If you’ve been watching anime for a while, you might have come across the term ‘tsundere’ or ‘yandere’ to describe a character, but how many of us actually know what these terms mean? Over the years, the tropes have been used to the point that they have become a template for any main character – but somehow, we can’t stop loving them. Among the most loved are the well-known ‘dere’ tropes, these hard-to-explain characters with dual personalities (think Yuno Gasai from Future Diary). It’s difficult to pin down which category the character falls under – if any at all – so here we are to clear away all the fog around this business.
First, we’ll kick off with the most commonly used type: the tsundere. The word roughly means ‘harsh outside, sweet inside’, and you can guess what that means. The (usually) girl is terrifying – she’s practically a tyrant, always telling people off and denying her feelings for the person she loves, acting out in public. But in private, she can be soft and caring, and that hard shell is just a cover for a very sensitive personality. A good example would be Misaki from Kaichou wa Maid-sama!, the student council president that is resented by all the boys in her school because of her tyrannical ways, when in reality, she is actually rather sweet. There’s also the rare male tsundere – found in Hiroki from the yaoi show Junjou Romantica. Saying this, you could grab a tsundere from almost any show that comes out these days. This incredibly popular archetype never seems to get old.
Now, yandere is a complicated one. Made out of the word combo meaning ‘ill’ and ‘sweet’, these types of (again, usually) female characters are completely off their rockers. They’ll often have high grades, lots of friends, and are very pretty, but secretly they will obsess over their crush to the point of stalking and harassment. Sometimes they’ll even kill their crush to stop other people from taking them away. They will go berserk if anyone tries to harm their crush, but will also lose their temper if their crush does anything wrong. Basically, they’re the poster-girls of crazy possessiveness. Yuno Gasai of Future Diary (Mirai Nikki) is considered the ultimate in yandere. If you’ve seen the anime, you’ll know all about her axe-wielding ways, but she’s still cherished by a huge bulk of the fans. Even with all those murderous tendencies, we just can’t dismiss the part of her that is cute and sensitive. Yandere will often get mixed up with yangire, which is where the complicated part comes in. Yangire girls are also sweet girls that lose their temper, but these girls will lose their minds for seemingly no reason at all. You cannot put a foot wrong around them because you will probably end up regretting it. Watch Higurashi no naku koro ni and look out for Rena Ryuugu’s behaviour, and you’ll get the chills whenever she paints that little smile on her blank face.
The other two dere types are far less well-known and much harder to define. We’ll start off with kuudere. Kuudere is used to describe a blunt, cynical, cold-hearted character who wouldn’t seem to care if anything happened to people they love (the ‘kuu’ part). In reality, they care a lot (that’s the ‘dere’ part). They’re one of the dere most equally likely to be a boy or a girl, and are usually loners who find it hard to connect to others. We’d see this in Kanade from Angel Beats, the cold-natured loner who eventually becomes precious to the audience. At the beginning, she seems emotionless, but our eyes are opened to her sweet side as the show progresses. We’ve also got Tomori from the recent show Charlotte, or (oddly) many other white-haired female characters. An unexplained phenomenon indeed.
Feeling enlightened? Excited? If you were a dandere, you’d probably just blush and run away. Dandere are the shy characters who come out of their shells in the end. Anything will embarrass them, but they’ll act calm, polite and timid – even around the person they like. They simultaneously feel scared and happy to be around their crush. They’re often confused with kuudere because of their emotionless demeanour, but dandere are typically more family oriented and have softer personalities in general. Kotomi Ichinose from Clannad is a fantastic dandere, always worried and unsociable, but definitely happier around her best friends.
There we have it: the deres explained. It’s hard to get your head around the terminology, but once you have the examples down, you’ll know what to look out for. What’s your favourite dere? Any favourite characters? Despite being overused, these characters are an awful lot of fun to watch, and they’re not about to die out any time soon.