I 'Dere You: Kuudere to Yandere, Common Female Archetypes in Anime
The term "'dere" (or "-dere", because it technically is a prefix) is used to describe a broad range of a variety of different sub-archetypes of moe (which basically means "a girl in anime that entices or turns the reader on"). Moe is not just about appearance, but also about personality. There is supposed to be a type of purity or innocence surrounding the character. However, beginning in the late seventies, it became more important to create a broader dynamic in characters, as readers began to become bored with these stories.
The original basis for this series of archetypes was the Tsundere. I'll discuss specifics on the tsundere at a later point, but before there were any other 'deres, there was the tsundere. Koichi Ichikawa, the organizer of Japan's largest independent manga convention, credits Lum Invader (of Rumiko Takahashi's "Urusei Yatsura") with being the first tsundere and 'dere girl.
Back to 'dere girls in general, the whole point of the 'dere (pronounced "dar-ee") girl is what's known as "the switch," basically a dynamic in personalities, usually surrounding romance, when their personality types change up a little bit. Because of the roots of the moe archetype, this is usually around the person they like, which is usually the main character.
What Makes a 'Dere?
Some basic rules surrounding the 'dere girls in general, regardless of which sub-archetype they are. It should be noted that these rules do not apply to the Deredere archetype.
- While usually a female, the 'dere can sometimes be male. Kyo from "Fruits Basket" is an excellent example of a male Tsundere (it's debatable, as some fans consider him a yandere). I primarily choose my title because this is an archetype usually attributed to females, and male deres are extremely rare.
- The main character, while sometimes displaying the elements of a 'dere is not actually a 'dere. The whole nature of the 'dere is that the switch is usually triggered by the main character. Seeing how 'dere's react around the main character is part of what actually allows the audience to be drawn into the main characters personal story, as well as develop empathy for the people in his or her life.
- The love interest(s) of the main character or the people closest to him or her and are integral to the story are likely going to be 'deres. I emphasize that part about being integral to the story here. In "Onegai Teacher!" Kei's relatives were not actually 'deres. He's close to them, for sure, but they are not integral to the story. However, his aunt did have a bit of a yandere side to her, so I'm certain she could have been a 'dere if they were given a stronger role or had their own spin-off series. Additionally, remember, that a 'dere's strength comes from how they play off the main character. The main character is meant to be a "switch" that brings out the contrasting personality.
- The Switch. The whole point of the 'dere is that you see two sides of them. Generally, one side that everybody sees, and another side that's shown only around the main character. They must contrast enough to make the other side more noticeable. It doesn't have to be two extremes, but it should almost seem like two extremes when you the audience sees the switch. Even small, subtle changes can be enough to make the audience notice.
A Types and B Types
For some deres, there are two separate types. For example, a dandere could be someone who is shy and secluded, but more open around a certain individual, or someone who is open or outgoing but becomes shy around a certain individual. The first would be "A type" and the second is "B type". The prefixes which will be explained in each segment refer to the normal everyday behaviour of the "A type". if the character is normally more of a deredere normally, then they would be considered a "B type."
The Different Types of 'Deres
Let's look at the different sub-archetypes of 'deres, and then feel free to reread the article if there's something that didn't make sense before.
This is the one with the fewest clear example, as it usually breaks all the conventional 'dere rules. Deredere literally means "lovey dovey" and all the 'dere sub-archetypes are portmanteau of this term and one other term, describing the opposite extreme they choose to display.
Derederes break conventional rules in the sense that they can be the main character, or even an unimportant backgrounder. They have no "switch" to speak of, because they are generally kind and caring and affectionate to everyone. It's just various extremes of love and affection. Sure, they can get down and depressed sometimes, but that's just part of being human. My personal favourite deredere is Tohru Honda from "Fruits Basket." She may get upset, or worried, or even scared, but more important to her than her troubles or hr fear is to make sure everyone around her feels loved. Unconditionally. Seriously, they love so strong they can still make you cry.
Derederes are generally nice and loving. The closest we see to a switch is that since derederes are often central characters, the secondary characters usually bring out different extremes of unconditional love.
"kuu-" is a Japanese prefix used to ascribe something as cool and cold, so a kuudere could best be described as someone cold on the outside, but warm on the inside. Basically, they are someone who isolates themselves, and even though they may have friends, portray themselves as harsh and emotionless around them. Sometimes, kuuderes are genuinely unemotional, and other times they just put on a mask of not being emotionally invested in order to protect their own feelings.
Usually though, there is always one person, the main character, who they may often show a warmer side to. Sometimes it's romantic, sometimes it's not. Yuki Nagato ("Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya") is basically the equivalent of an extraterrestrial computer program. She's genuinely incapable of emotion. Yet, as the series progresses, we see her violating parts of her program in order to help save our hero Kyon, or even convince him to become more involved in the world around him. She even tends to listen to Kyon over other brigade members and even her own programming. It's hard to place exactly what it is, but there is something about her relationship with Kyon that she holds back in her relationship with others.
Ichigo ("Please Teacher!") is also very cold, and even talks fairly emotionless. She numbs herself because of an illness she suffers from that reacts to her emotions. However, after learning that (big spoiler coming up) her and Kei have the same illness, and how Kei will do anything to prevent her from experiencing another standstill, she really opens up to him, even admitting that if they had known about each others' condition, there was a small chance that they may have ended up falling for one another.
"Allegorically speaking, a kuudere is like snow: it may be cold and harsh at first glance but it is also what keeps autumn's seeds warm and safe until spring."
