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Dere Anime Definition Essay

Dandere. Noun. Wikipedia defines dandere as “a character that is portrayed as antisocial, but eventually changes to display their sweet, romantic, and loving soft side.” To put it in better terms, a dandere is someone who sometimes, the viewer might think is mute or just so horribly shy that social interaction is unbearable. Unbearable for them because they’re shy, but unbearable sometimes for you the viewer because of how awkward it is.

Check it out. Dandere is another Japanese loanword that we use in English. Again, this word is comprised of two different Japanese words. The “dan” part comes from “danmari” meaning silent or taciturn (they don’t talk), and the “dere” comes from “deredere” meaning to become lovey dovey. There is a slight difference from kuudere but it’s not major.

So wait…. Then what’s the difference between a kuudere and a dandere? A kuudere is cool and closed off for the sake of being cool. They are just closed off and have walls all around them. They are cool and/or cold for the sake of being cold. A dandere is someone who actually is committed to the role and is actually shy. A.K.A. this is not a forced role as is with the kuudere. A dandere most likely has a very awkward time expressing themselves.

It would literally take a blue moon for them to be happy enough and comfortable enough to express how they truly feel. Even then, it will be to the one person that they care for and not for everyone. This is the critical point of a dandere. A dandere is a very shy/awkward person who is bad at communication. However, for just the right person under the right conditions, they might be finally able to express their true warm feelings.

So… then how does one point out a dandere? What is the best way to identify one? Well dandere can be protagonists, but they can also be side characters. They don’t have to be constantly in the spotlight and while sweet, they can also just be, like I said above, socially awkward. Let’s take a look at a few shows that have clear examples of dandere characters!

1. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

  • Episodes: 14
  • Aired: April 2006 – July 2006

Okay so this is another major fan favorite! TMoHS follows a guy nicknamed Kyon and Haruhi as they for a group called the SOS brigade. They exist to seek out aliens and extraterrestrial life. Eventually three more members are introduced, an esper, a time traveler and a mute artificial intelligence human. Kyon is, begrudgingly dragged out on these missions to see the world and keep it safe from falling apart. The dandere here is none other than Nagato Yuki!

Sometimes Nagato is classified as a kuudere and I’m going to tell you why that is an incorrect classification. First, Nagato doesn’t really speak. It would be one thing if she was open with her friends. However, she barely speaks to anyone even in her down club! Next, Yuki seems to have issues sometimes speaking as when Kyon will talk to her, she doesn’t give him sassy or highhanded answers. She tells him exactly how it is. Finally, she has nothing to prove. It would be one thing if she came out and said something, but she never really does unless it is essentially crucial. This is what makes her a danere and not a kuudere.

Nagato does seem to have some feelings for Kyon though. This is not a spoiler, don’t worry. By watching you’ll see that of all members, Kyon is the one that she speaks to the most. This is what indicates her feelings. Nagato always has her head in a book. She doesn’t speak. She could be considere a bit socially awkward as well considering people will ask her questions and it seems as if they shoot right over her head. Nagato is a true dandere and I hope you like her! Check her out in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya English trailer

2. Kimi ni Todoke

  • Episodes: 38
  • Aired: October 2009 – March 2011

Anyone who reads my articles knows that I really have a soft place for this show. Kimi ni Todoke is about Sawako Kuronuma, nicknamed Sadako (like the girl from the horror movies). Sadako is just so horribly awkward that she can never say anything coherently and always comes across as a really creepy girl. Deep down she’s very friendly, but her shyness does her in every time.

One day though, the boy she idolizes, Kazehaya befriends her and suddenly doors are opened for her. She is now able to make friends and talk to different people every day. Is there more blossoming between the two? Check it out for more!

In my opening, I mentioned how a character being socially awkward also can be part of dandere because of their inability to communicate. Sawako is another great example of this. Her awkwardness does her in every time leaving most people either incredibly terrified that she is a witch, or ignoring her and laughing because they can’t make out what she is saying.

