In Ouran High School, the typical student is a member of the wealthy elite, but not Haruhi Fujioka. Accepted on a scholarship, Haruhi wants to avoid all the glitz and glamour in order to study hard and become a lawyer. While looking for a rare quiet place to do so, Haruhi stumbles upon a host club. Frantic to get away from these weird boys, Haruhi breaks a valuable vase. In order to pay back the debt, the club demands that Haruhi becomes a host. There is only one problem, contrary to what the boys believe, Haruhi is actually a girl.
There won’t ever be an anime quite like Ouran High School Host Club, but you can try to fill that Tamaki-shaped hole in your heart with these fine anime recommendations.
For Fans of Reverse Harems
When Tooru Honda finds herself homeless, she decides to live in a tent in the wilderness. However, one day she is discovered by a classmate, Yuki Souma, and invited to come live in his house. From there she gets to know many members of the Souma family, not realizing that they all are inflicted by a curse: when they hug the opposite gender, they turn into an animal from the Chinese zodiac.
Like Ouran High School Host Club, Fruits Basket is a mix of romantic and comedic moments as a near singular girl tries to navigate an endless parade of handsome men. Although the animation is a bit dated and the story doesn’t really go anywhere, it is a fine watch to get the same duality of sweet and funny moments that a romantic comedy needs to have.
Four boys are offered to live in a fantastic mansion free of rent, but on one condition. They must make the girl of the house into a fine young lady. Enter Nakahara Sunako, she loves horror movies, death, and all things gloomy, stemming from a junior high school trauma. Blinded by all things beautiful, these four handsome men have their work cut out for them.
Although the harem is significantly smaller and not all the men in it are after the girl, The Wallflower does feature the same “dense and somewhat emotionally fragile” heroine who is supported and eventually wooed by a cool male protagonist. Although a little weirder than Ouran, it is comparably as funny.
Aoharu x Machine Gun
Hotaru Tachibana has always had a habit of confronting evildoers, so when she hears her best friend was tricked by a local host club, she disguises herself as a boy to go punish them. However, she gets distracted by the leader Masamune Matsuoka when he challenges her to a toy gun battle. Hotaru loses and now must join Masamune’s survival game team in order to pay off the huge damages to the host club.
Almost identical in plot, it is easy to see the similarities between these two anime series. The only real difference is in the small details. In Ouran, the host club treats ladies like princesses, while in Aohara they play military-like survival games. Whereas Haruhi dresses like a boy because she really doesn’t care, Hotaru likes dressing as a boy, but often corrects people of her true gender.
For Fans of Cross Dressing
In search of true love, Kanako Miyamae transfers to Ame no Kisaki Catholic School, inspired by how her parents fell in love with each other there. However, the school is now split between the sexes, so all Kanako has to choose from is women. When she meets the beautiful Mariya Shidou, Kanako believes she has found that special someone, except she is actually a he.
Maria Holic and Ouran both focus on school life with characters that are cross dressing. However, while both are comedies, Maria Holic can be a little more dramatic. Ultimately, the cross dressing in Maria Holic is on purpose while Haruhi does so out of circumstance.
Kurashita Tsukimi loves jellyfish, to the point of obsession. One day, when she sees a jellyfish being mistreated in a pet store, she tries to stick up for it, but her social awkwardness gets in the way. Thankfully, a sparklingly beautiful woman steps in and sparks the beginning of an unlikely friendship. While Tsukimi’s new friend charms her and her roommates, what they don’t know is that this princess is also a man.
In terms of plot and characters, Princess Jellyfish doesn’t have much in common with Ouran. However, if you think of it in terms of if Ouran followed Ranka, Haruhi’s father, then it would actually be pretty similar.
For Fans of Comedic Love Stories
Class President is a Maid!
Being the first female class president isn’t easy, especially when a school is still transitioning from being an all-boys school to a co-ed one. However, Misaki Ayuzawa is up to the task. While she keeps rowdy boys in line with her martial arts, she has an embarrassing secret – she works part-time at a maid cafe to help her family. She managed to keep her job a secret until one day the popular student Takumi Usui sees her at work. He could undo her reputation, or use her secret to get closer to her.
Like love stories about strong women grudgingly forced into situations they gradually learn to accept, or even love? Well, here be another story like that. Essentially the male and female leads in both anime are identical in situation, though Maid-sama is a little more “comedy through forced humiliation”.
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
Chiyo Sakura has fallen head over heels for the handsome and oblivious Umetarou Nozaki. However, when she confesses her love, he gives her an autograph. It turns out this stoic boy is actually a respected shoujo manga artist. After a series of misunderstandings, Chiyo winds up not as his girlfriend, but as his manga assistant.
Like Tamaki gathered a group of loveable (albeit it handsome) losers for his host club, so, too, did Nozaki do for his manga. Unlike Haruhi, a good deal of the comedy in this anime comes from Chiyo trying to get her sempai to notice her, and failing terribly. However, both anime series have an interesting and hilarious supporting cast that pairs perfectly with the main love story plot.
Introduced as children, Hikari Hanazono has always been second to Kei Takishima in everything from academics to pro-wrestling. Ever since the first time he beat her, Hikari has been on a vendetta to finally be number one, even going so far as to attend his prestigious school where both are placed in the Special A class for the most elite. However, for all Hikari’s mental and physical prowess, she doesn’t realize one thing – that Kei is in love with her.
Like with Aoharu x Machine Gun, Ouran High School Host Club and Special A are almost the same anime. Instead of a host club, Special A focuses on an elite class of students. Instead of a reverse harem, there is almost an even split among the genders. However, both are funny, both have doki-doki-inspiring romances, and both feature almost identical female and male leads in identical circumstances.
Have your own recommendations for anime series like Ouran High School Host Club? Tell us about it in the comments section below.