By Bisco Hatori. Released in Japan as “Ouran Koukou Host Club” by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine LaLa. Released in North America by Viz.
At long last, one of Viz’s most beloved shoujo series is coming to an end. We’ve had all the drama, we’ve had the love confession, so all that’s left is wrapping things up. Luckily, for the most part that means a return to the comedy that was one of the main reasons that fans loved this series. From Tamaki’s over-the-top reactions, to Haruhi’s deadpan remarks, to Kyoya’s smiling nastiness, there’s something for everyone here. And it’s all topped with a layer of sweetness that will give you cavities – but in a good way.
I should probably mention right now, though, that some BL fans of the series may end up being annoyed. Ouran has a huge BL fandom, as many reverse harem series tend to, and the artist enjoyed playing up to it – though always in a silly way. However, now that it’s the end of the series, she does little panels devoted to what happens to the cast when they grow up. A note to authors of books or manga with romantic entanglements – fans HATE this. Telling folks who love to write fanfiction that all of their romantic avenues are blocked by canon just grates. So when Ouran fans started off Vol. 18 by having Hunny married off to Reiko, I suspect the reaction was less “awww, so cute!” and more “Noooooo, he’s Mori’s!”. Be prepared for this throughout the book.
As for the book itself, I had wondered what Tamaki’s reaction to Haruhi’s confession would be like. It’s pretty much exactly as I predicted – which is what makes it fun, of course. Tamaki’s tendency to overdo everything, his naivete at basic day-to-day living and yet his mastery of reading other people are all on display here, and I think after 18 volumes we no longer worry about how he’ll function as an actual responsible adult. The same goes for Haruhi – the change in her over the course of the series has been astounding, and here we see her actually being openly affectionate with Tamaki.
The series proper ends about 2/3 through the volume, so we get two ‘side stories’ taking place after the series. The second is just 6 pages of our main couple being adorable, but the first is full-length, and focuses on Kyoya and his family issues. The author notes in comments that she wanted to leave Kyoya’s story open-ended as it would be very difficult to realistically wrap it up that fast – it will take years. So instead we have Kyoya being clever, but still not quite clever enough to think ahead of his father, which is his main goal. He also clashes with a woman from another family who’s being engaged to one of his brothers. Seeing their sharp, nasty barbs towards each other – all delivered, of course, with bright and happy smiles – made me happy. And of course the rest of the Host Club is there as well, making this probably the funniest chapter of the volume.
As with all harem series that deliver an actual ending, this is going to upset a few people. But I suspect the majority will be delighted. Ouran has been an over-the-top romantic comedy which, even if it got a bit melodramatic towards the end, never stopped delivering entertainment. It’s been worth the wait to have it fully come out here. v(I do wonder if Viz will license Hatori’s new work, The Bullshit Delusional Opera, when it comes out in Japan. It may need a title change.) Congratulations to Haruhi, Tamaki and the cast!