We Need More Tsunshun!

Full disclosure, I only recently learned of the existence of the term Tsunshun and what it means. Up until a few weeks ago I had never heard of it at all. But since discovering this personality archetype, it may have become one of my favourites. As such, I want to tell more people about it!

Ririchiyo wallpaper

This is a wallpaper and I couldn’t find the artist. Could be promotional art

Strictly speaking, Tsunshun isn’t exactly a “dere” type. Obviously since it doesn’t have a “dere” in it. But it does behave in much the same way. the “dere” part is usually my favourite thing about all the “dere” personality archetypes so you wouldn’t think I would gravitate towards one without it but here we are.

For all intents and purposes, Tsunshun is a variation on the very popular Tsundere archetype. From what I could dig up the term Tsunshun is a portmanteau of Tsuntsun – which I’ve seen translated as “to turn away in disgust” and shun which is apparently an onomatopoeia associated with sadness, sorrow or depression. Who knew sadness made a sound, and apparently that sound is “shun”.

A lot of online sources define the Tsunshun as a character that is abrasive or hostile, like a Tsundere, but does so to hide their depression. Like I said, I just discovered the term so I am not going to argue the definitions. On paper, this sounds like a very gloomy character indeed and not one I’m likely to enjoy. In practice however, I found that the only Tsunshun I’ve seen was utterly delightful and doesn’t quite fit that definition.

Most sources agree that the trope name comes from Ririchiyo Shirakiin, one of the main characters of Inu x Boku SS (review coming real soon!!!). I would be inclined to believe that as the term is used in the series to refer to the character along with an explanation. And that’s the explanation I’ve gone by.

Victorica_de_blois

apparently Victorique is a Tsunshun but I don’t remember her ever feeling bad about her actions

In Inu x Boku, Ririchiyo is indeed an abrasive and slightly haughty character. She tends to react with sharp words and sarcasm. It should be noted that she never reacts with violence and the idea would probably be traumatizing to her. This said, unlike a more traditional Tsundere character, her actions aren’t really covering up anything. She doesn’t lash out when she’s embarrassed or because she doesn’t know how to react to attraction or something like that. She is simply very socially awkward.

For many reasons that don’t really matter, she was brought up in a way that encouraged more stand offish behaviour. Since she hasn’t had many chances to socialize when she was younger, she never really developed any more sophisticated communication tools. As such, now when she finds herself in a social situation with people she isn’t too familiar with yet or in a situation she’s not very comfortable in, she defaults back to sarcasm or occasionally rude quips because that’s what she knows best. It’s a panic reaction.

However, the character isn’t stupid or completely lacking in empathy and awareness. Moreover, the point is never to make people feel bad at all. It’s pretty much an involuntary reaction. So when Ririchiyo lashes out and realizes that she once again didn’t react in the way she wanted to, she feels depressed and a little sad. Because she might have hurt someone’s feelings or alienated them unwittingly. That’s different from using aggression to cover up sadness, the aggression is the cause of the sadness.

And I sort of like that about the character. She isn’t mean, she does feel bad when she hurts people and she doesn’t want to stay the way she is. She makes these elaborate plans in her head, sometimes even writes them down on paper, to force herself to have normal pleasant interactions with others. Sometimes she succeeds but it’s still very difficult. In the ends she’s just very anxious in social situations and has an unfortunate defence mechanism.

other random tsun

again I couldn’t find the artist but Google assures me she is a Tsunshun…

It’s quite adorable in a way, and it made me root for her. It also had me celebrating incredibly mundane victories, like Ririchiyo inviting a friend for coffee without making it sound like a command or as if she was doing them a favour!

One of my biggest issues with the Tsundere archetype has always been that if you don’t carefully balance out the character, then they just end up as an abusive partner. You know, someone who makes people around them feel bad (and occasionally physically injures them) and doesn’t really care all that much. Someone whose own personal feelings are just more important than those of anyone else. Alternatively, some Tsunderes do occasionally apologize for their behaviour, often begrudgingly, but rarely try to change.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many Tsundere characters that I like. Some I like a lot. But as a general notion and character archetype, it’s just not my thing.

