I’m sure many of us are familiar with the concept of the “host club.” In fact, many people should be somewhat familiar, especially with the finishing of the recent comedy anime “Ouran Koukou Host Club.” Have any of you ever wondered what a real host club was like though?
Recently, I saw a film/documentary by the name of The Great Happiness Space, which gives the viewer a insider view of how the many male host clubs in Japan truly operate. Boy, was I surprised. I knew that the reality of the host club was no fun and games a ‘la Ouran, but the truth was pretty eye-opening.
In The Great Happiness Space, we are taken in by one of the (not sure if they are #1) most popular male host clubs in Osaka, Japan. The club name is “Rakkyo,” and the owner, Issei, prefers to call his club a “pub/cafe.” Common knowledge dictates that their occupation is to entertain various women clientele and that very base fact is shown to be true.
I found the entire documentary to be very down to earth and real for the viewer. Throughout the film, there are lots of one-on-one interviews with various employees as well as members that really does shed some light on the subject. Not only that, the interviews do not attempt to censor or sugarcoat anything. I found the many interviews of Issei to be of particular interest, as he revealed many different things.
For example… He has sex with practically 365 women a year. He drinks about 10 bottles of wine a day (but throws up so much that sometimes, blood comes out). The lowest earning member makes as much as a normal business salaryman does per day of work (some make as much as 30000 per month). The women he serves annoy him to the edge sometimes. Etc etc.
What was even more astounding were the interviews with the customers that made me want to slap them in the face, lol. The customers spend thousands and thousands on these guys everyday and idolize them to the point of resorting to more shameful (in my opinion) methods of earning money. In fact, most of the women who attend such host clubs are prostitutes, cabaret, and host club workers themselves! How ironic is that? Many of the women were originally not prostitutes, but resorted to it as a method of paying for their host club lifestyle.
And ironically, they end up depending on the host club members for emotional support/healing from their the job that they started to pay for the host club in the first place. It’s a vicious and unfortunate cycle that they have hit.
While watching this, I must say, I had mixed feelings about all the people participating in this exchange. In regards to the host club employees, I find their line of work to be something that I cannot respect. Sure, it’s good to cheer customers up and give them a good time, but most if not all of the interactions involve false emotions and senses of love. The customers adore the host club members, and as a result, resort to prostitution and defiling themselves only to throw the thousands they make back at the host club employees.
In contrast, I also occasionally feel some odd sense of sympathy for the employees since they seem to be stuck in an endless loop as well. The guys all seem to want a real relationship, but have no time to pursue one. Sometimes I wonder what time they have to use the tons of money that they earn. Sure, you can make a million dollars per month, but if you work from 1pm to 7am, what time do you have to spend your hard earned money? In addition, the years of providing this “acting” service and dealing with women non-stop has scarred their personalities as well. For example, Issei talks about how sometimes he isn’t even sure which personality is the real him.
I highly recommend this documentary to those who have been somewhat interested in it. I thought that it would be a monotonous and boring watch, but surprisingly found myself intrigued by the realities that it presented. It will be an intriguing look in a separate society that is often overlooked by the outside world.