What is Kamidere? [Definition, Meaning]

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Have you ever seen a show with a character who wanted to rule the world? How about a show where a character demanded that another person bow before his/her presence? Did that person possibly scare you in some way as well as grab a little bit of your interest and respect? Don’t worry. That mix of emotions is perfectly normal when meeting someone who is chasing such a monstrous and massive dream. However, you should prepare yourself a little bit as you have just come across what is known as a kamidere.

General Traits

A kamidere, in the simplest terms, is an anime archetype for characters with a god complex. The word derives from the roots ‘kami,’ which means god and then the common suffix of ‘dere,’ which means loving and is commonly attached to other anime archetypes like tsundere and yandere. As a result, 'dere' generally suggests romantic feelings coming from a female character. However, this is not always the case. First off, Deres can be both female and male. Secondly, the connotation of romance and love doesn't always apply to another person. For Kamideres, the aspect of love is attached to the desire of power. It's a perfect example of how language is able to bend its own rules and create more nuanced subjects and meanings.

Now to begin, the essential thought process for such characters cover a couple aspects. First, they tend to believe they are destined for greatness. When your dream is to conquer the world, it would be a bit strange if you actually didn’t feel this way. The second is that they are certain that the life they lead surpasses or is beyond the grasp of their fellow men. This facet of their personality generally acts as the catalyst for them turning into kamidere. The moment you start believing that you are above your fellow man is the moment you have developed a god-complex. As a result, it should not come as a surprise that many of these characters come off as confident, if not just arrogant.


Light Yagami from Death Note

  • Episodes: 37
  • Aired: Oct. 2006 – Jun. 2007

Death Note follows Light Yagami as he creates a “utopia” through the power of the Death Note. The Death Note is simply a journal owned by shinigami, gods of death, that has the power to kill the person whose name is written into it. There are quite a few rules that go along with how to properly use such a journal, however, the price of using the Death Note is that you can neither go to Heaven nor Hell. Well, after the shinigami Ryuk drops his Death Note on purpose into the human world, it falls into the hands of the idealistic and slightly bored Light. From there, Light begins to use the Death Note in order to create a world that he sees as just, but his version of justice is questionable to say the least and catches the attention of the world-renowned detective known as ‘L’.

A pretty obvious give away that Light is a kamidere is the simple fact that he wants to create a utopia that he’s the god of. He goes so far as to say “I am the God placed here to save the weak and create a perfect world.” If that does not depict a god complex, then only god knows what does. Admittedly, Light is a genius, one that not only is able to successfully outplay L, but also create his utopia within the span of the show. To do this he uses everyone and everything at his disposal. In fact, even the people he’s been closest to are nothing more than tools. During his father’s last breaths, instead of being legitimately sad, he tries to use the moment to find out the actual identity of ‘L’ in order to kill him. Anyone who desires any sort of intimacy with him is used as means of a spokesperson or scapegoat. It is quite sad if you consider that his initial goal was to protect the weak and innocent. The ends don’t always justify the means, and that’s something Light should have remembered.

Death Note Trailer


Evolving into a God

Generally, it can be expected for what started off as confidence to turn into arrogance as the narrative develops. The reason behind this is that kamideres often do have a few skills/attributes that are at an exceptional level. Their communities frequently observe and praise these characters at a young age for intellectual brilliance or physical promise. Many have already accomplished quite a few incredible feats in their life or have attained a certain status. It is their belief in their skills as well as the supportive environment that allows them to appreciate and love life for all the possibilities it brings. Thus, kamideres can often see the good or at least true talent in other people.

However, their abilities also tend to immediately seclude them from their society as they are hoisted onto a pedestal. It’s from this point that they receive the opportunity to see all that is wrong with the world. Throw into the mix a supernatural ability to change the world (Lelouch’s Geass in Code Geass or Akashi’s Emperor Eye in Kuroko no Basket) when the character has reached such a stage and, well, there’s no stopping them now in trying to enforce a new world order. Did that escalate too quickly?

The mixture of their reasoning and character traits generally lead to a very interesting plot as the characters are forced into an extremely dynamic environment. In general, a story that follows someone trying to conquer anything, especially something as grand as the world, will have lots of action and some political intrigue as well. That’s exactly why a revolution is a common setting for a kamidere.


Lelouch vi Britannia from Code Geass

  • Episodes: 50
  • Aired: Oct. 2006 – Sep. 2008

In a futuristic world where mobile mecha known as Knightmares exist, Japan has been conquered by Britannia and declared as District 11. The Japanese people, unhappy with Britannia’s rule, have formed resistance groups. One such resistance group is under the lead of the tactician Zero, aka Lelouch vi Britannia, an ex-prince who wants to get revenge on his father for murdering his mother and exiling him and sister. It is with the power of Geass and his supreme intellect that he is willing and capable to take on the overwhelming force of a world superpower.

