I had heard good things about this anime, but I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. But I'm glad I read the manga, and now I will review the anime :D
Story is pretty solid. Haruhi Fujioka is a lower-middle-class girl who gets a scholarship to attend the prestigious Ouran Academy, which is crawling with rich, uppercrust boys and girls from well-to-do families the world over. After stumbling into an abandoned music room, she encounters the Host Club, a congregation of handsome boys who run a service of entertaining the ladies with their good looks. After she breaks a freakin' expensive vase, they charge her with the task of entertaining girls dressed up as a boy (did I mention she is REALLY androgynous?) to pay off the bill. Don't get the wrong idea, Haruhi WANTS to do this, because she's responsible and stuff. What transpires is a mixture of romance, comedy, and chaste sexy moments.
At the Ouran High School Host Club, there is a "type" for every lady. If you are into the strong and silent type, then you go and visit the barely-speaks-even-two-words-an-episode-Mori; interested in sweet as pie, impossibl adorable, bishie-style chibi boy? "Hunny" Haninozuka is your guy. Want someone cunning who also wears glasses? Ease on down the road to Kyoya, who is also second in command and in charge of the Club's spending and finances. Can't get enough of "brotherly love"? Watch as Hikaru and Kaoru make poorly-disguised sexual advances on each other. Want a man who will sweep you off your feet like a knight in shining armor? Here comes Tamaki, the mastermind behind the whole shindig. And Haruhi is supposed to be the "plain-Jane" I suppose. Down-to-earth and honest and hard-working.
Some cliches in the episodes do arise, there are certain comedic touches that do the trick and make you forget about that.
The animation is clear-cut and typical of its time. The chibi moments are hilarious where they're placed and not overdone. The rosy backgrounds and the sparkles accentuate the cheesiness that the boys shove down the poor girls' throats in an effort to seduce them into shivering puddles of gaga-ness. The bodies are bishoujo, long legs and arms, angular in clothing, yet stylish. Like all shojo, glitter and sparkles abound in multitudes, but it isn't quite overdone. Just right in this setting.
The opening theme is naturally a J-Pop song, but it isn't that bad. It kind of gets you into the mood for the hilarity and romance that ensues in this series. After listening to it, you are expecting the classic reverse-harem anime, but hoping for something new. There is not much to say about the music in question, I only know that when the episode is about to close, the ending theme begins to play. It's a pretty good song (english dub) but when the man starts singing, his voice cracks ever-so-slightly
Being a reverse-harem, there are six male characters along with one female heroine. That's a lot to balance. The story gives you enough of a background to fill in some gaps and get a sense of what is behind those handsome and adorable faces. And Haruhi plays an entertaining lead. She's blunt, not into girly things as you could probably guess (she dresses up as a boy of her own free will, for God's sake) . She's a "co-worker" with them in a sense, but quickly becomes their pet and befriends them all. They like her and look out for her in a world where rich people can do some pretty mean things. After all, she's a "commoner" among "kings". Though a little stereotypical, after all they are cut-outs of a "type" of man that one girl is dreaming of, they still have their own personalities and likes to give more depth and feel to their places in the Host Club. And certain scuffles arise and even though they may fight a little and get into a few shenanigans, they're all friends and in this for the glamor and the fun.
With its well-balanced characters and even mixture of hilarity and romance, this is a good watch for anyone looking for a series that has a wide cast of characters and uses every one effectively to the best of their abilities. This is a very funny, original, well-produced series that I probably won't find in a while.