Tsundere

tsundere

Tsundere  [tsoon-dey-ray] is a Japanese character development process that describes a person who is cold and even hostile before gradually showing their warm side. The word is derived from the terms ‘Tsun Tsun,’ meaning to turn away in disgust, and ‘Dere Dere’ meaning to become ‘lovey dovey.’

Originally found in Japanese bishōjo games (or ‘gal games,’ a type of Japanese video game centered on interactions with attractive anime-style girls; a subset of dating simulators), the word is now part of the otaku moe phenomenon (a rarefied pseudo-love for fictional characters).

It’s counterpart is yandere, a person who is initially very loving and gentle to someone before their devotion becomes destructive in nature, often through violence. The term is derived from the words ‘yanderu’ meaning a mental or emotional illness and ‘deredere.’ Yandere characters are mentally unstable, often using extreme violence as an outlet for their emotions.

The usage of the character type has led to criticism over the amount of violence in some fiction. Like nekomimi (‘catgirl,’ a female character with feline traits), tsundere is considered a ‘moe-inspiring’ character trait. The concept has received increasing attention in Japan, with a tsundere cafe opened in Akihabara, tsundere-themed products, and the concept increasingly reflected in recent anime.

Another accepted definition of tsundere is a girl who has a combative attitude toward others but is also kind on the inside. She usually plays out as having an attitude toward the main character, usually a male, and often criticizing him in one way or another, but as the series progresses she eventually warms up to him or falls in love with him, though usually finds it very hard to admit it outright. Comiket (the world’s largest self-published comic book fair) organizer Ichikawa Koichi has described the character ‘Lum Invader’ of ‘Urusei Yatsura’ as being both the source of moe and the first tsundere; figurine sculptor Bome has also cited Lum as an inspiration for his designs.

Tsundere as a concept is not strictly limited to women, and is not strictly limited to manga or anime. The character Germany from the series ‘Hetalia: Axis Powers’ is portrayed as being tsundere, and is paired with a ‘lovable loser,’ Italy. These characters represent their respective countries; thus the implication is that Germany, the country, is tsundere. Tsundere role-play has become a common theme in maid cafes, a subcategory of cosplay restaurants where waitresses dressed in maid costumes act as servants, and treat customers as masters (and mistresses) in a private home, rather than as café patrons.

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