I’m reading manga again. It’s the New Year, and I keep resolving to read more manga in the hopes of keeping up with the manga fans at my library. I also find that reading comics seems to help me get out of the reading slump that happens after a beautiful book breaks my heart a little.
I picked up Ouran High School Host Club because all eighteen volumes were back on the shelf after a long time circulating. I just finished book nine and halfway seems like a fine place to recommend this funny shojo romance. Ouran High School is a lavish private school where the students are rarely seen studying. The Host Club boys entertain Ouran’s idle girls with flirtation, tea, and coordinated cosplay outfits. In the first volume, Haruhi Fujioka, a poor scholarship student who looks like a boy with her easy-to-manage short hair and inexpensive sweater, stumbles into what she believes is a disused music room looking for a quiet place to study. There she discovers the Host Club, and in her confusion she breaks an antique vase. Because she cannot pay for it, it is decided she will work off her debt by joining the club, continuing to pose as a boy. Each of the club members has a crush on her to some degree, and situations continue to arise that might expose Haruhi’s secret. The tone of the manga is at times so over-the-top that it becomes a parody of itself and all things shojo. The juxtaposition between this silliness and the genuine affection between the characters makes up much of its appeal.
Each of the members of the Host Club are their own exaggerated type. So, I decided to create a list of readalikes, or perhaps crushalikes, based on the characters. Bear in mind that the Ouran characters in these instances are more exaggerated than the comparison characters.
Tamaki Suoh, the club’s founder and self proclaimed “king,” is half-French and half-Japanese. He lived in France until he was fourteen, and that gives him a bit of European flair. On first impression he is supremely confident and romantic, but his ego is fragile and he is easily upset. Despite these mood swings, Tamaki can be extremely kind, has a wide variety of interests, and has a generally positive attitude. If Tamaki is your favorite member of the Host Club, you might like:
- Jace Wayland from The Mortal Instruments series. Jace was raised in the shadowhunter home country, Idris. He has cultured tastes in poetry and music, is a confident warrior, but is often upset because he has fallen for the wrong girl or is being influenced by dark forces.
- Etienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss. Etienne’s father is French and English, and his mother is American. He was raised mostly in France, making him a true international. He is confident and easygoing in most situations and loved by everyone. But when family trouble arises or his fear of heights comes into play, he shows his vulnerable side.
Kyoya Ohtori is the club’s cool and calculating vice president. He is not afraid to throw his wealth around. He hoards information and searches for profit in a way that can seem very self-serving, but he is always paying attention to the people around him and often manipulates a situation to benefit someone close to him. In manga terms he is a megane type, meaning his glasses give him an extra boost in the attractiveness department. If Kyoya is your favorite, you might like:
- Lucian Kiggs, insatiably curious captain of the guard in Seraphina (aforementioned book which caused my heartache and is a William C. Morris Award finalist). He doesn’t wear glasses, but he does seem to be everywhere and know everything. His intelligence strengthens his appeal.
- Richard Gansey III, better known as just Gansey, from The Raven Boys. Gansey, who does wear glasses, is often seen hoarding information in his journal, or throwing his not inconsiderable wealth at his problems. He overtly tries to manipulate situations to benefit his friends all the time.
The Hitachiin Twins, Hikaru and Kaoru, are the club’s unpredictable element. They are fond of mischief and hate to be bored. Until recently they were each other’s only friends, but the Host Club has been trying to get them to open up a bit. They remain extremely close, playing up brotherly love as a point of attractiveness. If Hikaru and Kaoru are your favorites, you might like:
- The Weasley Twins, Fred and George, from the Harry Potter series. These two are another set of twins who are fond of mischief, so much so that they get themselves kicked out of school and go into the business of providing others with all of their mischief-making needs.
Mitsukunni Haninozuka, better known as Hunny, is the oldest member of the Host Club — and the shortest and the cutest. Hunny charms the world by acting like a little kid. He always has his toy bunny, and loves to eat cake. In a pinch he can talk a good game when it comes to chemistry or show off his excellent martial arts skills. If Hunny is your favorite you might like:
- Noel DuBois from the Ruby Oliver series. Noel is an artist with a small, thin frame and a delicate constitution. He enjoys things that might be considered childish like ring pops and watching musicals, and he can bake a mean pain au chocolat.
Takashi Morinozuka, better known as Mori, is the strong silent type. He is the tallest member of the Host Club, and he is very protective of Hunny. Mori doesn’t say much, but when he does, it rings of truth. His smile can light up a room, and a head pat from Mori means you’ve done a good thing. If Mori is your favorite, you might like:
- Owen Armstrong from Just Listen. When Owen is first introduced, he is tall, silent, and somewhat threatening. It turns out he’s just more interested in music than he is in talking to most people. Once he likes someone and opens up, however, Owen has a lot to say.
- Sean Kendrick from The Scorpio Races. Sean’s talent is dealing with horses, the regular ones, and the dangerous capaill uisce that come out of the sea. He has subtle magic that calms and is always focused on the task at hand. When he begins to open up, his advice is valuable.
Haruhi Fujioka, our protagonist and an unwitting member of the Host Club, is a girl who dresses as a boy because it will help her get what she wants out of life — in this case avoiding debt. Haruhi is frugal and practical and likes to solve her problems on her own. If Haruhi is your favorite, you might like:
- Alanna of Trebond from Song of the Lioness. Alanna wants nothing more than to become a knight, so she disguises herself as a boy and trades places with her twin brother. Over the course of her training, she must overcome physical hardships in learning swordsmanship and emotional hardships as she struggles to keep her secret. Alanna never backs down from a challenge, and makes some good friends along the way.
- Deryn Sharp from the Leviathan series. Deryn disguises herself as a boy called Dylan in order to become a midshipman on the Leviathan, a living ship. She is good at her job and very brave as she learns about flying, intrigue, and loyalty. Only a few people figure out her secret over the course of three books.
Agree? Disagree? More to add? Discuss it in the comments.
— Erin Daly, currently reading Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby