Title: The White Prince and the Shadow King
Fandom: Ouran High School Host Club
Word count: ~4500
Pairing: Suoh Tamaki/Ohtori Kyouya
Spoilers: Manga through ch. 70, anime
Disclaimer: Ouran Host Club was created by Bisco Hatori. I give credit to her for the awesomeness of these boys.
|| intro ||
Ouran High School Host Club is a shoujo manga series created by Bisco Hatori. It also has a one-season anime adaptation licensed by Viz which covers most of volumes 1-5 of the manga and a few chapters from 6, 7, and 8. Ouran is a comedy which parodies shoujo cliches, but it has a little bit of everything. The characters may be based off cliches, but they're complex and interesting and very human. The series can vary between hilariously silly and serious or heartwrenching. A few of the themes that pop up include being true to oneself, friendship, family, and kindness.
The story begins when Fujioka Haruhi, a commoner girl, earns a scholarship to the prestigious Ouran Academy, which is where many of Japan's finest adolescents attend high school. They're wealthy and bored, and so the Host Club is a famous afterschool activity. Haruhi is only looking for a quiet place to study when she stumbles upon the Third Music Room and is greeted by six handsome boys. She accidentally knocks over an expensive vase and lands herself in debt to the club. The hosts mistake her for a boy and offer her a job as a host, saying they'll forgive her debt if she manages to attract enough customers. As time goes by, they discover her real gender, and Haruhi learns that these rich boys have problems of their own. Maybe the commoner girl can break into their world, and perhaps they can teach her something in return.
Although the manga veers into het romance territory, especially after volume 10, there are several interesting relationships between the host club boys. One of these is between the club president, Suoh Tamaki, and his vice-president, Ohtori Kyouya.
|| tamaki: the white prince ||
it's so beautiful when the boy smiles
If hope and love and daytime soap operas could be packaged into a human form, then Suoh Tamaki would be the perfect candidate. He's a delightful mix of obliviousness, narcissism, and keen perception. As a character, he's fascinating because there are so many layers to pull back, and he varies between extremes of emotion so fast it's a wonder his head manages to stay on relatively straight. Tamaki enjoys drama and monologues glittering with egotism. He sees himself as a gift from God to his fellow humans. He knows how to charm girls silly, but is oblivious when it comes to his own feelings. Although he's second in his class, he has no common sense. So is there anything more to him than a narcissistic idiot?
Oh yeah. It turns out that Tamaki's heart is as gold as his hair. He genuinely cares for other people and wants to help them when they're troubled. He has a bit of a savior complex, I guess you could say. He loves others even when they don't love him back. He cares so much, and he's also idealistic. The world can be a cold place, and it seems like a miracle that someone like him hasn't been jaded really fast. It turns out that he's also unfailingly optimistic, but he's had to overcome a lot in his sixteen years to stay that way.
Tamaki's family situation is, in a word, bittersweet. His father is Suoh Yuzuru, the chairman of Ouran Academy. He was unhappy in his marriage and fell in love with a beautiful young French mistress named Anne-Sophie. However, his mother, the one in the Suoh family with all the power, wasn't happy about this, to say the least. So when the French girl had Yuzuru's son, the Suoh matron would have preferred to pretend he didn't exist. Except Yuzuru didn't have any other children. Little Tamaki was extremely close to his mother, and because she was often ill, he stayed with her to cheer her up. He rarely spent time with other children his age. His father would come to visit once in a while and tell dramatic stories of his time in Japan. It wasn't a perfect situation, but they were happy.
