Thursday, July 26, 2012

Manga Review: Ouran High School Host Club

Ouran High School Host Club (18 volumes)
By: Bisco Hatori
(5 out of 5 stars)

Let me preface this post by saying I am a total noob (aka newbie) when it comes to manga and anime (graphic novels and comics, too, for that matter). My friend, Mike, is always sending me links to anime clips and giving me lists of stuff I should watch. Most of the time I think it's completely wackadoodle (like the one where there's a princess who is a ballerina who turns into a duck...something like that...). I was hanging out with Mike and my other librarian friend, Lauren, and they teamed up and forced me to watch the anime of Ouran High School Host Club. We watched maybe two episodes before they had to leave, and the whole time I'm watching I'm thinking that this stuff is cray-cray. This was Sunday.

By Tuesday, I'd watched all 26 episodes.

Within 2 weeks I had read manga volumes 1-17, minus 4 and 8; volume 4 was missing from the library and had to be reordered and volume 8 was checked out. When I got to the end of 17, I was all "This is how the story ends?!? NOT COOL!" Then I found out there was one more volume, and it was going to be published within the month. (This is not the first time I've lucked out with book series and publishing dates; I didn't start reading the Harry Potter series until about 6 months before The Order of the Phoenix was published. Unlike most other HP fans, I didn't have to wait years after Goblet to find out what happened when He Who Must Not Be Named came back!)

See, here's the thing: every now and then I completely geek out over stuff. When I was in college, I watched the first two Mummy movies and the first two HP movies on a loop. My roommate would come into our dorm and just look at me, roll her eyes, saying without words, "Again?" Since then, other obsessions have included the new Doctor Who (this obsession is ongoing and is unlikely to ever stop), Leverage (an awesome TV show on TNT), the Marvel movies (I heart Tony Stark!), and most recently, the Ouran series.

Here's the deal:

A girl from a low to lower-middle-class home is super smart and gets into the uber-elite Ouran Academy in Japan. She's a girl with a plan for her future and she's determined to succeed. Since her dad doesn't have a lot of money, she couldn't afford one of the super expensive uniforms, so she wears some slacks and her dad's old sweater. Combine that with a short, shaggy haircut and old glasses, Haruhi's gender isn't apparent on first - or second - glance.

Trying to find a quiet place to study, she enters what she thinks is an empty music room. Alas, it isn't empty. Haruhi has mistakenly wandered in to the Host Club head quarters. (At this point, I should probably attempt to explain a host club. In this story, the Host Club is a group of super-rich and gorgeous guys who basically cater to the whims of the girls at Ouran by spending time with them at the club, telling them how pretty and talented they are, and basically being what every girl wants in a guy...while they're at the club. All this happens without dating or any kind of real relationships.) So while in the music room, Haruhi accidentally breaks the club's vase worth $80,000 and finds herself beholden to the club. The club president, unaware that Haruhi is a girl, decides that she will act as a member of the club to pay off her debt. Chaos and hilarity ensue when the boys realize Haruhi is a girl, but make her pretend to be a boy to continue paying off her debt.

So the plot sounds almost as wackadoodle as the princess-ballerina-duck story, but it's really well written (and illustrated) and there's so much character growth and emotional interactions that this series really is fully realized and a lot of fun. Over the course of the story, both Haruhi and the boys learn a lot about each other, friendship, and what's really important in life. I love the characters and the way they develop throughout the story, and the final book wraps up the loose ends and feels very satisfying (though I kinda wish she'd keep writing - it's always sad when a great series ends!).

I totally recommend this series, both the manga and the anime. I did enjoy the manga more, though - the anime was completed long before the manga series ended, and I like where the manga story went more than the anime version. That being said, they were both fun. This series may appeal a bit more to girls, but manga lovers will dig it, whatever their gender.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

I've been tagged with the Liebster Blog Award by Bookworm8921. The Liebster Award is for bloggers with less than 200 followers. Award winners share 11 facts about themselves, answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who tagged them, come up with 11 of their own questions and tag 11 more bloggers with the award.

