The Hunger Games return with such a sequel twist that you can't believe writer Suzanne Collins didn't think of film when writing. Catching Fire builds up with all types of subversive messaging which is interesting but also brings into relief the limitations of the genre and film.
Haruhi Fujioka, a poor but smart high school student, goes to an elite academy for the extraordinarily wealthy on a scholarship. After breaking an expensive vase, Haruhi is forced to join the school's host club as a gofer- and later as a host herself!
Though a poor student with no social standing, Haruhi Fujioka is an honor student who wins a scholarship to Ouran High School: a school for the social elite, populated with rich heirs and those of high standing. She didn't like the people in the school, though, and as she looked for a place to study, she walked into Music Room #3. After school, though, this isn't just a music room- it's a host club, where handsome young men with too much free time entertain women after school. Taken aback by the colorful collection of characters, she starts trying to back away, but accidentally runs into a very expensive vase. So expensive that Kyoya, who runs the numbers for the club, informs her that she is to be the personal attendant of the host club until she pays back the debt. The boys in the club notice how good looking she is, though, and decide it would be faster to turn her into a host- which is when they finally notice that Haruhi is a girl. They make a decision to keep it to themselves, keeping Haruhi in as a host until she pays off her debt.
Past the initial set up, the show takes on more of a situational and character driven nature, with a "trouble of the week" sort of set up, where a character has a problem and the host club has to solve it. For example, one episode has a girl who is "host hopping" to try and get the attention of a boy, and the host club works to get him to finally announce his love for her. In another, the heir to a mob family wants to let people know that he's a lot nicer than he looks so he can finally have some friends, but falls in love with Haruhi and has to work on talking to girls as well. She friend-zones him, but he still learns his lesson. The end of the series also shows the backstory of the members and why they joined the host club (more on this and other info on the characters on their respective pages).
One of the characters who needs help is a girl named Renge Houshakuji, who is a lover of date sims and is
Renge Houshakuji is quite the otaku.
especially enamored with a series which has a character who looks just like Kyoya. She flies from France to Japan to find him, but when they tell her that Kyoya is not who she wants him to be (namely, a warm and open person who loves her), she decides to stay at the host club as a general manager, helping them improve their host-characters and put out merchandise featuring their likenesses (including Moe Moe Ouran Journal, a fanzine that is quite popular). She pops up to help the host club in aiding others and gives commentary on certain characters.
The final episodes of the show have the most plot development of the series. As the Ouran Fair goes on, Tamaki is visited by his father and grandmother with a woman named Eclair Tonnere, who tells Tamaki that if they marry and dissolve the host club, then she'll let Tamaki see his mother (who lives in France, and he's otherwise forbidden from seeing her- again, more info on his character page). He agrees and, even though he's in love with Haruhi, he dissolves the host club and is never allowed to see any of the members again. The hosts don't stand for this, though. The club means so much to them and was so helpful to them personally, they can't just let it end. As Tamaki and Eclair drive to the airport, the twins and Haruhi (who is realizing she loves Tamaki) give chase in a horse-drawn chariot, and Tamaki returns to the club, their rightful leader. The show ends with Haruhi sharing a dance with each member of the club, and life goes on for them same as before.
This is the most you get of their, ah, "romance".
However, the show ended before the manga did, resulting in a rushed ending and many loose ends still in place. For example, at the end, Tamaki had apparently given up seeing his mother again. Tamaki's plans to taking over his father's business are still unknown, as well- or if he'd even be able to, since he's illegitimate. Furthermore, any information on Haruhi's and Tamaki's relationship is never addressed. They never kiss or even acknowledge their feelings to each other, even if we the audience know what's going on. These are cleared up in the manga, though. The host club makes sure that Tamaki sees his mother again, and Haruhi and Tamaki begin dating, even moving together to America. Aside from the two of them, the Hitachii twins also never have their burgeoning independence from each other come to fruition. This, too, changes a little in the manga, with one of the brothers even dying his hair a little darker to give himself a more independent look.
Creation and faithfulness to Manga
"Ouran High School Host Club" was adapted from Bisco Hatori's manga of the same name in the spring of 2006. The manga started in 2003, but was still going when the anime ended in fall 2006- hence the loose ends explained above. This is probably due to funding, and thus resulted in a rather rushed and sudden ending. The show and manga were rather popular in Japan, and the anime gained a niche following in the US.
