otori kyouya

It’s been said before, but I’d like to present some evidence that Kyoya Ootori was, in fact, the inciting force behind Haruhi joining the host club. For exhibit A, I give you the iconic anime introduction scene from Kyoya’s perspective.

Hikaru & Kaoru: “Oh wow, it’s a boy.”

Kyoya: “Hikaru, Kaoru, I believe this young man is in your class, isn’t he?”

We know Kyoya knows enough about everyone to determine whether they’re important and, if they are, he’ll have much more information than that. An honor student at Ouran on scholarship would certainly not escape his notice given that it’s such a rare occurrence. Knowing Haruhi’s name, sex, middle school, and approximate net worth is the least we’d expect of him. Thus, I propose that his use of male pronouns and the added emphasis of “young man” is a deliberate mistake. He’s at once taking cues from Hikaru and Kaoru and testing the waters to see if anyone, including Haruhi, will correct them. He can’t see the future, so he’s probably not doing more than setting up a game to watch everyone embarrass themselves. Still, it sets the stage.

Hikaru & Kaoru: “Yeah, but he’s shy. He doesn’t act very sociably, so we don’t know very much about him.”

The first lightbulb is lit. The other lightbulbs symbolically represent each of the hosts figuring out Haruhi’s gender, but I would say that this is Kyoya figuring out that no one knows enough about Haruhi to spoil his fun. If the twins who’re in her class don’t know much, no one will and she hasn’t offered a correction herself.

Kyoya: “Oh, that wasn’t very polite. Welcome to the Ouran Host Club, Mr. Honor Student.”

The trap is set and Kyoya adds the bait. He cues the group to go into Host Mode by referencing proper social conduct, draws Haruhi in and blocks her escape by welcoming her, subtly reinforces the gender mistake, and adds in “honor student” to spark Tamaki’s memory and get him talking.

Tamaki: “What? You must be Haruhi Fujioka. You’re the exceptional honor student we’ve heard about.”

Haruhi: “How did you know my name?”

Kyoya: “Why, you’re infamous. It’s not every day that a commoner gains entrance into our academy. You must have an audacious nerve to work hard enough to fight your way into this school as an honor student, Mr. Fujioka.”

Tamaki takes the bait and Haruhi’s question allows Kyoya to step in again. He builds on Tamaki’s statement and insists that Haruhi is important enough for their notice. Key words like “commoner,” “audacious nerve,” “work hard,” and “fight” are guaranteed to get Tamaki’s imagination going and he won’t be able to resist getting dramatic. At this point, I don’t think Kyoya has a clue where this is going, but it’s entertaining nonetheless. Tamaki monologues, Haruhi protests, the monologue continues, she tries to leave, Honey pulls her back because now he’s interested, Tamaki puts on his hosting face, and Haruhi gets flustered enough by all this nonsense to break the very expensive vase.

Hikaru & Kaoru: “Awww.”

Hikaru: “We were going to feature that Renaissance vase in an upcoming school auction.”

Kaoru: “Oh, now you’ve done it, commoner. The bidding on that vase was supposed to start at eight million yen.”

Haruhi: “What, eight million yen? How many thousand yen is that? How many thousands are in eight million? I’m gonna have to pay you back.”

Hikaru & Kaoru: “With what money? You can’t even afford a school uniform.”

Kaoru: “What’s with that grubby outfit you’ve got on anyway?”

Kyoya: “Well, what do you think we should do, Tamaki?”

This is a lucky moment for Kyoya. The universe has conspired such that he has the perfect hook to keep Haruhi around for a little longer and continue the game. Something expensive is broken, Haruhi doesn’t have any hope of replacing it, and yet she’s honorable enough to insist on paying them back somehow. All she could do is work off the debt. All Kyoya has to do is give their glorious leader the idea. Easy enough when the question only has one logical answer.

Tamaki: “There’s a famous saying you may have heard, Fujioka. When in Rome, you should do as the Romans do. Since you have no money, you can pay with your body. That means, starting today, you’re the host club’s dog.”

And so it begins. It was, in fact, a series of accidents that led Haruhi to join the host club, but behind each of those accidents was Kyoya taking full advantage of the situation.

Bonus:

Kyoya gives Haruhi a promotion.

Haruhi: “You sure it’s really okay for me to keep this uniform?”

Tamaki: “Cute! You’re as pretty as a girl! Adorable!”

Honey: “Haru-chan, you look so cute!”

Hikaru: “If we had known that’s how you really look…”

Kaoru: “…we would have helped you out sooner.”

Kyoya: “Who knows, maybe he’ll draw in some customers.”

Tamaki: “You know, that’s just what I was thinking. Our errand boy is moving up the ranks. Starting today, you are an official member of the host club. I will personally train you to be a first-rate host. If you can get one hundred customers to request your service, we will completely forget about your eight million yen debt.”