-TVtropes entry on '"Kuudere"
Fellow writer Ayu Bi wrote an article on "The Coldest Anime Characters." If you want to see more examples of kuuderes, I suggest checking it out.
Many people get the Dandere and the Kuudere confused. Here's the difference: A kuudere, as we just discussed, is someone who's cold and emotionless towards others. A dandere is genuinely shy. They have and often express all the emotions, but have difficulties doing so because it might just come off as embarrassing. Kuuderes can be very social and hang out with friends, they just oftentimes continue the emotionless act around them, whereas dandere's generally don't socialize as much, and can often be seen sitting alone or in the back, studying or reading a book.
However, that doesn't mean there isn't that one special person that they wish they could be closer too, or talk to. The fourth Haruhi Suzumiya Novel - and movie of the same name - "The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya" portrays an altered timeline where Nagato Yuki, our example kuudere, was always a human, never an alien program. In it, she is still extremely quiet, but - as it turns out - she seems to harbor a crush on Kyon. Extremely shy, and not talking to anyone but her neighbor Ryoko Asakura and Kyon. You can see in it that she's well emotional, but extremely socially awkward, and as such, isolates herself. This would be an example where this alternate Yuki is a dandere instead of a kuudere.
Again with the Fruits Basket comparison, Yuki Sohma (what is this with Yuki's?). Is socially withdrawn, and generally a timid person in public unless he's around close family or Tohru. He even skipped out on the Sohma family New Years gathering. He sometimes comes across as a kuudere, but he isn't. He is fully capable of small displays of emotion. He's just not very social out of fear of his family secret being discovered.
This is the most common and popular sub-archetype of the 'deres. As previously stated, it is also the oldest. The tsundere is a portmanteau of tsuntsun (which means to "turn away") and deredere. This is also the easiest to spot. Generally, they are usually calm and collected... cool - not cold - tend to do well academically, socially and athletically. But they also go to great lengths to try to hide their genuine feelings for the main character... which generally makes it that much more obvious.
"I-Idiot! It's not like I meant to do that! Stupid... well... it's... it's only obligation chocolate... d-don't get any funny ideas!"
-What tsundere hasn't said this?
Oftentimes, the 'meanness' of a Tsundere is exactly what is so endearing and cute about them. It's the obvious sign that they like someone. Usually. Sometimes, even Tsundere's are mean just for the fact that they genuinely don't like someone. But it's enough to remember that tsunderes go back and forth from being a bit mean (not too mean,mind you)- "turn away" - and a bit lovey-dovey.
Some memorable tsunderes include Naru Narusegawa (Love Hina), who's generally mean to Keitaro all around, but once she realizes her feelings for Keitaro, shows a slightly softer side, at least when no one else is around (although, in her defence, there are times where she has every reason to be absolutely furious with him); and Hinagikuru Katsura (Hayate the Combat Butler), who, over time falls for Hayate and is generally mean to him when she first realizes it, and then is only mean to him when she thinks Hayate or anyone else might figure out her true intentions.
World is Mine (Rei-chan)
Kamidere and Himedere
Kami is an honorific given to Shinto deities, and some persons who are elevated to the status of deity (almost always posthumously). Hime- is an honorific that literally means "princess." Therefore, kamideres have a "god complex" and himederes are kind of the spoiled princess. They are annoying and egotistical, and usually very used to having there way all the time. They do not back down and they compromise for no one, except maybe the main character (which in the cases of kamidere and himedere, is usually a love interest). It isn't going to be easy, but aside from the odd recognizable authority (an even higher deity, sometimes a parent figure) the only person s/he'll be reasonable with is the hero. It's still not going to be easy... she'll huff and puff and make a big fuss... but she always eventually gives in. Usually in exchange for a kiss or a date.
Senzenin Nagi (Hayate Combat Butler) is an example of a himedere, and a popular video of Miku Hatsune also portrays her in a himedere role. The video provided does not include subtitles, but it should be easy to figure out. Basically, she wants to be spoiled and is extremely demanding of her love interest, yet has a softer side if she thinks he's mad at her.
"You are alive only because I love you"
-Lucy (Elfen Lied)
This is one of the fastest growing sub-archetypes and is also becoming increasingly popular. Yandere is a portmanteau of "Yanduru" which means "mentally ill" and of course, deredere. This is the psychotic b!#$%. The yandere seems very sweet at first, and is likely very innocent for the most part. S/he is definitely very affectionate towards the hero. In fact, the yandere is so obsesed and infatuated with the hero that s/he will resort to anything to prevent anyone from getting between her (or him) and the hero. This includes stalking and in many cases, gruesome violence towards perceived threats to their relationship, or even suicide.
One notable example is of course Lucy (Elfen Lied), a mutant with the desire to kill more or less written into her genetic code, yet she always always friendly and sweet to Kouta, until she found him with another girl. At this point she experiences a psychotic breakdown, gives in to her more animalistic insticts and suddenly kills Kouta's sister and father.
Another great example is Yuno Gasai (Future Diary), a girl who upon receiving a diary that tells the future reads the final entry that says her and the hero that she's had a crush on for a year (also nicknamed Yuki, that's three of them now!) will become one, so she becomes increasingly violent in her attempts to make sure this future does not change.
Well, I hope that explains the archetype and terminology for you and clears up any confusion you may have had in those pesky internet forum threads. Remember, if it sounds like they're speaking Japanese - it's because they probably are! ^_^
Hey! Looky! It's a Quiz Thingy!
- Find Out What 'Dere Type You Are!
Take the quiz and find out if you're a Tsundere, Yandere, Kuudere, or Dandere! Then, come back here and post in the comments!