An aloof main lead in a high-paced anime is standard practice at this point. Gone are the days of goofy but lovable protagonists that you’d see grace the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump. Nowadays, it’s all about the cool guy, who borders on near detached from everything around him yet leads with quiet confidence. I mean, look at the case of Ayanokoji, peak emotionless lead energy!
Kiyotaka Ayanokoji is a character from Classroom Of The Elite, a light novel that got a hit anime adaptation in 2017 with 3rd season that will start airing next year. The story follows his experience at the Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing Academy, a premier school set up by the Japanese Government to foster only the best and more promising of individuals. But the utopia is a lie. Classes are ranked, with Ayanokoji being in the worst-ranked sections, known as Classroom D. And you need to be cutthroat to change the circumstances you’re placed in, which is exactly what Ayanokoji and the rest of Classroom D set out to do.
When you’re in an environment as competitive as Classroom Of the Elite, it makes sense to be as impassive and stone-faced as possible to succeed. This is why Ayanokoji is written the way he is. Perfectly serving the purpose he is created for, which is to help lead his classmates to the coveted position of Classroom A. But does being cool and calm mean he’s completely devoid of emotions?
Often these characters are coded so they fit the cool leader archetype for a reason, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have their own quirks. An example of this type of character is done well is Aslan Jade Callenreese or Ash Lynx from Banana Fish. But does the emotionless Ayanokoji serve the same complexities without being bland and cliché? Let’s discuss!
Meet The Cool Boy In Classroom D!
A second year at the Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing Academy, Kiyotaka Ayanokoji was put in Class D after he got an exact 50% score on the entrance exam. This is a point of mystery, because, with his innate talents and penchant for smarts, he should’ve scored higher.
He’s not just smart, his intelligence and maturity rival his superiors. With an uncanny ability to read people down to their tiniest habit, he is also a great judge of character. And this trait also helps him with planning, leading him to be an extremely good strategist who can make up ingenious plans on the fly. On top of all this, he’s considered extremely good-looking and decently athletic, catching both the respect and adoration of his peers.
But despite being so loved, people don’t know much about his past before he entered school. And because he’s so quiet, nobody engages enough to discover much about him. The closest he has to a confidante is his girlfriend, Kei Karuizawa.
On paper, Kiyotaka Ayanokoji is kind of the perfect guy to be the protagonist of a show like this. He’s perceptive and extremely intelligent, with an air of notoriety. He also claims to have been trained in more distinguished arts like piano, tea ceremonies, and calligraphy, but he hasn’t been shown practicing any of these.
Ayanokoji: A Tragic Backstory?
Honestly? There isn’t much about Ayanokoji that we know for sure. Before he entered the Academy, we didn’t even know if he had a family or not. His background was completely enshrouded in mystery until we got a flashback.
In this flashback, it was revealed that he was one of the first inductees into the White Room, a mysterious organization that was spearheaded by his father. And even back then, he was just as stoic compared to the other kids next to him.
He was trained viciously in physical and martial arts, being told over and over again how success was all that matters, that humans were just tools to be used on your path to victory. His father was exceptionally cruel in developing this ideology of his, where he trained Ayanokoji to be the perfect soldier. Eventually, out of the entire group, he was the last to survive.
He eventually escaped to the Academy with help of his butler, knowing this was the one place his father’s influence couldn’t reach him.
Has Ayanokoji Always Been So Emotionless?
So, what does emotionless even mean? He does feel something. He has his own philosophies; he has a drive where he wants to be free from influence and he even has loved ones now. But in the end, ’emotionless’ characters like Ayanokoji are no more than self-insert placeholders for the audience.
While he’s an exceptional hero, he’s not a very complex or defined character. He is socially awkward, with a very monotonous way of speaking. While he does want to be more open, he doesn’t exactly know how to do that. Even when it comes to people he cares about. Combine it with his apathy and isolating tendencies, you have a character that’s virtually a blank slate for the audience to fill in the gaps.
But there is a case to be made here about adaptation and source. In the anime, his emotionless tendencies are definitely more played up. In the light novel, he is much more animated. He expresses his inner emotions in a very expressive manner there. Hell, the rumor is you can even find him smiling in it, on some rare occasions.