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Quotation HeartsF-Fall for me? This is hardly the time for that kind of thing! But if you want to keep going, I guess I could force myself to listen...Quotation Hearts R
Rin Tohsaka, from Fate/stay night

"Tsundere" (JP) is a term for a character who can't be honest with their feelings of love towards their love interest so they act distant, standoffish, and stuck-up to conceal them. They can't be honest with the person they like and will pretend not to be interested in them at first. However, after becoming closer to their love interest and falling in love to the point that they can no longer deny their feelings, they will start to show a more honest and loving affectionate deredere side towards them. They will start behaving in cute ways and wanting their love interest to be intimate with them or tell them that they love them, actively seeking their affection.

Meaning of the Name

Mao Amatsuka Tsundere

Mao Amatsuka turning her head away and demonstrating "tsuntsun" from GJ-bu

Tsundere (ツンデレ) is a combination of the words "tsuntsun" (ツンツン), an onomatopoeia for "turning away (to turn one's back on someone, to ignore someone, or to refuse to accept)" which describes an attitude that is "aloof (distant), standoffish (somewhat cold), and stuck-up (high-and-mighty)", and "deredere" (デレデレ), meaning "to be lovestruck" which describes an attitude that is "infatuated (fawning over their love interest), affectionate (desiring close contact), and cute (having qualities that attract affection)".[2][3][4]

A close approximation to the meaning of "tsuntsun" would be the English onomatopoeia "hmph" which is a sound that expresses "annoyance, disapproval, or indignation" and is usually followed by the person turning their head away. This can be seen when a tsundere makes their trademark pose of turning their head away from their love interest and often goes "hmph". When applied to a person, tsuntsun refers to "being uncooperative", "keeping someone at a distance", "being dishonest with your feelings", "turning away in disgust", "giving someone the cold shoulder" or "being hard to handle".[5]

Alternate Spelling

Tsundere is occasionally written in Japanese as "つんデレ" using hiragana for "tsun" instead, but this is much less common.[1][6]

History

Early Inspirations

Comiket organizer Koichi Ichikawa described Lum from the 1978 manga Urusei Yatsura (JP) as being the first tsundere character.[7] Meanwhile, manga critic Jason Thompson cited the character Madoka Ayukawa from the 1984 manga Kimagure Orange☆Road (JP) as being the root of the tsundere archetype.[8]

With both in mind, it could be said that Lum was the model for the deretsun type while Madoka was the model for the standard tsundere type.

Origin

The term "tsundere" was created to describe the character Ayu Daikuuji from the 2001 video game The Eternity You Want (JP). The term was first coined on August 29, 2002, when a user on the Japanese forum site Suspicious World made a post referring to Ayu's personality as being "tsuntsunderedere" (ツンツンデレデレ). The term tsuntsunderedere began circulating on the site as a popular term and many people on Suspicious World started using the term to refer to her. Eventually, the term spread to another Japanese forum site 2channel where it was soon after shortened to simply "tsundere" (ツンデレ).[9]

Widespread Popularity

Although the term "tsundere" had been semi-popular on the internet since 2002, it was not until 2006 that it began to gain widespread popularity as a recognized term in the entertainment industry.

The first instance of this was when a maid cafe known as Nagomi starting to have tsundere events in March 2006, along with the release of several tsundere-themed products.[10][11] Over the years the concept of a tsundere maid cafe continued to grow in popularity with even more being created.[12]

It perhaps reached its peak in recognition when it was included as a new term in the 2006 edition of the Imidas (JP) dictionary released by the largest manga publishing company in the world, Shueisha. It was also nominated for the Ryukougo Taisho (Buzzword of the Year) award later that same year.[9]

Anime companies also soon capitalized on this popularity, with the first known use of the term being used in a series found in episode 10 of the 2007 anime series Lucky☆Star (JP) during the "Lucky Channel" segment at the end of the episode. In the segment, the character Kagami Hiiragi is introduced as a "tsundere" by Akira Kogami which prompts a discussion and explanation of the definition of "tsundere" by Minoru Shiraishi. During his discussion he passionately exclaims that the definition of a tsundere is someone who starts tsuntsun and then becomes deredere and therefore Kagami is 'not' a tsundere. After being prompted with the question "then what term is she?" he begins thinking and suggests "deretsun" as a possible term to describe characters who start deredere and then become tsuntsun.[13]

Personality

General Behavior

Claire-Francois

Claire François being embarrassed about her feelings for Rae Taylor from I'm in Love with the Villainous

