Tsundere personalities have a hard exterior that is saved for their closest friends and crushes, yet they also have a tender interior. This typically translates to characters being referred to be "hard to get" in western media. Even though tsunderes are the most well-liked -dere kind, some fans want to know why. Some claim that tsunderes are poorly worded and that it is unreasonable for someone who is always unhappy to have a tender side reserved for just one person. Some people even believe that tsunderes encourage bad relationship dynamics and contrast them with the happier individuals, such as derederes or bakaderes.
However, it's obvious that this -dere type is here to stay given the sheer number of romantic anime and manga featuring a tsundere love interest. Some of the most well-known tsundere characters in romantic series are Kyo Sohma from Fruits Basket, Tomoe from Kamisama Kiss, Atsuhiro from My Sweet Tyrant, and the short but formidable Taiga Aisaka from Toradora! Fans can't help but be fascinated by their typically brooding exterior giving way to a warmer, more sensitive interior in front of their crushes, even though their existence wasn't without controversy.
Tsunderes Are Frequently Contrasted With Other -Dere Types, But Their Interactions Produce Interesting Dynamics
Tsunderes often receive criticism over their moody behavior, sarcastic quips that may be perceived as insults, and volatile tempers. However, such criticisms ignore that tsunderes are easily flustered and show affection in unique ways. They don't show love through grand displays of affection, but they always look out for and protect their love interests. Plus, their prickly dispositions lead to entertaining dynamics with other -dere types. For example, Fruits Basket's Kyo and Tohru have an adorable dynamic.
Tohru is a warmhearted bakadere whose kindness is often taken advantage of, while Kyo is the poster boy of tsundere love interests. Outwardly aggressive and mean toward everyone else, Kyo would never dream of hurting Tohru and always goes out of his way to protect her. Meanwhile, Tohru's empathy and indiscriminate kindness melt Kyo's more rigid exterior, opening doors to some of the couple's most adorable moments. Kyo's softer side is seldom shown to anyone else in the series, and he's not as kind to anybody besides Tohru and his mentor Kazuma.
Atsuhiro and Non from My Sweet Tyrant have the same dynamic. The only difference is that while Atsuhiro is a tsundere, Non is a deredere. Derederes are known for being extremely empathetic and caring toward others, but they're also highly energetic. Derederes tend to be the life of the party, which is a nice contrast to the otherwise moody and almost always introverted tsunderes.
In My Sweet Tyrant, Atsuhiro tends to push Non away and pretends to be annoyed with her. However, he can't deny that he wholly adores her and can't stand how flustered he gets. Instead of showing his true feelings around everyone else, Atsuhiro tries his best to mask how wildly in love he is with Non through sarcastic quips and an air of indifference. That's not to say that Atsuhiro never shows Non affection -- he just saves it for behind closed doors.
Because They Are Designed to Be Appealing, Tsunderes Are So Popular
Since this prickly -dere type leads to exciting dynamics with other characters, it's clear why fans fawn over their favorite tsundere every time they're on screen. Tsunderes exist in every anime demographic and genre, but they're the most popular in romance since those series really play into and elaborate on the type. However, there are many flavors of tsundere, and not every character who falls into this trope is outwardly aggressive. Some are just sarcastic geniuses who use banter to avoid their crush getting close to them.
Tomoe from Kamisama Kiss is an excellent example. When he first met Nanami, he vowed he'd never recognize her as the new land god. Though he continued to perform his duties as a familiar, he claimed it was only to await Mikage's return. When Nanami admitted she'd developed feelings for him during their time together, things became complicated for this sarcastic fox yokai. Tomoe, as Nanami's familiar, is unable to say "no." Even though Tomoe had no romantic feelings for Nanami, he was still her familiar, so he treated her with loyalty and even kindness that he wouldn't show to anyone else.
As Kamisama Kiss progressed, Tomoe started questioning why a human girl made him so flustered. His pact with Nanami temporarily broke when he realized that maybe there was something more to their relationship than just a god and her familiar. Despite his cold exterior, there's no denying that Tomoe's warmer exterior and awkward attempts at showing affection are endearing -- which is often the case for tsunderes. They are initially hard to like, much less fall in love with.
Typically, their crushes begin by hating or being intimidated by them. It's understandable that this -dere type is chastised, but these characters frequently have unrivaled emotional depth and are extremely well-written. Tsunderes are also naturally endearing, and many fans enjoy the idea of a character who is typically mean to everyone else having a soft spot for one person in particular. Without these tsunderes, anime and manga would be severely lacking in both hilarious banter and heartwarming moments.