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What Is Undere (ウンデレ)?

Undere is a fictional Japanese character archetype. They are very rare in Japanese media as few exist in manga, anime, and video games. An undere character often agrees with anything their love interest would say. Their reason for being agreeable is to become closer to their love interest. They believe that agreeing with their love interest would bring them closer to them physically and romantically. They would also act on behalf of their love interests’ personal wishes. Some undere characters would frequently say “un, un, un!” upon agreeing with their love interest with no hesitation.

The main weakness of undere is their gullibility. They are vulnerable to malicious manipulations as they would blindly agree to any of their love interest’s suggestions. Sometimes an undere can turn into a yandere if they go overboard with their blind obedience. They would disregard any consequences just to please their love interest.

Some examples of undere characters are Giyu Tomioka from Kimetsu no Yaiba, Hikari Hinomoto from Tokimeki Memorial 2, Kotori Minami from Love Live! School Idol Project!, Sakura Haruno from Naruto and Soushi Miketsukami from Inu x Boku SS.

 

Etymology

Undere (ウンデレ) uses two Japanese words: un (ウン) or “yes”, and dere-dere  (デレデレ) or “lovestruck”. “Un” is a shorter and casual version of hai (はい). Fans sometimes write undere as うんデレ.

 

A Brief History

According to seigura.com, the word undere first appeared in the book Souseki no omoide (漱石の思い出) or “Memories of Souseki” by Kyoko Souse. The autobiography described the life of the well-renowned Japanese writer Souseki Natsume.

The blog entry “The originator of “Tsundere” ?! 100 years ago, “Undere” in a conversation between Soseki Natsume and Terada Torahiko” (`Tsundere’ no ganso? ! 100-Nen mae, Natsume Sōseki to Terada Torahiko no kaiwa ni `undere’) also confirmed the existence of undere in the autobiography. Both Soseki Natsume and Torahiko Terada used the word undere in their casual conversation. The meaning is vague and has little to do with the modern meaning of undere.

The closest thing to an iconic undere in Japanese popular fiction is Misa Amane from the series Death Note. Death Note is a thriller manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba in 2003. Misa is a famous fashion model who became obsessed with Light Yagami, the manga’s protagonist. She wanted to avenge her parents’ murderer, but the trial against the murderer was delayed multiple times. Under the moniker of Kira, Light used his Death Note to execute the murderer. His vigilante act made Misa obsessed with Kira to the point of joining him. Misa pledged herself when she discovered Light was Kira all along. She would often agree with Light’s schemes even if she got manipulated like a pawn several times. Her blind fanaticism for Light is her proof of unyielding loyalty as well as her romantic obsession.

 

Modern Usage

An undere would do anything for their love interest. It is quite similar to real-life fans of any celebrity, idol, or fandom. They would agree with any of their idols’ words. What makes them both impressive and scary is their dedication. They are motivated to become closer with their love interest.

On the other hand, things work differently in real life. Being agreeable with everything does not always contribute to getting closer to the love interest. It is more of fanaticism rather than romance. People have to think first about the consequences of their decisions before blindly following their love interest.

 

References:

hXcHector, WHAT IS UNDERE?, hXcHector.com, https://www.hxchector.com/what-is-undere/, 9 August  2015, Retrieved 14 February 2021.

Brooke, What does Undere mean, The Shy Anime Nerds, https://shyanimenerdsmangaandanimeblog.blogspot.com/2017/03/what-does-undere-mean.html, 21 March 2017, Retrieved 14 February 2021.

ウンデレ, seigura.com, https://seigura.com/glossary/5420/, 21 November 2013, Retrieved 14 February 2021.

「ツンデレ」の元祖?! 100年前、夏目漱石と寺田寅彦の会話に「ウンデレ」, 今日も星日和 kyomo hoshi biyori, http://hoshi-biyori.cocolog-nifty.com/star/2013/01/post-70e3.html, 14 January 2013, Retrieved 14 February 2021.

 

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