It’s Not Like I Want You To Read This Post Or Anything
Before you give your abs a workout because of how silly and long the title post is, I’d just like you to continue reading this article that explains and discusses the phenomenon of otaku culture that is the “Tsundere.” Thats right its all twintails, fiery hair colors and eternal scowls today.
So what is a Tsundere, where and when did it originate? The very first Tsundere that I came across was Naru Narusegawa from the Harem anime Love Hina. Love Hina aired in the year 2000 just about the time when the term “moe” started to get thrown around more often on the internet. Tsundere is somewhat a sub category of moe, some would argue Tsundere is an essential part and possibly is what exploded the moe boom.
For any readers out there not aware with what the term Tsundere means, Wikipedia (the online being that has all the answers) defines it as ” A character development process that describes a person who is initially cold and even hostile towards another person before gradually showing their warm side over time. The word is derived from the terms Tsun Tsun meaning to turn away in disgust, and Dere Dere meaning to become ‘lovey dovey.” Some popular examples would be Taiga Aisaka from Toradora! and Rin Tohsaka from Fate/Stay Night, there have been some variations of the character type in recent times like the overly Indifferent Kirino or Kagami from Lucky Star that doesn’t express her lovey dovey side to any male character in particular. I will let Minoru Shiraishi explain it to us in this video..
It’s hard to ignore this character type in modern anime because they are present in a lot of series. I would point to the success of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya which aired in 2006 as the catalyst to the already growing trope. Ironically, The Haruhi Suzumiya light novel reads as a clever parody of the moe culture and how it has taken over the anime industry in recent years. Watching the anime though gives a somewhat different experience. By being a parody of a Tsundere Haruhi in turn ends up being one herself, definitely not your typical tsundere but she becomes one none the less. An example of this would be when Haruhi explains what moe is and why it is important..
In this scene Haruhi is making fun of the other anime that always implement the ‘token moe characters’ into their shows, but by doing this the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Show itself implements its very own token moe character. It’s easy to dislike Haruhi as a character, but isn’t that the point of being a Tsundere? They withdraw an emotion from the viewer be it negative or otherwise making the experience memorable thus leading you to watch even more of the said show. It’s a tactic that works and it is why it will continue to be used.
It is also important to note that while this character type may seem over-used and extremely cliché, they can all be unique and complex in their own right. Take Asuka Langley Sohryu for example, she is pretty much the template for the modern day tsundere. Going too much into detial about the character of Asuka will turn this post into a why I love Evangelion article so to sum it nicely I will show you this video.
Warning: May Contain Slight Spoilers…… (why havent you seen this show yet for shame?)
One of the more interesting things I noticed was that most anime fans that had seen Evangelion only recently often compared Asuka to ‘similar characters’ of recent shows. while you can argue and say, Kirino is just Tusundere for the sake of being Tsundere its hard to unjustify why Asuka behaves the way she does and just to emphasize just how popular her character or character type is just take a look at how many figures of her are still selling.
Another example of a unique and somewhat complex Tsundere character would be Makise Kurisu from last seasons Steins;Gate. Her character is also a clever parody of what a tsundere would be if she were real, the cast of the show are constantly calling her one and while it may seem like it’s just been implemented for laughs it turns out making her a rather unique and refreshing tsundere.
I honestly think Tsunderes’ will continue to be a staple in modern anime, when they are done right they turn out to be complex and relatable characters because they are quite honestly flawed. They aren’t as 1 dimensional as the ditzy character that’s clumsy for being dumbs sake or the characters that are silent and serve no purpose to the overall plot or characters growth or development .(just for the record Yui Hirasawa is NOT in this category she is much more complex than that)
Speaking of bad, there are a lot of things that can get quite annoying when it comes to tsunderes’ for one thing the older versions tended to be more violent than the current ones. The punching the guy sky high can be a little bit funny the first two times but it really gets annoying and can get quite tedious pretty fast.
On the Flipside the very same trope can be used strategically well if actually makes sense for the character to behave this way, take Taiga Aisaka for example.
Another awful cliché that most Tsunderes bring to anime is their type cast Seiyuu/ Voice Actor list. Now don’t get me wrong I like Ayana Taketatsu and Rie Kugumiya just as much as the next guy but hearing the same voice actors do the same type of voices for the same type of characters can really get on your nerves, its extremely repetitive and your brain immediately categorises the said characters in a box that they will never break the boundaries from.
As I mentioned earlier the tsundere character type often has a checklist of characteristics that it often adheres to just so when the Otaku take one glance at a still frame they can easily be pinpointed. For Example, Twintails, Usually Loli, Crazy hair color..compared to the rest of the cast, violent, Hyper Active, outspoken etc etc. Its the checklist mentality that has driven the creativity of anime creators to a standstill and until we can get more variations of character types we will forever be stuck with the same tried and trusted characters for years to come.
I have really come to like tsunderes and appreciate them even more, especially when they are done right, I hope they don’t continue to take over the anime scene but I don’t want them to completely die out either, they are a core part of what makes anime a unique medium and are arguably what some people may refer to as ‘strong female characters.’ Try finding a bunch of those in western media.