11 Facts About Me:
1. I'm a Teen Librarian. 
2. My dog, Wrigley has a YouTube page.
3. I love tea and hate coffee.
4. I don't have enough shelves for all of my books.
5. I've ghost hunted at my library (and now I'm freaked out by our basement).
6. I'm an Anglophile.
7. I have a love/hate relationship with Steven Moffat. It's mostly love, but when it's hate, it really outweighs any of the love.
8. I find it impossible to choose a favorite book.
9. The #1 item on my Bucket List is to visit Ireland.
10. Books make me happy.

Questions from Bookworm8921

1. What is the first book you can ever remember reading?
Ohh, this is a hard one. My mom read to me all the time, so I have a lot of book memories. The book that stands out the most, though, is Arnold Lobel's Whiskers and Rhymes. It was also the first book for which I made a book trailer (I've made a grand total of two).

2. Do you re-read books? If so, which book have you re-read the most?
Absolutely! Sometimes they're better the 2nd, 3rd, 10th time around. I don't really know which ones I've read the most, though. My Chronicles of Narnia books from my childhood have clearly been loved hard, so I imagine they rank pretty high. Agnes and the Hitman may be the other - action, adventure, romance, and humor-har, all rolled into one fantastic book. I'm never NOT in the mood for that one!

3. Have you ever liked a movie based on a book more than the book itself?
Don't hurt me for saying this. I know there are some hardcore Jane fans out there, and this may come across as sacrilege, but Mansfield Park the book was rather slow, and I (unrealistically) wanted more 21st century feminism to be present. I ADORE Mansfield Park the movie, though. Frances O'Connor and Jonny Lee Miller were amazing - they even made me forget the squicky cousin bit - and this movie features the best almost-kiss of all time! Sooo good!

4. How did you decide on what to call your blog?
My name is Rachel, one of my friends called me Rae, and I repurposed the Rae to fit in the blog name.

5. How many books are you hoping to read this year?
At least 52 - enough to average 1 book per week.

6. Do you have plans to write your own book?
Kinda - I have a story idea. We'll see if I ever take the time to write it down.

7. What was the last book that you read?
Silence (The Queen of the Dead #1), by Michelle Sagara

8. What is your favourite movie?
This is such a difficult question - I don't generally have favorites; my love has no limits :) So I'll answer this in segments: Movie I've watched so many times I can quote it verbatim - French Kiss. Movie that makes me swoon - Don Juan DeMarco. Current obsession - The Avengers.

9. Who is your favourite actor/actress?
Again with the favorites! Most of my favorites tend to be British; bonus points for Sirs and Dames. Also, anyone from a Steven Moffat production. David Tennant. RDJ. The entire cast of Leverage and The Avengers. Lauren Graham. Rachel Weisz. Johnny Depp.

10. What TV shows do you enjoy?
Top 3: Leverage, Doctor Who, Coupling. Other favorites: The Big Bang Theory, SYTYCD, White Collar, Gilmore Girls, Psych, Stargate SG-1. (I'm rather eclectic in my tastes.)

11. Do you collect anything other than books?
I collected tea sets for a while; it was all in my grand scheme to own a cute, little tea room. Then I became a librarian instead. I still drink a lot of tea, though.

Questions I'd like to ask:

1. How do you mark your place in a book? A real bookmark, scrap of paper, dog-earring the page?

2. Do you judge a book by it's cover?

3. Do you have any quirky reading habits?

4. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? And why?

5. Do you use any of the social networking sites for readers (like Goodreads or Shelfari)? Love it or hate it?

6. What's a book that you were really looking forward to, but it underdelivered? What book surprised you with it's awesomeness?

7. Do you have any hobbies outside of reading?

8. What is your fondest book memory?

9. What are you reading now?

10. What's your favorite book genre?

11. Pretend you meet a genie and he gives you three wishes (standard genie rule - you can't wish for more wishes): what would they be?

Blogs I'd like to tag:

Guerilla Librarian (though technically, I have no idea how many followers you have, your site is great. Power to the MPDGs!)
MPL's Book Nook
Reading Is Good For You (another blog I'm not certain of the follower count, but an amazing either way!)
The Turn of the Page
It's Time to Love Your Library
Pamela's Book Spot
Owl Book Reviews
Queen of All She Reads
Literary Lindsey
Living for the Books
young adult fiction & whiskey sours