Genre: Comedy, Drama, Reverse Harem, Romance,School, Shoujo
Original Name: Ōran Kōkō Hosuto Kurabu
Haruhi Fujioka is a scholarship student at the prestigious Ouran Academy, a fictitious high school located in Bunkyo, Tokyo. Looking for a quiet place to study, Haruhi stumbles upon the Third Music Room, a place where the Ouran Academy Host Club, a group of six male students, gathers to entertain female “clients.” During their initial encounter, Haruhi accidentally knocks over and breaks an antique vase valued at ¥8,000,000 (US$80,000 in Viz Media’s translation) and is told to repay the cost in service to the club as an errand boy. Haruhi’s short hair, slouching attire and gender-ambiguous face cause her to be mistaken by the hosts for a male student. After a brief run as such, the Hosts soon realize that she’s a “natural” in entertaining girls and promote her to full-Host status. She agrees since Hosting will help her pay off her debt more quickly. The members of the club discover her true gender one by one, but they keep this fact a secret.
Ouran Elite Academy encompasses kindergarten through high school and has an attached university program. Most students come from elite families, but a scholarship is annually awarded to the top scorer on a rigorous entrance examination. Haruhi is such a student for her grade level. The school’s unofficial motto is “Lineage counts first, wealth a close second,” meaning students with stellar family backgrounds but low socioeconomic status may be given top priority over those from rich families with lesser pedigrees.
Other than Haruhi, the other members of the Host Club include President Tamaki Suoh, Vice-president and “Shadow King” Kyoya Ootori; Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin, identical 1st-year twins; Mitsukuni “Honey” Haninozuka and his cousin Takashi “Mori” Morinozuka. Tamaki is the charming, beautiful, and top draw of the club with a 70% request rate, thus earning him the title of “King.” Kyoya, however, is the “Shadow King,” the true director who runs the show from behind the scenes with a charming facade and gracious manners. The Hitachiin twins, who share classes with Haruhi, are mischievous brothers who utilize a devised brotherly love angle on their relationship to captivate their guests. Honey is from a distinguished martial arts family, but plays the role of a “Shota” who has a great passion for stuffed animals and sweets while Mori is his tall, quiet protector with a fierce appearance and soft heart. All the characters are parodies of shojo manga characters, with Haruhi serving as the “natural” type, Tamaki as the “princely” type, Kyoya as the “cool” type, the Hitachiin twins as the “little devils” or “mischievous” type, Honey as the “boy lolita” type, and Mori as the “strong, silent type.”
The series places an emphasis on the comedic aspects of Tamaki Suoh falling in love with Haruhi Fujioka, but remaining in denial of his feelings throughout the entire anime and throughout the manga until just before its end, where they admit their mutual love and marry. In the early story, Tamaki adopts the role of ‘father’ in the group, often referring to Haruhi as his ‘daughter,’ though his feelings are obvious to the other hosts. In this way he protects the familial structure he’s created with the Host Club despite his emerging feelings for Haruhi. Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin share classes and friendship with Haruhi, as she is the first person who can tell them apart and who sees them as unique individuals. Hikaru’s feelings also evolve into romantic ones, but Haruhi’s apathetic nature keeps her from realizing his intentions. While perceptive about the motives of others, she is oblivious to her own feelings yet finds herself enjoying the camaraderie and experiences shared with the members of the club as her relationships with each of them develops.