“ Genre: Graphic Novels / Comics /Author: Bisco Hatori / Edition: Shojo Beat Manga Ed / Paperback / Published by Viz Media, Subs. of Shogakukan Inc „
General Plot (shortened version from my review of Vol 1)
The basic plot revolves around a scholarship student named Haruhi Fujioka, whom stumbles in upon the "Host Club" - a club devoted to helping the rich young ladies (and gentlemen if they are that way inclined) spend their leisure time happily - while looking for a quiet place to study. Here Haruhi meets the rest of the characters whom will remain with us throughout the story: Tamaki (the King), Kyoya (the Shadow King), Mitsukuni (Hunny), Takashi (Mori) and the twins, Hikaru and Kaoru, each of course has their special skill for entertaining the clients of the 'Host Club'. The series continues by describing interesting/humorous events that happen in and around the 'Host Club'.
Volume Specific Plot
The first story of this volume picks up exactly where it left off in volume 3 - with Tamaki and Haruhi sprawled across the floor in front of Haruihi's father, Ranka. This shapes the rest of the first story as Ranka decides, along with the remainder of the Host Club, to follow Haruhi and Tamaki to the shops, spying on them all the way. This leads to some very touching revelations about Haruhi and her home life/childhood. The second story of this volume revolves entirely around Hunny, and a toothache he suffers one day, causing him to be unable to eat all his favourite cakes, biscuits and sweets. The other side to this story is about Valentines Day, and Mori's experience of the run up to, and day of Valentines, as well as the effect Hunny has on him. This story actually reveals more about the quietest character of the club, which is a nice change. The third story in this volume is a romping parody of Alice in Wonderland, where anything seems to go. All the OuHos characters take up characters from Alice in Wonderland, but the plotline seems to get lost somewhere along the way. The fourth story is once again set beneath cheery blossoms, but this time involves the schemes of the Newspaper Club, whom try to set up the Host Club in a negative manner. Along the way though, we get to see some more Haruhi-Tamaki dynamics at play, which is a real feature of this series.
There is also a bonus manga in this volume called "Love Egoist". While its not a continuation of the bonus story from the previous volume, it does once again star the twin girls, whom give advice for good or ill, to a girl named Sumire, who is in love with her teacher.
After this there is also an extra called "Ouran Suspense Theatre", which once again features the Club wearing, doing or saying things that would never happen within the manga.
Drawings - Style/Substance
Bisco Hatori draws once again in an excellent style, with the sumptuous backgrounds that have become commonplace, and even tackles the Alice in Wonderland costumes well when placing her own characters within them. The bonus manga is once again in her elongated style as was "Romantic Egoist", which is pleasantly different from the OuHos style of drawing. Once again the backgrounds for the bonus story are lacking, but its not a major issue.
We get a nice amount of new character information, and a deepening understanding of Bisco's lively character set. We also get to see them interact together in the school again, which reverts the story back to the way it was at the beginning of the series.
The parody of Alice in Wonderland does feel like 'filler' to me, as if Bisco couldn't think what else to do, or just felt like she wanted to do something outside of the bounds of her story. Unfortunately unless you really enjoy the Alice story, or like the drawings, this does reduce the value of the volume, as it means theres less real development going on.
Overall I would say this is another good volume, with wonderful artwork, but has its moments that may not be enjoyed by plot or development fans.