Tsundere are characters who have an antagonistic and defiant attitude toward a specific person (tsun), but take a pampered or favorable behavior (dere) after a certain trigger. The key point here is that it is "only for a specific person". Tsundere always smile at their classmates or friends, however, they can't be honest with the person they are interested in. They're a little embarrassed about their feelings and they take it out on their love interest. They will pretend not to be interested in them at first and try to push them away, even though their liking is obvious.[14]

Tsundere are not characters who play hard to get. Characters who act like that deliberately 'choose' not to get with their love interest until they know for sure that they love them, whereas a tsundere is simply in denial. They are not honest with themselves and will hide their already existing feelings to protect their pride. This often plays out in the form of the tsundere acting defiantly towards their love interest and being overcritical of them to hide their romantic feelings towards them. However, when they eventually fall in love to the point they are unable to deny their feelings, they will start acting affectionately with them.

Development

A way to show that a tsundere has accepted their feelings despite their pride is to have them shift from acting tsuntsun to acting deredere. They may still retain many of their typical tsuntsun traits, such as acting evasive about their newfound relationship with others, but it will be in a more mellow and infrequent way. As they start trying to come to terms with their feelings they will go through a process that changes their personality from "tsun" to "dere".[15]

Their character development has four main steps:

  1. Tsun (ツン) - Their default personality. They will act harshly towards their love interest, completely hiding any feelings they have for them.
  2. Confused (困惑) - As they start to fall in love they will begin to act kinder towards their love interest but will try and hide their true intent, even trying to convince themselves that they don't really feel that way.
  3. Embarrassed (照れ) - Eventually their feelings will become so strong that they start to break through their harsh shell. They will start to worry about their love interest more openly if they don't show up for class or try their best to do something nice for their love interest. They will continue to deny their feelings for their love interest, but it won't be to the same level of harshness as before.
  4. Dere (デレ) - Once their feelings of love have become too strong to contain their feelings towards their love interest will start to mean more to them than their pride and they will come to accept their feelings. If their love interest says something romantic to them, they will be too overwhelmed by the feeling of being loved by someone who means so much to them to hide their feelings any longer. They will start openly blushing, telling their love interest how much they mean to them or even saying romantic things back, though they will often quickly revert to hiding their feelings once they realize what they were doing since this is still new to them. Though they might still use harsh-sounding words on occasion their actual emotions are now obvious. As time progresses, they will start caring less and less about keeping up the ruse and will just be honest with their feelings all the time.

When their development is first happening a tsundere might temporarily regress to previous steps, but they will always get back on track and eventually become deredere.

Tsun Period

Eriri

Eriri Spencer Sawamura from Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata

At first tsundere will refuse to be honest with their love interest. They will refuse to hear what their love interest has to say often saying things like "hmph!" or "tch!" and turning away in disgust, but they will eventually turn back out of love for the other person. This behavior is what is known as their "tsun-ki" (ツン期), or "tsun period".[16]

Tsundere are very prideful, carrying themselves with a stuck-up attitude towards their love interest at most times. They might act like this because they come from a legitimate place of power, such as being a part of a rich family or the student council, but many of them do not have a good reason for their ego aside from simply being unable to be honest with their feelings.

When a tsundere is first starting to develop feelings for their love interest, they will often do things such as:

  • Cold Shoulder: They will act very cold towards their love interest, ignoring what they have to say or only talking in short snappy sentences to make them feel unwanted and unloved. This is usually followed by them going "hmph!" and then turning their head away in disgust.
  • Self-Denial: They will deny their feelings and tell their love interest they don't like them even when they do. They often say things like "It's not like I did ___ because I like you!" or "Don't get the wrong idea!" to hide their feelings.
  • Superiority: They will act superior and stuck-up toward their love interest. They will put down their love interest to make themselves feel like they are above them. This may stem from them wanting to rid themselves of their feelings, believing they shouldn't be in love with someone who is beneath them.
  • Taunting: They will hurl insults at their love interest, usually when they become embarrassed, such as calling them a "dummy" or telling them to "shut up" to enunciate their point. They sometimes even insult their love interest in their most sensitive areas, making them feel terrible and causing conflicts within their relationship.

As they become even more fond of their love interest, these tactics will start to be used less often and be replaced by their derekake period.

