Pop a squat class, ‘cause Professor Xander is about to drop some knowledge!
Ohayou gozaimasu! O-genki desu ka? Jikan tame ni EDUMATCATIONABLENESS! Today we’re going to look at a Japanese term that while popularized in anime and manga, it exists in many western films and television. What’s that? You already know what tsundere is? Well aren’t you the little otaku? Why don’t you go leave a comment below describing your favorite anime and go grab yourself one of those Japanese sodas! Mention my blog’s name to the F.Y.E. employee and you’ll get 1% off that soda. Anybody left? Alright! Let’s get started.
A term originating in Japan, tsundere refers to a character that switches between a cold, irritable demeanor to that of a warm, kind demeanor. It’s somewhat similar to a love/hate relationship. Let’s look at an example:
Meg in the beginning of Hercules is very independent, cynical, and wants nothing to do with Hercules whatsoever. For good reason, too. She traded her soul to save the love of her life, only to have him run off with another girl. She distances herself from not only men, but all people in general. However, the more time she spends with Hercules, the more she lets her guard down. She becomes warmer, kinder and trusting. She even sings about it all in her song. Thus, she is a tsundere character.
Now tsundere is usually used to describe characters in a romantic sense, as seen above with Meg and Hercules. However, a tsundere character doesn’t have to be used romantically. They can be just as effected through other kinds of relationships. Take Gru from Despicable Me.
Gru is an evil, criminal mastermind. In order to steal a shrink ray from another villain, Gru adopts three orphan girls, who sell cookies to the villain, to gain access to the villain’s lair. He wants nothing to do with these children and has no intention of actually raising them. Over time though, he begins to warm up to the children. He actually starts caring about their safety and enters the role of a parent. Thus, he’s a tsundere character.
In most cases, tsundere has been related to cold, guarded characters becoming warm and kind. Tsundere can also refer to a warm and kind character becoming cold and guarded. It’s not a permanent switch and it usually occurs around one particular character. A good example of this can be found in John Watson from Sherlock.
John is a very kind character, serving as Sherlock’s moral compass. However, if someone threatens his friend (or Sherlock pisses him off) he will quickly become hostile, as seen when he shoots the man threatening Sherlock in the first episode and when he strangles Sherlock for faking his death. While not the traditional tsundere character, he still exhibits the traits of one.
While some may have complaints about tsundere characters (particularly female ones that play to the generic “all tough and strong women have a warm emotional center that just wants to be loved” characterization), more subtle forms of tsundere characters like ones I’ve mentioned above prove that they can be an effective staple in media.
But hey, what do I know? I’m just some guy on the Internet.
So what do you all think? Do you have a favorite tsundere character? Any other terms you want to learn about in this segment? Leave a comment and get this conversation rolling. Until next time, this is Professor Xander signing off.