A middle-school-age Haruhi and her father pay a visit to Ouran High School because of school enrollment procedures. While the teacher and her father are talking, Haruhi is told to go around and see the school. Since it is currently spring break, there shouldn’t be many people around. So Haruhi walks around the school, and as she is walking down a certain hallway, the clock strikes three o’clock. She notices movement nearby and sees a stuffed bunny eating a banana inside the Third Music Room. When Haruhi goes to investigate, she sees the bunny go below the floor, but when she chases, she trips on a banana peel and falls into the hole. After a long fall, she lands in what appears to be the same room, but she’s stuck in a particular vase. In front of her are a banana tree and a mouse boy (Shirou) coming out of a piano. She crawls over and tries to get help him to help her, but the Mouse eats a banana, turns tiny, and runs into tiny door across the room. That door is this room’s only exit, so Haruhi has no choice but to eat a banana and turn tiny, thus freeing herself from the vase and letting her through the door.
Inside is a hallway of light bulbs. The walls first write “Woman” and then show a countdown to a banana. Haruhi realizes too late that there’s a banana peel along the path, and it sends her skidding into another hole. This time, Haruhi lands in a large pool of water. When she surfaces, a nearby Caterpillar (Kyoya) tells her that this water is made up of her heart’s tears. Haruhi manages to get out of the pool before the mechanical crocodiles (piloted by the Zuka Club girls) eat her. She thinks she wants to grow big again, but then realizes that she already is big. The Caterpillar tells her that one side can make her big and one side can make her small. A boy and a young girl (Nekozawa and his little sister) approach, asking if it’s ok for them to have some of the mushroom. Haruhi notices that the Caterpillar is writing on his pad and asks what he always writes in the file. The Caterpillar doesn’t understand what she means by “always” if this is supposed to be their first meeting.
Beside them, the boy and the young girl eat the mushrooms and they start to glow. The boy shrinks, becoming just a baby, whereas the girl grows bigger and older. The baby boy starts to walk off on his own through a nearby door, and a concerned Haruhi chases after him. As soon as Haruhi emerges from the door, she trips on another banana peel. In fact, the floor is littered with them. The woman at the center of the room (Renge) introduces herself as the Duchess and also mentions the Cook (Ayanokouji) and the Cat (Hikaru). The Cook isn’t happy that she’s the Cook and starts throwing plates and bananas at Renge, who expertly dodges all of it. Haruhi verifies that the baby’s mother is the Duchess and then starts talking about how good it is for the baby to be with his mother. However, the Duchess says that she has to go to the courthouse and leaves the baby in Haruhi’s arms.
After the Duchess disappears into the floor, the Cat asks Haruhi if she really believes that the doll is the Duchess’ child. Haruhi looks down into her arms and sees that the baby boy has now turned into wooden cat statue. When she looks up again, the Cat is nowhere to be found. After putting down the wooden cat, Haruhi continues on to a passageway outside. She sees the Cat again, except he is now disappearing and reappearing all around her. Haruhi asks him for directions on how to get back, but the Cat tells her that it’s not permitted that she return home without the Queen’s authorization. When she then asks about the Queen, the Cat doesn’t answer immediately. Only once Haruhi starts walking again does the Cat start appearing again, saying that the Queen rules this world. An annoyed Haruhi asks the two cats to show themselves together, but the Cat doesn’t know what she means by two. As she walks off, the Cats (Hikaru and Kaoru) emerge behind her, showing that there are indeed two of them.
