Starting Today, You are a Host! is the first episode of the anime series and the first chapter of the manga. The Host Club is a group of the most handsome boys on campus with way too much time on their hands entertaining girls who also have way too much time on their hands; that is, until the day honor-student Haruhi Fujioka stumbles upon the Host Club, a misstep which leaves the freshman indebted for millions of yen. And the only way to pay for the damages? Haruhi will have to work as a Host. There's only one problem; Haru-he is actually a Haru-she!
The series begins with Haruhi Fujioka looking for a quiet place to study after finding all four libraries too crowded and noisy for her liking. She finds and enters Music Room #3 where she discovers six handsome boys who call themselves the Host Club. Because she's wearing baggy clothing and her grandfather's eyeglasses, they all think she's male with one exception -- Kyoya Ootori, the club's Vice-president. The President, Tamaki Suoh, flirts with her, throwing her off-kilter so that she stumbles into a pedestal holding a priceless Rennaissance vase. Unable to pay for the item, Haruhi is made the club's errand boy so she may work off her 8,000,000 yen debt.
As the Host Club opens for the day's "business" after school, Haruhi returns from the market with instant coffee in place of ground coffee, causing a huge commotion. Tamaki insists that Haruhi demonstrate how it's made and they "bravely" sample it.
The identical twins, Hikaru Hitachiin and Kaoru Hitachiin Hitachiin, are seen in their "Forbidden Brotherly Love Act" and Mitsukuni "Honey" Haninozuka and Takashi "Mori" Morinozuka enter the picture. Honey approaches Haruhi with Usa-chan, his pink stuffed bunny, asking if she would like to hold it. As Haruhi fawns over the cute plaything, the loli-boy realizes her true gender. Kyoya then outlines for Haruhi how the club utilizes each man's unique characteristics to meet the fantasy needs of their guests and Tamaki comments that she'll need a make-over to be an acceptable presence in the Host Club. Haruhi rejoins that she's not interested in being acceptable and doesn't understand the purpose of Host Club, anyway. Going into full-blown "Prince" mode, Tamaki expresses his belief that beauty, especially his, should be shared with the world. Haruhi calls him obnoxious, earning her the Hitachiin twins' instant favor as Tamaki sulks in a corner.
Haruhi apologizes and Tamaki is revived. The twins also agree that Haruhi needs a makeover and start by removing her eyeglasses. Her undisguised face and the fact she tells the twins to leave when she's changing triggers their recognition that she's a girl. The makeover begins and each member is given a task; all except Honey, who is told to eat cake. Haruhi is given a male Ouran uniform and upon seeing her dressed in it, Tamaki insists that she become a full-fledged host under his tutelage, offering to forgive her debt if she can secure one hundred requests for his company.
It soon becomes apparent that Haruhi needs no training; her ability to relate to girls (being one herself) makes her a "Natural" host. When Tamaki introduces her to his regular guest, Princess Seika Ayanokoji, Haruhi gives a somewhat bashful hello causing Tamaki to twirl her around madly in delight as Haruhi cries out for help from Mori. The tallest host rescues her by lifting her up and in so doing, realizes her true gender. It's at this point that Tamaki first refers to himself as Haruhi's "Daddy" for the first time, making Ayanokoji so intensely jealous that she secretly tosses Haruhi's schoolbag out the window and into the fountain below. As Haruhi runs to retrieve it, their paths cross with Ayankoji informing Haruhi that no matter what Tamaki says or does, he'll always see her as a second-class citizen.
As Haruhi sloshes through the fountain for her belongings, Tamaki confronts her about leaving the club session, but upon learning that her wallet contains her grocery money, he immediately rolls up his pants and begins to help. They return to the Music Room together and, unaccountably, Ayanokoji requests Haruhi. During their chat, the princess reminds Haruhi that Tamaki's interest is educational in nature to which Haruhi bluntly responds, "Now I understand. You're jealous of me." Ayanokoji is stunned by Haruhi's frankness and, in a temper tantrum, tips the table at which they're sitting causing Haruhi to fall on top of her. She cries out that Haruhi has assaulted her, but the twins proceed to dump water on Princess Ayanokoji instead. Tamaki announces that she was the one who dumped Haruhi's bag into the fountain and even though she's a pretty girl, her type is not welcome at Host Club. The first of many times, Tamaki is called an idiot. And as punishment, Haruhi’s quota to pay off her debt is increased to 1,000 requests.
While Haruhi changes into a dry uniform, he enters with towels and spies Haruhi in trousers and camisole, revealing herself as a female. Her secret is now known to all and confirmed when she emerges from the changing room in the yellow dress that is Ouran Academy's female high school uniform. Tamaki's intense reaction to Haruhi's revelation causes Kyoya to "break the fourth wall" to say, "Now I could be wrong, but I think we may be witnessing the beginnings of love here."
(To Tamaki) You know, I have to say senpai, I thought you were pretty cool earlier. -Haruhi
(To Haruhi) You're a hero, alright! -Hikaru and Kaoru ''(D)
(To Tamaki) Well, what do you think we should do, Tamaki? ''-Kyoya''
(To Haruhi) Well, since you have no money, you could pay us back with your body. -Tamaki (D)
- Haruhi Fujioka
- Tamaki Suoh
- Kyoya Ootori
- Hikaru Hitachiin
- Kaoru Hitachiin
- Mitsukuni "Honey" Haninozuka
- Takashi "Mori" Morinozuka
- Princess Seika Ayanokoji
- Kotoko Fujioka (mentioned only)
- As Haruhi first walks towards Music Room 3, six doves are seen flying past her in the same direction.
- The sign on the curtain behind which Haruhi dons the male Ouran uniform says, "changing."
- The instant coffee is labeled "Hescafe Special Blend," a parody of the real life brand of instant coffee, "Nescafe."
- In the manga, Tamaki attributes his misunderstanding of Haruhi's middle-class status to watching re-runs of "Oshin," a Japanese drama from the '80s, whose poor heroine rises to fame and fortune through hard work and sacrifice.
- Also in the manga, Bisco Hatori labels the twins Kewpie #1 and Kewpie #2. This refers to a Japanese anime called Kewpie Fusion which stemmed from the "Kewpie Doll," origins in 1912 and an American icon.
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