Tsundere Sexuality: Part 2

(Continuing on from the last post.) The entire idea of a tsundere happily existing in the absense of a male lead is an interesting one, because it says that a character could be tsundere to just about anything. Occult Academy takes this idea and tries to go somewhere with it with Maya, who is essentially tsundere for the occult. Her relationship with Bunmei develops in standard fashion, and we see the same emotions of jealousy, frustration and self-deception that we typically associate with tsundere couplings. The difference is that Maya’s attraction to Bunmei doesn’t stem just from the fact that he’s the main character (which means he’s “there”), but because Bunmei is a walking representation of the occult. Her changing attitude towards Bunmei very closely mirrors her changing attitude towards the occult as the series progresses. It’s a novel idea, and I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing more examples of tsundere characters that are tsundere towards things that aren’t just the male leads.

Akira made the point that tsundere characters tend to get sexier body types. Now, this isn’t something that’s innate in the tsundere archetype, it’s something that must be designed and added onto them. It’s certainly easy to think of examples, along with the ones I’ve given above, such as Eri (School Rumble), Kaname (Full Metal Panic) and Kallen (Code Geass), and there are a few common threads which run throughout many tsundere characters, such a height, larger boobs, sharper eyes and twin tails or longer hair. Whenever a tsundere doesn’t have these characteristics, they’ll (often) instead have Kugimiya Rie‘s voice.

Cute AND sexy.

These commonalities must originate from somewhere, which made me think back to the origins of tsundere-ism. Tsundere anime characters have been around since at least the 80s, and been present in other medium since who knows when (I remember when tsundere-ism was first being recognized and the term being adopted into the lexicon, one of the favoured examples was Princess Leia from Star Wars, as a long list of anime-related examples didn’t really exist), but there must have been some point, I suspect early in the last decade, when the phenomenon really exploded. Thinking back to Naru from Love Hina makes me think that tsunderes have been tall and shapely, but still cute, for a while. But the common traits of the archetype must have evolved in some fashion over the years, which I think was the point Akira wanted to make when he tried to make a comparison between Evangelion‘s Asuka and the Kugimiya type tsunderes that are more prominent today.

Now, what point is there in discussion tsundere sexuality if we’re not going to go into the bedroom, which is where Narutaki, one of the Reverse Thieves, took us when she noted that the aggression a tsundere displays towards a male character can imply that a similar aggression takes place in the sack. Possibly, it’s the implication which is the important part. Just as subtle hints are all it takes to create a Konata x Kagami shipping storm, an implication is enough to fuel the imagination of how a tsundere may react in a sexual situation. We often don’t see tsundere characters in bed, and when we do, they often take on a more passive role. Breaking through a tsundere’s defensive exterior can, in a way, be seen as a game, and success is a victory of sorts, with the dere being the reward. Perhaps a parallel can be drawn between that and casual sex, particularly for a late teen or early 20s male looking for conquests about which they can boast to their friends later. By the time the male lead gets to bed with a tsundere, she’s well and truly dere, which means she’s well and truly submissive. Is overcoming the challenge of breaking down her defenses and getting her to submit part of the sexual appeal of a tsundere character?

Intercou... I mean, mana regeneation.

Perhaps the game mentality is one of the reasons why we don’t see such a distinct transition between “dere” and “tsun” anymore. Just as gaming has, according to some, become more casual (ironically by the very same group of players who were being called casual themselves just a generation ago), anime makers have made the “dere” more readily available, as they’ve realized that’s what viewers find most rewarding. But “dere” is apparent in almost any moe archetype… it’s the “tsun” which defines and differentiates a tsundere. What is it about tsundere characters that make audiences happily tolerate the “tsun” so they can get the “dere” reward at the end, when there’s a bounty of submissive females in anime anyway? Maybe attraction to tsundere girls has more to do with a more grounded expectation of what women are like in real life. The submissive woman who will do anything you say is, quite clearly, a fantasy, and a boring one at that. But the wrath of an angry woman is something all men have experienced at least once.

12 Responses to “Tsundere Sexuality: Part 2”

  1. I assume we are talking about 2D anime/manga characters right? You see my wife is… wait, I should stop right here. Sorry don’t mind me, carry on.

  2. Tsundere relationships make sense to otaku. The main character, if we assume that they’re some kind of loser in some sense (and therefore spawns sympathy or association from viewers potentially), then it’s not difficult to see how the reward of dere at the end of the tsun being attractive.

    I would hazard to guess that much of the sexuality that is currently associated with tsundere is fairly trained. That is, perhaps in the 90s there were far less accounts of tsundere characters working in an absence of the male lead, but by the current age the stereotype has been so well ingrained without otaku cognition that viewers see it as something real: a personality type worthy of worship.

