Believe it or not, one of my favorite character archetypes has always been the tsundere. While I have read other’s opinions about this in the past, I felt the need to share my thoughts since not all tsunderes are created equal and that these characters usually have interesting character development that make them enjoyable. (Image Source)
What is a Tsundere?
According to the Japanese Dictionary, “tsuntsun” means” aloof” while “deredere” is “soft.” In short, this is a hot and cold character that is hotheaded and is also kind. Depending on the type (A and B), they can either be hot-tempered by default to being caring or being sweet, but having a hidden violent side. They are usually popular in romantic comedies for the fact they are usually in denial when it comes to loving a certain person even though that is not the case. However, I feel that these characters play a big part in character development of a story since they can change throughout the story as a result of the main character’s actions.
How does Tsundere Characters develop?
One trait that is apparent in all tsunderes is that they lack self-esteem and/or usually have something that makes them vulnerable. Therefore, they usually act violently or go in denial to cover up their insecurities. This is ironic as most of them are strong-minded. Eventually, the tsundere will eventually warm up to main character, possibly resulting in him/her defaulting to a kinder personality. For instance, in the Clannad visual novel, one of the arcs focuses on one of the Fujibayashi twins. Kyou who usually acts violently to protect her younger sister has a crush on Tomoya, but realizes that her younger sister Ryou also likes Tomoya. Therefore, she hooked her little sister up with him. As time goes on, she becomes depressed and eventually Tomoya finds her outside in the rain and finds out that she loves him. After the emotional dilemma with breaking up with Ryou, Kyou with her hair cut short kisses him and she becomes Tomoya’s boyfriend.
From this example, tsunderes eventually become kinder after they address their insecurities. I think this is the case as he/she makes new friends, resolve differences and gain new experiences that will open him/her off. Even if they change, it doesn’t mean that their tsundere tendencies will go away since there will be other things that make them vulnerable. Even so, each one of these characters have different qualities that will set them apart.
What is your favorite Tsundere Characters?
While there are a good number of tsundere characters that are my favorite, there are so many that I enjoy that I can’t possibly list them. However, I will admit that I enjoy tsunderes voiced by Kugimiya Rie. Although people typically complain about JC Staff being a bad studio for the fact that they created a lot of these shows (Shana, Hayate, Hidan no Aria, Toradora, Zero no Tsukaima), these characters defined how tsundere characters behave, for the better or worse.
On the other hand, not all tsundere characters are enjoyable and can be outright annoying. While there are empty and generic tsundere characters like Touka from the second season of Nogizaka Haruka’s Secret, there are also unappealing characters like Hikari from Nagi no Asukara and Kirino from Ore no Imouto. While the latter is interesting because she actually loved her older brother, at least she stick to her guns and remained honest about it despite being one of the most controversial characters in Anime. In comparison, I don’t see any redeeming quality in Hikari since he acts like a bully (mostly due to his dislike of land people) and always loves to resort to some sort of violence. Although one can argue that he lacks maturity, he might redeem himself in future episodes. To me, I just don’t see it just yet.
In the end of the day, I think there are a lot of good things that can come from the tsundere archetype if done correctly to make it interesting. I feel the reason why these characters are so popular is for the fact that the main character has to fight to soften him/her up for the fact that he/she can be strong and have a kind side that hardly anyone gets to see. I think there is always the gratification to see the tsundere become friends with the main character or even get into a romantic relationship.
With that, what do you think about the tsundere archetype? Do you find them enjoyable or not? Feel free to share your favorites. ¶