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Kuudere. Noun. Wikipedia defines it as “a character archetype considered cold hearted and indifferent, but not showing their true colors.” Well that’s super clear… what does it mean? A kuudere character is someone who generally has a very cool, in the sense that they aren’t very friendly and loud, and non-communicative exterior, but once one gets to know them, they have a very warm and loving interior. There is a catch though; THEY have to be the ones to show you their interior. You won’t just earn access to them as person unless they want you to.
The "kuu" in kudere comes from the Japanese loanword from English word “kuuru” which means cool. Like with tsundere, the dere part comes from “deredere” in Japanese which means to become lovey-dovey. So the basis of a kuudere character is someone who stays aloof, potentially making it clear that this is well below them, but in reality they actually have a very soft spot for the main character.
The other main difference to point out is a tsundere versus a kuudere. A tsundere character goes from hot to cold outbursts. This is usually triggered by them being discovered in their moment of weakness. The Kuudere character does not really swing from polar opposites, but rather they shift from a cold quiet vibe, to a caring/loving quiet vibe.
Kuudere is a character archetype that is one of the more recent ones to appear. For a while, it was very difficult to identify them apart from tsundere because of the fact that they do seem to tsuntsun or turn away in disgust. Take Shinku from Rozen Maiden for example, she’s always turning away from Jun calling him her slave and talking down to him aka being cold/cruel towards him.
However, it’s the fact that it never turns into an explosion of anger or yelling or hitting that puts her in the cool or kuudere category. It’s precisely because she does keep her “cool” while being loving towards him. This is the critical point of a kuudere character. Cold, but loving/caring.
When one does think of Kuudere characters, almost all characters point to Rei Ayanami from Evangelion. Sometimes referred to as the “Rei Ayanami Expy” (Try googling it!), it basically points to some basic characteristics and features that the kuudere character will have. Usually they are young in age aka around the 10-20 range. They have very muted tones when it comes to hair. See Rei from Evangelion and Nagato from Haruhi for examples. They have very pale skin and probably a dark and/or mysterious past.
A few more major points to point out (and then we’ll get to the shows!) are that they always seem to be in control. This stems from their cool (kuu) exterior that shows them in control of their emotions. Next, they are friendly once you get to know them, and even sometimes, they are quite warm. Finally, they are will change moods usually at some points and let their guards down, but that will not be something that is flipped once and then can never go back.
Now, *cues music* let’s get into it!
Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 1995 – March 1996
This was actually the show I suggested for my tsundere article as well! It has so many good character archetypes. If spineless, whiny protagonists ends up as an article too, I’ll put Shinji in there for you all! (/shot)
Eva is major because it rolls out what a true Kuudere is and gave us the basis for the Rei Ayanami expy(anime trope). So basically Rei has this horribly dark past which I’m not getting to explain because it would ruin the show! You have to watch Evangelion. She has a fondness for almost passing as mute. She stays cool and calm for a myriad of reasons throughout the show rarely ever showing emotion. When she does show emotion though, you know something is up!
Neon Genesis Evangelion - Theatrical Trailer
2. FullMetal Alchemist (Brotherhood is OK Too!)
- Episodes: 51
- Aired: October 2003 – October 2004
Just about anyone who’s everyone has seen or at least heard of Fullmetal Alchemist(referred to as FMA from here on out). It’s literally on the back of your otaku membership card under requirements under section B.2 subsection 3/footnote 14 Point K. (/slaps self) ANYWAY, FMA has a rich and diverse group of characters, and there are even some that personify the seven deadly sins as themselves! It’s fantastic!
The kuudere star of this series though is none other than Riza Hawkeye. Now it should be noted that while she is a kuudere character throughout the show, she wasn’t always one as she progresses into a kuudere character from her past. It is those events from her past that have formed her into the person that she is. She generally presents herself as a very stoic and one dimensional character of few words.
However, her love of her puppy shows a part of her dere side as well as how Roy Mustang is able to spark reactions from her (no pun intended). She also does, aside from the fact that she is a soldier, care for her fellow military brethren on her team.
FullMetal Alchemist Trailer
- Episodes: 200
- Aired: March 1992 – February 1997
Okay, now I know what you’re thinking but listen, this is a beginners article, so I wanted to give you a very easy gem to spot. Sailor Moon, the original series that is, is PERFECT for this! One of the very first kuudere characters to exist and have a major role in an anime, other than being sidelined like some kuudere do, is Setsuna Meiou. I know now that you’re asking yourself, “Who is Setsuna??” Well, she’s tall, fairly quiet, gives off vibes of being alone and has an actual weapon with her at all times. It’s Sailor Pluto!
Originally introduced in Sailor Moon R, just as a fleeting role, she is the guardian of time. She stands at the gate of time quite lonely and sad due to the fact that well, she is always alone. Her cool guard is almost always up unless it comes to small lady/Chibiusa/Rini. Even when she does become free from the gate of time, she still tends to stay a bit aloof from everyone hanging out with the outer senshi. She does in the later seasons come around to give Usagi more advice, but she doesn’t stay for too long.
Sailormoon Part1 Official Trailer
Whew! I know that there are tons of kuudere characters, but for beginners, it’s easy to watch these shows and see what it is that a kuudere exactly is! That being said, there are more characters that can give you if you want more kuudere for your life! Shizuka Doumeki from xxxHolic, Kuchiki Byakuya from Bleach, C.C. from Code Geass, Shinku from Rozen Maiden, Homura Akemi from Pulla Magi Madoka Magica, Yuki Eiri from Graviation, Android 18 from DBZ(not applicable with Krillin & their daughter.), and Hei from Darker than Black!
If you like kuudere, they can be a bit tricky to spot, but these are some shows that will give you a great place to look! The best part too is that kuudere, as evidenced from what I just suggested, can be either male or female! It’s not limited to a specific gender.
Check them out and then tell me what kuudere characters you like. I want to know what you guys enjoy as well.
Till next time,