The Tsunshun solves almost all my issues with it though. For one, the only Tsunshun I have seen is generally abrasive instead of abusive. What I mean is that the harsh or rude words are all in the way she speaks and never personally aimed at anyone. There are no personal insults or anything. It’s more of a generally rude and arrogant manner. And like I mentioned there is no physical violence which is always nice. I generally appreciate not being afraid that my friend will break my nose because I complimented their outfit or something…

Moreover, the fact that their own behaviour causes them to become depressed sort of dictates that these characters will try to change and improve their social skills at some point. It’s an implicit admission that they care about other people’s feelings and that those feelings matter to them.

Even though I’ve only heard the term used in Inu x Boku and the internet hasn’t been able to give me much more examples, I’m sure there are other characters that fall into the trope. Still, when I sat down to write this post I really wracked my brain and couldn’t think of anyone that quite fit the archetype. Maybe Kyo from Fruit Baskets. He seems to be a bit bummed whenever he acts jerky. In any case, I think we should have more. It’s a nice twist on the Tsundere archetype and variety is always fun!

Did you know about Tsunshuns? Do you know of any other examples? Please don’t say Asuka from NGE. The internet keeps naming her but there’s way too much going on for a simple classification of NGE archetypes in my opinion.

Kyo

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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32 Responses

  1. otakudreamnation says:

    Man I need to watch that anime, that girl seems interesting. As for me, I think you could argue that Taiga from Toradora is Tsunshun. She is extremely annoying at the start but she’s like this because of her family life. It left her feeling unwanted and unlovable so she wears a mean facade because why bother being nice. She’s also a very violent person because she sucks at explaining herself. For me I feel like she’s on that tine line between Tsundere and Tsunshun.

    Her meaness and violent nature can stem from embarrassment and pride like a Tsundere but a lot of it is because she’s insecure and depressed. I’m not quite sure.

  2. G-Talks says:

    I love this!

  3. wingking78 says:

    Add me to the list of people who haven’t heard of this one before. I have heard of “shundere,” but that’s basically just a character who’s chronically depressed, so I’m not sure it really needs its own term.

  4. Wooderon says:

    I’ve never heard of this before. Although I like the idea of it a lot. Based on your description of the archetype, the only example I can think of that comes close is Miku from Quintessential Quintuplets. Although only for, like, the first four chapters. After that she becomes a nice, meek girl rather than a sharp tongued one.

    • Irina says:

      that’s too bad….

    • wingking78 says:

      “Snaps at people and then feels bad about it later” sounds more like Nino to me, although she doesn’t snap at everyone all the time, just when she’s irritated with them, so she doesn’t really fit the template either.

  5. Scott says:

    I admit that I knew nothing about them.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I had no idea what was till you just posted this. Is there also Yandershun or Kudershun?
    -K(rogueotgakugamer)

  7. Pinkie says:

    Tsunshin is something I did not know about, I new about TsunTsun’s but I thought it was just a Tsun with the dere type replaced by more 1 dimensional Tsunning.. being Tsun?

    From what I get I’d say Ciel Phantomhive would be one if he was a girl… and let’s be honest he oftenly is so he might count.. well at least to some extend.. he isn’t as vocal ..but he does really push people away and seems aware of it and unhappy.

    I am not sure if we need more Tsunshun’s though.. I’d say if you have a personality problem and you are aware of it I feel like that would not really work for longer narratives. I really have issues with stories where people realise they want something and they do something but where they are prevented from resolving that issue. So i’d say I am fine with them appearing in 12 episode anime , you can really make them grow in a short series, but in stuff like Hero Academia i’d probably really easily hate them where they would easily just seem to weak to change

    • Irina says:

      I dunno about that. I mean Deku has been struggling with his inferiority complex since episode 1 and he’s not much closer to resolving it but I still really like him.