She stays stuck in the “dan” part always looking for a way out. Her “dere” side does not come out though until Kazehaya brings it out in her. This doesn’t happen though till way later in the series because even when she does start to come out of her shell, it doesn’t happen all at once. It is a gradual progression. Check out the show though because it rocks!

Kimi ni Todoke Official English Trailer

Whew!!! This concludes the intro to dandere and the four part series related to –dere characters! Some good –dere characters that need to be noted as well are Hinata Hyuuga from Naruto, Sailor Mercury from Sailor Moon, Crona from Soul Eater, Mikasa Ackerman from Attack on Titan, Wendy Marvell from Fairy Tale, Kuroneko from Oreimo, and Rikka Tanashi from Chuunibyou demo koi ga shitai! I hope that you will check out these shows and that you have enjoyed this article looking into the dandere side of things! Until next time!









Author: Nagareboshi

American by birth; international by choice. I am trying to bring attention to one of my favorite causes; me. I translate by day and write by night. Aspiring polyglot. My dream would be to be the personal translator for Amuro Namie. Other than that, my hobbies include languages, weightlifting, sleeping, karaoke, GOOD coffee and music. When I’m not doing any of the above, I am most likely laughing hysterically at Willam Belli videos or EV farming. I ain’t gunna Rupologize for it neither. Waifu are Shirai Kuroko & Euaerin.

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Editor/Translator

Your harem or reverse harem anime isn't worth the time of day if it doesn't have a tsundere in it. But what is a tsundere, where did the term originate, and why are they everywhere? Read on to find out!


What Does Tsundere Mean?


"My name is Misaka Mikoto! Learn it already you idiot!" - Misaka from Toaru Kagaku no Railgun

Tsundere (ツンデレ, pronounced tsundeleh) is a stock (often female) character that is defined by her/his reluctance to show kindness (often towards a love interest) by hiding behind a tough, uncaring outer shell. They may also make a progression from being this cold and stand-offish person, to eventually opening up and being truer to her/his feelings.

If you ever met a tsundere in real life, the conversation would go something like this:

"Hey you. No, not you, but since you are the person who responded, I guess I'll talk to you. It's not like I don't have better things I could be doing, and it's not because I want to talk to you or anything, you just happen to be in front of me while I'm talking. I made some cookies. I was making them for myself, my friends, and anyone that isn't you, but I made too many. I would just throw them in a bin because it's not like I made them for you or anything, but since you're closer than any bins are, and I don't want to harm the environment, I guess I'll give them to you. It's not as though I like you or anything."

Tsundere is a Japanese loan word where "tsun" means the harsh outer shell while "dere" is the softer inner fruit of the character. The idea is that the character secretly likes you but acts as though they don't, or alternatively acts harshly towards you but once you get close, you uncover their nicer side. The nicer side is usually super embarrassed and blushes a lot, saying lines like "it's not like I want to rip off your clothes and make furious, passionate love with you or anything". The term now enjoys common usage outside of the esoteric otaku forums which gave birth to it.


Where Did The Term Tsundere Originate From?



Like many anime fan pieces of terminology, the root of tsundere lies in the bowls of dating sim lingo. On a Japanese forum for dating sims way back in 2002, fans were discussing the game Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, specifically the character of Ayu Daikuuji. One fan commented that they liked how they had to work past the "tsun tsun" harsh side before they could get to the "dere dere" softer side. Other forum members liked the turn of phrase and soon the phrase "tsundere" was being used across forums to describe girls in other dating sims with similar characteristics.

That's not the only significant claim to fame for Kimi ga Nozomu Eien either. The game eventually spawned the spinoff Muv Luv, which in turn morphed into the mecha alien-fighting apocalypse Muv Luv Alternative, which Attack on Titan author Hajime Hasayama said was one of his biggest influences. So that one little dating sim, mostly forgotten amongst English-speaking anime fandom, can claim both tsundere and Attack on Titan as spawning from its influence. Quite the legacy it has left.


How Did The Tsundere Boom Catch on Overseas?


