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How to speak anime: Kuudere

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The terminology that sprouted around anime is extensive and could warrant more than a handful of articles. Some terms used in anime are better known than others and used more often. However, if a term is not known, the usage of any given word may leave someone lost and confused if they are trying to follow a particular line of thought or dialogue. This ‘How to speak anime’ series will draw to a close with one more helping with a notable term, kuudere.

Like the tsundere, a kuudere character is a archetype that makes appearances that transcend anime. Nevertheless, kuudere characters have key traits within the confines of anime. These characters are not always at the forefront of the action but they have their scene stilling moments.

The anatomy of a kuudere character can be described as one who appears emotionally distant or numb but holds an inner warmth. At times, this demeanor is a character’s mask to conceal and protect themselves. In other instances, the stoic appearance may just be a shell that one needs to get past in order to understand the inner workings of any given kuudere. In either case, this character will rely on very choice dialogue or actions to subtly clue the onlooker in to what goes on beneath the surface, instead of expressing everything outright.

Case Study: Kanade Tachibana

The anime ‘Angel Beats’ focuses on a group of teens in an afterlife setting. After being cheated out of a full life, these unready souls have something of a second chance to experience the parts of life they missed out on.

Even among kuudere, Kanade Tachibana can be considered an extreme case. At first, she is mistaken for a hollow stand in or a type of God appointed administrator to this artificial reality. Along with her fair features and near emotionless personality, she was given the nickname Angel. Appropriately, Kanade is extremely direct and practical in her approach to the point of being robotic.

After a series of events and plot twits, the other characters find out that Kanade is just as human as they are. This realization entices Yuzuru Otonashi to further his interest in finding out more about Kanade as a girl instead of a provincial legend figure. Upon Yuzuru’s initiative, Kanade slowly reveals pieces of her true personality. In true kuudere fashion, Kanade almost exclusively reveals her familiar side to Yuzuru. By the end, she reveals a touching connection that would have been missed if Yuzuru didn’t peer into the mysterious girl.

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