Then Anne-Sophie got even sicker, and the grandmother made her an offer. Tamaki's mother would be given medical care so she could recover from her illness, but in return Tamaki would come to Japan and they would be forbidden from seeing or contacting each other. And because Tamaki wanted his mother to get better, he left for Japan with only her photograph and his memories. He would never forget her words to him, however, telling him to always be cheerful and face life with a smile. He would look forward to the day he could see her again, and until then he wouldn't let anything get him down.
|| kyouya: the shadow king ||
my bleeding heart does not extend to charity
Kyouya is called the "shadow king" of the Ouran Host Club, and he is the one who keeps everything together. He always seems to be two steps ahead of everyone else, and his mind is unreadable to most of the club members. Cool and collected in demeanor, he is rarely disturbed by even the most outrageous events. It's for good reason that he is in charge of the club's finances. He has a bit of a demonic side, as anyone who attempts to wake him early in the morning will quickly learn. He seems to wear a polite mask while in the customers' company, and his smile doesn't quite reach his eyes. The club seems to be a means to an end for him.
How did he get to this point?
As a third son, Kyouya won't be able to take over the family business. He earns grades at the top of his class, but this isn't enough to impress his demanding father. Underneath the proper image of the Ohtori family lies a dysfunctional, cold home life. It's not a pleasant environment for a teenage boy to live in. His brothers, having satisfied their father's expectations, are distant, and the head of the household, Ohtori Yoshio, is a harsh and unaffectionate man. The only person whom Kyouya is somewhat close to is his sister, Fuyumi, but she will soon be leaving home to get married. Under this influence, it's no wonder that Kyouya grows up a bit twisted. He keeps a barrier between himself and other people, and doesn't allow anyone else to get to know his real self. When he interacts with his classmates, he does it with the knowledge of the benefits he can gain from them.
Although he appears to be cool on the outside, the truth is that Kyouya deeply feels the disappointment of not being able to overcome the circumstances of his birth position. He wants more than what he is allowed as the third son, but he hopelessly resigns himself to whatever leftovers he is given. He's extremely bitter about what he sees as wasted abilities on his part. What he most wants is to impress his father enough to become the heir of the Ohtori business. Kyouya is a boy who feels trapped inside the box that has been made for him, the role he is expected to fill.
But then something happens in his third year of junior high which would change his life forever.
|| when kyouya met him ||
give me something to believe
Chapter 33 of volume 8 of the manga and episode 24 of the anime tell the story of how Kyouya and Tamaki first meet and become friends. In terms of subtext, the anime is preferable. The episode opens with the host club having kotatsu in the music room. Haruhi asks Kyouya what is so great about kotatsu, and wonders how someone like Kyouya would be interested in cofounding a bizarre club like that in the first place. Kyouya smiles and fondly looks at Tamaki, who is hosting a group of girls. This begins a flashback to Kyouya's last year of junior high.
Kyouya views his classmates only in terms of their position and what he can gain from them. His sister wonders if this is healthy for him, and he says he enjoys the challenge of demonstrating his abilities as the third son without standing out. The anime represents this as trying to create a beautiful painting that is set within a large, magnificent frame. Then, while eating with his father and brothers one day, his father remarks that Suoh's son will be transferring to the same class as Kyouya, and that it would benefit Kyouya to become close to him.
Of course, Ohtori Yoshio doesn't realize how close his son and Suoh Tamaki would later become.
Anyway, Kyouya thinks to himself that Tamaki is extremely lucky to become the heir of the Suoh conglomerate when he is only an illegitimate child. He is introduced to Tamaki at school, along with the second in the class, a girl named Ayame. Tamaki flirts with Ayame, and Kyouya isn't sure what to make of this French-bred boy. He offers to show Tamaki around the school, planning to somehow become friends with him, but Tamaki manages to surprise him at every turn. Tamaki asks if Kyouya has a kotatsu in his home, and when Kyouya says he does not, Tamaki expresses sadness that the Ohtori family must not be close. The truth is that Tamaki views the kotatsu as the symbol of a happy family, and later in the manga it is explained how he wishes his own family could all sit together under one: his father, mother, and grandmother, too.
Surprised by Tamaki's sudden change in mood, Kyouya offers to put a kotatsu in his home, and Tamaki is so thrilled he hugs Kyouya and calls him his best friend. Later, Kyouya wonders if Tamaki doesn't know what the Japanese word for "best friend" means.
