Saturday, December 15, 2012

DaWaRou Posts: The Tsundere

Greetings everyone! This post was originally going to be about Ranma 1/2 but I decided that enough was enough and it's about time I set up the overhead projector and prepare for a lecture. Yes that's right, everyone, during this post you're actually going to learn something and don't worry, I'll do a follow up video to go along with this at a later point. Now pay attention class because I'm John Cortez and this is my SIXTH post for the Broken Infinite.

Now the world of anime and manga is ever varied, ever changing and always strange as all get out. You get people with blonde hair who you assume to be American or just White in general as it seems to be the Japanese consensus that blonde hair and blue eyes equals Foreigner but then you've got Sailor Moon, Tamaki Suoh and Naruto Uzumaki and they're supposed to be Japanese, though Tamaki's a bit more forgivable as he's stated to be half French in canon and Usagi from Sailor Moon is well...from the moon or something. You've got people with ever hair color under the sun, young girls that manifest the powers of some nondescript force dressing up in strange costumes and fighting evil, ninja's that run around wearing orange and shouting "BELIEVE IT" at the top of their lungs, boys that turn into girls when splashed with cold water, and giant robots, oh and Tokyo Tower seems to always be targeted, what's up with that? Well, today class, we'll be talking about a character type and a rather infamous one at that. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you...the Tsundere!
She's really cute in that Sailor Uniform...until she gets her riding crop and beats you with it all night long!
 Yeah, let's get started. The Tsundere is a typical anime/manga character type with a number of traits and quirks that contribute to the large hatred and love for them. Now please note that I'm describing a character that's more often than not female and often used in Japanese settings and media. I apologize now if I say ANYTHING that can be considered rude or insulting to Japan or Japanese Culture but please note that these are also my personal opinions and you're welcome to take them with a grain of salt. Thanks! Now, this type of character is more often than not female with brightly colored hair and in most common depictions a rather negative and violent personality as their default way of dealing with people. The word is derived from the Japanese words tsuntsun which means "to turn away in disgust" and deredere which means "to become lovey-dovey" at least according to Wikipedia. In essence, the Tsundere is a person who often shifts between being harsh and violent to being lovey and affectionate depending on the situation. This translates to most people as "The damn bitch is bipolar" which is not an accurate description of the Tsundere character.

Now Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder in which people experience disruptive mood swings. Those who are Bipolar fluctuate between moments of great happiness and EXTREME anger. While Tsundere characters typically go through the anger part, the extreme happiness thing isn't their default mode or their deredere mode either. Bipolar disorder is a medical condition people, not a "personality" trait. Got that? Got that you stupid Otaku?! Sorry, I just get really angry when people call Tsundere characters Bipolar as it DOES NOT describe the character and what's more, I think it's kind of insulting to people who ARE Bipolar. They didn't choose to be that way, they can't help that (to my knowledge), and they probably don't enjoy those radical shifts in their emotional state.

