Twins in Media: Hikaru and Kaoru

Screenshot from ‘Ouran Highschool Host Club’ on FUNimation

Hi! It’s Annie!

As twins who have been affected by media our entire lives, you can bet that we’re going to talk a lot about twin representation in media. The first anime that I ever watched was one ‘Ouran Highschool Host Club’ and at first watch I HATED Hikaru and Kaoru. Why? Because twincest made me want to vomit and really, it still does. Twincest as a trope has always made me uncomfortable and is never something I’ve approved of. I liked the two characters separately, but when they were on screen together I wanted to close my eyes and make them disappear. When I re-watched it recently, I was not expecting much from these two to say the least. I was delighted to find out that there was a lot I hadn’t remembered about how this show portrayed twins.

The Bad:

  • Twincest. There’s just so much wrong with it as a trope and I’m really just tired of seeing this in shows. Like, REALLY tired. Twins are just another form of siblings, if you wouldn’t with your sibling, why do you think it’s ok to show twins doing it? I doubt there is any form of media out there that would make me change my mind on the fact that I never want to see twincest ever again. The fetishization of twins has been present in the media for as long as I can remember. It especially happens to women, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen to men. This show continues to normalize it, and I’m really done with that.
  • The Mischievous twins trope. This trope often gives two people the same initial personality trait introduced to the audience as well as feeding into the belief that twins are always out to trick you. I can’t tell you how many times people have acted suspicious around me because they thought I might be my sister pretending to be me. I’m way too much of a goody-two-shoes to do that. There are people like this, but definitely not all of us.
  • Synchronized twins. If my sister and I speak the exact same thing at the exact same time, it’s rare and on accident. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but we can’t read each other’s minds. This normalizes the thought that twins are somehow one half apart and only whole together. This thought also adds to the fetishization of twins because often people will see dating twins as being monogamous because they think we might as well be the same person. We are separate people. We are not two for the price of the one. We are not exactly the same. We are different people with different goals and different thoughts.

The Good:

  • The Different Story-lines. As the series goes on the audience is treated to a different story-line for each character. Hikaru develops a crush on Haruhi and must learn to trust other people. Kaoru has trouble with change and letting go of the people and things he cares about. They are written to have different personalities and goals within these story-lines. The show makes sure to differentiate the two characters outside the Host Club; making Kaoru wise and more mature and Hikaru stand-offish and less mature.
  • The Fighting. Hikaru and Kaoru don’t always agree. Even though they do fake a fight during the series, they still get into a fair few scuffles and minor disagreements. This is extremely important to showing actual people with different personalities and goals.
  • The only acceptable switch. Hikaru and Kaoru are shown in a flashback to have switched on young women who wrote love letters to one of them. This was not to play some prank, but was entirely to test whether the person actually liked the singular person, or if they just chose a twin. This is a real issue that I have personally gone through and it SUCKS. I find that often when a show tries to do something like this, they frame the twins in the scenario as being in the wrong or just being mischievous. This show doesn’t do that. When the girl calls them mean after they reveal the switch, the characters respond with; “No, you’re the one who’s mean.” There is no either or. You either like me or you like my sister. We are two separate people and there is no liking us both. This was the first time I had seen a show accurately depict a real life scenario I went through with my sister.

So, are Hikaru and Kaoru a good representation of twins in media or not?

This is not an easy question to answer because, like most twins in media, they’re more middling. Any show that depicts twins making out or almost making out immediately goes down on my list. But I will admit this show accurately depicted certain situations for twins to a degree I hadn’t seen before or since. Now would be a good time to mention that I am one of those rare Kaoru girls. Of all of the hosts, Kaoru is my favorite. This probably has something to do with how they depicted Kaoru in his own personal story-line and how they actually showed him going through things I have personally gone through. I guess the best answer I can give is yes and no. Yes when they aren’t in the Host Club. When they are doing any activities for the Host Club, the answer becomes no. Also when they’re shown sharing a bed, because that’s also stupid. I can definitely appreciate some things about these fictional twins though! Twins don’t need to be separated at birth or of different genders to show that we are two very different people with different tastes, interests, thoughts, and feelings.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie.

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