Haruhi then enters to a room where she finds a man with a top hat, a rabbit boy, and a sleeping mouse boy. The Hatter (Tamaki) and the Hare (Honey) tell her that there are no seats even though Haruhi can clearly see that there are tons of free seats around them. When Haruhi begins to walk away, the Hare tells her that it was a joke. After Haruhi sits down, the Hatter observes that she’s got long hair. He says that although he likes it that way, it’s necessary for her to cut it short. Haruhi wants him to leave her hairstyle alone. She then sees the cart of cakes that the Hare is eating and comments on how the Hare could get a cavity eating all that sweet stuff. The Dormouse (Mori) wakes up long enough to tell the Hare to properly use toothpaste before falling asleep again. After some more conversation, the clocks in the room strike 3 o’clock. The Hatter explains that it’s always 3 o’clock in the afternoon here, meaning that it’s always afternoon tea time. Haruhi tries to ask them where this is and tells them that she is here with her father for the enrollment procedures. Hearing this, the Hatter asks her what she would do if she came to this school. Haruhi answers that she’s here to study, but the Hatter asks if studying is the only thing. When she says yes, he asks why. Haruhi answers that she has a dream she wants to fulfill, that’s why she wants to enter Ouran and study. The Hatter tells her that student life is not only studying and that there are other fun things to do.
As Haruhi is thinking about these words, she hears a trumpet. The Hatter says that the trial is starting, and the Hare comments that the Duchess will be executed. Haruhi won’t allow that to happen and runs off to the courthouse. She bursts in and declares herself the Duchess’ lawyer. It seems that the Duchess stands accused of leaving her child and letting him be lonely. However, Haruhi disagrees, saying that when the parents are busy, the child should understand. What’s more, she questions what happens to the child if the mother is executed. However, the King questions her back about her own lawyer qualifications, accusing her of being a criminal too. The vase from before appears in front of Haruhi, shattered into pieces. Remembering how she landed in that vase earlier, Haruhi declares that she didn’t break it. But she suddenly remembers the scene where the vase went flying down and she couldn’t catch it.
The king then calls upon the witnesses, the first of which is the Hatter. The Hatter talks about how Haruhi made a mistake in her student life by studying and not having fun. Haruhi in turn says that Tamaki has too much fun. The lights turn on, revealing a room lined by giggling girls. The Hatter asks Haruhi why she knows his name, and all the girls echo the question. The rest of the Host Club members all appear: the Cats say that Haruhi knew they were twins, the Caterpillar says that Haruhi knew about his file, and the Hare says that Haruhi knew about his cavity. The question on everyone’s mind remains why Haruhi knew all this. Haruhi is at a loss for words, and since she still doesn’t seem to understand, the King stands up and takes off his mask. He is none other than Ranka-san, her father. Haruhi then realizes that this means that the Queen must be…her mother. Walking towards Haruhi, her mother apologizes for the hardships Haruhi went through. As she says that Haruhi seems to be enjoying her dreamlike student life, a pair of tears streak out of her mask. Starting to cry herself, Haruhi runs forward into the arms of her mother.
A sleeping Haruhi has tears in her eyes and mutters her mother’s name. Tamaki wakes her up – he and the rest of the Host Club are dressed as Alice in Wonderland characters for today’s customers. Reminded of her mother’s words about the dreamlike student life, Haruhi smiles because she knows this is true regardless of whether she’s sleeping or awake.
AMAZING animation quality this episode, some of the best so far. The story was completely different from the manga, but still has a good number of laughs, mainly centered in the first half (like the hallway of light bubs or the Nekozawa siblings). And then the ending with Haruhi’s mother almost made me cry because it was so touching. I had spent the entire episode thinking that Kyoya would be the Queen (like he was in the manga), so Haruhi’s mother caught me completely off guard. I was also surprised at how much character development they put into this story, and it seems that Haruhi’s dream is to follow her mother’s footsteps and become a lawyer.
Actually, as several of people have noticed, the animated version’s story parallels the Alice in Wonderland story a lot more than the manga did. For a complete text of the original story, I direct you to The University of Adelaide Library’s online copy of the story, complete with illustrations (though I guess if you don’t want to read the whole thing, you can always find a summary). I’m impressed that they managed to give parts to pretty much every character that we’ve seen so far, including Ayanokouji from the first episode, Kanako from the second episode (she was the Dodo), Shirou from the sixth episode, and so on.
Next week seems to be the newspaper club episode.