So it turns out that all of Kyouya's careful planning in order to get close to the Suoh heir was for nothing, because Tamaki is so unpredictable that he manages to catch even the Ohtori boy off guard. And Kyouya can't stop thinking about him. He isn't sure whether Tamaki's demeanor is all an act or if he really is that much of a spazz. He later decides that, yes, Tamaki really is that stupid. He's never wanted to punch anyone so much.
This is where the anime has an extra scene that really adds to the dynamic of their growing friendship. Kyouya arrives home to find Tamaki playing piano for his sister and brothers. He watches as Tamaki plays a beautiful Chopin-esque song, and he is surprised that he is so moved by the music. Tamaki manages to bring the siblings together in a rare moment of emotion. Perhaps this is when Kyouya realizes that Tamaki is so much more than the Suoh heir.
The next scene is an abrupt change in mood, as Kyouya resentfully wonders why Tamaki even bothered to come see him at home. The Suoh boy gets under his skin so that his polite facade starts to crack. I love this scene because it shows how perceptive Tamaki can really be and reveals another side of him that isn't seen too often. Tamaki asks if Kyouya will inherit anything since he has two older brothers, and when Kyouya responds that he won't, Tamaki says he is surprised that Kyouya would give up so easily. Kyouya can barely hold back his anger. His voice shakes with the bitterness that he's kept inside all this time. Any mask he's worn till now falls away, and he impulsively says that Tamaki couldn't possibly know how he feels when he will become the Suoh heir. Tamaki replies that it isn't a sure thing because of his grandmother's opinion of him, but he'd be happy doing other things, too.
Kyouya cracks. He pushes Tamaki to the floor and lets out all his anger and disappointment as he yells at this strange foreign boy who's grabbed hold of his mind and ruined all his plans. He's shaken, and he's scared. In the anime, Kyouya grabs on the front of Tamaki's vest and asks him, almost pleadingly, "What are you?" Black and white images of Kyouya's memories of Tamaki flash across the screen, and his inner thoughts show. How can this utter fool look into his eyes and see his true self when no one else can?
But Tamaki looks into his eyes, blue-violet meeting stormy gray, and says that Kyouya is the one who has given up. Kyouya realizes that he doesn't have to let himself stay inside the narrow box that has been set for him. He can overcome fate. This is beautifully portrayed in the anime by showing how the painting escapes and overshadows the frame to cover the entire wall. This is the size of Kyouya's potential as an Ohtori. And then Kyouya laughs, the first time he has probably ever truly done so, and Tamaki remarks that he is finally seeing Kyouya's real self. Fuyumi looks in on them and thinks that she has never seen Kyouya look so happy before.
A few months later, the two boys sit at a kotatsu together (remember how important that is in Tamaki's mind?), and Tamaki tells Kyouya of his plans to start a host club once they enter high school. Although he has no reason to accept such a strange proposal, Kyouya decides that his input will be necessary for Tamaki's plan to succeed. Maybe he realized then that, besides entertaining rich young ladies, Tamaki really wanted to save these troubled boys: Kyouya himself, Haninozuka Mitsukuni and Morinozuka Takashi, and the Hitachiin twins: Hikaru and Kaoru.
Tamaki manages to succeed where no one else can. He lets a bit of sunshine break into the twins' world of two, and convinces Hani that it is better to stay true to oneself. As Tamaki goofs around with Hikaru and Kaoru, Kyouya smiles down on him. Thanks to Tamaki's kindness and potential for seeing the good in everyone, the host club finally has its members.
And the rest is history.
|| canon ||
don't look at me with your mother's eyes or your killer smile
Two years later, Kyouya and Tamaki are in their second year of high school. Kyouya is in charge of the host club's finances as the vice-president and manages to take all of Tamaki's half-formed, semi-incoherent ideas and turn them into an organized plan. Tamaki is the eccentric and immensely popular club king. Their friendship isn't too obvious at first, but Tamaki refers to Kyouya as "mother," while he sees himself as the "father" of the bratty twins and Haruhi. Considering that we find out later how much Tamaki cares for his own mother, this title is quite a compliment indeed. Kyouya no longer keeps up a polite facade around the host club members, but seems to take enjoyment out of insulting Tamaki, calling him "idiot" quite frequently (he means it as a term of endearment, I think).