Source

English speaking anime fandom soon caught the tsundere fever going around. While people who could speak Japanese were doing the diligent work of telling everyone who would listen about this new term anime fans in Japan were using, it didn't take long before the anime themselves started using the term (the earliest example I could come up with was Tsuyokiss, but I'm sure it appeared before then). Rin from Fate/stay night, Shana from Shakugan no Shana, even some of the discussion about Kaname Chidori from Full Metal Panic started including the term tsundere in English speaking fandom. As the term gained further acceptance and exposure, it started to be referenced in everything from video games (see Undertale), fan-fiction, and some very strange memes. Go google tsundere sharks on day and be amazed at what you find.


A Quick Guide to Dere Types


Source

The term tsundere became so popular that soon fans started to use the formation of the term to describe other dating sim character archetypes (yes, we're still mostly in the region of dating sims here, where all anime girl trends are born). Almost all of them use the "dere" ending to describe the cute side you see, with something else put in front. In English, the term "gap moe" has been used as a catch-all term for this, signifying the nice surprise you get when a character who usually displays one emotion suddenly displays another, highly contrasting one. Examples of this include:

Yandere: Certainly the most famous derivative, where a character appears cute on one side only to reveal she's a crazy person who will slice your head off with the nearest axe if you get in between her and her "true love", which is where the "yan", or love sickness, part comes from.

Kuudere: A character who is usually all cool, or "kuu" (no really, that's what the Japanese call it), and composed, displaying little to no emotion, but then displays hints of their softer, more lovestruck side.

Dandere: A Japanese homophone that has two different meanings. The most popular definition of the term comes from the abbreviation of "danmari" - which means to be calm or quiet - and "dere". Then there is the more uncommon "dandy" + "dere" theory, since the Japanese have a weird love of this otherwise outdated English word. Anyway, the dandere usually refers to the shy one who will never speak up until you finally get her alone and talk to her, allowing her to spread her "dere" wings and soar into your arms.


Tsundere Characters List


Asuka Langley from Neon Genesis Evangelion

Member Favourites: 10,839


The original...well actually no, since there are characters from Ranma 1/2, Tenchi Muyo and Urusei Yatsura that would have a claim to be the original tsundere. But Asuka became the template from which all tsunderes were generated from afterwards. Something about fiery red-heads with twintails insulting the wimpy male character really took off after Evangelion hit the world.


Naru Narusegawa from Love Hina

Member Favourites: 638


Tsundere pop up across genres, but for the bog-standard harem anime you are practically required to have one. You can probably trace this back, along with many modern harem anime tropes, to Love Hina. The main love interest Naru was textbook tsundere through and through. Embarrassed by shows of affection, responding to the main character appearing with violence and distaste although she secretly liked him. She was the one who helped codify that tsunderes were violent and hit the object of their affection. I suppose we should thank her for that?


Kyou Sohma from Fruits Basket

Member Favourites: 3,980


Shame on anyone who would think tsundere are just ladies though. History has long since proven that women have their own love of the hothead, rash person who is secretly a big old softy inside. While not quite as frequent, reverse harems are chock full of tsundere of their own. The best example being the cat boy Kyou Souma from Fruits Basket. Never mind that Yuki was certainly a nicer guy, it was Kyou who you really wanted to give a big hug and tell him he's wonderful as he blushes and tells you to get off him.


Aisaka Taiga from Toradora

Member Favorites: 18,228


The trend of tsundere blew up in harem anime throughout the late '90s and early '00s. But the face of the tsundere from 2005 onward became a voice actress Rie Kugimiya. Shana from Shakugan no Shana was the original but it became supplanted eventually by her role as Aisaka Taiga from Toradora.


Toosaka Rin from Fate/stay night

Member Favorites: 6,543


If you want the face of the tsundere within anime fandom today, it would probably be Rin from the Fate/stay night. She acts haughty and arrogant, using frequent put-downs in her conversations, but blushes frequently when someone acts with a friendly disposition towards her.


