Taking a page out of the anime, the drama also sees the debut of Houshikaguji Renge (Tsuchiya Tao) in the fourth episode. Of all the female characters aside from Haruhi, she’s definitely one of the most interesting additions, largely in part to how she’s absolutely relentless with all the club members except Kyouya. From her playing “Doki Memorial” on PS3 (a play on Tokimeki Memorial) and dreaming about Ichijou Miyabi to smacking Tamaki in the face and calling him a fake, I was pretty sold on the real-life portrayal of her character. I actually had to do a double-take on the scene where Tamaki tried to sweet talk her and she sent him reeling with both her hand and her words, since most of my enjoyment in that scene from being reminded of Renge in the anime. That’s not to say there’s anything particularly bad about Tao’s acting. I was simply amused by the idea of Renge’s Medusa hair-like when she went off on a tangent about her otaku-ism and wanted to redefine everyone’s character for added appeal (much to their dismay).
It’s been a while seen the Ouran anime aired so my memory of it is somewhat fragmented. Because of that, I usually end up skimming the related anime episode or manga chapter afterward. I’m often surprised by the stuff that I’ve forgotten about but were included in the drama, such as the baking scene between Haruhi and Renge. I even forgot about the movie that Renge was shooting at first, until it all came rushing back to me when Tamaki came rushing to Haruhi’s aid in “serious mode”, only to find out that she teared up because of her contact lens. In hindsight, forgetting did give me an unexpectedly fresh look on the drama itself without all the unconscious comparisons. The basketball melodrama was somewhat awkward to watch, but the lonely prince bit was pretty amusing because it reeked of deadpan humor. If there’s one thing that this drama’s done well so far, it’s the subtle humor from delayed reactions. It’s a form of goofy delivery that I’ve come to associate with Japanese dramas and it works particularly well when Tamaki’s involved. It seems like anything that puts him in a depressed state is all in good fun for me.
With Renge’s subplot more or less wrapped up, I’m curious as to whether she’ll become a recurring character like she was in the anime. I was a bit surprised to learn that she had much less prominent role in the manga, so it could go either way here. Hopefully she’ll show up again though, since she’s one of the few characters whom even Kyouya will buckle under to a certain degree. The added benefit is of course how Kyouya (and everyone else) dumps the burden on Haruhi while capitalizing at the same time. All the while, the whole Tamaki x Haruhi bit is steadily moving along and should pick up more with the beach episode next time. A 3D beach episode at that! (For better or worse…)
* As pointed out in the comments last time, Sakamoto Maaya (Haruhi in the anime) does the narration for this drama. She was also recently married to fellow seiyuu Suzumura Kenichi (Hikaru in the anime). In addition to the Ouran anime, the two of them starred in Gundam SEED Destiny and Kara no Kyoukai together.