      I think I might have been brainwashed by anime to just really appreciate effort even when it doesn’t yield much results. So many anime characters have determination as their base characteristic. It’s not necessarily a good thing when you really think about it. What can I say, I’m a sucker.

      • Pinkie says:

        I don’t dislike Deku all that much , I do dislike that trope in Bakugo though, like he had ample oppertunity to learn to trust others and that he sometimes needs help but he keeps refusing.

        I think Bakugo is maybe a bit of a male Tsunshun as well.. were it not that he doesnt feel that bad either… he just keeps realising he was wrong for brief intervalls.

        I don’t think we need a result every time, Midoriya’s flaw mostly affects him so that is fine but if a character stays unlikeable for the sake of being unlikeable it can be a bit vexxing.

        In dragon Ball Z for example, when Vegeta finally hugged Trunks he left that trope for me.. but in Super he became like that again and I disliked that. Tsunshuns I’d imagine having a same effect on me.

        While I don’t need character progress persé I hate when characters stifle group dynamics… people who pretend to be others.. in front of others just to not be harmed. Maybe that is because I went to a shutting out people phase and I realise where it ends…but being stagnant when it hurts other characters .. if you know your faults.. I find an un-enjoyable trait.

        Like imagine if you had a fan reader who kept being negative about your blog just to have something you say.. and you reach out to them telling it’s okay they can act normal you wont hurt them let’s be friends.. and they reject it time and time again.. I’d get tired of that attitude, something similar happend on a dutch blog I used to write for, run by a friend of mine.. it’s fun for a bit but I do think a character being aware of their issues repeating the same mistake over and over again would get old for me fast.

        • Irina says:

          I would not get along with most of my favourite characters in real life probably.

          • Pinkie says:

            Fair enough, to an extend I hold my anime characters to the same standards as I do my friends.. I can still appreciate them to an extend otherwise.. sometimes being angry at a character is good as well .. but I tend to use like in the “real person sense” maybe I am weird that I hold them up to those standards.. then again I talk to my posts and plushies so that ship has probably sailed anyway

            • Irina says:

              Hmmm, you must not like many anime characters! I love Gurren Lagann but aside from Yoko these are really selfish people willing to sacrifice the lives of others to prove their own believes with very little in way of democratic vote. And Yoko herself (who I adore beyond words) is so unable to stamp down her pride no matter how often she loses what matters to her most that I doubt she would ever want to be my friend in the first place. I just bummed myself out.
              I wanna be Yoko’s friend.
              To be honest, what I appreciate the most in people is a sense of balance and open mindedness. My friends tend to be calm, welcoming and understanding people who don’t get into too much drama and rarely get particularly heated or passionate about anything. I figure it would make for the dullest anime ever.

            • Pinkie says:

              I “like” a lot of anime characters I like considerably less, Kamina I really loved, Simon a bit less. I do not mind characters being selfish persé.. just like I do not mind my friends having flaws

              I do mind when they know those flaws..like actively see them as flaws but then never reach out or try to deal with it… for example a Tsunshun who realises she is making herself depressed and asks a person she treated bad to help her … I would love.. a person accepting.. I am a Tsunshun.. Oh I am so depressed because I push people away.. while all her friends are trying to help her I would hate.

              I do not expect people to be flawless, but I do want flawed people to try and improve.. one of my real life friends for example has a real tendency to shun people as well.. he keeps looking for the smallest reason not to interact ..like if we do something he might not 100% enjoy but 90% he would cancel because.. what if the 10% happens than he ruined his evening. Then he can better sit home alone and do something.. okay without people that way we wont ruin his fun,, which is fair but a pity. I tell them.. I dont like that I’d risk a lot for my friends…
              He can’t do that..he tries but he is a shunning person.. I accept that because he is trying to break free.. it isnt working but at least he is making steps.

              If a character is written with flaws just to HAVE the flaws..as a source of entertainment and they suffer from it..but don’t adress it.. because.. it’s their trait I do dislike them.

              Weirdly enough Saiyan Pride in Dragon Ball doesn’t bother me even if it’s selfish because in a way it’s stil ldealth with..other characters protect them from themselves at times and they do accept it at times.. which can be enough..

