part 6: Kyoya Ootori
spoilers abound. you have been warned.
Kyoya is the Vice President and “Shadow King” of the Ouran Highschool Host Club, and he’s my second favorite Megane Danshi of all time. He’s considered the “cool” type when entertaining guests. Though he is only shown with clients a couple of times, most often he is faded in the background with a clipboard or notebook in hand.
He is considered the “Shadow King” of the Host Club, because he’s generally the one who calls the shots, even though Tamaki’s the president. Kyoya’s well versed in legal matters, and is constantly on the prowl to keep the Host Club’s image and reputation clean, despite attempts by outsiders to destroy it (namely the newspaper club).
Unbeknownst to the rest of the Host Club members, Kyoya uses the club as his own personal business, meticulously calculating budgets, income, and expenses. Though he usually gives in to Tamaki’s lavish whims, Kyoya knows how to pull strings and often, uses his own family’s properties for entertainment, such as their personal beach and resort park.
He’s also a master of networking. He seems to know everything and anything about anybody, and he’s always in contact with high ranking people via his family’s business. In flashbacks, he researches everybody he meets for his own personal knowledge and gains. In fact, everything he does is generally for a selfish motive. Whether it is still true or not is put to the test in the episode “Kyoya’s Long Day,” when he prevents the wife of a major electronics company CEO from being ripped off by calling the salesman out on his fake wares. Though he claimed to know all along that it was her because of her large ruby ring, Haruhi realizes that a flag had been blocking her hand from their standpoint. Haruhi voices her thoughts on the real reason he helps people: because like Tamaki, he gains something intangible from it.
For a character that is really only spotlighted in two episodes, his character development (which mostly occurs before the events of the series via flashbacks) is striking and rewarding to the viewer. He overcomes a bleak situation with one of the best comeback I have ever seen.
Kyoya is generally stone faced, never revealing his true thoughts, motives, or feelings about anything. As the youngest of four, Kyoya was faced with a very adult situation early on in his life. As the third son, it was made clear to him in Jr. High that he had no chance at being the successor of the Ootori business, which mostly dealt in hospital management, alongside manufacturing hospital equipment.
His oldest brother, Yuuichi, only ever named in the manga, and he’s already graduated from his studies and currently working with their father at the main hospital. His second oldest brother, Akito, also only named in the manga, is still in medical school with plans to join Yuuichi in assistance. From the flashbacks, Kyoya accepts that he is destined to work for his brothers, a really heavy burden for a young teenager.
Kyoya’s father, Yoshio, puts immense pressure on him. He is told during his flashbacks that achieving academically was something that his brothers had already accomplished and it will take much more than that to impress him. Kyoya likens his situation to painting: he’s been given an ornate frame and must paint the perfect picture within it, but not outstep his boundary.
Before meeting Tamaki, Kyoya does his best to please his father and not step on the toes of his brothers. He excels academically and does what his father says. Besides that, he doesn’t try to do anything over the top that might upset the balance. Yoshio has an extremely cold personality, never showing affection or praise. Kyoya’s mother is never mentioned, not even in passing, in either the manga or anime.
Kyoya’s sister seems to be the only one within the Ootori family who really cares about how Kyoya feels. She tries to comfort her younger brother, and is seen in the flashbacks as hanging out with him in his room while he does homework.
Fuyumi is only daughter of the Ootori household. She is only seen in flashbacks, and in the manga is revealed to be married into the Shido family. She often visits home, which she is chided for by their father.
Kyoya’s main flashback takes up the entirety of episode 24, “And So Kyoya Met Him.” In it, the entirety of his family situation is explained. Fuyumi tells Kyoya that he can relax a little, because their older brothers have the run of things. Kyoya counters that it’s because he’s the third son that he can’t relax; the pressure on him is the highest of all. She’s concerned for Kyoya’s happiness, and he tells her that him being happy is a mute point.
Upon meeting Tamaki, like the rest of the Host Club members, Kyoya begins a change. He befriends Tamaki on his father’s orders, because Tamaki is the son of the Suou Group’s chairman, a frequent competitor. Tamaki turns out to be a crazy, whimsically minded “fool” in Kyoya’s eyes. Kyoya submits to all of Tamaki’s outlandish requests at sightseeing and starts to realize that he’s hard to keep up with.
Aggrivated, Kyoya is seen for the first time showing a genuine emotion: anger. He rants and raves about Tamaki’s whims that are generally incoherent and almost impossible to fulfill. Fuyumi wanted to tell him that, if he made him so mad, that he should stop hanging out with him. She refrains, because she’s “never seen him so passionate about anything before.” In the Japanese, its translated as “never seen him so happy before.”
Then Kyoya is thrown a curve. Tamaki shows up at his house, and plays the piano for the rest of his family, reducing them all to tears. Without realizing it, Kyoya was also reduced to tears. After that, Kyoya and Tamaki have a conversation that bring about another moment of rage for Kyoya, and he knocks over the coffee table, sending the tea set and dishes crashing to the floor.
Kyoya’s markedly jealous of Tamaki, because, as the illegitimate child of the Suou CEO, and the only child, Tamaki became the heir to the company overnight. Though that’s not actually true (as I’ve mentioned in a previous post about Tamaki), Kyoya can’t stand to hear Tamaki say that he doesn’t want his father’s company.
Tamaki is the only one who was able to see through Kyoya, telling him that if he really wanted his own father’s company, he could do it. “The only one who’s given up here is you, Kyoya.” The switch is flipped. Kyoya is seen in the only other emotion he displays in the entire series: he laughs. One of my favorite lines comes after. When Kyoya realizes that Tamaki is right, he makes a face, and Tamaki says, “Oh, man, what an evil face. So you’re finally showing your true colors.” The painting scene is shown again (below), and Kyoya really does paint with his true colors. Tamaki asks Kyoya to help him start the Host Club, to which he accepts. He tells Haruhi in the series that the reason he started the Host Club with Tamaki was because it was such a crazy idea. Neither of his brothers had done extra-curricular activites, and he used the Host Club to his full advantage.
Toward the end of the anime, Ouran Academy hosts a family day festival. Kyoya’s father arrives and slaps the glasses off of Kyoya’s face. Yoshio tells his son that he’s never been so ashamed. I felt for him so badly. Tamaki’s father even tells Yoshio that he went too far, and asks him if he’s taking out his company’s failing on him.
That’s when it’s revealed that the medical equipment branch of the Ootori company is being bought out French conglomerate. Yoshio reveals that he was going to give that branch to Kyoya. After seeing his duties in the Host Club, he says that it serves Kyoya right that he’s going to lose it anyway.
Like I had said before, Kyoya turned the Host Club into his own personal business. What his father didn’t know is that Kyoya amassed a sum of money in the Host Club. Before the French company could buy it out, Kyoya, under the guise of KO (or OK in the Japaese version) bought it out from under the both of them. I thought either portrayal of his initials was fitting. The English way means “Knock-Out” and the Japanese means “Okay” if you didn’t pick that up.
This is where Kyoya’s true colors come out. Yes, he surpassed his father’s expectations by planning far enough ahead to eventually buy it out before a competitor could. But, he subsequently turns over the entire management rights of it to his father, basically saying that he doesn’t want it and shoving it back into his face.
Haruhi’s assessment was correct. Tamaki’s impact on him was far reaching. Once only thinking of himself and what he could gain from everything, Kyoya put aside his material success for something much more rewarding in the process. He also rose from the chains of “the third son” to be a well respected member of his family by his father in the end.