If you’ve been following along with my character studies for a while, you may know that I choose generally hapless characters. People that just can’t seem to catch a break – or at least not the break I feel they deserve. I have featured a gallery of unfortunate misfits and put upon suckers. So why exactly would I ever pick Kyoya Ootori?
On the surface, Kyoya has it all and is it all. He’s the smooth collected cool type. A genius and puppet master who makes all the decisions behind the scenes. Like all the members Ouran’s Host Club he’s also ridiculously popular and could have his pick of anyone really. Let’s face it, it really wouldn’t take that much to convince Tamaki. Especially if Haruhi is going to keep playing hard to get…
Sorry, I drifted off there for a second. Point is, Kyoya is a winner in anyone’s book so what’s he doing here? Well you see, when I really think about it, Kyoya never actually gets anything, he just acts like it. What’s more, the most aloof, even occasionally sadistic, member of the host club, is doing it all for his friends.
Let me explain. Kyoya is, in fact, the third son of the very wealthy and very influential Ootori family. And by the completely random bad luck of having been born after his two brothers, he has next to no status. Having grown up in a family where patriarchy is primordial, Kyoya himself also values such things above all else and has therefore worked himself to the bone to prove himself worthy. Even though he knows very well that it’s basically pointless. Even if he does win his father’s approval (a task which is next to impossible even by itself), it wouldn’t change in any way the fact that his brothers are going to succeed everything before he does. No matter what, they will always be more *important* to the Ootori group as a business and to the family itself.
This unfair state of affairs has been Kyoya’s reality since birth. He knows very well that it’s unfair but he also knows there’s nothing to be done about it. Kyoya’s a reasonable and logical man who knows there’s no point in wasting his energies on something that will give him nothing in return, but he’s also a proud man who feels the need to prove his worth even if it’s just on the principal.
This conflicting drive has got to be exhausting. Actually, we know it’s exhausting, not only has it saddled him with low blood pressure, just try cutting into the poor guy’s sleep time. I dare you. Try it.
And for all his efforts, it’s not exactly as if he’s earned his father’s respect. We don’t see that much of the Ootori family in the anime. However, you would think that Kyoya having turned the host club into an enviable and profitable venture would be impressive to the rest of the clan. Unfortunately, his father wasn’t shy about showing his disapproval of such (I’m guessing disreputable?) ventures both publicly and physically. It was a sad scene, guys. When Kyoya’s dad just hit him like that, it really struck a nerve with me.
You wouldn’t blame the guy for taking out his familial frustrations at school, where he has some measure of control. But he doesn’t, not exactly. It’s hinted that Kyoya is vice president of the Host club by choice, as he prefers to pull the strings from the shadows, but that in effect he makes all the decisions. And that is, in fact, true up to a certain point. But when push comes to shove, Kyoya will defer to Tamaki when the latter really wants something. He also lets his old friend (with a pretty awful home life himself) take pretty much all the credit and a lot of the fun when it comes to the Host club activities. For all the behind the scenes machinations, he takes his duty as second in command, very seriously. And part of that duty is keeping the president happy.
But beyond that, it’s the core of Ouran Host Club as a story, that really underscores Kyoya’s true character. As a reverse harem, the basic premise of Ouran is that everyone is in love with Haruhi, and they are. All the hosts have at some point shown their interest in Haruhi. The twins even openly pursue her. And Kyoya is not completely immune to her charms. He does let a few words slip here and there that betray both admiration and attachment to a level that is unusually deep for him.
Yet he is the only leading character to not openly acknowledge his romantic interest in any way. It’s not that he doesn’t have a chance of winning Haruhi’s affections next to Tamaki. He’s not gracefully bowing out to let his friend have happiness. He’s not even throwing his name in. He’s the only one that does not bend to the basic conceit of the plot because it’s unthinkable for him to compete against Tamaki.
He has decided to quit before he even starts. And so, he never even gave himself a chance in the first place. For a romance anime, not getting the girl is one thing. Not even trying, well that’s just an all-out failure.
It’s difficult to see Kyoya as a victim because he refuses to see himself as such. He’s impassive and nearly perfect. His façade is so great, it may not even be a façade anymore. As far as anyone is concerned, Kyoya has everything. But I see it. The little injustices that add up. And all I have to say is, if ever Kyoya needs to vent a little, he should call me. Or if he doesn’t. He should just call me is what I’m saying.