Derekake Period

Rin Toosaka

Rin Tohsaka starting to accept her feelings from Fate/stay night

As they fall more and more in love a tsundere will start wanting to be affectionate and do something nice for their love interest, allowing their deredere to start to peak out. This is a period that is known as "derekake" (デレかけ), meaning "almost dere" or "becoming dere".[17][18]

Even though their deredere is starting to peak out, they are still often too embarrassed or prideful to be outright with their feelings so they will instead try to hide them. They will do things for their love interest, but will insist that they don't still like them and make up cheap excuses to try to save face.[19]

  • Defending: They will help their love interest out if they are in a dangerous situation and defend them. Even though it's obvious they did this purely out of a genuine concern for the well-being of their love interest, they will often deny any real involvement such as claiming they "just happened to be passing through".
  • Gifts: They will give their love interest a gift, such as chocolate on Valentine's Day or White Day, but will often claim that they only did it because they "felt sorry for them" or "they happened to have extra and didn't want it to go to waste", desperately trying to deny any romantic undertones. In reality, they feel incredibly happy when their love interest says they loved the gift and may even start blushing when they are next in private.
  • Helping: They will help if their love interest is struggling with something, such as homework or cooking, but will often try to justify it by saying things like "If you're going to be around me anyways then I might as well help you, so you don't embarrass me". Secretly, they love helping their love interest but would never dare to admit it.
  • Nursing: They will get very worried about their love interest when they fall ill or hurt themselves. They will sit by their bedside and help however they can make them recover faster, though they will make cheap attempts to hide their worry, usually by making fun of their love interest for getting hurt or sick in the first place. If their love interest falls asleep while they are helping, they will drop the harsh exterior altogether and express their feelings openly, saying things they couldn't bring themself to say to their love interest's face.

They may even get lost in the moment at times and start fawning over their love interest (dere), but then quickly catch themselves and insult their love interest to act like it never happened (tsun). They are not fully deredere yet, but they are starting to become it.

Dere Period

Claire François dere from I'm in Love with the Villainous 7

Claire François after finally accepting her feelings for Rae Taylor from I'm in Love with the Villainous

Eventually a tsundere will fall in love to the point where they will completely lose their "tsun" behavior entirely and be completely honest with their feelings. They will no longer feel a need to hide their love and will become a purely deredere and affectionate person. They will let down their harsher walls and let themselves depend on another person for comfort and intimacy. They will start to want their love interest to be intimate with them or tell them that they love them, actively seeking their affection. This is what is known as their "dere-ki" (デレ期), or "dere period", and is the final stage is their character development.[20][21]

Characteristics

Tsundere characters are almost always depicted as being female, but there are some male examples of the trope as well.

Moe Factor

Manga artist Ken Akamatsu says that tsundere is a unique case for moe characters, or characters who make the reader feel affection and adoration towards them.[22] In his article, he defines three conditions for moe:

  1. No suggestive actions or messages.
  2. The person feeling moe must be stronger.
  3. The moe feeling must make the current state desirable.

While at first the definition of tsundere might seem to be at odds with moe due to tsundere characters almost always being in a position where they are seen as "stronger" than their love interest, the moe traits come when they start to enter their dere period. A tsundere character's tendency to switch between moods is often an expression of internal turmoil and most people have a natural tendency to feel sorry for those who are insecure, which instills the "protection" feeling of moe toward these characters. The development of a tsundere also acts as a source of wish fulfillment. The idea of a character who seems very cold at first but becomes affectionate and loving when you manage to crack their shell can make someone feel satisfied as if they had a hand in their personality change.[23]

The attractiveness of a tsundere has two sides to its appeal. On one side, they are strong and independent characters who refuse to back down while on the other side, they are awkward and insecure about their relationship, hiding any weakness with aggressive language and actions. Tsundere show that even the toughest characters have a soft side.

In harem media, the author wants to include as many types of moe characters as possible to widen the scope of their audience. Tsundere girls are among the typical lineup of these characters since the conflicts that arise from their arrogance are good proponents for both comedic and dramatic moments.[24]

Types of Tsundere

There are several variations of tsundere that have a slightly different formula from the original kind:

Default Mood

Different characters have different levels of "tsun" and "dere". Characters can be divided into two main types based on their default mood:

Tsundere (ツンデレ): Tsundere are harsh by default and are the type described in this article. They will hide their feelings and act cold towards their love interest at first. Only becoming very close to their love interest will they enter their loving and affectionate dere period.

Deretsun (デレツン): Deretsun are affectionate by default and are the exact opposite of tsundere. They will be very affectionate and loving towards their love interest from the start, but have a suppressed tsun side that only comes out when they are embarrassed or annoyed with their love interest. They sometimes feel awkward around feelings and conversations about love or when receiving compliments, acting self-conscious about their own feelings and lashing out because of it. They may also just be overprotective of their partner, lashing out if they feel like their love interest or relationship is threatened.