The manga was Bisco Hatori's second series, and one of the main points of it was to parody the usual tropes of shojo (i.e. manga directed at girls), and this is mostly seen in the "types" that the hosts typify. Kyoya, for example, is the "cool" type- smart and calm, never really showing emotion, as opposed to Tamaki's "prince" type- very hyperactive and flattering in nature. There's also Honey, the "boy Lolita", Mori, the "strong, silent type", and the Hitachiin twins have "twincest" going on, where they basically play as two too-loving brothers, always doting and being very physical. Haruhi wraps things up as the "natural" type, just being very straight-forward and kind to the girls at the club.
Further parodying the genre comes from Renge and the girls at the club, acting as a sort of audience to the hosts charms. This is especially prevalent in the "Flames of Moe" (Moe=a very strong type of cute) that burns them during certain scenes, such as Mori caring for Honey, or the twins being all twincesty. Renge is also meant to be a parody of otakus (people with huge obsessions over things like anime, manga, etc. See also: geek) in the way she hunted down Kyoya for looking like a character from a dating sim, and her extreme fandom for the host club and the tropes of shojo stereotypes are often brought to the forefront.
The anime is actually very faithful to the manga- except, as said before, the ending. It's so faithful that many parts are simply the same frame shown in the manga, only with animation. The ending is the biggest part, because as the anime ended, the manga continued on, with other plot points like the Hitachiin twins falling for Haruhi, a competition between them and Tamaki for her affection, and a bit more fleshing of the characters (example: Tamaki has only ever known love to bring sorrow to others, so he views it as a bad thing- hence his unwillingness to commit to anything with Haruhi).
Kyoya DVD Cover
The manga has also been adapted into radio dramas, a visual novel for the Playstation 2 and Nintendo DS, a live-action series, and also has a soundtrack CD that can be purchased. The DVDs came out and divided the episodes into two separate sections, with the first section being sold with a case for each character.
The Natural, Haruhi
Haruhi Fujioka The only main female of the series, as well as the only poor person in the Host Club. She is considered as the "Natural Type" because she's charming without trying to be.
The Prince, Tamaki
Tamaki Suou President and founder of the Host Club who has an affinity for Haruhi. Considered as the "Prince Type" for his high charisma.
The Devilish Twins
Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachin The identical twins of the Host Club who pose as possible lovers, but in reality are just very close to each other. They are the "Mischievous Type" due to their pranks they pull on others.
The Boy Lolita, Honey
Mitsukuni "Honey" Haninozuka A very short 17-year-old who acts like a small child in the Host Club, where he is labeled as the "Boy Lolita". Often seen with his bunny plushie, Usa-chan, and his best friend/manservant Mori.
The Cool Type, Kyoya
Kyoya Otori The Host Club's vice-president and Tamaki's closest friend. Considered as the "Cool Type" because of his smooth, almost aloof nature. He's very cold and calculating, always working something on the clipboard he always has with him.
The Strong, Silent Type, Mori
Takashi Morinozuka The quietest of the club members and is a close friend of Honey's, as well as his bodyguard. Since he speaks very little and is physically imposing, he is the "Strong and Silent" type.
In all aspects a comedic show, Host Club derives a lot of humor from physical comedy. Not slapstick, to be sure, but most of the humor derives from the faces and overreactions the characters have to certain events. There is also a lot of humor based on the class differences between the hosts and Haruhi, such as when she introduces them to instant coffee and it's like a miracle to them.
Though it might go over some viewer's heads, there is also a lot of humor based on the extreme extrapolations of the character archetypes, and especially showing people's reactions to them. The show is very hyperactive, and the characters move through certain beats and situations at lightning speed- just as you've stopped laughing at one joke, another is there to take its place.
Lastly, the show also includes "author's notes", as included in some manga (depending on the author) to ask questions about what's going on or just give more detail on a subject (especially those that would be strange to us Americans watching a Japanese show). These can be quite humorous as well, adding a new light to a joke that was already effective or sometimes even making the audience realize a situation is more humorous than they had realized.