Note: I am not trying to elicit sympathy or advice. I am just trying to share some ideas on something I have realized, which happens to be related to anime. Also, I am a guy, not a girl.
Tsundere is a Japanese term used to describe a character. It is mostly used to describe a female character who is initially cold or hostile toward others. But after a while they show a warmer, more caring side. It is derived from the terms “tsuntsun”, meaning to turn away in disgust and “deredere” meaning lovey dovey. Such characters appear frequently in dating sims and visual novels, but have recently become more popular in anime and other mediums.
I think what ties together most tsundere characters is the fear of being left alone. In other words, what is the point of investing all these feelings for another person if they’re just going to leave me, or I’ll have to leave them? The tsundere continues to be wary of interacting with other people and being sure to not show anything that could be mistaken as a show of love. Or at least being sure not to show too much. Then eventually they meet someone that they fall in love with. Usually the tsundere is passive throughout the falling-in-love process, as he/she is approached by the other person on multiple occasions as the relationship develops. Then they live happily together because finally the tsundere can count on someone to be there for them and never leave them
Now I just want to look at 3 characters that exhibit tsundere traits. Squall from the video game Final Fantasy 8: You meet Squall when he’s 17 years old. He grew up in an orphanage before being transferred to Balamb Garden to train to become a mercenary. When living at the orphanage he looked up to a girl named Ellone. But she leaves the orphanage before he does. There are flashbacks that show a young Squall standing at the entrance of the orphanage saying stuff like, “Sis, I’m gonna be alright.” At Balamb Garden he gains the reputation of being something of a lone wolf, never relying on others and keeping to himself. Once he becomes a mercenary and goes out to do missions across the world, he begins to open up to his party members and learns to care for others.
In particular he falls in love with Rinoa. Rinoa keeps teasing Squall and giving hints to him. It takes a lot for Squall to eventually open up to Rinoa and the others, but I can’t really blame him for being cold at first. I first played this when I was around 9 years old. After playing this game, I had a really strong liking for Rinoa or girls like Rinoa.
Mio Aoyama from The World God Only Knows: For those that don’t know, Keima has to help his demon friend, Elsie, capture loose souls. Loose souls take refuge in hearts that aren’t full of love. Since a loose soul has resided in Mio’s heart Keima, the protagonist, has to make Mio fall in love with him in order to push out the loose soul so Elsie can capture it.
Mio is seen as the rich girl, however she lives in a run down apartment since her father died a few years ago. Keeping with a tsundere’s cold passiveness, Mio gives Keima the cold shoulder and never compliments Keima’s actions, sometimes even ridiculing him. An example of this is when Keima picks Mio up to go to school each morning in a carriage that he drags himself. Mio who grew up in high-society, where people are often quickly judged by how much money they have, has learned to become wary of others. Especially those that are nice to them. The best way to not lose anything is by not giving anything in the first place. Eventually though, she does fall in love with Keima, someone she can trust, the loose soul is ousted and captured. Those that have watched TWGOK, will realize that the happy conclusion of each arc is ambiguous. Here I just want to draw attention to how Mio is almost entirely passive throughout the relationship.
Lastly, Victorique de Blois, the protagonist from Gosick: Victorique is a small teenage girl, with long blonde hair and dresses in frilly dresses. She spends most of her in the garden at the very top of a large library reading books and eating snacks. She is also extremely good at solving mysteries and has a sharp tongue. Early on the relationship between Kujo and her is established. However, Victorique goes out of her way to be cold toward Kujo, calling him an idiot and hardly ever showing gratitude to him when bringing her snacks or trying to help her down from a tree.
It is revealed later in the story that Victorique was abandoned by her parents when she was very little. This helps explain her cold nature. As Victorique and Kujo experience more together, learn more about the mystery cases that they are involved in, and ultimately learn more about her past, she eventually opens up to Kujo and truly cares for him. By watching the series the viewer begins to realize that Kujo is here to stay and no matter how bone-headed it may seem, he’ll do almost anything for Victorique.
Even though Victorique is great at solving mysteries, she is still very passive in terms of her relations with other people, including Kujo. In one case, when she is effectively a kidnapped damsel in distress, instead of leaving behind a “help me” note for Kujo she leaves a note saying, “idiot”.
For whatever reason, I have recently realized that I am something of a tsundere. This helps explain why I don’t really like watching tsundere characters in anime, because it reminds me of me. I try to keep to myself and not let others know what I am thinking. A part of me thinks that if I let others in on my thoughts, this might be something that can be used against me in the future. The only person I can really rely on is myself, why rely on others when they just leave eventually?
But there’s a whole other part of me (the “dere” part, if you will) that realizes how important it is interact with others. That wants to fall in love and have lasting friendships. That believes you only get out of something as much as you put into it. Which means I can’t be passive my whole life, or else I won’t get anything out of it. Even so, I still have a hard time expressing this side of me.
In games or anime it’s different because the characters are completely scripted. They’re not real, and are only an artist’s representation of real characters and real actions. The game/anime can end on a happy note, but in real life there’s always a tomorrow until it ultimately ends in death.
Like always there’s isn’t really an easy answer. But I’ve gotten a few things from thinking about this and writing this blog post. I have a better appreciation for tsundere characters (especially Victorique, who I disliked throughout most of the series). I have realized something about myself from a new perspective. Maybe this will help me make decisions on how to act in the future.
Thank you for reading the entirety of this post.