Variations

See the main pages for full details.

  • Biridere (ビリデレ): A tsundere who shocks their love interest with electricity when being "tsun". This is usually done in a gag comedy manner.
  • Gandere (ガンデレ): A tsundere who starts shooting guns at their love interest when being "tsun". This is usually done in a gag comedy manner.
  • Gundere (軍デレ): A tsundere who turns into a drill sergeant and berates their love interest for not being good enough when being "tsun".
  • Tsun-aho (ツンアホ): A tsundere who tries so ridiculously hard to act "tsun" towards their love interest that they just end up making themselves look like a fool instead.
  • Tsundora (ツンドラ): A tsundere who acts so dry and emotionless when being "tsun" that they make it seem like they are serious, showing a complete rejection of their own feelings.
  • Tsun-pure (ツンピュア): A tsundere who is brutally honest with their love interest when being "tsun" but rarely honest with themself.
  • Tsunshun (ツンしゅん): A tsundere who acts "tsun" with their love interest and then becomes sad because of their actions caused by it.
  • Tsuntere (ツン照れ): A tsundere who becomes embarrassed around their love interest and then acts "tsun" towards them because of it.

Common Templates

Although not being a variation on the formula, there are several common templates or backstories that tsundere characters often fall into.

  • Basic: The most stereotypical and cliched type of tsundere is the one that refuses to be honest about their own feelings. They will judge their love interest over everything and verbally attack them at any provocation. They will call their love a dummy for not being able to understand their feelings even though they aren't honest with them in the first place.
  • Disciplinarian: A tsundere who has been put in a position of power, such as becoming the student council president or the assistant to their company's boss. They will be extremely strict about enforcing rules. Whenever their love interest does anything even a little bit wrong, they will be quick to punish them for it. This often makes their love interest feel singled out, causing them to develop a dislike of the tsundere, however, behind the scenes they will protect their love interest when it truly matters. If their love interest gets falsely blamed for something they will go out of their way to stand up for them, revealing their honest and loving side.
  • Shana Clone: Because of the popularity of the character Shana from the 2002 light novel series Shakugan no Shana (JP) many subsequent tsundere characters were modeled after her. They are designed as high school girls with child-like bodies, long waist-length hair that is either unkempt or tied into pigtails, who wear gothic lolita dresses and thigh-high leggings. They are quite harsh and bossy with a noticeable temper. If they carry a weapon it will be a katana or another type of sword. They will refer to their love interest without any Japanese honorifics, which is often a sign of superiority and coldness but also might suggest they feel close to their love interest upon initially meeting them.[25]
  • Tragic Past: Many tsundere characters act temperamental because of a dark past, which makes it difficult for them to properly express their feelings in an understandable and calm manner. They don't want to get hurt by revealing their vulnerable side so they act harshly, either regretting it terribly afterwards or trying to justify it in their head because of how bad they were treated in the past. As time passes, their hurtful past and romantic feelings will slowly come to the surface after they develop a greater bond and trust with their love interest.

Differences From Other Archetypes

Acting Tsundere

Since the tsundere archetype is so recognizable, there are many parodies of their stereotypical attitude and phrases resulting in characters sometimes "acting tsundere". A character might say something like "it's not like I like you or anything!" as a short gag, but the character will not be tsundere outside of that specific moment. These characters are not actually tsundere, they simply parody it for a joke.

Other Dere Types

Tsundere served as the basis and inspiration for most future "dere types". Because of this, many dere types have a harsher side that is used to hide their romantic feelings from their deredere side. Although there are many similarities in this fact, there are also quite a few differences in how this harsher side is presented.

Tsundere is similar to himedere since both can be quite arrogant, however, the main difference is himedere want their love interest to pamper them and doing everything they ask. They want their want their love interest to constantly pay attention to them, whereras in contrast, a tsundere often acts like they want nothing to do with their love interest because they don't want it to seem like they want their affection. Himedere also have a very prim and proper ladylike side when they are spending time with people they consider equals. However, it is a fairly popular combination to have a character that is both a tsundere and a himedere.

Tsundere is similar to kamidere as well, but the main difference is kamidere act harsh to their love interest because they think they're superior to them and will also look down on them as a lesser being. They aren't rude because they want to hide their feelings, they are rude because of their ego and massive god complex.

