Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori
Series: Ouran High School Host Club #1-18
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Shojo, Romance, Humor
Publisher: VIZ Media
Synopsis: Haruhi sticks out like a sore thumb as a poor, smart girl who got into the hoity-toity Ouran High School on talent alone. When she mistakenly wanders into the meeting room of the host club and breaks a valuable vase, she’s recruited to join the club. Realistic and sarcastic, Haruhi isn’t used to being around crazy people like the princely Tamaki, scheming Kyouya, silent Mori, immature Hunny, and devilish Hikaru and Kaoru, but she’s got no choice if she ever wants to pay earn what she owes. Too bad the club is made for girls to come and be entertained by gorgeous guys — and Haruhi’s been mistaken for a boy!
When I finished the last chapter of Ouran High School Host Club (a manga that will now be referred to as ‘Ouran‘), I started giggling like an idiot and crying like a baby. Giggling because the series is just too darn funny and crying BECAUSE IT WAS OVER! Ouran is unlike any shojo I have ever read, and after reading the manga through the wee hours of the night, spending time with the wonderful characters, it’s really hard to watch the story end. But really, I fell in love with this series and can’t thank Bisco Hatori enough for bringing it into the world.
The series opens up with Haruhi, a sharp and cynical “commoner” scholarship student, stumbling upon the Ouran Host Club, coming face to face with a bunch of rich, handsome guys, and breaking an expensive vase. And since the guys of the club had mistook her for a boy, they make her join the club in order for her to pay off her debt. Thus begins a story about a girl joining a club where filthy rich pretty boys with too much time on their hands entertain filthy rich pretty girls with too much time on their hands.
Ouran does sound a bit shallow, I admit, but at its core, it is a hilarious and adorable manga that takes a heck of a lot of joy in poking fun at things. Stereotypes, archetypes, cliches, random and sometimes absurd events, occasional serious moments, are all lovingly placed into one manga series. You really wouldn’t think that a person would make such a combination of things work, but Hatori did, quite beautifully. She adds a refreshing twist to everything, and makes fun of them, of course.
Most of the members of the host club begin as stereotypes, or at the very least, archetypes– you have the silly and stupid Tamaki, the mischievous twins named Hikarou and Karou, Kyouya who is a glasses-wearing guy that is always scheming, the stoic and silent Mori, and the childish, immature Hunny (whose size fits his personality very well). You can pretty much describe their personalities with two words maximum. Which could have been extremely grating on the nerves, but the characters are all just so fun and cuddly that you absolutely love them anyways.
And then there is the fact that they are all given a massive amount of development throughout the course of the series. You get to see their backstories, learn their motivations, find out how they became who they are at the present, and even see that they are growing as people. They all eventually become a group of characters that are not merely made up of stereotypes and archetypes, all while retaining their original flare and ability to be made fun of.
Haruhi, the female lead, is not a stereotype or an archetype– but she could be called the exact opposite of the typical shojo girl. She’s blunt, cynical, sharp-tongued, and usually has a “what the Hell?” attitude toward whatever the club wants to do next. She’s awesome because of that and couldn’t help but adore her.
Ouran‘s supporting characters are also very fun and only add more life to the story, though the main characters give more than enough of it already. From the otaku Renge to the girls who are customers at the host club to Haruhi’s transvestite dad (who I give the title of Best Manga Dad Ever), the supporting characters are nearly as funny as the leads and can quickly get you caught up in the moment.
These characters and the chemistry between them all are wonderful. And their crazy antics are so very fun and entertaining to read. Whether they are charming girls in the music room, dressing up as girls to win back a girl, playing matchmaker, flying on a helicopter to Karuizawa so they could ‘save’ Haruhi, who was on vacation, creating a movie directed by Renge that only exaggerates their personalities even further or just turns their personalities all the way around, or trying to learn more about the lives of “commoners” so they can understand Haruhi better, they are hilarious to read about and I found myself laughing out loud more than a few times. And then there are the incredibly sweet moments that make you realize that the host club is like a family and that they really care about each other. Their antics and interactions relates reason alone to read Ouran.
The story of the manga is simple, as it is about the host club’s random antics and the character’s lives. The romance doesn’t even kick in until much later into the series and there isn’t much seriousness until the last volumes. But still, I was always craving to read more Ouran. This series is surprisingly addictive and my attempts at putting a volume in the series down rarely amounted to anything. The lively, colorful characters are just to hard to part from 😛 Oh, and I thought that the ending was well thought-out, even though it’s sad that the appearance of an ending means the manga is over. I liked that it ended on a happy and funny note.
Hatori’s art is nothing to write home about in the beginning. To be honest, since I watched the anime first, I was a little underwhelmed by it. But her art soon becomes quite astounding as it evolves. There is more clarity, the characters looks gorgeous (well, not when they are going all chibi on you, but yeah), and it is all-around fun to look at.
So, thank you, Ouran, for being so playful, funny, sweet, and adorable. Thank you for the wild ride that you are. Yes, you can be pretty weird and random, but hey, you’re Ouran and I love you because of that! Now… Please leave me be. I need to cry some more since I am having a really hard time accepting that you ended.