When the excitable otaku girl Renge first appears and mistakes Kyouya for a video game character, calling him her "fiance," Tamaki assumes a dejected pose in the corner of woe. The twins joke that he is upset because "Mom" kept a secret from "Dad." Seems like a strange thing to fuss about, especially considering their positions, though it turns out Kyouya is only Renge's fiance in the deluded fantasies of her own mind. When she learns that Kyouya is different than she thought, Tamaki replies that she doesn't see the real Kyouya. He knows of Kyouya's flaws, and accepts him for who he is.
The host club's antics continue, and Haruhi gradually gets pulled even further into this chaotic world of rich boys. They go to the beach one day, and Tamaki becomes angry at Haruhi for endangering herself and not realizing that the club members worry about her. In an attempt to help her understand this, Kyouya appeals to her pragmatism by pretending to molest her. She sees through him, however, and Kyouya tells her that she is interesting before they are interrupted by Tamaki entering the room. Kyouya ignores Tamaki's indignant surprise and leaves the room, thinking that Tamaki needs a lot of help and wondering if this will resolve things between Haruhi and Tamaki.
After the beach, Tamaki takes the host club along on various adventures, such as visiting Haruhi's apartment and playing the commoner games of elementary school children. Even when he at first resists Tamaki's schemes, Kyouya just can't resist the president's pitiful begging. This is the first hint that Tamaki has an influence on Kyouya, whether he realizes it himself or not.
The anime misses quite a few plot events from volume 6 onward. As the Ouran cultural festival approaches, Kyouya's childhood rival Kuze appears, taunting Kyouya for being only a third son and therefore unable to accomplish anything. He accuses Kyouya of only being friends with the Suoh boy for the glory and fame. Tamaki comes to Kyouya's defense, telling Kuze to resolve it in the competition. In a scene showing Tamaki's perceptiveness in regards to his vice-president, he offers to relieve some of Kyouya's stress by giving him a shoulder massage. It's also really cute that they call each other "Mom" and "Dad" when no one else is around. Kyouya doesn't seem like the type to enjoy physical contact, but when it's Tamaki he doesn't really mind. Tamaki tells Kyouya that Fuyumi worries about him, and Kyouya reassures Tamaki that the host club is sure to win the competition, and that afterward he'll let Tamaki take him out for commoner's cuisine.
It turns out that Kyouya is using the cultural festival competition as a way to boost his father's opinion of him, and he lets Tamaki take the winning crown to show his position in support of the Suoh heir. However, perhaps he also wanted to give Tamaki something to brag about in front of his grandmother. When Haruhi finds out about Tamaki's family situation and asks the club members about it, Kyouya responds that it's easy to feel sorry for him, but he's glad Tamaki is who he is. This is one of the first times in the series that it's shown how much Kyouya really does care for Tamaki, and is grateful to him for all that he's done.
A sleeping Kyouya is dragged to a commoner exhibition by Tamaki and the other hosts, and then runs into Haruhi when the others leave him. As they eat fast food together, Haruhi wonders how someone like Kyouya could be friends with Tamaki when they're so different. Kyouya responds that he benefits from their association, and that Tamaki knows it, too. But Haruhi, keen as she is, figures out that what Kyouya means by "benefit" is really what other people regard as "friendship."
In the next few volumes, interaction between Kyouya and Tamaki is overshadowed by Tamaki and Haruhi growing closer. However, at the end of volume 10, Tamaki gets the idea to have a sports festival to cause Kuze and Kyouya to get over their animosity through competition. Kyouya isn't happy with this, however, since he doesn't see any benefit to him. And he harshly tells Tamaki so. Tamaki is crushed. When Haruhi does or says something to upset him, Tamaki reacts dramatically and quickly gets over it. When it comes to Kyouya, he is stunned and quiet, as if the world just dropped out from under him. Luckily, Kyouya comes back in full demon-lord mode, promising to crush Kuze and Tamaki as leader of the white team.