              I do not believe in complete altruismn either, I expect people to be selfish to an extend and want them to have goals and desires for themselves.. but a Tsunshun sounds like someone who undermines their own goals and desires AND hurts other people.

              Like weirdly if you would be able to earn tons of views by throwing me under a bus and those views would make you happy…I would not think you are a bad person or a character for doing so..

              If you just want to cause a problem because there has to be a problem and you throw me under the bus and then feel really bad about it.. I’d say your a worse character.

              I really am open to a lot of people even if it may seem I am not, as long as someone gets better out of my encounters with a person I think there is value in the interactions.. if however no one gets value out of it I am not sure if it’s worth the energy.

              Man I must sound like a horrible biggot of a person for not liking something.. but I honestly am not that judgy.. but I really appreciate/require people to have a little fight into them to do something that makes them happy… which is why I like Bloggers a lot, they pursue a hobby and try to meet people with it to get better., I really just dont like it when someone struggles, has the means to get out of said struggles, has the insight and the pain.. but chooses to feel the pain instead…. like… there is a deeper thought there.. which I know where it comes from but something I rather not share right now..because it’s rather depressing.. but I am not THAT judgy.. I just hate giving up.. I guess.. and I do feel like not trying to make yourself happy .. when it also costs others happiness is the same as giving up

              I am sorry for seeming petty

            • Irina says:

              Actually you sound way more tolerant than me. I have a very tough time with completely selfish people.

            • Pinkie says:

              Since my death experience, I have come to realise we have to be a bit selfish to get anywhere.. even if I love to help people out I’d to an extend do it because I love helping people.

              My rule for allowing selfish actions is basically . If you gain more from being selfish at my expence then I lose..I can’t really blame you for making the choice.
              So say you destroy my blog to double your followers, I’d be sad but understanding. I’d be hurt but I could move on.

              If you destroy my blog for 1 new follower I’d be mad and would probably cry a lot and feel sick and betrayed.

              With A Tsunshun I feel what they basicly do is they’d destroy my blog and lose quite followers in the progress (like as a metaphor for their persona) ….this I really can’t bear.. especially since they are aware they do it.
              So if it doesn’t improve (say with a standard anime season) i’d definitely classify them as toxic

            • Irina says:

              I understand what you mean but I’m not sure how to assign value. How would doubling my followers be any better for me than reading your wonderful posts? Just sounds like I lose out either way here.

              As for the only Tsunshun I know, the acts (i.e., responding in a rude or haughty manner) is involuntary. It’s a bit like talking too loudly or too fast when you’re nervous. Sure it’s annoying getting shouted at for no reason but I can’t blame the person. I did a few internships in psych wards of teaching hospitals, and one in an actual psychiatric hospital, so I have dealt with people with Tourette’s and other neurodevelopmental disorders that make them react in very extreme and inappropriate ways. I understand why people would want to avoid someone like that but at the same time, I can’t really blame them. I also got use to it pretty quickly. Social anxiety that creates these types of neural tick is essentially a very common, very low grade version of this.
              Also, as Tsunshun are characters that constantly and actively strive to do better, and from what I have seen succeed with time, it’s actually a bit endearing to me.
              But that is just me of course. I can totally see why someone would feel very differently about it. It’s very difficult to be on the receiving end of that type of behavior, especially if you don’t know what’s going on! And if someone happens to have their own issues, it can make them even worse when exposed to that.

            • Pinkie says:

              Of course there is always more to this.. I just used numbers are a very sterile example, having an escape could be more to me than just the 270 ish people following.. but I do think the heart allows you to “sense” this to an extend…

              I do not doubt some people can not help themselves. And the being like that can be involuntary, and I would not hate those characters as it would be a struggle. As long as they strive I am fine with them even if they do not progress a lot.

