Kei Karuizawa and Kiyotaka Ayanokoji have a mutually beneficial relationship with a clear power dynamic in Classroom of the Elite.
Right at the beginning of the school year, Kei Karuizawa established herself as one of the prominent girls in the class and began dating Hirata for more recognition.
She didn’t have the best opinion of Kiyotaka and would keep her distance from him or snipe back at him often.
During the VIP test, Kiyotaka discovers that Kei and Hirata only pretend to be a couple, because she wants to be protected.
She was bullied a lot as a child and she built up a new persona in here to avoid being bullied once again.
During the test, Shiho Manabe and the girls from Class C begin to bully Kei for an earlier encounter Kei had with one of their classmates.
Kiyotaka sees this as an opportunity to recruit an effective pawn.
Taking advantage of a weakness
Kiyotaka watches Kei getting bullied once, and rather than help her out, he orchestrates a situation where she is bullied once again.
This time, however, he records the incident on his phone and approaches Kei afterward. He tells her that she can tell the bullies to stop with the threat of expulsion using evidence.
From then onwards, Kei gets her orders from Kiyotaka, whether it be observing someone, gathering information, or enacting a step of his plans.
He sees her as a parasite who feeds off the reputation of her host, and he has no qualms about being that host who will protect her from any harm.
After discovering that Sae Chabashira fabricated her interaction with his father and used him for her ambitions of reaching Class A, Kiyotaka decides that he has no motivating factor in aiding that goal anymore.
He informs Kei that he will not be contacting her anymore because he won’t need to, but reassures her that he will protect her if she needs it.
When Ryuen is desperate to find out who the Class D mastermind is, he targets Kei by cornering and bullying her.
Kiyotaka belatedly arrives and rescues her from the Class C hierarchy. He begins reaching out to her again for information and reveals that everything went according to plan.
Cutting off contact and then waiting until the final moments before she broke to come and rescue her were calculated decisions to ensure Kei’s trust and loyalty.