This means that they can be slightly eccentric, and doing their own thing, which is great and really works for them. It gives them the room to observe, see what’s going on, and wonder about the bigger picture. It also means that they often don’t quite belong in the main action as easily as everyone else.
And therein lies on of my biggest points of overlap.
I’ve always had problems with feeling like I belong, like I am accepted. Even within groups of friends, I’ve generally felt like I’ve been on the perimeter, not in the centre
That… doesn’t go away too easily.
(There are exceptions, of course, but more often than not it returns to this feeling in time.)
I’m also remarkably good at seeing issues from various sides; at trying to understand where various people are coming from. (Too good, in fact, and this may have lead to some of my emotional issues… tldr empathy and bottling go hand in hand far too well.)
And really, all of this is fine when I have a Takashi by my side; someone who’s both in the same boat, but also provides a balance. Someone who is Mine. (I could rant about Mitsukuni and Takashi and their relationship to each other, and how I have a thing for the tiny cute one also being the dominant one and how I can be more than a little possessive at times… but perhaps I’ll leave that for another day.)
I’ve a few people who fill different parts of that quota right now, but no-one that fully fits the bill. And that’s a little frustrating, because sometimes I need that semi-co-dependency to fall back on, even while being fiercely independent. (Another rant I could give is a comparison of the twins and Hani and Mori and the mechanics of their two different forms of co-dependency, but that’s another issue yet again.)
But really, sometimes it would just be nice to belong to the group as a whole; to feel fully on the inside, rather than adjacent.
And maybe it’s just my mentality that’s the problem, or maybe it’s geography. Or maybe I’ve just not found the right place, space, or people for everything to be quite congruent. But I hope I find it. I hope I get that sense of family. I hope I get a chance to belong from right there in the middle and have that feeling never fully fade.
I think I’m getting closer, but I’m still not fully there.
I’m glad to be the neighbour, but I’d love to find my Home.