Contemporary Realistic Fiction · Graphic Novel · Review

Ouran High School Host Club, Volume 1 by Bisco Hatori

Ouran High School Host Club 1Series: Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 1
Translator: Kenichiro Yagi
Publisher: Viz Media
Pub. Date: 2005 (2014 for this edition)
Genres: Shoujo Manga, Comedy, Romance
Pages: 178
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Haruhi Fujioka, a student at the exclusive and prestigious Ouran High School, stumbles into Music Room 3, seeking a quiet place to study. Instead she finds the school’s popular host club, where boys with too much time on their hands entertain girls with too much time on their hands. While trying to escape, she’s mistaken for a boy and breaks an expensive vase. In order to pay back the damages, she must become a host and work off her debt. What would normally be a special form of hell turns into a romantic comedy. As Haruhi deals with the guys’ feelings for her, she also learns more about them and their world. Ouran High School Host Club, Volume 1 by Bisco Hatori, made me laugh as much as its anime.

After watching the entire anime series, I decided to borrow the manga from the library and find out how closely the anime matches it. I found that this volume was the basis for the anime’s first, second, fourth and part of the twelfth episodes. Once again, TV shows and movie adaptations cannot be trusted to match the books perfectly, but I could hear the characters’ voices when I read their speech bubbles.

 

Hatori introduced the characters through a stereotypical lens and carefully peeled it back at appropriate moments to show who they really are. First, there’s Haruhi the scholarship student who is mistaken for a boy. Then there’s Tamaki, king of the Host Club, who woos the ladies with his charm, but he is a goofball who sulks in a corner when is ego is shot. The other members of the Host Club are the Hitachiin twins, Kyoya, Honey and Mori. All the boys have romantic interest in Haruhi. I also like that the back of the book lists the characters and provides their descriptions.

The premise of a scholarship student winding up in a lot of debt by accident is plausible. On top of that, the antics and sweeping-Haruhi-off-her-feet attempts add to the humor. I like that each episode, or chapter,  has its own plot. Since it is a comedy that probably won’t end for an indeterminate period, this helps keep everything organized and make sense. Like any good series, events from previous episodes tie everything together so there is a noticeable timeline.

Shoujo manga (targeted at a young female audience) has a general art style with some variation between the illustrators. Hatori’s artwork, particularly with the characters, looks more realistic. The characters’ faces, for example, have more reasonable proportions for the style than I have seen in other shoujo manga. I also love her detailed work in elaborate scenes, especially with costumes. Though humorous and good for showing Haruhi’s emotion, the scene toward the beginning of the first episode that shows Tamaki lifting a nervous Haruhi’s chin is drawn awkwardly.

Since the release of the first two James Patterson BookShots, books that can be read in one day regained some recognition for me. Ouran High School Host Club can be read in a few hours, like other manga. The original BookShot with a laugh a minute. As schedules get more demanding, this manga provides sweet comic relief.

Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 1 starts off a hilarious adventure for a commoner in a rich kids’ school. As they endeavor to help others and get Haruhi to fall in love with them, comedy ensues. I recommend this to manga readers and those who have little time on their hands to read a novel.

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