Anyways, now what makes a Tsundere...Tsundere? Well I'm so glad you asked! Tsundere characters are often girls, but male versions do exist. They're often characterized by being either a Type A or B Tsundere. Type A Tsundere characters exhibit the tsuntsun personality as their default way of dealing with and interacting with others and the world in which they live. They're often scowling and respond violently to those who annoy or anger them with verbal or physical lashings being their M.O. as  it were. They usually have a harsh relationship with a certain someone or someones in their lives. They often have either very deep psychological issues and problems which give them a reason for acting horrible with other people or they just have horrible relationships with others around them period and anyone unfortunate enough to get on their bad side without knowing about them is in for a horrible treat. The Type A Tsundere is therefore the most overused anime character types due to the simplicity of writing one as well as the contrast to the more idealized typical Japanese love interest. The Tsundere takes that, tears it up forms it into a baseball bat and HITS YOU WITH IT'S REJECTION! The Tsundere is fetishized because it's not what Japanese people are raised to want (to my knowledge). They don't embody the typical values in feminine nature that Japan worships such as grace, unattainable mature beauty, a gentle and demure nature, and a subservient  disposition to men for men. The Tsundere is VIOLENT if Type A as default. She will lash out and speak her mind on anything that she thinks is deserving of her opinion. She bows to NO ONE and if taken to an extreme often thinks that everyone should bow to her, but then we're not dealing with the Ojou now are we? The Type A Tsundere is often fetishized due to the fact that if she's in a Harem Visual Novel, the player can "tame" her. Yes, that's right! Is the girl you like not submissive or subservient enough to you? Do you desire to break down her walls and crumble the barriers between the two of you? Well...just make her fall in love with you and fuck her brains out! This Tsundere is often visually different from other characters, sometimes. Often times this Tsundere will have bright colored hair, often red to highlight the violent and fiery nature she has. Recently, now there's this trend to make them small in stature, flat chested, prideful, red headed of some sort and voiced by Rie Kugimiya. This type of Tsundere will also usually be the main female character in a Harem type series and thus everyone watching the series will be scratching their heads in confusion when it's made abundantly clear that ANY OTHER GIRL IN THE SERIES WOULD BE A MUCH SAFER MATCH FOR HIM! But I digress. These girls will also usually have little romantic experience so when they do start to have feelings for a guy they'll be so stuck in denial that they react violently towards him. Expect lots of blushing and "I-it's not like I l-l-like you or anything..." and "(insert name here) no BAKA!/IDIOT!" Also, they'll often have long hair put into a ponytail on each side of their head. And don't expect them to be held accountable for any abuse they dish out to the main character despite the fact that if the roles were reversed it wouldn't be very funny, no would it? In a Harem, if she's not the main girl, she's the male lead's childhood friend and if she's not that she's the class rep. Exceptions do exist.

The Type B Tsundere is a stark contrast to the normal and most overused depiction. She more closely resembles the traditional Japanese idealized female to a certain degree. She's deredere by default and thus she's nice, pleasant to be around, helpful to others in need of help and all around the type of girl you'd probably want as a girlfriend. Unfortunately, she's not this way with her love interest. Oh no. When this girl needs to be tsuntsun there's ONE person she's saving it for and that's the one person who's caught her eye and unfortunately its' often because she's not sure HOW to deal with these feelings. Personally I think that this makes the character rather flat in comparison to the Type A Tsundere as while they often have a legitimate reason for acting the way they do that should  be explored over the course of the series, the Type B Tsundere is very much capable of acting like a decent person and often does so except for with the one person she likes. Eri from School Rumble above her though is something of an exception to that personal opinion though. She's a combination of the Tsundere with the Ojou or the Rich Bitch that's also fetishized to an absurd degree but then again women want to marry a rich man, so why can't men want to marry a rich woman? We'll deal with the Ojou at a later point but Eri's one of the more genuinely justified Tsundere as most of her tsuntsun isn't just reserved for her love interest but the other love interest of her love interest who happens to be the younger sister of one of her best friends. In fact Eri is also slightly tsuntsun with her friends who know how to push her buttons. As opposed to being hateful with everyone, this Tsundere will often only be angry when dealing with her love interest which Japan loves to take advantage of putting in lots of sexual tension and Will They/Won't they moment. Many girls who are otherwise Yamato Nadeshiko in training are often this kind of Tsundere.