BST

The western term "BST", might be confused with tsundere but the key difference between the two is that BST is a situation, while a tsundere is a character. BST occurs when two characters like each other but don't realize it. They will act like they don't like each other by insulting each other to try and alleviate the tension, since they don't want to embarrass themselves by admitting their feelings and have the other party turn them down.

Tsundere characters are often put into BST situations, but not every character who is put in one automatically becomes a tsundere. Many characters in BST situations only act rude in that specific moment, acting much more agreeably in most other situations, while a tsundere will act irritable in other situations where they feel embarrassed.

Similar Japanese Archetypes

  • Bokodere: A term for a character who gets embarrassed around their love interest and will lash out to hide their feelings.
  • Bokukko: A term for a female character who is a tomboy and acts boyish. Many female tsundere fall under this.
  • Roshidere: A term for a character who is only lovey-dovey when they are speaking Russian to hide their true feelings.
  • Teredere: A character who gets embarrassed around their love interest. Step 3 of a tsundere's character development involves going through the tere stage, though it's usually less pronounced than with teredere.
  • Tsungire: A character who is quick to get angry and pushes others away when they try to be affectionate with them. While a tsundere pushes people away by acting standoffish or ignoring them, a tsungire pushes them away in a harsh and ruthlessly direct way. Many of the more extreme tsundere are also this type.

Characters with this Personality

See Tsundere/Japanese Characters to see characters from anime media
See Tsundere/Non-Japanese Characters to see characters from western media

Gallery

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Itocho - Sukune Inugami. Shogakukan (2016/01/29).
  2. What is Tsundere. Pixiv Encyclopedia (2024/01/24).
  3. What is Tsun. Pixiv Encyclopedia (2010/04/25).
  4. Meaning of Tsundere. JLearn.
  5. Tsundere Meaning in Japanese. Japan Luggage Express (2023/04/29).
  6. Tsundere CHANGE!. Suruga-ya (2015/05/01).
  7. Love in the Moe Realms – A Concise 'Dere' Guide. Otaku Lounge (2014/04/08).
  8. House of 1000 Manga. Anime News Network (2014/09/11).
  9. 9.0 9.1 What is Tsundere. Nico Nico Pedia (2008/05/14).
  10. What's Wrong With Rude and Abusive Language in Customer Service? Tsundere Cafe Is Here!?. Livedoor News (2006/03/22).
  11. When The Girls Are Mean, The Customers Are Happy. Kotaku (2011/04/22).
  12. The 4 Best Tsundere Maid Cafes in Japan. Anime Impulse (2019/02/28).
  13. Lucky Channel Ep 10 - Tsundere. Lucky☆Star (2007/06/10).
  14. What is a Girl's "◯◯dere"?. AppBank (2016/07/06).
  15. Tsun → Confused → Embarrassed → Dere. Nico Nico Pedia (2009/04/18).
  16. The Tsundere Princess Who Has Passed Her Tsun Period Turns Red Today. Dengeki Online (2020/05/13).
  17. Derekake. Japanese Slang Dictionary (2005/08/26).
  18. Derekake. Mixi.
  19. What is Tsundere? Characteristics of Men, Women and Love Strategies. Zexy (2019/09/02).
  20. What is Dereki. Pixiv Encyclopedia (2011/04/06).
  21. What is Dere. Pixiv Encyclopedia (2021/09/29).
  22. The World and Mind of the Tsundere: Moe and the Gain-loss Effect. Animents (2014/09/21).
  23. Why Do Boys Drool Over Tsundere Girls?. Crunchyroll (2012/03/04).
  24. Tsundere is Popular With Both Men and Women! Features and Charm That You Will Be Addicted To. Wedding Park Magazine (2016/11/30).
  25. Shana Clone. All The Tropes (2022/07/11).
veDere Types
Japanese Standard

Bakadere Biridere Bokodere Butsudere Darudere Deredere Dorodere Erodere Gandere Goudere Gundere Himedere Hinedere Kamidere Kichidere Kiridere Kuudere M Dere Nyandere Onidere Rindere Roshidere S Dere Shindere Teredere Tsundere Undere Usodere Utsudere Uzadere Wandere Yandere Yoidere Zondere

Variations

Deretsun Tsun-Aho Tsundora Tsun-Pure Tsunshun Tsuntere

Western Standard

Bocchandere Byoukidere Dandere Kanedere Kekkondere Nemuidere Oujidere Smugdere Teasedere Thugdere

Variations

Kamidere (Western) Kidere Mayadere (Western) Megadere (Western) Oujodere (Western)

Other

Dere Types Unofficial Dere Types

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