Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tsundere: The Iron Virgins

I have a passion for tsunderes. I think is something written deep inside my mind since my childhood when i got in touch with my first animes. Looking back, probably i can trace tsundere characters back to Ranma's Akane Tendou or even further to Lum the invader girl.

For those unaware of the terminology involved, a "tsundere" is one kind of girl personality: It defines a girl who tries to act strong and tough around others (Tsun Tsun in japanese) but she is soft and squishy on the insides (Dere Dere in japanese).  Due to japan's strict society, this is a common personality trait often reflected in anime and manga, and has produced many memorable characters. Even a certain seiyuu, the magnificent Kugimiya Rie has specialized on those kind of characters, giving voice to acclaimed tsundere characters as Shana, Louise (Zero no Tsukaima) or my personal favourite: Aisaka Taiga.

Taiga Aisaka in Dere mode: the main reason Toradora is considered one of the best animes of the decade.

Too much TsunTsun for too little DereDere
The rules to tsundere characters are simple: They tend to be girls with problems to express their feelngs, mainly due to an overexcess of shame in accepting behaviours that may be perceived as weak for external onlookers (a trait usually more common to men), like love, thankfulness or admiration.

To shield themselves from that shame they go to great extent in forging an external character facade of agressive behaviour destined to pull away any who tries to aproach their inner feelings.This can make them go to various ranges of confrontation, from verbal harrassment to physical assault (and even the use of badly maiming weaponry), usually preceded by heavy blushing.
Alice Margatroid depicting one of the classic Tsun expressions.
Even though tsunderes are cute in their effort to act strong, wich has granted them a considerable amount of fans, not all tsunderes manage to become famous. Some even break the mold to search new areas of personality, with various amounts of success.

One of the most infamous cases of tsundere going wrong may be Yozora, the main female character from Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai. Presented to the watcher giving verious clues of tsundere personality. Ufortunately once paired with the external factor of Kashiwazaki Sena, her series feminine partner, the crescent rage she develops against her transforms her into a sadist.

Her soft and lovey moments are reduced to almost none, while on the other she makes the habit of constantly verbally abusing and humiliating Sena even without motive, going as far as to frequently calling her "pig" or "meat", as well as making her object of some pretty sick jokes which make Sena cry. This extremely sadic behaviour basicaly negates any possible cuteness the character may have, effectively turning a promising tsundere into a complete bitch.

Sena and Yozora in one of their frequent quarrels
This has produced an interesting phenomena, where Sena has grown a bigger amount of fans that simpatize with her, outshining the main character in the series. (In fact going as far as to creating an alternative series: Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Plus, where the same story is retold with Sena as the main feminine character instead, leaving Yozora a seconary role).

Other interesting new variant of tsundereness we can find on this season´s alternative to the Black Butler: Inu x Boku SS protagonist Shirakin Ririchiyo is a cute and sexy black haired loli with a serious case of badmouthing. Most tsunderes usually only present her agresive trait against the main masculine characters they are fond of, but Ririchiyo is a bit diferent. She is desperately trying to make friends, but due to her difficult past of isolation the only way she knows of communicating with others is via verbal harrassment and depreciation.

This will push her during the series through a growing amount of frustration as she is unable of basic human comunication to say a simple "thank you" to the people she cares about. Most of the series humour moments revolve about her inner conversations, trying to muster the courage to speak nice things and not just being an asshole to everyone (and usually failing miserably).

Ririchiyo is referred by her roommates as a tsunshun as she gets depressed after yelling at people.
The future
Unfortunately Inu X Boku is a seasonal anime wich has just finished airing with a pretty conclusive ending giving little room for new seasons, so any further tsundere needs for the rest of the year will be dependant on the what the new anime season will have to offer.

Luckily, after the closing seasons of Zero no Tsukaima and Shakugan no Shana have been aired, and with no perspectives for new seasons of Toradora!, character designers have a safe spot to tweak the tsundere stereotype in search for a new girl that will captivate a new generation of tsundere lovers.


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