Book Review: Ouran High School Host Club – Volume 1 by Bisco Hatori

Image Description: The book-cover of Ouran High School Host Club – Volume 1 by Bisco Hatori. The background is a coloured silhouette of a side-profile picture of Tamaki. The foreground is a picture of Haruhi a robin-egg-blue private school blazer, tie, formal pants, also holding a bouquet of red roses over her shoulder.

Title: Ouran High School Host Club – Volume 1
Author: Bisco Hatori
Social Media: Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: VIZ Media
Format and Price: Paperback from my local library
Stars: 5 out of 5 stars

About The Author:
Bisco Hatori born August 30 is a Japanese manga artist. Bisco Hatori is a pseudonym; she states that the name has special meaning to her. She has worked for such magazines as LaLa. Her manga debut was A Moment of Romance in LaLa DX. Her first series was Millennium Snow. However, the comedy Ouran High School Host Club is her breakout hit.

About The Book:
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.

General Observations:
~Nostalgia Goggles: As with Fruits Basket, Ouran High School Host Club was one of the first animes I ever watched, so I have a soft spot for it. I enjoy it immensely even though I can understand why some of the humorous antics can be over the top for some readers.

~Slapstick Knows No Gender: The humour and slapstick elements of this series is, to me, the best part of the series. While Tamaki (the club’s founder) presents the Host as a sanitised version of a real host club, to be honest, the situation is more like a fancy high-stakes cos-play club (so much costume-porn). Haruhi, lower-middle class working background, is stuck with a bunch of pretty boys who are so rich that they have no concept of everyday reality. Instant coffee and instant ramen are novelties for them. On the plus side, they’re all very kind and sweet, and heaven help anyone who is foolish enough to threaten Haruhi.

~Loads and Loads of Characters: While Ouran High School Host Club isn’t anywhere near Bleach-level of cast members, there’s a big main group, and a few consistently reoccurring side-characters, my favourite side character Nekozawa (president of the Dark-Arts club). Due to a photosensitivity condition, he wears a black billowing cape and dark-green wig, he’s hilarious (although not sure if it’s all intentional). While Tamaki is the lead goof-ball of the club, all the club members have their moments, as the series progresses and character arcs are fleshed out, the series does become less comedic, but it doesn’t go away. Although, I will argue that it takes a while for the deeper character arcs to get going.

~Content Warning – Problematic Language: This is more for later volumes when the reader is introduced to Haruhi’s father Ranka, who is openly bisexual and a cross-dresser. While Haruhi doesn’t care about her father’s appearance, and most of the characters in the manga also don’t seem to care either, however, the language surrounding Ranka’s cross-dressing is occasionally problematic.

All in all, I’m happy to recommend this classic shojo series, it’s hilarious and genre savvy and quite happy to poke fun at the audience and itself.

Available for Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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