Makise Kurisu from Steins;Gate

Member Favourites: 20,331


You know what's better than a regular old tsundere? A tsundere that's really goddamn smart! How about a scientist who skipped grades in school and publishes papers that affect research conducted in CERN that gained her international fame within academia before she had turned 24? That's pretty goddamn impressive, on top of the fact that she's cute and blushes when you tease her.

At some point the fans of anime who were going nuts over tsundere became writers for anime themselves. At which point they started deliberately inserting tsundere into their anime and calling the characters out on it in self-referential styles. Fandom language became codified by the anime themselves. For a classic example of this, see Makise Kurisu in Steins;Gate desperately refuting accusations that she's a tsundere. Which is classic tsundere action in itself, a catch 22 for poor Kurisu.


Kirino Kousaka from My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute

Member Favorites: 3,212


Once creators started to become more comfortable with tsundere, they started combining character archetypes to create new and interesting formulas. The creator of the hit light novel My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute decided that the little sister character needed a revamp. Too long had they been shy, subservient and clingy. With Kirino he created a tsundere little sister. However this turned out to be like combining bleach and ammonia and created a character who is literally worse than smallpox.


Vegeta from Dragonball Z

Member Favorites: 8,595


As the term tsundere evolved, fans started looking back at older anime and reclassifying certain characters as tsundere. I would never have considered Vegeta of all bloody people a tsundere, but in doing research for this article I came across numerous websites classing our Saiyan friend as one. When you think about it, he does have all the characteristics. Angry and arrogant, unwilling to react to kindness. He won't admit he likes someone when he clearly does, instead huffing and sulking in a way that's almost cute. It's unconventional, but by modern anime fan standards, Vegeta is 100% tsundere.


Chiaki Shinichi from Nodame Cantabile

Member Favourites: 805


Chiaki shows that while you might grow up to be a musical conducting prodigy, you might never entirely grow out of your tsundere tendencies. Chiaki likes Nodame, who is very open about her affection for him, but Chiaki can't fathom that he might feel equal affection for her back. Which is why he cooks for her, cleans her house, helps her play the piano, you get the drill. Just admit it Chiaki.


Kaname Chidori from Full Metal Panic

Member Favourites: 2,169


There was a time when whacking your love interest with a folded up paper fan was a hallmark of abusive tsundere relationships. That has long since died down, but with the announcement of a new Full Metal Panic anime recently, perhaps it's time for Kaname Chidori to bring that fad back into vogue.


Germany from Hetalia Axis Powers

Member Favourites: 828


It takes the mind of a genius to look at Germany and Italy's historical military relationship and come to the conclusion that Germany is just a big old tsundere. Why would the military powerhouse of tsundere continue siding with the weak and ineffectual Italy despite Germany having to bail out his pasta-loving neighbour so many times? Obviously he likes Italy but he's too embarrassed to admit it.


Aoba Tsukishima from Cross Game

Member Favourites: 346


Manga author Adachi has a neat trick in his works where he can have a lot be implied with a character simply remaining silent, or giving a single word response. By leaving the important parts unsaid, it manages to leave a bigger impact and makes you think more deeply about the characters. In Tsukishima Aoba's case, her unsaid parts are usually just her insulting your intelligence while secretly liking you. She's pretty textbook tsundere all right.


Chitoge Kirisaki from Nisekoi (Nisekoi: False Love)

Member Favourites: 6,154


Look man, let me lay it all out for you. Chitoge is the best Nisekoi girl. Forget all your other girls who couldn't personality their way out of a paper bag. Chitoge makes for an interesting character because it is not random circumstance that keeps the eternal lack of progression in Nisekoi in perpetuity. Rather because she's a tsundere, it's all trapped in her own head. She can't realise the truth in her mind and acts out in confusion. That's what makes her more compelling than any other Nisekoi girl.