Now the Tsundere is one of the most hated anime character types in the West, particularly in America and it's not very hard to see why. While a Tsundere's respective manga may offer insight and depth into her character and explain why she's the way she is any anime adaption will inevitably flanderize or ruin the character by making her more into a Type A if she was more of a Type B or had mixed traits originally. One Tsundere that particularly suffers from this is Akane Tendo from Ranma 1/2. If ANY of the characters in that series had justifications for acting the way they did, it was most DEFINITELY Akane. Let's look at the facts shall we? First of all, Akane's the youngest daughter of a Martial Arts instructor and from what little flashbacks were shown, she seems to have been very attached to her now dead mother. In response, her oldest sister Kasumi took up the mantle and became the mother while Akane spent more time with her FATHER, learning how to beat the ever loving crap out of people! Second of all, Akane's typically shown with short hair both before and after her Season 1/Volume 1 haircut. As a child this had the effect of making Akane look like a boy and most likely contributed to her tomboyish behavior as well as the fact that she was chosen to play ROMEO in her grade school's production of Romeo and Juliet. Akane is also lacking a parental unit to show her how a traditional female should act and really thinking about it I wonder if a lot of guys would get intimidated by a girl who's capable of breaking every bone in their body with relative ease. Kasumi is her sister and thus doesn't really count as they're only 3 years apart in age. So all that in account, Akane makes it to High School and what happens? School pervert Kuno RUINS any chance Akane has at a normal relationship with a boy by DEMANDING that the only way anyone can date her is by defeating her in combat. Add to the fact that the guy she's crushing on is madly in love with her older sister and any girl would be ticked off by the males at school who all jump her every morning in a sick display of affection. And then at the sweet age of 16, Akane is told that a boy she's never met will be living with her family and will be able to marry her or one of her sisters. How would you like it if your potential life partner was chosen for you and not by you. Then Ranma shows up in girl form and when the cat flies out of the bag, Akane learns that she's been defeated by a boy who she now just saw naked and has now been handed to on a plate by her sisters. Making matters worse for the already insecure Akane is the fact that her new "husband to be" changes into a much better looking and better built girl than she is naturally and as if to add insult to injury, all of these other fiancees come crawling out of the woodwork meaning now Akane has to fight to prove herself worthy of being Ranma's wife against three other girls with far superior fighting and domestic skills. Also Ranma's much better than Akane is at Martial arts which I suppose can be excused by the fact that in comparison Akane hasn't really had the same training as Ranma and the fact that as a male he's physically stronger and sturdier than she is. Everything goes wrong for this girl so when she looses her temper at Ranma, when he deserves it, she's completely justified in doing so. She's not mentally unstable or unbalanced, she's just had a string of rotten luck and her life's gone to hell with the arrival of a man she's been given to. If you'd like to see unbalanced I could probably try to go over Asuka from Evangelion but I won't.

But what's my thoughts on the character type? I kind of like Tsundere characters when they're done well. When they're put in a more serious setting, their anger is often completely justified as the entire world seems to be against them. When it comes to love, they're often way to inexperienced to know how to properly deal with these kinds of emotions and feelings and when they're deredere it's often very sweet. Also I like how Type A Tsundere characters act with others, especially men when they're in a society and country that has traditionally very low values and aspirations when it comes to women. The more vulgar ones like Asuka from Evangelion are enjoyable to me because they don't care who they're talking to and they'll give their opinions whether they're wanted or not. They can get away with being total bitches to people and you just know that somewhere in the world there's some guy watching the series who drops his pants every time the Tsundere comes on screen. I like the cultural contrast they make as well when portrayed in Japanese media especially if they're paired with a more traditional Japanese female character like the Yamato Nadeshiko or the Shrinking Violet which happens to be my favorite Harem character type. The Tsundere is the girl who won't put up with your crap in real life. If she's your best friend she'll call you on every single flaw, berate you for them and then still have your back and want to walk to and from school with you when all's said and done. In a more action packed setting, she'll make sure that anyone who comes after her (not)boyfriend pays dearly if he's not very inclined towards violence...unless of course she's Asuka. They're strong female characters when they're female and they don't take shit from other guys or girls and know how to take care of themselves and when they're male...they're normally those brooding bad boy types that make girls go nuts for some reason I can't begin to imagine. So, I hope that this provided a more in-depth look at and explanation of the Tsundere character. What're your thoughts on this kind of character? Why do you hate or like them so much? Until next time~! DaWaRou~!

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