Ouran High School Host Club Volume One is a manga by Bisco Hatori, and it was published by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2005. The series is rated “T” for teens; after reading this volume, I would agree with that rating.
The series is set at a prestigious school that teenagers from rich families attend. Haruhi Fujioka, one of the main characters of Ouran High School Host Club, is a smart girl from a lower class family who is able to attend the school through a scholarship. Unfortunately, the scholarship doesn’t cover her school uniform, so she just wears long slacks, polo shirts, and vests. Between her clothes, her large glasses, and her short hair, people tend to mistake Haruhi for a boy.
One day, while trying to find a quiet place to study because students are loitering at all four of the libraries at the school, Haruhi goes into the unused music room and discovers that the Ouran High School Host Club is meeting there. Haruhi becomes flustered, and accidentally knocks over a vase that’s worth $80,000. Tamaki Suoh, the founder of the club, thinks that Haruhi is a boy and tells her that she must join the host club to pay off the debt.
Tamaki is the “prince” of the group, and is rather self-absorbed. Kyoya Ootori is the vice-president of the club, and is the “cool and aloof” character often seen in shojo manga series; he’s also in charge of the club’s finances. Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin are identical twins and fall into the “Little Devil” type; they enjoy playing tricks on each other, as well as on Tamaki. Mitsukumi Haninozuka, who goes by “Honey,” may look like a little kid, but he’s actually 17 years old. Honey is the “childish” character, who enjoys sweets and cute thins; he also carries around a plus bunny named Bun-Bun. Takashi Morinozuka, who goes my “Mori,” is tall and stoic, and only speaks when he feels it’s necessary to. Mori is also very protective of Honey.
Ouran High School Host Club can almost be seen as a shojo version of a “harem” manga, except that it’s one girl surrounded by several boys. The boys surrounding Haruhi fall into very particular archetypes; the women who surround the male in the “harem” series also fall into particular archetypes. All of the male leads also have a bishonen (“beautiful boy”) look about them, which is very prevalent in shojo titles.
When I read the first volume of Ouran High School Host Club, I had to remind myself that I’m not in the target market for this series. It was an enjoyable enough read, although I’m personally not in a rush to continue reading the series. Series creator Bisco Hatori mentions in some of her write-ups that appear in this volume that she intended Ouran High School Host Club to be a comedy. Personally, I really didn’t find it that funny; however, this is probably due to the fact that I’m not in the series’ target audience.
My 14-year-old daughter also read this volume, and said that she loved it and would like to read more; some of my daughter’s friends are also really into this series. Ouran High School Host Club seems to be successful at capturing its intended audience, so I do have to give it some credit for being able to accomplish that.
I would definitely recommend Ouran High School Host Club to female manga readers who are 13 or 14 years of age and older.