Eri Sawachika from School Rumble

Member Favourites: 1,113


Eri Sawachika is totally the character Chitoge from Nisekoi was based on. They're both mixed race teenage girls with blonde hair. They're both tsunderes in highschool shounen romcoms who fall for the main character but can't admit it. They're both fiery characters who can never admit they're wrong. Only one of them injures themselves by falling over a pig called Napoleon though, which is why I slightly prefer Sawachika Eri.


Chika Ogiue from Genshiken OVA

Member Favourites: 392


If there's something Genshiken taught us, it's that otaku have an almost inherent embarrassment existing within their psyche. Their natural nerd-dom has forced them into quiet self-doubt and difficulty facing the facts of reality. Even if that reality is that they really love shipping their classmates together but are too embarrassed to admit it. That's what allows Ogiue on this list. She's tsundere, but a far more broadly complicated tsundere than just her feelings for this one guy.


Tsugumi Aoba from Kannagi

Member Favourites: 42


We're starting to mix our character tropes now with too-pure girl Aoba from Kannagi, the tsundere crossed with childhood friend. Unlike the unholy combination of little sister and tsundere that was Kirino Kousaka, mixing childhood friend with tsundere turned out pretty great with this highly endearing friend who just can't admit to her true feelings.


Kallen Stadtfeld from Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion)

Member Favourites: 3,549


The fiery redhead is a pretty common trend in tsunderes and the pilot of the Guren another classic example. What's amusing about Kallen is she acts the part of a sickly teenage girl when she's actually a hotheaded key component of the rebellion. But then she's a real tsundere under that too.


Alto Saotome from Macross F (Macross Frontier)

Member Favourites: 219


One of the most indecisive tsunderes who spends forever getting all cute and grumpy whenever he's around one of these two girls he may or may not like. He's not just called princess for his dashing feminine good looks you know.


Haruhi Suzumiya from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu

Member Favourites: 14,315


Considering tsunderes are pent up balls of frustration who lash out whenever they find themselves incapable of expressing their feelings, perhaps it's not so great that an all-powerful yet unknowing god is a tsundere.


Why Are There So Many Tsundere in Anime?



The list goes on and on, male and female, young and old. Any harem or reverse harem anime that doesn't have a tsundere will get kicked back out of the editor's office and told they don't know what they're doing if they don't have a tsundere. Their popularity seemed to be at an extreme high point back during the late '00s when voice actress Rie Kugimiya voiced a succession of tsundere in a row with the aforementioned Taiga. At the time it seemed like it might be a fad, but here we are in 2016 and the tsundere is still going strong.


Why the near ubiquitous presence of the tsundere then? Normally with anime tropes, my default reaction is that it's a low effort way to be close to a member of the opposite sex. It's why younger sisters, childhood friends and yanderes are popular. But that can't be the case with the tsundere as they start out automatically hating you, or at least acting like they hate you. The anime shorts Comical Psychosomatic Medicine had an episode where they suggested the tsundere was appealing because otaku, being more recluse, have low opinions of themselves and psychologically they feel more trusting towards a character who tells them they're trash. I have a personal theory that it's appealing to think that all the pretty men and women who acted as though they didn't like us in the past did so because they were secretly madly in love with us.


The most believable explanation though is that it appeals to our idea of successfully beating a game. The tsundere in their natural state treats you like dirt. But once you display attractiveness through a series of dashing sweeps of the hair and acts of goodwill, their defenses will drop. You see them blush and try to act like they don't find you attractive, but they secretly do. It's the dating sim logic that you have broken down their walls with some well-placed kindness. You have won and as your reward you get the soft, wonderful "dere" side. The tsundere fans are the non-lazy fans. Those people who want their imoutos (little sisters) and childhood friends to win, forget those people. They are losers who can't be bothered to make the effort to get to know a new potential love interest and successfully woo them to your side. The tsundere lovers are the hard workers of society rather than the wide-eyed saps who love childhood friends.


Anime is home to an array of different character archetypes. If you enjoyed this article, you will surely find the following "dere" anime tropes just as useful!

Top 15 Dandere Characters
Top 15 Yandere Characters
Top 20 Kuudere Characters