Thursday, July 27, 2017

I'm going to talk about Tsunderes, but it's not because I'm like them or anything

One character archetype a lot of modern critics seem to be harshest on is the Anime Tsundere, where I see comments like "the tsundere schtick is handled well when the trope is treated like a mental hangup bordering on mental illness."-a YouTuber calling themselves Char Azanbel.

You see, I've paid enough attention to the world to know that the Tsundere isn't unique to Anime.  It can be traced back to Shakespeare at least.  Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing describes Beatrice's feelings for Benedick thusly:
By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think
of it but that she loves him with an enraged
affection: it is past the infinite of thought.
Skye Sweetnam had a song called Tangled Up In Me where she was basically singing about being a Tsundere.  That whole common idea you've heard that if a girl was picking on you on the playground it probably means she likes you, is exactly what the Tsundere is based on.  It's only become so well categorized in Anime because we Otaku obsess over categorizing everything.

Asuka from Evangelion keeps getting praised as the best written Tsundere. I was unable to find her likeable regardless of her backstory, and that's as someone who's bias is always to favor the female characters.  So I get sick of seeing Asuka praised for being Traumatized, while Rin Tohsaka is considered just a visual novel cliche by "educated" critics. And Kagami ignored for being from an Anime that isn't story driven at all, but that's what I like about Lucky Star.

Everything above is basically copied from an earlier post I did where this Tsundere rant was a mere example of a broader subject.   But now I want to expand on it.

I've been looking at the Anime Tsunderes who predate the term being coined in the early-mid 2000s.  Auska and Misty of Pokemon are among them, Misty is another character I wasn't fond of in-spite of my general bias for female characters.  Do I simply not like Proto-Tsunderes as much as the modern caricature???  Not really.

You see what I've found really interesting looking at 90s Anime is that Tsundere traits most showed up in Shoujo Anime (Anime marketed to young girls), often in the main character, the one the audience is supposed to most be able to project themselves onto.

Heck it possibly starts with Sailor Moon herself, Usagi Tsukino, who is at the beginning very much a Tsundere towards Mamoru.  Rei Hino is also a Tsundere both towards her male love interest (and towards Usagi).  I also notice this in Wedding Peach with Momoko towards Youske, and Hinagiku towards her love interest.  Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne also does the same thing.  In most of these cases the Tsun is mutual from the male in question.

That suggests the average Japanese School Girl could to some degree relate to it, or at the very least enjoy watching it play out.

Otaku centric Light Novels and Visual Novels and the Anime adapted from them began to more and more define some characters almost solely around this trait.  But why is the Tsundere seemingly always the most popular?  When my observations of the Meme generating community suggests the other characters have more vocal fans among typical Otaku?  Is it possible the female audience that many want to pretend doesn't exist for these shows are in fact the ones rooting for the Tsunderes?

Or maybe it's that regardless of Gender the Tsundere is the most relateable, more so then she is an ideal fantasy lover?  Since after all we can all relate to being conflicted, to being in denial, or to warming up to someone or something over time.  I relate to Hiragi Kagmi so much she's currently my Avatar almost everywhere online, even though in theory Konata is who an anti-social lazy Otaku like myself should most identify with.  The thing is I'm not as self confident as Konata is.  EndlessJess relates to Asuka the most of anyone in Evangelion.  I relate to Rei Ayanami most in Eva, so I guess it depends on what kind of Tsudnere it is for me.

When I first made that earlier post I hadn't seen Toradora yet.  It's great, I recommend it, and it's Dub is great too.  Taiga is a very fun little Tsundere.  But there are other cool characters as well.

For a fun epilogue, here is a YouTube video of mine made for Lucky Star fans.

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