"The Kotatsu is a symbol of family harmony right?! Forcing everyone to sit in the warmth of a small Kotatsu, watching Kohaku while you get into little squabbles because you bump each other with your legs...right?!" - Tamaki
Ouran High School Host Club is an anime that ran for two seasons as well as an 18 volume manga. It tells the story of an all boys host club at an elite private high school in Japan where boys with too much time on their hands entertain (innocently) the girls with too much time on their hands. The main plotline is driven by a girl named Haruhi who is forced to join the club disguised as a boy in order to pay off her debt after breaking an expensive vase. Haruhi is a scholarship student whose middle class ways intrigue and enthrall all of the rich Ouran students, and the class differences spawn many storylines and provide much humor.
Unlike some other series we have watched, the Ouran anime was actually very faithful to the manga until it veered off in the last episode to provide a conclusion to the story. However, the storyline in that episode is not true to the canon of the manga, and the manga actually continued on for many more volumes before it reached a much different conclusion. As such, watching the series prior to reading the manga is like the cliffs notes version. The major plot points of the story are intact, but there is so much more explored in the manga. The characters and the world they inhabit are so much richer as there is more time to spend on their individual stories, as well as the minor characters surrounding them. There are some important characters in the manga that never appear in the anime at all, and others who have way more important roles. Honey and Mori graduate, there is a whole major plot involving Tamaki's mother, Haruhi has an entire friend outside of the host club never mentioned in the anime, Hikaru and Karou's identity crises are much more developed, as well as the extent of Tamaki's mental distress caused by his family. Both mediums tell the story of a boys host club at a rich school, but that is just barely the surface of the actual story told throughout the manga.
Ouran falls in line with many of the other anime that we gravitate towards in that it is very much a slice of life story with no extreme worldwide drama or consequences. The world of Ouran may be a slightly heightened reality due to the extravagance afforded to the boys of the host club and their patrons, but all of the character drama is very grounded. It is very much a comedy, but the worries and fears of these characters as they are trying to figure out their lives as they near the end of their high school years provides a lot of tension. Tamaki may put on fanciful airs and appear to be at ease with the world, but he has to work through a lot of deep emotions throughout the series, and it's really interesting to see all of his different layers come to the surface as we learn more about his family situation. All of the characters have an arc throughout the series which are much more expanded in the manga, and while the actual ending is a bit strange, it is a fitting conclusion to the story.
||Tamaki, Kyoya, Karou, Kasanoda
||Jungle Pool SOS!, And so Kyoya Met Him!, Lobelia Girls’ Academy Strikes Back!
||The Refreshing Battle of Karuizawa!, Lobelia Girls’ Academy Strikes Back!, And so Kyoya Met Him!
||6, 8, 11
||6, 8, 11
||Tamaki and Kyoya, Hikaru and Karou, Kyoya/Karou
||Tamaki/Kyoya, Hikaru and Karou