Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori

Title: Ouran High School Host Club
Author: Bisco Hatori 

Published: July 2005 VIZ Media LLC
Genre: Shoujo manga, romance, comedy
Reviewer: Hannah


Freshman student Haruhi Fujioka is attending the incredibly prestigious rich kid school Ouran High Academy as a scholarship student. This, of course, makes her stand out as the only "commoner" amongst the children of wealthy and successful business men and women.

However, due to an unfortunate accident, she owes over 8 million yen ($80,000) to the school's Host Club, a group of good-looking men whose mission is to entertain the young women of the school. To pay back her debt, she must pose as a boy and participate in the club as a member. 


Yay, a second manga review! *audience applauses* If you're a regular manga-reader, chances are you've read Ouran at some point. It is one of the greatest mangas of all time (the top best-selling manga in America is Fruits Basket--maybe I'll review it sometime in the near or distant future). And it is rightfully so; Ouran High School Host, wait, that deserves Caps Lock: IT IS AMAZING.

I first saw the 26-episode anime run, and I absolutely loved it. Since it was so spectacular, I decided to read the manga. I had it set in my mind that there was no way anything in the world ever could possible top the EPIC GREATNESS of the Ouran anime. I was wrong. The manga is just as good, if not, better. It was genuinely funny, and I found myself loving all of the characters. The main character, Haruhi, is a unique heroine: she isn't ditzy or a "damsel in distress," she isn't trailing along behind some sexy love interest, wide-eyed and drooling; in fact, she's just the opposite: she's completely clueless to anything pertaining to romance, she's thinks things through logically, she's got great deduction skills, so she isn't stupid. She's just so awesome.

And then there's Tamaki, who's my personal favorite. He's the head of the Host Club (we'll get to what they actually do later), and he's known as the "Prince," by some of his customers. He's...hmm...hard to describe. He's egotistical, in a way, but not really. No, that doesn't make sense. Gahh, I don't know how to describe his character. He flaunts his awesomeness around, he's constantly dropping lines on all the girls he sees, but he's not a player. I believe that he genuinely thinks all girls are beautiful. He cares about people, he's easily suckered into helping people (even if they are using him), and he's incredibly sweet and good-hearted. He's my favorite manga character of all time, Bisco Hatori just did an amazing job developing him. 

One thing I loved was that he's Haruhi's love, not really, haha. See, he absolutely adores Haruhi, and gets insanely jealous whenever she's hanging around with another guy. But he's so dang clueless, he thinks his feelings for her are "fatherly." Haha, never heard of that in a love story, have you? And it's not like Haruhi can snap him out of it, because, like I said, she's clueless about things like that as well. There's no such thing as "romantic Haruhi." In fact, that phrase is just so implausible, it sickens me...

Before we go on with the characters, let me define what the "Host Club" is, exactly. Basically, it's a group of six extremely good-looking men (and Haruhi, disguised as a boy), each aged somewhere between 14 and 17, who set up events, parties, etc, to entertain the girls of the school. And they just hang out with them, really. Or rather, they hang out with each other, looking smoking hot, while the girls squeal in ecstacy while watching. If it's just a "regular" Host Club day, then they're usually sitting around, drinking tea in the Host Club's room, and chatting and whatnot. Although sometimes they have themes (like an Egyptian palace, or a tropical paradise, etc), where they'll decorate the place with tons of expensive decorations (they're rich, remember?) and get all fancied up in costumes. You know, the whole shebang. Actually, I wonder when they have the time to do schoolwork and attend their classes...? Hmm...

Now, our third character, Kyoya, is the calm, cool, and collected type. He smart, and he manages the Host Club's earnings and finances. He sees everything as a gain-and-loss opportunity, and if the benefit doesn't outweigh the disadvantages, he won't go through with it. It's actually scary how....systematic and seemingly emotionless he is. To be honest, my initial impression of him was that he was a sociopath. Everything he does is to gain something; not to be nice, not to help other people; but to gain something. At least, that's what we're led to believe. He does have a few moments that make me think he's trying to hide that fact THAT HE'S A HUMAN BEING (*gasp!* The revelations are astonishing....what will be next? That there actually ISN'T any truth in advertising? Global warming is real? That that extra slice of pumpkin pie I had on Thanksgiving was probably a bad idea? Answer: yes). Let me just clarify here: I don't believe he is a sociopath. I think he's overcompensating for his family issues. Now that that's out of the way...

The cutest member of the Host Club is Hunny. From his behavior, look, height, tendencies, etc, you'd peg him as age 6. But, believe it or not, he's really the oldest. He's 17 (I know, I was stunned when I found out). But he doesn't let his age stop him from being who he is! He loves cake and bunnies and all things cute and adorable. Which is strange, because he's also a master of martial arts. He trained Japanese police, for crying out loud. Ahhh, our diverse little Hunny:) But know what's better than Hunny?

Hunny PLUS Mori. They are the same age, and they go together perfectly. Actually, Tamaki and Kyoya have it figured out: alone, Mori is scary and mean-looking. But with Hunny at his side (or on his shoulders, either works), he is instantly transformed into a lovable, adorable, swoon-worthy hottie. And they know what appeals to horomonal teenage girls, don't they? Mori is an enigmatic character, because he rarely talks. Strangely though, it doesn't make him menacing or evil or anything. He's just....Mori.    

Stick with me, we've got just two more characters to cover. Next up is: Hikaru and Kaoru!! I group them together because they are twins. And their roles as Host Club members somewhat....intertwined, I guess you could say. See, everyone in the Host Club has a certain type: Haruhi is the natural type, Tamaki is the princely type, Kyoya is the cool type, Mori is the strong, silent type, and Hunny is the cutesy little boy type (he's sometimes called the "Boy Lolita" type, hehe:D). Hikaru and Kaoru? Well....their type is the "forbidden, brotherly love" type. And this is where you scrunch up your nose and go, "Ewwwww....." Don't worry, they aren't actually gay, it's just an act (apparently the female customers find it attractive....? I don't know. Don't ask me. I was born as a girl, but without the same mentality). Hikaru and Kaoru are pretty mischievious, and before the Host Club was formed, they were closed to outsiders and only had each other. 

All of these characters have stereotypical manga personalities. The nerd, the silent guy, the troublemakers, the egotistical "player," the cutie, yadda yadda yadda. But, Bisco Hatori, daaaaaangggg.....she has done SUCH a good job here. She's taken dozens of manga stereotypes, flipped them on their head, mocked them, and transformed them into something great. Hatori.....I love you......
....IWOULDEATABABYDUCKIFYOUASKEDMETO...just kidding:P I love duckies....

This manga is mostly comedic, and looking at it that way, it is effing hilarious. I have read the first 8 volumes so far, and every single one has, on several different occassions, made me laugh audibly, into the air, out loud, it was so funny. And the humor is intelligent and witty and....mannn.....I am SO looking forward to the next 10 volumes. 

Looking at it as a drama, it is still an excellent achievement. Each episode isn't just pointless happenings. As every story unfolds, we learn more about our beloved characters, how they came to be the way they are, their past experiences. Very, very, VERY rarely do I ever fall in love with a book's characters. In fact, this is probably the only time where I've come to love the characters so much. I would DIE if something bad ever happened to them (they're fictional, but still AWESOME, okay?). it, okay? Read the manga, watch the anime, even if it's not the kind of stuff you're into, you will LOVE it, I guarantee. And if not, well, then: I give you full permission to curse and slander my name until the day you die. Deal?  -Hannah

I've rated Ouran High School Host Club:



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