A tsundere is a stereotypical anime girl (or boy, sometimes) who is initially extremely cold and hostile towards anyone who tries to approach her. But with time, she becomes a warmer, friendlier person who can easily make your heart melt. The word tsundere has been derived from “tsun tsun” which means “turn away in anger” and “dere dere” which translates to “lovey dovey”. For me personally, Tsundere characters can be downright annoying in the beginning as they seem extremely violent and shallow. But that’s probably the whole point of introducing these passive-aggressive queens to the world of anime.
Once you start getting irritated by their explosively cute tempers, only then you’re able to appreciate their softer side which changes the entire direction of the anime. Over the years, anime shows, especially from the shoujo genre, have introduced a multitude of these characters and though they are pretty much the same when it comes to acting in a certain way, they have their own unique styles of punishing those who try to mess with them. With all that said, here’s the list of top Tsundere anime characters of all time:
10. Haruhi Suzumiya – The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
“Feeling of love are just a temporary lapse in judgment. Like a mental illness.” – Haruhi Suzumiya
‘The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya‘ is about a girl who is in search of time travelers, espers and aliens. She then forms a school club that is solely meant for fulfilling her mission and without even knowing it, she enlists an alien, and esper and a time traveler to the group. As simple as its plot may seem, it’s full of unexpected twists and turns that will keep you confused but engaged throughout the anime.
What makes Haruhi Suzumiya a Tsundere is how abrasively she treats Kyon, who is the only normal human in their club. While Kyon makes it pretty obvious that he has a thing for her, she never really shows any kind of feelings for him. Her true “dere dere” side comes out when she starts taking care of him while he is in a coma at one point of the story. Kyon himself acts more like Tsundere with other characters of the show but with Haruhi, he just seems to be involuntarily drawn towards her.
9. Maki Nishikino – Love Live!
“Nobody thinks they’re cuter than others unless they are conceited.” – Maki Nishikino
‘School Live!‘ is a terrifying zombie anime series that has four typical cute anime girls as the main characters. The anime picks on a strange genre that is a combination of moe and horror which kind of sounds like a recipe for disaster. But surprisingly, it works in favor of the anime. Out of the four main characters, Maki Nichikino is the one who perfectly fits the Tsundere stereotype. Now the main trait of most Tsundere characters is their violent rage but Maki does not fit in that description. But what makes her a Tsundere is how she struggles to express her true feelings to even her closest friends. From the beginning itself, while the other girls try to have a little fun, Maki locks herself in her room and finds peace in the music she listens to. But contrary to this, her “dere dere” side is reflected through her innocence. Though she appears to be very cold towards her surrounding, it is adorable to see how she still believes in Santa Claus. Her big, beautiful violet eyes are enough to make your heart melt.
8. Kaname Chidori – Fullmetal Panic!
“If all problems can be solved by sorry, we won’t have war and we wouldn’t need soldiers.” – Kaname Chidori
Chidori is quite attractive with her dark blue hair and big deep brown eyes. All the girls of her school even look up to her but on the other hand, not a single boy is interested in even being friends with her. It’s obviously because of her extreme “tsun tsun” traits. She is foul-mouthed and does not hold herself back when it comes to using her superior physical abilities to teach others a lesson.
Sousuke is a veteran soldier who is assigned the task of fighting several terrorist organizations. Every time he even senses a minor threat against her, he pulls out his gun, which infuriates Chidori. She reacts to this by smacking him and beating him up for being so overly protective about her. But later, when she realizes that he is not a stalker and is only trying to protect her from real threats, she starts warming up to him.
7. Aisaka Taiga – Toradora!
“It’s alright… I can stand up again all by myself. Even if I’m all alone… I will survive.” – Aisaka Taiga
‘Toradora!‘ is a high school comedy that revolves around the romantic relationship of a mismatched pair who are both quite the opposite of what they seem to be. Ryuuki Takasu, the male protagonist, is a very kind-hearted guy but his dead eyes make him look like a young delinquent. Whereas Aisaka Taiga appears to be this cute sensitive little girl but because of her violent outbursts of anger, she has been labeled as the “Palm Top Tiger”. She even carries a katana with her to teach an instant lesson to anyone who tries to defy her in any way. Her lack of feelings and emotions is mostly an outcome of some of her tragic childhood memories. She eventually does warm up to Takasu and even starts treating him better but what makes her the perfect Tsundere is her extreme rage-filled behavior and her embarrassed reactions towards any compliments that she gets from others. Taiga is often referred to as the Queen of Tsundere in the anime world and it is pretty obvious why she deserves that title.
