Haruhi attends the prestigious Ouran High School on a scholarship. Most students at this school are from well-to-do families. One day, while trying to find a quiet place to study, Haruhi enters a music room and finds a Host Club, a group of male students who provide companionship, conversation, and flirtation to bored female students. Haruhi accidentally knocks over an $80,000 vase and is forced to work for the Host Club to pay off the debt. The hosts make-over Haruhi and provide an actual school uniform suit, since Haruhi has to get 100 customer referrals in order to pay back the debt. Club "king", Tamaki, takes special interest in Haruhi and delights in piling on the torture and teasing. At some point, Tamaki finds Haruhi's ID, and realizes Haruhi is biologically female, but the Host Club assumed Haruhi was male. Haruhi doesn't care for the gender binary, but is rather more worried about working off the debt and maintaining good grades to keep the scholarship.
This is an over-the-top shōjo comedy full of very attractive male characters of all archetypes to fulfill the daydreams of probably most readers. There's the stoic, smoldering type, the outlandish but excessively handsome, and even an innocent, boyish one. This series seems now like it was ahead of its time as it came out in 2005 and was challenging the gender binary. As this is a hot topic presently, this manga will definitely resonate with readers who are looking for something that challenges societal norms and has a light-hearted storyline to back it up. This requires careful reading, though. Some of the dialog is a little all over the place on the page, and you definitely have to make sure to read the tiny fine print that usually is asides or character thoughts. In this case, the small print furthers some of the conversation or gives context to what's going on in the next panel. Other than the reading difficulty, this was an enjoyable story with a lot of great humor. I might pick it up on ebook so I can zoom in and give my old-lady eyes a break.
VIZ rates this series for teen (13+). There is a lot of flirtatiousness and some innuendo along with it. The main characters are all in high school. This would definitely be fine for high school audiences, and this volume would be ok for middle school, but if the inuendos get any racier, it might elevate it out of that audience.
Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 8-12
Publisher: VIZ Media
Publication Date: July 5, 2005
ISBN: 9781591169154 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: High School, Suitability: Middle School, Manga, Romance, School Life, Friendship, Realistic Fiction, VIZ Media
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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