The tsundere character is one of those somewhat overused archetypes in anime and at times the archetype is used to excuse some truly horrible behaviour. Sure the good thing about tsundere characters is that there’s usually a reason they are closed off or harsh to begin with and watching them gradually soften as someone breaks down their barriers can be a treat, but there’s a point where a line is crossed and no matter what happens later on it will be hard to really ever like the character too much.
Tsundere characters walk a very fine line.
For me a good example of a tsundere character who served their role in their story but never really gained any affection from me would be Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion. I’m aware she has a legion of fans but for me she was the least interesting part of the original anime and to be honest most of the scenes she dominated were ones I considered to be low points. Sure she had a few solid moments particularly in the lead up to the final but the damage had long been done by her own capricious and callous nature earlier in the series.
But this post isn’t looking at those tsundere characters who pushed my buttons the wrong way. Instead I’m going to look at five characters who fit this pattern of behaviour that I quite enjoyed watching. On that note, I almost put Maka from Soul Eater on the list but couldn’t decide if she actually was tsundere. I’d love to know your thoughts on that one.
Number 5 – Mikoto Misaka
The Railgun from Academy City herself, Mikoto Misaka from A Certain Magical Index and, her own spin-off, A Certain Scientific Railgun really does embody the idea of a tsundere character. Not that some of the characters she’s a bit hostile towards don’t deserve it.
Considering the antics of her roommate with her overly gropey nature, there are some characters who deserve to be zapped like the bugs they are. However Mikoto is pretty zap happy when meeting a lot of people and her treatment of vending machines leaves something to be desired.
Fortunately, she isn’t just a walking pile of fury. As we learn throughout Index, Mikoto’s been through a lot and is trying to right some pretty big wrongs. We also learn in Railgun that she’s quite the loyal friend. This is one tsundere character who very easily could have been a one dimensional single story character who really did steal one show right out from under the protagonist’s nose and outdid him entirely as the lead in her own story.
Number 4 – Haruhi Suzumiya
It’s hard to tell if the titular Haruhi Suzumiya from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is actually a tsundere character or whether she’s just completely self-absorbed but from what happens in the anime I’m going to say the label fits.
If you’ve ever watched the anime you will know that Haruhi doesn’t really regard most people as anything more than objects. She makes it abundantly clear she isn’t interested in idle chit-chat or playing nice with classmates. If you aren’t what she’s looking for, get out of her way. And that abrasive, and sometimes cruel personality (check out her treatment of the computer club and even her own club members) makes you really wonder sometimes why Kyon keeps even turning up to the club room.
I will admit, one of my friends wouldn’t watch beyond a few episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya labelling Haruhi as the most obnoxious brat she’d ever seen. And it was hard to argue. Still, there are moments, particularly as the series progresses, where the sweeter side comes out and ultimately Haruhi Suzumiya is someone I feel is lost and holds onto that obnoxious personality of hers as a shield against all the things she can’t control. Is she a tsundere character? I think so.
Number 3 – Ririchiyo Shirikin
Ririchiyo Shirikin of Inu X Boku SS is almost a textbook case of a tsundere character. She admits herself she has a bad habit of verbally abusing others as a front when she is shy or anxious and to be honest that’s pretty much all the time because this is the girl who spent a ridiculous number of hours trying to figure out how to ask someone to join her for tea. She also almost afterwards severely regrets her words but never quite figures out how to avoid saying them in the first place.
Ultimately Ririchiyo has lived an incredibly sheltered life and was raised in near isolation where the only people who really dealt with her were people trying to get on her parent’s good side or those that were jealous and wanted to tear her down. She never really figured out how to just interact with others and so it became a nearly impossible burden.
That said, some of the people Ririchiyo talks down to actually have it coming and you have to love a character who can deliver that kind of jab with a perfectly straight face, even if later on they’ll roll around in shame. Not to mention, this affection starved darling really is a sweet girl, if only she could learn to express herself better.
Number 2 – Kyo Souma
The one and only male character who made my list of favourite tsundere characters, Kyo Souma well and truly earned his place. That and he also earned a place as one of my favourite male leads in a romantic anime ever. Oh wow that third season of Fruits Basket was so good. So worth the wait.
Anyway it is no surprise that Kyo ends up being a total tsundere character when you think about his upbringing, the way those around him treated him, and the future that he believes awaits him. You’d have trust and communication issues as well after that sort of life. Fortunately, he also had a few people in his corner which means underneath all that hostility there’s still just enough of that sweet affection starved boy for Tohru to really reach.
Though it is best to be a little wary because when Kyo snaps, furniture goes flying and broken tables and doors are a common feature. on more than one occasion Kyo was directly responsible for causing Tohru harm and even if he was overcome with grief if he’d actually done more damage it would have been too little too late.
Number 1 – Kaname Chidori
It isn’t hard to see why Kaname Chidori is a little quick to deal a blow to Sousuke in Full Metal Panic. The guy doesn’t get anything about living a standard life in Japan and at times causes immense damage (particularly after detonating his shoe locker because someone opened it to leave a love note).
A more comedic character than many on the list, Chidori is a character I always quite enjoyed. She’s a bright student with many friends and while she has a quick temper most of the time she’s perfectly sweet. For whatever reason Sousuke just manages to push her buttons every single time and somehow, despite his hyper observant nature toward everything else, manages to miss the warning signs as she gets more and more frustrated with him before snapping.
I did love season two of Full Metal Panic though as it really pushed Chidori out of the role of damsel waiting to be rescued. Instead she had to fend for herself as Sousuke worked through his own issues and the growth both characters experienced was pretty awesome.
And that’s my list of favourite tsundere characters in anime. As always, its entirely my own opinion and I would love to know which tsundere characters have wormed their way into your heart. Be sure to leave a comment below.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.