    Of course, I have no clue whether anime from, say the 90s, has the more standard formulaic tsundere + male lead combo. But, if this is true, then I think it’ll be interesting to discuss the metaphysical implications of anime relationships and their impact on how otaku think.

  3. tsun kinda a needed spice to make the relationship more colorful. It is as good as you paid for a whore if all you want is a dere.

  4. I think I must disagree with tsundere characters having sexy body types. If we follow the trend of tsundere characters voiced by Kugimiya Rie, we can easily see that Kugyuu-voiced tsundere characters exhibit pretty much the same body type: flat-chested, below average height, usually alone or with unusual acquaintances (including male protagonists)

  5. @ghostlightning
    Have you told your tsundere wife you love her today?

    @Kylaran
    Yeah, some of the comments on the first part of the article were along this line. We’ve gotten so used to tsunderes in romantic situation that their very presence of a tsundere implies romance, without it having to be explicitly stated. As far as the changing dynamics of how otaku audiences think of and interact with on-screen tsundere characters, well, that’s your stomping ground, not mine. 😛

    @kluxorious
    I… err… what? Not sure I can see the credibility of a comparison between submissive anime characters and prostitution.

    @Shance
    Yeah, the character designs of Kugimiya tsunderes was kinda a spanner in the works when I was trying to come up with a list of common physical features in tsunderes, which is why I only paid them lip service. If we take Aorii’s argument that tsunderekkos lack self-confidence, then there are blatantly obvious reasons for Kugumiya tsunderes to do so, since a lot of their relative shortcomings are external (Zero no Tsukaima, for example, makes it clear that pretty much every other girl has a stacked rack except for Louise). Other tsunderes tend to be very, err… fit, which makes their insecurity all the more ironic (and I’m fairly sure this is intentional on the part of writers).

  6. Since I’m trying to get out of the internet argument game I don’t really want to get into this, but I thought this my amuse you, while possibly reinforcing your argument . If anyone can’t get to it for some reason, I suppose all you need to know is tsundere for carrots.

  7. Looks like I fucked up the tagging and assigned the link to my second sentence, so that’s what ya’ll are gonna want to click. Need to get some comment preview up in this bitch.

  8. I always thought that the appeal of a tsundere was the fact that they could take care of themselves (as well as the viewer/lead character), but deep down inside, they were submissive and vulnerable. This way, the viewers can get the best of both worlds since they can have a girlfriend who has a certain childlike innocence and dependence that necessitates the viewer in her life, but at the same time it doesn’t require the kind of high maintenance that a purely submissive girl needs.

    Also…
    kluxorious’s comparison of dere to prostitutes works if all you see is Japanese porn. Go for Western porn if you want the heavy dose of tsun.

  9. I believe that the origins of the tsundere arose just from the rise of feminism in Japan. Originally the woman wasn’t something to be conquered, but rather a commodity. With the rise of feminism, women realized that they had the power to pick and choose which men they wanted to date, and you also have the rise of modern conceptions of “playing hard to get”. I think that the original tsundere conception as pointed out in the Lucky Channel segment arose from a reflection of Japanese women changing their ways.

    The tsundere “game”, as you point out, is reflected in real life. The passiveness of the tsundere in bed isn’t necessarily a “treat”, but it can just be the result of just romanticism. The romantic relationship is characterized not by a dominance of one party over another, but a mutuality. I don’t think I can recall any tsundere sex scene where the male completely dominated the female, but rather it was the tsundere letting the male past her defensive barriers, and the male willing to do so. We’re not talking about submissive females here, but we’re talking about females who harbor a true love for the protagonist.

  10. *chuckles* sorry. What I mean is, in prostitution, all you get is submission, no? Ain’t that the same with dere character?

  11. I believe that the origins of the tsundere arose just from the rise of feminism in Japan. Originally the woman wasn’t something to be conquered, but rather a commodity. With the rise of feminism, women realized that they had the power to pick and choose which men they wanted to date, and you also have the rise of modern conceptions of “playing hard to get”. I think that the original tsundere conception as pointed out in the Lucky Channel segment arose from a reflection of Japanese women changing their ways.

    I would argue that this is what gave rise to netorare more than the tsunderekko phenomenon.

  12. @The Typical Idiot Fan

    I can’t really see the connection between netorare and the rise of Japanese feminism. Netorare has its roots in the traditional idea of cuckoldry, which extends much farther back than any semblance of feminism. The rise of feminism presents a much greater emphasis on the ability of a woman to have emotional love, and not physical love, as is emphasized by netorare.

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