While not overly innovative, Ouran proves an amusing entry in the romantic comedy genre.
Writer/ARtist: Bisco Hatori
What They Say
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.
Ouran's packaging chooses to stay to a slightly more simple side, offering a simple image of the lead characters, Haruhi and Tamaki, on the cover, and a quick synopsis and small image on the back. This is a bit in contrast to the rather elaborate images used at the start of each chapter, but outside of perhaps a few questionable choices (the plain purple color filling in all the extra space left around the cover image feels a bit... off,) it does its job. The translation as a whole seems fine and seems to make good decisions as a whole for what can be translanted and what needs an added explanation, but occasionaly will drift into some odd word choice such as a sudden "wot" or "jeepers," which can be a bit distracting and doesn't quite seem to fit in with the rest of the text.
The artwork is, for the most part, rather well done. Characters are, as in much of the shoujo genre, drawn with a good amount of detail and rather large, sparkly eyes. Backrounds, when drawn, are usually fairly detailed, and sparkles and roses abound (the pointlessness of which is even mocked by the book itself at one point.) However, despite the care that is put into the art, there is a noticible amount of copy and paste, and occasionaly a character's face will look ever so slightly out of proportion. Luckily, these oddities and annoyances are far and few between.
Haruhi Fujioka is a scholarship student at Ouran High School, an elite school for the rich, who quickly finds herself wandering upon the eccentric Host Club and ends up indebted to them due to a broken vase. After having Haruhi run a number of various errands, the Host Club discovers Haruhi's good looks (note that at this point the Host Club believes Haruhi to be a boy) and decides she can pay off her debt by working as a host. After Haruhi has a run-in with a rather disgruntled customer, the members of the club finally manage to discover that she is in fact a girl (though all but Tamaki, the head of the club, claim to have realized it previously.)
From that point, things continue as the members of the club hold a Christmas Party and attempt help two lovers open up to one another. Then, a rabid fangirl decends upon the club, claiming to be engaged to Kyoya (the club's manager). She then of course proceeds that the members of the club are too "tepid" and proceeds to revise their personalities. The volume wraps up with a quick short in which the characters fear the wrath of Hunny (the overly cute member of the club who also happens to be amazingly small for his age) upon spilling tea on his stuffed bunny.
While the setup of a highschool romance in which the main character is through happenstance forced to work alongside a group of eccentric characters may seem a bit cliche, Ouran manages to make it work. In particular, the over the top antics of Tamaki steal the show as he goes from a composed pretty-boy feeding line after line to the customers of the club to a complete raving lunatic when something upsets or annoys him. Not only that, but Tamaki's astounding narcissism often reaches ridiculous levels that you can't help but laugh at. Add to this Haruhi's great indifference and you end up with some very amusing situations.
Sadly, none of the other main characters seem to have shown much depth as of yet, and can easily be summed up in a handful of words each (Hunny is overly cute, Mori is simply silent, Kyoya is...greedy, and the twins seem to be a little childish) In spite of this, though, the characters are able to fill their roles to a satisfying degree, and even this one-dimensionality of the characters is put to good use in the 3rd chapter when the character's personalities are "revised" for a movie to make them "more interesting." While Ouran may not be doing anything overly unique to make itself stand out from the crowd, it still manages to be a solid and enjoyable read with a number of hilarious situations and lines.