Classroom of the Elite Just Channeled Ouran High School Host Club – in the Worst Way – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Classroom of the Elite Just Channeled Ouran High School Host Club – in the Worst Way – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Classroom of the Elite and Ouran High School Host Club share one thing in common: an uncomfortable scene of potential trauma.
The following article contains spoilers for Season 2, Episode 3 of Classroom of the Elite, as well as a brief mention of sexual assault.
The second season of Classroom of the Elite, a light novel series written by Shōgo Kinugasa and illustrated by Shunsaku Tomose, is a currently airing series in the Summer 2022 anime season. The recent third episode showcased a darker side to the main protagonist, Kiyotaka Ayanokōji.
In Episode 3, “The Greatest Souls Are Capable of the Greatest Vices as well as of the Greatest Virtues,” Ayanokōji forces himself onto his classmate, Kei Karuizawa so that he can use her for his scheme. Although he had good intentions, Ayanokōji’s actions remind viewers of a similar situation in Bisco Hatori’s Ouran High School Host Club, involving Kyoya Ootori and Haruhi Fujioka.
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In the next story arc of Classroom of the Elite Season 2, the students must pass yet another “special test”. All four classes are divided into groups consisting of a few students from each class. Each group must uncover the “VIP” student to earn points. In Kiyotaka Ayanokōji ’s group, he notices that his peers refuse to cooperate, so he takes matters into his own hands.
Kiyotaka Ayanokōji takes advantage of his classmate to reach a favorable outcome for the examination. Ayanokōji discovers that Kei Karuizawa’s relationship with Yosuke Hirata is fake and that her relationship is a guise to protect her from bullies. However, during this test, Hirata cannot fully protect Karuizawa from female Class-C students Shiho Manabe, Nanami Yabu, and Saki Yamashita. These Class-C girls accuse Karuizawa of shoving their friend, Rika Morofuji.
Upon hearing this information, Ayanokōji sets up a private opportunity for the Class-C bullies to confront Kei Karuizawa. The bullies humiliate Karuizawa — one of the girls films Rika slapping Karuizawa profusely. After the bullies leave, Ayanokōji confronts Karuizawa and calls her a weakling. He aggressively takes advantage of her weak nature by gaslighting her into believing that it’s her fault that she’s a victim of bullying. Furthermore, he pretends to blackmail her in exchange for sexual services, as evident when he states, “Open your legs.” Soon after, Karuizawa shares her experiences with abuse, revealing that she is willing to give up her body to keep her secrets and trauma hidden from the public.
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Knowing that Karuizawa is willing to sacrifice herself to keep her secrets, Ayanokōji disguises his “blackmail” in the form of protection. He tells Karuizawa that he recorded the incident between her and the bullies and will reveal it if Karuizawa gets bullied again by them. In exchange for Ayanokōji’s protection, Karuizawa must help him win the test for Class-D.
Kiyotaka Ayanokōji’s actions mirror Kyoya Ootori’s actions in Ouran High School Host Club. In Episode 8, “The Sun, the Sea, and the Host Club!”, Kyoya teaches Haruhi the importance of asking a man for help whenever she is in trouble. At the beach, Haruhi tries to save some girls being threatened by drunk men. However, her rescue mission backfires when the drunk men push her off the cliff and into the ocean. Tamaki rescues Haruhi, and then he berates her for being reckless.
Haruhi doesn’t understand Tamaki’s perspective until Kyoka intervenes. Haruhi enters Kyoya’s room, and Kyoya pins Haruhi down onto the bed as if he is going to assault her sexually. Kyoya shows Haruhi that it is in these life-threatening moments that she should ask for help rather than suffer through a predicament alone.
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In both situations, sexual assault is used as a “teaching method” by male protagonists to teach their female peers the importance of relying on men for help. In Classroom of the Elite, Karuizawa must rely on Ayanokōji for protection against her bullies, while in Ouran High School Host Club, Haruhi should rely on her fellow male club members when she needs help or is in danger. These situations seem to favor traditional gender roles, highlighting that men are protective and act as providers to women, and women are “damsels-in-distress” that need men to save them. Furthermore, these scenes purposefully drive the storyline and have the protagonists learn and grow from personal trauma and challenges.
However, having male characters forcing themselves onto their female peers is a disturbing narrative device. The male character's actions may be noble because they are “protecting” these female characters from harm — but ultimately, it does more harm than good. The audience sees Karuizawa and Haruhi’s fearful facial expressions when their male peers put them in these situations. These uncomfortable scenes bring into question whether these male protagonists’ actions were worth the emotional turmoil brought onto these female characters or not.
Throughout the Classroom of the Elite series, Kiyotaka Ayanokōji makes many questionable decisions regarding his peers. Kiyotaka Ayanokōji is a stoic and cunning individual. He has a tough time communicating with others, resulting in his comments and actions being hurtful to others. However, his actions toward Kei Karuizawa are by far the worse.
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It’s one thing to allow bullying, but to add more salt to the wound by threatening to sexually assault her and further ruining her self-esteem is demoralizing. Now, Kiyotaka Ayanokōji is known to act for his selfish desires, but this action is inhumane because he was willing to emotionally damage a person for Class-D to succeed in the test. Furthermore, his plan could have easily backfired if Karuizawa refused his help.
The situation could have been different if there was no sexual assault scene. Ayanokōji inflicted enough damage on Karuizawa by having her bullies torment her. That is enough leverage for Ayanokōji to use so that Karuizawa would help him, and so, the sexual assault scene isn’t necessary. However, the scene emphasizes how Karuizawa’s broken spirit is enough so that she would never be disloyal to Ayanokōji.
Even though we can see the “good” intentions behind Kiyotaka Ayanokōji and Kyoya Ootori’s actions, it still doesn’t make it okay for female characters like Haruhi Fujioka and Kei Karuizawa to feel unsafe. As for viewers, sexual assault scenes in anime are uncomfortable to watch. Thus, it begs whether anime series should continue using sexual assault to develop storylines and characters at the expense of the possibility that viewers may be reliving the trauma.
Ederlyn Peralta is an Anime & Manga Features Writer for CBR. She has an MA in Comparative Literature from San Francisco State University and a BA in Japanese from UC Berkeley. She spends her time playing with tarot cards, collecting crystals, and consuming too much pop culture entertainment. She runs a personal blog and you can find her on Twitter @lynlynsays.
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