Well, it's been awhile since I've posted anything, but I thought I would take a different route for awhile. I've mostly been reviewing shonen manga (boys comics, basically), so I figured I would review shojo manga (girls comics) for a little while. I'm going to start with Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori. If the name sounds familiar, it's because I mentioned it in this post, about harem anime, as my only example of a reverse harem anime. I really enjoyed the anime, so I was looking forward to reading the manga.
This is the story of Haruhi, who is a scholarship student at the prestigious Ouran High School, which is mostly filled with kids who are so rich that they have no concept of what most people live like. The story starts with Haruhi, who doesn't wear the school uniform because she can't afford it, looking for a quiet place to study. She stumbles into the Music Room 3, which is supposed to be unused, and discovers the Host Club. Since it's a shojo manga, the Host Club filled with a bunch of hunky guys (each intentionally filling a stereotype). As she is trying to get away, she breaks an extremely expensive vase, and is forced to work for the club to pay it off.
Most of the first chapter is spent by the Host Club Members, one by one, figuring out that Haruhi is a girl, as her disheveled appearance was not remotely feminine. Before everyone figures it out though, they discover that she's cute, and propose that if she can get 100 customers, they will wave the debt. The remainder of the book involves Haruhi becoming a host, keeping her gender a secret from the rest of the students, a lot of humor related to how the members of the Host Club try to understand "common folk", and actually trying to help some people out.
The story, to me, is somewhat disjointed. It's a little hard to follow at times, and the pace seems a little too quick. This is probably because each member of the Host Club is a bit extreme, so their actions are all exaggerated. If I hadn't seen the anime already, I might have been lost. I would like to point out that, unlike most shojo manga, there is no obvious love interest in this story. In fact, she's pretty apathetic in general, which is part of the humor in the manga.
The art is good, but it was sometimes hard to tell who was who, especially when it came to the twins and the president of the Host Club. The other characters are unique enough that you can tell them apart. Also, most panels are crammed with characters and text and some pretty nicely detailed backgrounds, so it looks really busy. I do like the art, but it seems like it could have been toned down some, but the art does match the story, in that sense.
Overall, I do like the manga, and it has some really humorous moments. It's a bit shallow, in that there really isn't a lot of character development, it's mostly a bunch of gags. In later volumes, we do learn that all the members have some depth to them, but like I said, there isn't much of that here.