By way of mokie
and to my surprise, I've been watching and reading Ouran High School Host Club
(Ouran Koukou Host Bu
). It's a hilarious new show with some great art and voice actors, and the writing is spot on. Contrary to its setup as what could be the ultimate wish fulfillment shoujo series ever made, it seems designed entirely to poke every cliche from the genre in the nose. The boys of the OHCC are from every kind of manga fetish -- the princely archetype, the yaoi twins, the stoic martial arts fiend, the "cool" guy, even and especially the crossdressing type. They're filthy rich, which roughly means their romantic pursuits have no budget. There are rose petals everywhere
. The characters even go so far as to remind the audience of their "romantic comedy" setup from time to time, which would work... if their lead girl was even remotely interested in any of them.
That's right. OHCC is a shoujo series with a lead girl who has virtually no interest boys. All the remaining -nths of a percent of interest she does have is spent looking very confused.
And this is what makes OHCC really great. Haruhi, our intrepid heroine, not only spends 99.9% of airtime dressed like a cute boy and hits on girls (she has to -- she owes the OHCC 8 milliion yen in debt), she also has the grudging socialization habits of ... well... me? She's like the anti-Christ of shoujo
. (You didn't think I'd watch this for a host club of pretty boys, did you?) The creepy shoujo habit of all the surrounding guys developing feelings for the lead girl is enough laughing to make me cry. There's also just no telling what this series will try to parody next. In the first four episodes alone, they've taken potshots at dating sims, fighting group shows, host club fantasies, fangirls, afternoon soaps, even Japanese electronical appliances. It's great stuff, and really watchable. Even for a person who runs through most things only once, I found myself going back and replaying whole episodes. If you can get past the title and the fact the OP's opening lines are, "KISS KISS FALL IN LOVE!" (I nearly wept at that point too, but it is still a pretty good soundtrack), you're in for a nice little surprise.( Manga Review and Character Breakdown Here. )
Overall: If you're going to start on this series and want a good laugh, go for the anime first. The pace is faster and the kinks in the manga's writing have been worked out. The manga does have slightly more characterization, but it also meanders a fair bit. If you are going for the manga, I would actually recommend you try 3.3.7. Byooshi
instead, a manga of a very similar vein, but with stronger characters and by far much more solid plotting. Byooshi
is not shoujo manga by any means, which takes away the entire problem of all this romantic stuff - though it does poke fun at shoujo archetypes as well. There's also some amazingly expressive art, and Kubou Mitsurou draws some very nice
is probably the first shounnen manga I've seen with full frontal breasts -- that it's for an entirely unexpected purpose and person doesn't count!)
Next: Hamp reviews an anime (really the only one) she actually intended to watch this season -- Ergo Proxy