How To Identify Popular Japanese Character Types

How To Identify Popular Japanese Character Types

In Japanese games and anime, there are often character archetypes you will see again and again the more you watch. And when it comes to characters, there are no more commonly used archetypes than those known as the “deres”: tsundere, kuudere, dandere and yandere.

To start with, the term “dere” itself comes from the Japanese word “deredere” (デレデレ) which is the onomatopoeia for being lovestruck. By combining this word with other words, we get these new terms which describe love interests in anime and games. And while these terms are most commonly used in reference to female characters, they can be used to describe male characters as well.


The first and most well known of the deres is the tsundere. The “tsun” in tsundere comes from the Japanese word “tsuntsun” (ツンツン) which means to be aloof or high and mighty. Thus, tsunderes are often stuck-up on the outside but loving on the inside.

Often, tsunderes are embarrassed by or don’t know what to do with their romantic feelings and become even more belligerent and egotistical than normal — especially in proximity to the objects of their affections. Their constant inner struggle between their pride and love is the key to how these characters act.

As tsundere characters develop and accept their feelings, they will often remain in “tsun” mode in public but become more and more “dere” when in private.

If a character ever utters the phrase “it’s not that I like you or anything,” he or she is pretty much guaranteed to be a tsundere.

Tsundere characters include the following:

Asuka Langley Soryu (Neon Genesis Evangelion)

Naru Narusegawa (Love Hina)

Yukari Takeba (Persona 3)

Lulu (Final Fantasy X)


The “kuu” in kuudere comes from the Japanese pronunciation of the English word “cool” (クール) and thus is used for a person who is calm and composed on the outside. They are the ones who are serious and always in charge of a situation. They never panic and are who everyone else turns to in a crisis.

Kuuderes often speak in a calm monotone and seem unaffected by the world around them. They never seem to be overly happy, excited, or surprised — just as they never appear sad, annoyed, or angry. Extreme examples may even seem to be completely emotionless.

Sometimes, kuuderes are the class presidents that keep their schools running. Other times they take the form of stoic, professional assistants to superiors that they love and respect.

While kuuderes remains strict and business-like, they are emotional underneath their self-control. However, they tend to fear showing any weakness such as admitting liking someone or coming to rely on someone emotionally as well as professionally. Some, are unclear as to how to even express said emotions — and in extreme cases, are unsure what feelings actually mean.

Kuudere characters include the following:

Rei Ayanami (Neon Genesis Evangelion)

Riza Hawkeye (Full Metal Alchemist)

Presea Combatir (Tales of Symphonia)

Naoto Shirogane (Persona 4)


The “dan” in dandere comes from the Japanese word “danmari” (黙り) meaning silence. Thus a dandere is a quiet and often antisocial character.

Danderes often want to be sociable but are too scared or too embarrassed to talk. They tend to fear that saying the wrong thing might get them into trouble — or some other socially awkward situation — so they say nothing to be on the safe side.

Of course, once danderes are befriended, they tend to lose their social inhibitions and become rather cute and happy — especially with the ones they love.

Dandere characters include the following:

Yuki Nagato (The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya)

Hyuuga Hinata (Naruto)

Fuuka Yamagishi (Persona 3)

Elize Lutus (Tales of Xillia)


And then there is the yandere. The “yan” comes from “yanderu” (病んでる) which means to be sick — in this case, sick mentally. And unlike the others of the dere family, it is not the “dere” part that is hidden inside. No, on the inside of a yandere is where the crazy lies.

On the outside, a yandere is often a normal girl: happy, social, and usually well liked. But love makes her crazy — often violently so. Fear is at the core of a yandere: the fear that someone (usually another girl) will take the one she loves. To prevent this, she is willing to do anything — including kidnapping and murder.

There are generally two types of yanderes, obsessive and possessive. Obsessives will kill anyone and everyone who stands in the way of them having their “true loves.” Possessives will go one step further and even kill the ones they love so that they won’t end up with anyone else.

In other words, once you go yandere, you never go back… mainly because you are handcuffed to a bed with your legs broken.

Yandere characters include the following:

Yuno Gasai (Mirai Nikki — The Future Diary)

Kotonoha Katsura and Sekai Saionji (School Days)

Catherine (Catherine)

Hitagi Senjogahara (Nisemonogatari)

Kimmy Howell (No More Heroes 2)


  • Ever since I found out the etymology of tsundere years ago I’ve stopped using it when thinking, having replaced it with “tsun tsun, dere dere”. Not sure why either lol.

      • Several of those are off. Asuka is not really Tsundere: Her aloof and haughty demeanor are not a disguise for real romantic feelings (the true mark of a Tsundere is that she acts the opposite way to how she feels) but of deep mommy issues and hard-denied self-esteem problems. Naru is a better example, but if you are going to mention Love Hina, not choosing Motoko as the Tsundere is a crime.

        Similarly, Senjougahara doesn’t have the cutesy, deceptive exterior that is key to the character of a yandere. Her character is in fact, so aloof, that Oshino calls her “Tsundere-chan” (even though she’s not Tsundere either, just extremely cynical). If you want a real yandere you’ can have your pick from the characters of Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni.

        • Asuka uses her thorny exterior as a self defense mechanism to prevent her from getting close to other people, and thus being hurt by them. She likes Shinji, but is terrified of getting close to him, so acts Tsundere to push him away. I think that makes her tsundere on a technicality 😛

          Also in regards to the Rei not having emotions thing, I really disagree. I think it’s not that Rei doesn’t have emotions, she just doesn’t know how to deal with them, or really what they are. Due to her unique life experience, Rei has a very strange sense of self and processes emotions in ways that neither us nor her can fully comprehend.

          • See, I’m not really sure that Asuka really likes Shinji at all. There’s a lot of sexual tension originated by their living together (and being teenagers), their rivalry at piloting and the fact that Shinji actually likes Rei and Asuka takes that as a personal slight, but I don’t see romantic feelings anywhere.

          • Bit late to the party but I think you’re on the money here.

            Still though, I think it’s best we just leave Evangelion out of this; I think that shit gets way too real to be able to so easily put the characters into classifications.

        • Not to mention considering the amount of time Araragi spends with other girls and nobody has been killed yet…Yeah she ain’t a yandere. There is definitely a few other problems with the listing though. Rei should not be where she is, not to mention there is no Rin Tohsaka for the tsunderes.

  • I don’t remember Lulu being a tsundere. Does she say that famous tsundere line in the game? or anything close to it

  • Rei is a really terrible example of a Kuudere. The idea of a kuudere is that they’re just as emotionally as everyone else but for whatever reason, don’t show it. Rei on the other genuinely isn’t as emotional as everyone else, she shows pretty much all the emotion she’s experiencing which isn’t much until near the end of the show.

  • Two articles where you show your lack of knowledge about anime in one day.

    Add this to the rest of your list of anime disasters, and maaaaybe not the subject you should be writing about.

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