New anime fans may be confused upon hearing words like ‘tsundere’ as a way to describe a certain character. On the other hand, older or seasoned anime fans are already aware of such terms. However, there are still times when what defines a ‘tsundere’ can be quite confusing. It is widely used by many, and sometimes it overlaps with other tropes’ definitions.
In this article, we intend to clear that confusion by assessing what ‘tsundere’ really means!
Etymology of Tsundere
We’ll dig in to a little word history here. A ‘tsundere’ is a Japanese word that combines the words tsun and dere together.
Tsun or tsun tsun is an onomatopoeia that refers to a person who sticks their nose in the air. In other words, a tsun tsun is a person who appears cold, arrogant, and curt. They are not friendly, and can even be intimidating.
Dere or dere dere, on the other hand, refers to people being very lovey dovey. They are very affectionate and expressive. It is the opposite of being a tsun tsun.
Easily speaking, when you describe a character as a tsundere, then that person can be aloof yet affectionate at the same time. But how exactly does this happen?
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Classic and Modern Tsundere
There are two descriptions of a tsundere: a classic or modern tsundere. This meant that the word tsundere has evolved, as discussed by TV Tropes.
The classic tsundere refers to the a character who cold and harsh at first, but when we get to know them better, they have a softer side. Usually these classic tsunderes have reasons why they do not easily show a more open side. This is mostly because they do not like to be perceived as someone vulnerable or weak. This adds more complexity to their character, and the series can delve deeper onto their own stories.
The modern tsundere, on the other hand, does not necessarily need to dig deeper to the character. It could describe someone who acts dere dere (very loving) and being a tsun tsun (being harsh or even violent) at an instant. This happens when someone triggers them, and they can easily switch their personas.
In other words, the term ‘tsundere’ does not only apply to a character who only gets softer in time. Its use has expanded even to the characters with a range of mood change.
A tsundere can also be applied to characters who act harsh whenever they are trying to hide their actual feelings towards the person. Or sometimes if they just feel like being harsh, they will do it.
Tsundere: Two Types
There are two types of being a tsundere. It depends if the character is leaning more towards the tsun tsun or dere dere side.
- Tsun or Harsh Tsunderes – These characters are default in their colder and aloof side. It will only take a special person or circumstances to trigger their softer side. A classic tsundere can also fit, most especially when it takes time to know the character’s more vulnerable side. A modern tsundere can also be in this when a character changes their default harsh demeanor when their love interest or best friend is around at an instant.
- Dere dere or Soft/Loving Tsunderes – These characters have their softer and affectionate side as their default. However, if someone or something upsets them, they easily switch to their harsher or violent side. Usually, given these characters’ usual demeanor, the viewers may be shocked to see their colder side. A modern tsundere fits this, given that modern tsunderes can switch their sides at an instant when the situation calls for it. These tsunderes may also switch to their harsh side to hide their true feelings if they are feeling conflicted.
Difference With Kuudere
A tsundere may be confused with a kuudere. A kuudere is also a character trope very similar to a tsundere, wherein a character appears cold and tough and is actually hiding a softer side.
The main difference between them is that the kuudere is not as aggressive as the tsundere. A kuudere is mostly nonchalant, stoic, and reserved. They are calm when it comes to responding to others, even when it is an insult. A tsundere is more aggressive and ensues more violent reactions. It can be presumed that a tsundere appears tougher than a kuudere.
Usually a tsundere would shout or exclaim, “It’s not that I like you or anything!”, while a kuudere would probably do not give a response much.
Generally, tsundere characters have garnered widespread appeal among anime watchers. This is because a tsundere can be considered intriguing. This is most especially when there is a switch to their usual demeanor. It indicates that the character is not one-dimensional. There is a hidden aspect to them that we do not see very often. It makes them quite interesting and dynamic, instead of just being static.
Usually, tsunderes are seen in romantic comedy animes and mangas. This usually warrants a slow burn romance, which gives the characters time to grow and understand their feelings. The tsunderes may also experience struggling with their feelings, hence their aggressiveness. They do not want to show it, but it is obvious that they feel warm and fuzzy inside.
The softer tsunderes may also help establish a character in such a way that they should not be underestimated. They are not someone that anyone should cross, hence giving them more toughness. They are not just all lovey-dovey, and they can get angry too.