What Is a Dandere? Why Adorable Shyness Captivates
A dandere comes from "danmari" which means silent and taciturn, and "dere" as in love-struck, as in "yandere" and "tsundere". So a dandere is a character who acts shy and hesitant. Around their love interest, this shyness is likely to increase, causing them to do cute things like stutter, shake, blush, avoid eye contact, etc. They are defined by a lack of confidence. They also might be adorably clumsy, especially as a way of showing how proximity to their love interest makes them act awkwardly. Eventually, they might open up to their crush, but they will initially act painfully shy around him. Expect hair that hides the face, and their hair will usually be black, violet, or blue.
So the characteristics of a dandere are:
- Shy and having characteristics of social anxiety. Nearly panics and trips over themselves in awkward social situations.
- They have a Love Interest whom they act especially shy around (at first anyway), who eventually helps them overcome their shyness.
- In some cases, you can substitute a more energetic and outgoing Genki Girl best friend for a Love Interest, such as Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash for Fluttershy, or Usagi for Ami in Sailor Moon. Especially if the work centers around female friendship as a theme, as the above cases do.
From anime I've seen:
- Emma from Emma: A Victorian Romance
- Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury in Sailor Moon
- Shinji in Evangelion is something of a male version of this, but most characters have a degree of shyness. Rei is a kuudere/dandere mix, but a bit more kuudere.
- Mikuru in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Yuki more in The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan, a spin-off manga.
- Nagisa from Clannad
- Sawako from Kimi no Todoke
Similar Types + Difference From Kuudere
The dandere type is often confused with the similar kuudere type. Kuudere meaning "cold" + "dere". The difference is that, similar to the tsundere, the kuudere uses coldness to mask their feelings for their love interest. While a tsundere uses harsh complaining, angry stares, and so on to hide their feelings, a kuudere simply uses the 'cold shoulder' method, avoidance, to where you might even call a kuudere a sub-type of tsundere.
A dandere, by contrast, does not do harsh or tsundere-like things to their love interest. A dandere is usually a nice character, who is painfully shy and socially awkward, until their love interest brings out their inner warmth.
A good way to think about it: dandere = fearful, kuudere = aloof.
The 'Rei Ayanami expy' character is often likely to be mistaken for a dandere. Rei Ayanami originally embodied some of the traits of both the kuudere and dandere, but her true feelings about Shinji seemed a bit ambiguous. In Evangelion, there isn't really true romance, so while some of the characters seem a bit like certain 'dere' types, I don't see them as such, because to be a 'dere' type presumes the presence of strong romantic feelings.
Similarly, a lot of people seem to think any 'shy blue-haired girl' is a dandere, when really not all of them fit the exact definition of such.
A girl with glasses or an interest in reading is often a dandere, but not always. Sometimes, anime will subvert this norm by having a bookworm character who's actually energetic and confident, like in Fullmetal Alchemist or Read or Die.
The dandere type is usually called a 'shrinking violet' outside of anime/manga. However, a dandere is a shrinking violet, with the specific added component of gradually warming up to their particular love interest.
Why is a Dandere Appealing?
Shyness is cute, and seeing a character overcome her shyness because of strong feelings for the main character is also very cute. Shyness adds tension to romantic situations, and drama, heightening the intensity of scenes, because you know the outcome will have a great emotional impact on the characters.
And hey, unlike the yandere and tsundere, the dandere is not violent. It's getting to that sweet core underneath their shyness and lack of confidence that's appealing. And it's also cool to watch a character start out painfully shy and build their self-esteem and self-confidence over time.
Dandere Outside of Anime
- Fluttershy in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic acts very much like a dandere, but without a love interest (except possibly Discord in later seasons).
- The titular character in Carrie is this, and faces bullying and friendlessness because of her shyness (but lacks a pal or love interest to bring her out of her shell, with tragic consequences).
- Violet from The Incredibles has the shy mannerisms of a dandere. It's her family and the events of the story that help her gain confidence.
- Kif from Futurama is a male example, whose shyness is overcome (eventually, gradually) through his relationship with the less timid, tomboy-ish Amy Wong.
So a dandere is associated with shyness, social awkwardness, and perhaps additional traits like glasses, fear of the opposite sex, and clumsiness. Their vulnerability an shyness make them cute, and they usually have a sweet interior beneath a shy, socially avoidant exterior. Their social awkwardness an shyness can be comedy fodder, since their personalities magnify the awkwardness of any already awkward situation. They're not to be mistaken for the kuudere, who uses the 'cold shoulder' method of dealing with their hidden feelings for someone. A kuudere wears an emotionless mask, but a dandere is not emotionless. Her primary emotion will be fear; social anxiety, nervousness, stress, and even panic at times.