I was watching Ouran episode 17 just now, and at the end Kyoya had a montage-flashback of Tamaki doing nice things for people, all surrounded with flowers and puffies and whatnot. I’m not that far into the anime yet, but manga-wise, I think everyone but Mori’s had an inspirational Tamaki flashback by now. And the figure who, despite their general ineffectuality, is seen as special and pure and to be protected by all the others, is of course a perfectly normal and respectable shoujo trope with a long history, except that normally it’s the heroine.
(Citations I can think of right off are Cardcaptor Sakura, Suki, Angelic Layer and all the other CLAMP manga with a little girl protagonist, Vampire Game, Penguin Brothers, Imadoki, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne, and of course Fruits Basket.)
This is the show’s real genderbending angle. Tamaki is clumsy, emotionally incontinent, and has no skills other than general niceness and sincerity in the midst of highly-competent people, yet is universally envied and adored and the center of everyone’s emotional universe. Tamaki is the heroine. (Oh, man, I totally would have put this in my paper if I’d thought of it.)
Other inspirations courtesy of this episode:
1) The animators do not ship Kyoya-Haruhi. In the scene where Kyoya exposes the guy selling counterfeit raku bowls, they cut out the part about his doing it to avenge Haruhi.
2) I think they do ship Kyoya-Tamaki, because Kyoya had three Tamaki flashbacks here, and there was only one in the manga.