Mangaka: Bisco Hatori
My rating: 5 of 5
Scholarship student Haruhi Fujioka just wants to find a quiet place to study, away from all the idle rich kids at Ouran High. So how is it that she finds herself surrounded by (and indebted to) the noisiest, most indolent boys in the entire school–the Host Club? To make matters worse, they’ve decided (on their own) that she will remain disguised as a boy and work off her debt in their service–as a host herself! It’s hard to say whether her situation is a ripe for budding romance or simply for disaster.
Ouran High School Host Club has to be one of my favorite manga ever. While it does have its serious side (which is touching, insightful, and occasionally truly romantic), it also has the ability to always make me laugh, no matter how I’m feeling. Haruhi’s dry, practical personality and the rest of the Host Club’s obtrusive, brazen, over-the-top characters make excellent foils for each other. While there is a certain amount of plot development, particularly later in the story, the primary focus is always the characters and their day-to-day interactions. Every single character–even the random supporting cast members–has a well-developed personality and individuality. The art is a bit unstable in the first few chapters, but it smooths out nicely later on. Personally, I feel that the superfluous effort the mangaka put into making everything pretty (including all of the club’s ridiculous array of outfits) more than makes up for the early inconsistencies of style. (Per Hatori-san’s request, we won’t go into the temporal inconsistencies of the story; it’s always spring in Tamaki’s head anyway, so why shouldn’t the sakura bloom three separate times in one year?) In any case, if you’re up for an off-the-wall romantic comedy, Ouran High School Host Club would definitely be one of my top recommendations.