Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 17

By Bisco Hatori. Released in Japan as “Ouran Koukou Host Club” by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine LaLa. Released in North America by Viz.

It’s the second to last volume of Ouran, and things really aren’t getting any funnier. Not that there isn’t humor in this, especially towards the end, but the main thrust of this volume remains the family drama surrounding Tamaki and how it gets resolved. We’re in full soap opera mode here, and the tension is so high that even Kyoya loses it and starts screaming.

I was rather surprised at how well all of this holds together considering that so much of it is a giant infodump that’s hurled at us. The huge, convoluted plan that Tamaki’s father has would seem completely ridiculous until you remember that it’s Tamaki’s father, who has proven before to be as overdramatic as his son. Of *course* he would use the convoluted, overcomplicated plan! Actually, the family dynamics here are one of the best parts of the volume. Haruhi remarks how Tamaki, his father and his grandmother all share a bullheaded stubbornness, and we certainly see that here. I was quite p;leased with the depth that the grandmother got in particular, and I hope the final volume gives us some more resolution.

We also get some more of Tamaki’s mother. Given how she’s been presented as this beautiful-yet-weak fragile woman, it makes complete sense that she seems to suffer from the Ouran version of Love Story Disease, where one grows more beautiful the sicker one gets. That said, what little we see of her shows she’s not merely a potted plant – I loved her casual beating up of Tamaki’s father over what he did – it’s meant to remind us of Haruhi, I think. I suspect that Haruhi and Tamaki’s mother will get along swimmingly after the series ends.

Haruhi mostly has it easy here, getting to see Tamaki’s serious, stubborn yet noble side. It’s the side that’s easiest to fall in love with, and she has far fewer issues with it. Of course, she’s fallen in love with *all* of Tamaki, which also means you get his goofy, over the top side as well. And she *does* love that side, and not merely tolerate it. There is a wonderful inner monologue right towards the end of the volume where Haruhi reflects on joining the Host Club. Just as Haruhi keeps Tamaki grounded and attempts to tone down the worst of his excesses, so Tamaki shows Haruhi a world that she would never have otherwise experienced. I know this is a reverse harem manga, and there are many Ouran fans who would have preferred that Haruhi end up with Hikaru or Kyoya. But I think Hatori-san did an excellent job of showing why Tamaki is the real winner here.

And at the end of the volume those feelings are finally admitted in the open. After the catharsis of seeing Tamaki and his mother reunite, even if only for three minutes, Haruhi finally takes all the emotions that she’s felt over the past 17 volumes and tells Tamaki that she loves him. We don’t hear his response, of course – there’s still one volume to go. Somehow I’m going to guess he’ll overreact. Now that almost all the drama of Ouran has been resolved, I’m expecting a return to high comedy for the final one. Sadly, it’s another six-month wait. The curse of being caught up in Japan!

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