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What is a Kuudere (クーデレ)?

Kuudere is a fictional Japanese character archetype. It exists in popular Japanese media like manga, anime, film, and video games. A typical kuudere is blunt, cynical, and stoic at all times. They would refuse to talk with their peers. Any insignificant events around them won’t matter to them. They would also misunderstand shallow jokes. They may keep their kindness hidden, as they consider it to be a weakness. Characters and fans would see them with little to no emotions at all, but their true emotions lie deep under their unmovable facade. They truly care for their love interest or friends despite their cold exterior.

Kuudere characters have expressionless faces with a monotonous voice. They usually have cold color themes from their hair to outfit. They are also usually clear-headed, sophisticated, and have high IQ grades. Their grace overpressure allows them to become competent leaders or reliable assistants. They may crack a dry or witty joke once in a while.

A kuudere may encompass different kinds of -dere archetypes. They can turn into deredere (デレデレ) once they confess their love. Sometimes their mood might swing between hot and cold. A yangire (ヤンギレ) can pretend to be one to cover up their psychotic tendencies. They could respond in blatant manners without thinking of others’ emotions like a tsundere (ツンデレ). They have expressionless appearances in most situations similar to a hinedere (ヒネデレ).

Casual fans may confuse kuudere with dandere because both of the character archetypes are antisocial and cold. They are usually reserved and only speak with minimal words. The difference between the two is their manner of interaction with their love interest; a dandere panics when opening up, while a kuudere remains straight-faced.

Some examples of fictional characters are Homura Akemi from Puella Magi Madoka Magica,  Kanade Tachibana from Angel Beats!, Kaede Rukawa from Slam Dunk, Sai from Naruto, Tomoyo Sakagami from Clannad, and Yuki Nagato from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu.

 

Etymology

Kuudere (クーデレ) is a wasei-eigo term which means “cold demeanor.” It combines the word kuuru (クール)  or cool, and dere-dere (デレデレ) or “romantic infatuation.” This reflects their state of calmness on the outside and their warmer personality on the inside.

 

A Brief History

The kuudere is one of the most common character archetypes in Japanese fiction and media. They can be the main or side character, stock love interest, rival, or antagonist.

Rei Ayanami is the poster girl for the kuudere archetype in Japanese popular culture. She is one of the main protagonists in Neon Genesis Evangelion, a sci-fi show released in 1995. She has an icy exterior and never expresses any kind of emotion. Her introverted tendencies decreased as the story progressed. She developed emotions, became involved with the protagonist Ikari Shinji, and trusted the NERV crew.

 

Modern Usage

Kuudere characters are perceived to be distant loners. He or she may look unmovable and emotionless right from the start. Their cold exterior might be intimidating at first, but a love interest or group of friends would eventually melt their cold hearts. They would begin to warm up and smile as they develop healthy relationships with their love interest or friends. A perfect moment is required to make them open up.

What makes these characters appealing is their unseen gentler side. They don’t have to exhibit extroverted traits to catch attention. It also reflects their mature and sophisticated personality. Being quiet may sometimes be more beautiful than being loud.

 

References:

Kuudere, TV Tropes, https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Kuudere, Retrieved 17 January 2021.

Kuudere, The Dere Types Wiki, https://the-dere-types.fandom.com/wiki/Kuudere, Retrieved 17 January 2021.

Dere Types: Tsundere, Yandere, Kuudere, Dandere + Others, Japanese with Anime, https://www.japanesewithanime.com/2016/07/tsundere-kuudere-yandere-meaning.html, 21 July 2016, Retrieved 17 January 2021.

AJI FRY, kuudere, shikimori.one, https://shikimori.one/collections/1754-kuudere-kudere-1, 2019, Retrieved 17 January 2021.

AJI FRY, kuudere, shikimori.one, https://shikimori.one/collections/1755-kuudere-kudere-2, 2019, Retrieved 17 January 2021.

 

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