Want a relaxing night away from the office, your college, or your stupid boyfriend? If you're female, 18+, and you live in Japan, maybe you could go to a Host Club.
A host club is an establishment with a roster of all types of attractive men who will offer flirting, flattery, pampering, and companionship in a congenial environment and at an exorbitant rate. A typical host will wear a suit and pointed toe boots, along with heavy eye make-up, circle lenses, and wild, improbable Final Fantasy hairstyles that are usually dyed. Besides service, most of the commission a host gets comes from expensive alcohol ordered by their customers, so expect hosts to try to get you to throw down thousands of yen for a bottle of champagne. Hosts do not offer actual sex, though it's pretty common for them to sleep with their clients after hours. Customers at host clubs are eventually expected to pick a favorite, known as a "tantou", who will eventually become their main entertainer.
The Distaff Counterpart of a host club is a hostess club. While the main market for hostess clubs are White Collar Workers, frequent patrons of host clubs mostly consist of women who work in hostess clubs and other parts of the entertainment industry, looking to relax after a long hard night of being nice to inebriated, sexually-harassing Salarymen. Since host clubs are mostly owned by the same people who own hostess clubs, this has the net effect of recouping some of the hostess' income, and thus hostesses are encouraged to partake of this form of entertainment.
Standard host clubs discourage male customers, and there are separate "host bars" aimed at gay men. Many host clubs also bar foreigners from entering due to language, cultural, and economic issues. They don't welcome customers who only want to enter for the experience and don't intend to become regular paying clients.
The majority of host clubs are located in the Red Light District and are closely affiliated with the Yakuza. If you ordered that bottle of expensive wine but didn't want to pay? Expect them to beat you up, force you into prostitution to pay it off, or straight up murder you. Host clubs also generally have a very sleazy reputation and it is heavily frowned upon to even go to one.
For the younger set, Butler Cafes have a similar premise, only with afternoon tea rather than late-night booze.
- Ouran High School Host Club features a PG version run as a student club at a school for the super-wealthy. Thanks to an eight-million yen debt and a case of mistaken (gender) identity, the protagonist Haruhi Fujioka (a poor scholarship student) ends up working at the club as a host.
- Welcome to the N.H.K. - In the manga Yamazaki ends up working at one.
- In the manga series B.O.D.Y, the boy the protagonist has a crush on works at one because he enjoys being paid to flirt.
- Keith Goodman from Tiger & Bunny regularly visits one, because he thinks it's a normal cafe.
- Several of the supporting characters from Gintama work at host/hostess clubs. A few of the mini-arcs take place in the host clubs as well.
- Sweet Guilty Love Bites has at least one partner of three pairs working in same one.
- Kagari from Sekirei works as a Host, and is mentioned to hold the #1 ranking. Certain issues result in him taking long periods of time off from his job, with the excuse of a "serious illness". He's shown going on a compensated date and taking calls from his many female clients.
- In Bokurano, Miko Nakarai is an ex-prostitute who works now in a hostess club. Her daughter Mako alias Nakama is bullied because of this.
- In Super Lovers, Haru used to work as a host, and Natsuo still does.
- Masamune Matsuoka of Aoharu × Machinegun works at one.
- The Great Happiness Space - A documentary about host clubs.
- Seoul After Dark (aka Beastie Boys) - A movie about the host/hostess club lifestyle in Korea.
- Ryuuji's mother in Toradora! works at a hostess club.
- Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light have these as a character class. They give party members the "Psych Up" that increases their strength and allows for combo attacks.
- One of the main locations in the Yakuza series is the host club Stardust, the owner and manager being good friends of Kiryu. Kiryu himself even becomes a host in one of the games.
- In Spirit Hunter: NG, if Seiji is saved during the Kubitarou case, then he'll invite Akira to a hostess club later to let off some steam. Not by interacting with the hostesses, of course, but by engaging in Seiji's favourite hobby of blackmailing a man out of his company secrets.
- Ryusei Mitarashi in Sweet Fuse: At Your Side introduces himself as the number one host at the Ulysses host club in the Ginza district. It's a source of constant humor on his route, particularly since he initially just comes across as a dumb meathead.