Last time I wrote a short article about insert songs. This time I would like to dive into the character archetype, tsundere.
If I had to summarize tsundere in a sentence, it’s when a character alternates between two different moods: “tsun” (harsh, aloof, irritable, prone to insults or possible violence) and “dere” (lovestruck).
The term was initially used to describe a character who, when introduced, has a harsh personality but slowly displays a vulnerable, caring interior as a series progresses. Over time, however, tsundere has changed to describe a character who switches between the two distinct emotional states at any slight provocation (a common reason would be due to a specific person, like a love interest, acting and saying something that upsets them).
There are two types of tsunderes, generally. The more common type acts harsh towards everyone, but reveals a more tender side to her love interest (do note, by the way, that tsunderes can be male, too. I’m just trying to keep my pronouns uniform).
Shana from Shakugan no Shana could fall under this category. In fact, there are characters whom people dub “Shana clones,” which consist of diminutive, violent, flat-chested heroines that are all voiced by Kugimiya Rie. Shana, Louise from Zero no Tsukaima, Nagi from Hayate no Gotoku, and Taiga from Toradora! collectively make up the “Four Tsundere Wonders.” Some consider Aria from Hidan no Aria, who was also voiced by Kugimiya Rie, to be the “Fifth Tsundere Wonder.” Ironically, Shana would fall under the classical definition of tsundere compared to her more violent counterparts.
However, it’s not all fun and games when it comes to tsunderes. For instance, Taiga displays violent mood swings, but it’s more attributed to being raised in a broken family rather than due to romantic mishap (although there’s a fair amount of that for her, as well). Similarly, Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion has a childhood trauma that makes her unable to easily trust others, which causes her to act harsh and push people away (in the original series, at least).
Acting like a tsundere can also fool the tsundere’s loved one. As an example, Futaki Kanata from Little Busters! is essentially forced to act cold and harsh to her twin sister on threat of punishment and death. As a result, her sister believes that Kanata truly hates her.
The second, less common type is when a character treats mostly everyone with kindness, but reserves her violent, more aggressive behavior for her love interest.
One example would be Celty from Durarara!! She is kind, nice, and willing to admit her attraction to Shinra. However, sometimes she finds his more annoying habits incredibly vexing to the point that she kind of attacks him. Then again, he’s kind of into that so all’s well that ends well.
Why did I want to talk about tsunderes? Well, I personally think that the archetype is a bit overused. Also, the archetype seems to be idealized among people living in the real world. From personal experience, I can firmly state that I would not want to be in a relationship with someone who turns violent towards me at the drop of a hat or whose motives are hard to read due to sending mixed signals. That’s just me, though.
What do you think? Are tsunderes an archetype that need to be used more or less? Is being a tsundere even an archetype? Should they stay in the 2d-world?