- Author: Bisco Hatori
- Series: Ouran High School Host Club #1
- Genre: Contemporary/Comedy
- No. of pages: 178
- Dates read: 27.06.2021 – 30.06.2021
- Star Rating: 2.5 stars
- Challenge: Not a Novel
Plot: In this screwball romantic comedy, a poor girl at a rich kid’s school ends up working for the school’s swankiest club and gets mistaken for a boy! One day, Haruhi, a scholarship student at exclusive Ouran High School, breaks an $80,000 vase that belongs to the ‘Host Club’, a mysterious campus group consisting of six super-rich (and gorgeous) guys. To pay back the damages, she is forced to work for the club, and it’s there that she discovers just how wealthy the boys are and how different they are from everybody else.
So, I had heard a lot about this series on TikTok and Twitter. Earlier this month I watched the anime adaption of the show and throughly enjoyed it. I really wanted to grab the first volume and see how well the adaptation was and also to see if I like the original material.
Sadly, I didn’t.
I personally didn’t enjoy the art style at all. I liked the drawings of the backgrounds of the school and I felt that the scenes that were created for comedy purposes where the art style becomes more cartoonish was done really well. But the majority of the art style, especially the character design, was not my fave. I preferred the anime art style, the proportions of the characters, especially the faces, was a bit all over the place. The panels itself got quite busy which made it hard to read at times, which hindered my experience.
The 3 episodes/short stories itself were good. The first two, again because I watched the show, felt rushed and the pacing was off also I felt the story needed to be fleshed out more. I really enjoyed the last story as I love the character Renge who was introduced. The comedic parts were done really well and were matched with some nice art, those were my favourite moments. I felt that the show managed to capture and really highlight the comedic tones of the manga a lot.
The characters were fine. Tamaki came across really well and I enjoyed him a lot. Haruhi was fine, I didn’t feel as connected to her character in the manga as I did the show. In the show she is sort of like the voice for the audience but I didn’t feel that was the case for the manga so that level of connection was gone. This first volume really focused on Tamaki and Haruhi more than the other characters. I felt they had a good amount of page time to set up important points and character dynamics but the focus was more on setting up the two main characters, Tamaki and Haruhi.
This manga is also a satire and highlights/makes criticism on certain elements of Host Club and fangirl culture which the author started delving into in this volume. I enjoyed those elements of the manga where you see Haruhi criticise some of the choices and nature of the Host Club and what it represents and I wish there was more in this first volume. I think a lot of western readers would get confused and not initially realise it’s satire when they get to scenes with Hikaru and Kaoru for example, who have a whole Clary and Jace from the Mortal Instruments thing going on. I think readers would get confused and not continue the series without realising the manga is parodying and making commentary on certain types of straight fangirls who fetishise mlm relationships.
There is even some interesting commentary on gender with Haruhi who doesn’t mind being perceived as a boy or a girl. She doesn’t really care for gender and Tamaki who is very LGBTQ+ positive who welcomes all guests and is flattered at the idea of Haruhi (who he believes to be a boy) may have a crush on him. But this series is not a champion of sexuality and gender, it was just nice to see those moments from a manga set back in 2003 which at the time was heavily heterosexual and cisgender.
But overall, the art style sadly wasn’t my fave, the story felt rushed and at times all over the place.
The next book I will be reviewing since I am still reading The Shadow Rising (I am about 45% of the way through) is Saga Vol.1 by Brian K. Vaughn.