One day long ago (ok…not THAT long ago….but when I was still in high school), my friends and I were browsing through Chapters as we typically did on a Friday night. Winding our way through the various aisles with Starbucks in hand, we stumbled across a table of strange books that we had never heard of before. The covers of these books appeared to be on backwards, the pages were completely filled with black and white illustrations, and most of them had funny titles that we had never heard of before. What did Yu Yu Hakusho mean? Who in the world was Naruto? That’s right….we had discovered Japanese manga, and I was immediately hooked!
From Fruits Basket to One Piece, I inhaled every single manga that I could get my hands on! Unfortunately, upon starting university my manga reading was brought to a halt due to the demanding pile of books that I needed to get through for my English degree. It wasn’t until very recently, when one of my friends from library school insisted that I check out a series called Ouran High School Host Club, that my love of manga resurfaced once again. Full of humour, drama, love stories, and suspense, this manga series by Bisco Hatori had me absolutely killing myself with laughter!
Ouran High School Host Club follows the story of Haruhi, a female student who has been granted a scholarship to the very elite Ouran High School. During her first week of classes, Haruhi stumbles upon Music Room #3, and thinking that it might be a quite place to study, opens the door to go inside. The last thing that she expects is to be greeted by six extremely handsome boys, who introduce themselves as the Host club. For those of you who may be confused, Host clubs in Japan are a form of entertainment where men cater to female guests by serving them drinks and providing them with flirtatious conversation. Think of it as a tamer and much less sexual version of an escort service with lots of etiquette.
Taken by complete surprise by the boys, Haruhi accidentally breaks an extremely expensive vase that belongs to the club. Unable to pay for the cost of the vase, the Host club offers Haruhi the option of working off her debts by being their errand boy. That’s right….errand BOY! Due to her short haircut and frumpy clothing, the Host club mistakes Haruhi to be a boy, and not wanting to cause any further trouble, Haruhi decides not to correct them. From there the manga takes a series of hilarious twists and turns, as members of the club find out that Haruhi is in fact a girl, and start to fall madly in love with her.
While I think that this manga is absolutely hilarious and amazing, I should probably warn you that the series contains some mature content. I’m not talking about nudity or sex or anything like that. Rather, in order to cater to the whims of the girls who visit the Host club, its members portray various characters to keep them entertained, which can sometimes border on the taboo. This includes the boys cross dressing, creating Lolita fantasies, and having two twin brothers pretend to be in madly in love with each other. As long as you can keep an open mind you’ll soon find the humour in these situations and be howling out loud with laughter!
So my verdict? If you are looking for something to cheer you up and give you a ton of laughs then definitely go check out Ouran High School Host Club! Don’t let the fact that its a manga scare you away! You’ll soon find yourself falling in love with Tamaki, Kyoya, Hikaru, Kaoru, Honey and Mori! For those of you on a budget, you can also find the series online (although my inner librarian should be outraged at the very suggestion of breaking copyright on books)! Check out this scene from the anime below which I also HIGHLY RECOMMEND! I love it just as much as the manga…maybe even a little bit more….
Context: This clip is from the first episode of the anime, where Haruhi has just stumbled into the Host Club by accident. Based on her disheveled appearance, the boys mistaken her for a boy. Due to the fact that girls are the only ones who ever visit the Host Club, the president (Tamaki) assumes that Haruhi must be gay, and tries to figure out what type of guy he/she is most attracted to.