Ouran High School Host Club: The Horrific Non-Con Moment Nobody Talks About

WARNING: The following article contains discussion of sexual assault.

For the most part, Ouran High School Host Club is a lighthearted, goofy anime about boys with far too much time -- and money -- on their hands. The show occasionally dips into deeper territory, such as heroine Haruhi Fujioka's ever-present longing for her dead mother and host club leader Tamaki Suoh's incredibly lonely childhood, but there's nothing that makes Ouran stand out as being particularly sad.

However, a moment in Episode 8 is not only incredibly alarming, but seems rarely talked about altogether: when Haruhi is threatened with sexual assault by another club member.

Ouran High school host club

Kyoya Ootori is the straight man of the wild bunch of hosts, in charge of finances and generally keeping things from getting too out of hand. Yet his behavior in Episode 8 goes too far when he attempts to teach Haruhi 'a lesson.' Earlier in the beach-themed episode, Haruhi had put herself in danger trying to help out a group of girls, an action that led to her being pushed into the ocean. Tamaki dove in after her and carried her out, scolding her for being reckless. The gesture is not appreciated. Haruhi is not the type to call for a white knight, and she makes her irritability well known to everyone in the club.

Once in a room alone with Haruhi, Kyoya decides this is the chance to prove she is the one in the wrong. The entire scene is dreadful. First, Kyoya laments the cost of bouquets that went wasted being sent to the girls Haruhi saved. Haruhi offers to pay for them, and Kyoya calculates the cost before saying Haruhi can pay with her body as he turns the lights down. He then grabs her wrist and throws her on the bed, hovering on hands and knees on top of her, stripped of his shirt. "You've made a mistake leaving yourself so open," he tells her as the camera pans up over their bodies.

However, when Haruhi says she knows he won't go through with his threat since he has nothing to gain, Kyoya agrees and gets off of her. She then praises him for being kind and trying to back up Tamaki's point that she shouldn't be so reckless. Through his actions, Haruhi has learned to rely on others more and Kyoya gets to listen to someone talk about how kind his action of 'playing the bad guy' truly was. The fiasco ends with Tamaki entering the room, seeing the two, starting to get angry and then getting sunscreen shoved in his face so Kyoya can exit on a comedic note and Tamaki and Haruhi can have their scene together. The incident is over.

Ouran High school host club

As awful as the entire scene is, the audience is largely forgiving of Kyoya's actions. Part of it is knowing he wouldn't have gone through with his threat, but if the same thing happened in a modern anime, there would likely be a very different reaction. The power of nostalgia keeps Kyoya safe from being properly called out for threatening a woman with sexual assault in order to prove a point -- as well as the fact that audiences want to like Kyoya. There is nothing else in his behavior that makes him unlikable, and his straight man routine with the host club and Tamaki in particular is a source of much of Ouran's comedy.

However, that only shows an overall societal problem when it comes to such serious matters. Kyoya is forgiven because the audience wants to like him and because they know he wouldn't have actually done it. In real-life cases, however, people will often swear their friends are innocent and completely believe it because they desperately want to continue liking the person they thought they knew. In this way, the reaction to Kyoya's intimidation tactic is a mirror of our society that reflects back some pretty awful truths.

Ouran High School Host Club does remain a lighthearted comedy that in no way attempts to take on societal problems like sexual assault. However, the way this scene between Kyoya and Haruhi is handled shows just how little the anime cared when it came to such a serious topic. Kyoya's mindset that threatening sexual assault would be a good way to prove how powerless Haruhi is as a girl is incredibly troubling. That it's never brought up again is troubling still, meaning it's time for the fanbase to acknowledge the problem.

It's understandable to want to love nostalgic favorites, but it's also time to admit that shows like Ouran High School Host Club have their issues -- and it's better to air those issues out than pretend they never existed.

Ouran High School Host Club can be streamed now on Netflix.

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