6. Rin Tosaka – Fate/Stay Night
“If you don’t like pain, stand still. I’ll finish you off nice and easy.” – Rin Tosaka
Almost the whole ‘Fate/Stay‘ series revolves around the Holy Grail Wars. Even the motives and personalities of all the characters are based on the role that they play in this war. Coming from a family of well-known mages, Rin Tosaka has to live up to a reputation set by her ancestors. Because of this, she forces her to be tough and is not only determined to participate in the Holy Grail war but also wants to win it. Even her standard black and red color schemes with long pigtails reflect on how badass she is. She lives an extremely dangerous life and holds immense power that makes her superior to all the characters in this list. But despite being a goddess-like figure, just like any other girl of her age, she has a crush on a boy and tries to get his attention by getting him involved in her own bloody war. And not to mention, Rin is attractive as hell, which just makes her Tsundere character even more appealing.
5. Misaki Ayuzawa – Maid Sama!
“People yell at me and tell me to act more feminine. But I believe it’s best to be the way I am.” – Misaki Ayuzawa
Misaki Ayuzawa is often referred to as the “Demon President” of her high school because of how she treats all the boys there. She firmly believes that as the president of the student’s council, it is her responsibility to bring discipline. But her hatred for boys goes way back to her childhood where she was abandoned by her own father. He did not just abruptly leave her and her mother but left them with all of his unpaid debt which forces Misaki to work part-time in order to help her mother pay the bills. But despite her circumstances, Misaki manages to excel at everything and establishes herself as a leader who is looked up to by all of her female classmates.
But after school, she works at a maid cafe and she has to tone down her dominating demeanor while she works here. Her biggest fear is that someone at her school might find out who she truly is and it would end up ruining her reputation. When the school’s most popular boy, Takumi, finds out that she works at the cafe, instead of spreading it to the whole school, he keeps it to himself and tries to get close to Misaki. Initially, Misaki feels weird about his attempts to get close to her and is not even able to understand how she’s supposed to feel. But later, she starts to fall for him and realizes that not all men are as bad as her father.
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4. Louise de La Vallière – Zero no Tsukaima
Louise from ‘Zero no Tsukaima‘ is a student at a very well known Magic Academy but is often ridiculed for her lack of magical abilities. Every time she tries to perform any sort of magic, things go completely south and the result of it is usually not in her favor. Because of this, she earns the nickname “Louise the zero”. Later on, while casting a spell one day, she ends up summoning an ordinary teenage boy from Japan. Initially, she treats him badly and makes him do all of her chores. She even whips him with her riding crop when she finds him talking to other girls. Even when she starts to fall for him, she has a hard time accepting it and takes out all of her feelings by lashing out on him. But later when he tries to help her out with her inability to perform magic and even does all of her work without complaining about a thing, she accepts her feelings towards him and treats him better.
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3. Chiaki Shinichi – Nodame Cantabile
“You can’t sit around and envying other people’s worlds. You have to go out and change our own.” – Chiaki Shinichi
Finally getting to a male character, Chiaki Shinichi is the male protagonist of ‘Nadome Cantabile‘. He comes from a rich family and is extremely critical of himself. Despite being an extraordinary pianist and violinist, he still feels unhappy and dissatisfied because of his obsession with perfection. He dreams of performing at the great European orchestra someday but his paralyzing fear of flying holds him back. Even as a child, there were several instances where he almost boarded an aircraft to go overseas but he failed every single time.
Chiaki stays away from all distractions and pushes himself hard to make something of his music career. When he first meets Nadome, he develops a distaste for her and often looks down on her. But after he finds out that she has great piano skills, he starts to get a little empathetic towards her. But soon, his fear of abandonment kicks in and he tries to push her away by acting all insensitive. But Nadome’s patience and love gradually teach him the value of relationships.
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2. Kyo Sohma – Fruits Basket
“Be selfish and say what you want once in a while. It’s okay to let yourself be sad.” – Kyo Sohma
Kyo Sohma from ‘Fruits Basket‘ is another male Tsundere character who lives a cursed life and every time he hugs someone from the opposite sex, he transforms into an orange cat. He is really short-tempered and easily gets mad at anyone who even slightly triggers him. But he has this really soft side that he tends to hide because he feels too embarrassed to show his feelings. He falls in love too soon and even acts overprotective too quickly. To hide these traits, he just tries to act rude to the people around him. But all of this changes when he meets Tohru who genuinely cares for him. She makes him realize that it’s okay to feel vulnerable around the people he trusts.
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1. Vegeta – Dragon Ball Z
“Trunks, Bulma, I’m doing this for you. And yes, even for you, Kakarot” – Vegeta
This might come as a surprise to most but if you think about it, Vegeta is actually a Tsundere towards Goku, Bulma and Trunks. He is initially portrayed as the deadliest villain in the series who treats everyone as his inferior. But after spending enough time with the heroes of Earth, he develops a soft spot for all of them. He may never really be direct about his love for his family and “friends” but his behavior towards them is very similar to that of all modern shoujo Tsunderes. Vegeta is clearly one of the origins of the Tsundere stereotype.
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