Both boys prepare their teams for the upcoming event. Kyouya refuses to speak to Tamaki, and Kaoru asks him why he's so upset when Tamaki is just doing what he always does and is only trying to help him. Kyouya replies that he doesn't care what anyone else thinks, as long as the people who truly want to get to know him understand his true self. At the same time, Tamaki explains to Hikaru and Haruhi that Kyouya is truly a passionate guy. He reveals that he has other reasons for wanting Kyouya to participate in the sports festival than just competing with Kuze.
The white team and the red team end up in a tie, and Kyouya and Tamaki are unexpectedly opposed to each other in the final race. Kyouya tells Tamaki that he never cared about facing Kuze, but only wanted to show up Tamaki. The real reason Tamaki wanted Kyouya to participate was so that he would care about going after something for himself, instead of trying to make the Suoh family look good. Tamaki knew that when they first met, Kyouya was only being kind to him because of his position. But he saw through the act to the fire that Kyouya hid inside, and wanted to be friends with such a passionate person. Kyouya ends up winning the race between himself and Tamaki, and thinks that finding a true friend at Ouran is worth it.
Sometime after the sports festival, the second years decide to go to France for a school holiday. Tamaki decides to stay behind, and the only person he tells is Kyouya. When Tamaki says he doesn't want the others to worry, Kyouya says that a little bit of worrying is merited. In France, Kyouya departs from the other second years and has an agenda of his own. When his bodyguards remark that he is exhausting himself, he responds that he needs to bring Tamaki back a gift that will mean something. He's looking for Tamaki's mother. While he's there, he meets someone who used to work for Anne-Sophie, and learns about Tamaki's childhood. After that, he collapses on a sidewalk and wakes up in the home of Anne-Sophie herself. She's surprisingly energetic, and Kyouya thinks about how much this vibrant woman and her son were put through by the Suoh family, Yuzuru included. But Anne-Sophie tells him that she chose Yuzuru, and she only wants her son, the person she loves most in the world, to be happy. Kyouya remarks that Anne-Sophie and his best friend are similar. If there was any doubt over how much Kyouya cared for Tamaki, it should be gone by this chapter.
Kyouya went all over France looking for Tamaki's mother, exhausting himself to the point of passing out, when there was no material benefit to doing so. He was just doing it to make Tamaki happy. And when he later tells Tamaki, there's no mistaking how relieved and grateful his friend is.
In chapter 68, during the contest where the club members are trying to help the girl Kanoya when Tamaki is uncertain of how to do so, Kyouya is at the second to last checkpoint. He tells Tamaki the club wants their president to know how much he means to them. Then he gently pushes Tamaki away, saying that Haruhi is waiting for him. This chapter not only shows that the two friends most important to Tamaki, Kyouya and Haruhi, are trying to help him, but also seems to reveal that Kyouya wants Tamaki to be happy, no matter if it means not being as close to him as a best friend.
It is clear that, whatever their relationship may be, it is a friendship that goes beyond words.
|| something more ||
you saved me, you gave me just what i need
Kyouya and Tamaki are clearly good friends, but I saw potential in their relationship for something more than that. What I've seen in canon so far makes it fairly believable to imagine a romantic attachment between them. It is perhaps easiest to imagine from Kyouya's side, as Tamaki is responsible for changing the way he views his situation. Tamaki showed him that there is more to life than business prospects and polite facades. Sure, Tamaki messes with his schedule and ruins his plans, but he also allows Kyouya to experience more fun than he ever has before. Kyouya is amazed that Tamaki could keep such an upbeat attitude when his own situation is sad. I just see something in Kyouya's eyes when he looks at Tamaki that goes beyond friendship. Tamaki is the only person he can show his true self to, and Tamaki not only accepts him for who he is, but wouldn't have him any other way.