“Before creation there must be destruction. If my soul stands in the way, then I'll toss it aside. Yes, I have no choice but to move forward.” Here’s a prime example of Lelouch exalting himself past normal human standards, albeit, in a slightly painful manner. Lelouch, like Light Yagami, has an enormous intellect and when given the power to create change, allows himself to dive headfirst as a leading revolutionary. He also has a slight tendency to use people in order to get what he wants. Unlike, Light though, Lelouch does feel guilt over using human life and is actually affected by his personal relationships while relying on them heavily. Though he is ego-centric and believes he is the only one capable of reigning in a new future, it is purely a future for the people. SPOILER: Thus, his willingness to sacrifice himself as the final act of the rebellion.

Code Geass Trailer


The Multiple Faces of a God

A nice thing about this archetype is that it can actually be used for various effects outside of drama/action. Admittedly, it is generally entertaining to watch a leading kamidere, such as Light Yagami from Death Note, go all-out in his/her desire to change the world. Nonetheless, if kamideres were always associated with such drama, then the archetype would be rather dull in respect to the other anime character structures, which tend to allow more room for differing subtleties. Thankfully, the spectrum of a kamidere has quite a bit of range.

For example, there’s the more humorous type of kamidere like Black Star from Soul Eater, who’s greater than god attitude is consistently used for comedic relief. I mean when someone has the guts to declare the majestic statement: “Are you scared? I understand. The first time I saw my reflection in the mirror, even I was frightened by how BIG my reflection was.” It takes quite the ego to even utter such a statement, but Black Start has a plethora of lines that touch upon his lack of humility. There’s also Keima from Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai (The World God Only Knows) who views himself as the “God of Conquest” for having beaten an unheard amount of dating sims. “I don't give a damn about the real world,” is one of his most famous quotes, which demonstrate just how far he has removed himself from the realm of mortals. Also, despite the fact that he doesn’t have any aspirations for world conquest, his confidence when it comes to winning over a girl is on display throughout the series.

With such characters, it’s not too hard why some could see kamideres as the drama queens of the anime world. They are after all the characters who demand immediate attention the moment they are on-screen. They’re also the type who will blow a fuse whenever something goes slightly off the planned course. Whether that’s have the tides of battle turned by an unexpected opponent or simply someone, who they would refer to as a ‘peasant,’ touching them without permission depends on the character. The type of character will also determine whether or not the audience finds such an outburst rather attractive or simply childish. If you take a character like Jamil from Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, then chances are you will see his frustration as simply childish and self-delusional to the fullest extent.


Archer (Gilgamesh) from Fate/Zero

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: Oct. 2011 – Dec. 2011

Acting as a prequel to Fate/Stay Night, Fate Zero depicts the events of the Fourth Holy Grail War and the reasons why it is considered one of the most horrific and gruesome wars within the series. Though the narrative follows several characters, the main figures are Kiritsugu Emiya, who is known as a “Mage Killer,” and the noble Sabre spirit he summoned, Arturia.

Well, opposing Kiritsugu and Sabre as one of the most deadly antagonists is the Archer spirit of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh considers himself as the most powerful beings in the universe. He dons a complete golden armor set, becomes extremely irritated when Berseker touches him, and demands that Sabre become his wife. “Ephemeral and brilliant one, fall to my embrace. That is my decision” is apparently a reasonable proposal in his mind.

Even though there are a few redeeming moments, such as when he pays his respect to Alexander the Great, overall, the guy is quite the tyrant. Nonetheless, he is the “King of Heroes” for a reason and has the power to back up almost everything he claims. He is, after all, the one heroic spirit who was capable of becoming corporeal again and existing within the human plane of existence.

Fate/zero OP 2 HD


Conclusion

To be as blunt as possible, a kamidere is someone who views themselves as superior to everyone else. Hopefully, the article and examples were able to provide you with a clearer and more in-depth understanding of all the different nuances such a character can take on, because they really are a fun archetype to watch. They’re the revolutionary figures who can easily make a lot of enemies on their way to top. Plus, confidence is always attractive, which is something these characters have an abundance of.

Yoko Dev

Writer

Author: Yoko Dev

Hello, my anime peers. I’m from the states, but have taken an indefinite leave to travel while freelancing. Outside of a deep admiration for anime that started long ago, I love to read, write, and play video games. The main issue of traveling so far has been not having a console.

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