What is a Tsundere?

You can’t fully appreciate anime without understanding the characters and character developments that underlies it.
Modern Times Apr 5, 2019
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Recognizing the Characters

Japanese storytelling has certain stock characters within it, and once you know what they are, you can identify them quickly no matter what story you’re watching.

In anime, as in other types of storytelling, knowing a bit about the character’s backstory helps the writer directly dive into the meat of the plot.

The Archetype Character

Using an archetype character allows the writer or animator to skip certain background elements in telling the story.

In Japanese anime, there are both male and female stock characters, and their sex also gives you some clues into their character and what love interests might develop. (When you see the term “-dere,” you’re dealing with a female character.)

Understanding Tsundere

Of all the archetypal female characters in Japanese storytelling, Tsundere is the best known.

The suffix “-dere” lets you know she’s a female who is, according to the prefix “tsun” which comes from the Japanese word “tsuntsun,” mighty. It also carries a connotation of aloofness and disconnects from ordinary people.

Going Deeper

While Tsundere characters may appear as stuck-up individuals incapable of suffering, they possess deep wells of love and affection.

Part of the plot is their complex development as they learn to manage their powerful pride and love. Often, they learn to accept their feelings and become powerful protectors.

Variations to Watch For

Most Tsundere first appear irritated and harsh, showing a softer side later. Tsundere are broadly categorized as harsh, intense, and pessimistic or sweet, generous, and kind.

A Classic Tsundere fights between these two sides in any social situation. A Modern Tsundere will show this flip/flop in response to the person she loves.

Common Story Arcs

If a character shows a vulnerable moment and follows with an emotional shutdown phrase, you have a Tsundere.

In many stories, the Tsundere starts out hard and focused only to become sweet when won over by love. Tsundere often give the cold shoulder, taunt their love interest to mask their true feelings, and even get a bit violent.

Conclusion

Some popular Tsundere include Lulu from “Final Fantasy X” and Naru Narusegawa from “Love Hina.” When you come to appreciate the complexity of the character tropes in anime, the genre begins to make a lot more sense.

Once that happens, you’ll enjoy watching and analyzing these fascinating stories even more than you already do.
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