              I am stricly speaking of the “goth kid” ..type that is like.. “Normies are So stupid” .. “Gaaah.. I am so lonely”.. (a cute pink girl reaches out to the emot kid) “Hi I want to be your friend” .. (The emote kid looks back and sighs) “Ugh.. no thanks .. Pink isn’t black” (the pink girl moves away but stays in case he needs her) “Ugh I am so lonely I wish I was dead” (Goth kid mopes and rejects the pink girl a few more times even if she dresses up).. I know some don’t really have a choice but I do think there is a danger in acknowledging that.. like .. , the south park episode where Stan’s Father is an alcoholic and he can’t break free simply because he has it acknowledged as something inescapable.

              I’d rather see a Tsunshun as a placebo.. have them overcome it.. while maybe it was imposible..because someone might look at it and think… I can break these limits too, a symbol of hope rather than endearing hopelesness?! Not sure!

              That brings me back to Tengen Toppa.. what I think is the biggest lesson in that show.. we shackle ourselves to much down with limitations, accept our limitations. I feel without these labels and words we can actually pierce the heavens and reach new levels.. so I’d rather see flawed characters as that drill.. ever spiralling..even if it’s just a delusion to break free of those imposibilties.

              I’d rather be angry at one of those people who can not help themselves for having that flaw because I believe in the delusion that maybe our friendship in the end is stronger than that force holding them down.

              Like I saw this movie about a nobel price winner a while ago who had schizofrenia or something like that.. he saw people that were not there and got confused a lot while he could not be cured he manged to have a fairly normal life after a whole lot of struggles because other things were so important he could “ignore” the delusions to an extend. So I do not believe in complete stagnation.

              I hate people who gave up.. who thinks their life sucks, who think they do not deserve any friends and can not help but push everyone away. Back when I was 24 I heard the condition I had was going to kill me, (which it didn’t due to a very lucky medicine discovery that caught on for me) . I hated people who were so gloomy that just gave up, why me..why not them? They want to go.. Even when I got better I could never really get over that resent for denying the gift of life. I know sometimes it can be a curse..but no matter who you are you make someone happy (even if it’s only the baker who made a few extra bucks on you so he can buy his daughter a cuter present..who in turn is happy )
              Tsunshun’s sounded to me like that give uppy type.. like in a short show you can really show their struggle.. but say a Tsunshun would not work in One Piece for me because they would progress to little.

              Anyway It’s late here so I am heading to bed! I will leave you with my grand delusions! I do not believe anything is truely impossible..maybe some things are not possible a certain way but willpower can find a work around! So I do believe Yoko and you can be friends as well 😉

              Even if it just means you getting into a drunken Delirium and talking to a hugging pillow all night if that could make it “real” for you it still counts!

              Goodnight for now though!

  8. Dawnstorm says:

    Looks like it’s going to be a trend in the comment section: This is the first I hear of the term, too. As such I have no intuition about the term at all. I googled around a bit, and I think my favourite definition comes from allthetropes.fandom.com: “the tsudendere equivalent of a pufferfish”.

    I think the type may have been common in the 2000s slew of vn adaptions (Nanaka from Myself;Yoursef; Hayami from H2O Footprints in the Sand). But not sure if I’m misunderstanding, really.

  9. This is my first time hearing of that term. The description you gave does make it sound like it’s just a more realistic tsundere, lol. The classic tsundere trope is one of those things that could only exist in anime, because let’s face it: a partner who’s constantly berating you and throwing things at you would get pretty tiresome IRL, even if you were aware it was just their way of showing they care about you. But on the other hand, I have encountered people IRL who seem hostile when you first meet them, but are just using that standoffishness as a defence mechanism of sorts. There’s an older guy I work with who’s exactly like this– a bit grumpy and impatient with people, but he’s always the first person to go out of his way to lend a hand when it’s needed. He’ll even crack a few jokes when you get to know him. He’s the sort of guy you’d like to have watching your back during a zombie apocalypse.

    Why am I talking about zombies all of a sudden? Who knows? I don’t. I need to go to bed. Great article, as always.

  10. aina says:

    I have to admit that I never knew there’s Tsunshun until I read this post.

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