I can also see things from Tamaki's side, although it is a little more difficult. Tamaki relies on Kyouya just as much as Kyouya relies on him. He needs Kyouya's logical mind to bring him down to earth, and he obviously wants to share experiences with him (such as when he invited Kyouya alone to see Haruhi's home with him for the first time). When he is alone with Kyouya, Tamaki is much calmer and more clear-headed than he is otherwise. He sees through Kyouya's mask, even though he doesn't understand him all of the time. He's one of the few people who has seen Kyouya's true smile, and he knows that deep down Kyouya is a caring person, a teenager who needs love as much as he doesn't want to admit it. Although Tamaki appears to be oblivious about most things, when it comes to the Ohtori boy, perhaps he would realize his feelings. Kyouya doesn't easily express himself, so it would take patience and effort on Tamaki's part to open him up.
Unfortunately, there are quite a few barriers to their relationship ever being realized. As the manga stands, Haruhi and Tamaki are in love with each other, and Kyouya has been shifted to the side as the plot focuses on the boy and girl realizing their feelings for each other. And it's true that the relationship between Haruhi and Tamaki, even if it is only as friends, can't be ignored. Kyouya wants Tamaki to be happy, so he wouldn't selfishly want him for himself, as much as he may possibly love him. Also, both boys are in tricky positions in their families, and it's not exactly like they would be able to tell the whole word they're in love with each other, even if the attraction was mutual. Despite these challenges, I think the relationship between Kyouya and Tamaki is one of the most beautiful that I've seen, whether someone is a fan of boys' love or not. I personally enjoy the contrast in their personalities and the way they have similarities deep down. And from a superficial perspective, they're a good-looking couple and contrast each other well.
Regardless of whether they are in love or just friends, there's no doubt Kyouya and Tamaki make a good team. Mommy and Daddy are meant for each other, after all.
|| fanworks ||
finding beauty in the dissonance
Kyouya/Tamaki is a fairly popular couple in OHC, so there are some really nice things to be found out there. There's a nice mix of bittersweet one-sided love and mutual romance to satisfy any fan's tastes. The livejournal fan community is at kyouyatamaki.
Here are some of my favorites:
- fic -
--> evocates has some lovely KyoTama stories here.
--> she also has a massive list of KyoTama fic in her memories.
--> sciathan_file is one of the best writers I've seen in the Ouran fandom. The fic is primarily Tamaki/Haruhi, but there are a lot of nice KyoTama ones as well. Here is the masterlist.
--> KyoTama 50 sentences
--> The Brilliant Find a Date for Kyouya Plan by sam_storyteller. Part 1/2.
--> taijitu by sam_storyteller
--> Because the Goblins are Singing by scratchmist
--> Some Princes Become Kings by kagayachou
--> Words That Much Heavier by absinthium
--> Paper and String by thejennabides
--> nisshou by kanglin
--> Contradiction by hazelator
--> and here's some of my own work: Composition and Gratitude
- art -
Kyouya/Tamaki club on DeviantArt
These are all random images that I like and don't know the artist for. Such a pretty couple, aren't they?
- amvs -
--> "Good Enough"
--> "Be My Escape"
--> "Sex Bomb"
--> "Fool for Love"
--> "Your Guardian Angel"
--> "I'm With You"
--> "Everything You Want"
--> "You're the One"
--> "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"
--> "The Reason
--> "The Best of Friends"
--> "Empty Canvas"
--> "Opposites Attract"
- cosplay -
<-- I love this one. They're so in-character.
<-- They're so cute here.
<-- I love cosplay for canon scenes.
Songs that remind me of KyoTama, and other good stuff.
--> Be sure to check out the character songs from the official soundtrack (can be found at ouran-koukou.org)
--> Also be sure to download this amazing KyoTama fst by arisato
something corporate, "the runaway"
the shins, "pink bullets"
the postal service, "such great heights"
10 years, "through the iris"
ben jelen, "where do we go"
It's like you don’t know how much love I’d give for you
the bravery, "the ocean"
You're caught on my head like a thorn on a vine
vienna teng, "daughter"
Did you know you're so beautiful
On the edge of summer
vienna teng, "gravity (lake version)"
I am a constant satellite
Of your blazing sun
- misc -
--> Reasons You Love Kyouya/Tamaki
Inspired me to write this manifesto.