The exciting and unpredictable character development of tsundere characters makes them popular among manga readers. "Tsundere" is a label given to characters who are initially mean and unapproachable but later become loving and protective toward the right person. Given their drastic transformation, readers feel rewarded when their sweet and gentle side is finally revealed. Here are five great manga to read if you love the archetype.
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is a must-read for any tsundere fan because it stars two tsundere secretly in love with each other. Miyuki Shirogane became the highly esteemed and respected class president of Shuchiin Academy after earning the highest scores in the country. Kaguya Shinomiya is the wealthy and intelligent vice president who sees herself as Miyuki's superior. Their classmates believe they'd make the perfect couple, but the two are busy carrying out absurd and elaborate plots to deduce if the other one likes them.
Instead of confessing their true feelings so they can finally be a happy couple, Miyuki and Kaguya instead wage psychological warfare with one another to see who will cave first. Their prideful and argumentative dispositions make it impossible for them to admit their romantic desires, leading to ironic humor and frustrating situations where mutual pining is rarely fulfilled. This funny and chaotic manga has inspired a highly successful and popular anime adaptation.
With a rowdy and defiant disposition, Kyo Sohma embodies the tsundere archetype perfectly in Fruits Basket. Despite being an adorable orange cat when his Zodiac curse is triggered from being hugged by the opposite sex, Kyo is anything but soft and fluffy. However, his standoffish personality is challenged when he moves into Shigure's house to find that Tohru Honda is also a new resident.
Kyo attempts to push Tohru away and create as much distance between them as possible while living under the same roof. He has no desire to get close to another human because he believes he's unlovable and fears rejection. While trying to avoid Tohru, he ends up hurting her feelings and quickly regrets his cold behavior toward her. When Tohru confesses she's always loved the Zodiac cat and expresses her desire to be close, Kyo undergoes an elaborate and rewarding tsundere transformation.
In Kamisama Kiss, the homeless Nanami suddenly becomes the Earth Deity of Mikage Shrine when Mikage tells her she can live there for free. She gets more than she bargained for, including all of the land god's duties and a fox-demon familiar named Tomoe. As a hot-tempered yokai with trust issues, Tomoe is hostile toward Nanami and detests her new role as land god of the shrine.
Despite mocking and teasing Nanami, Tomoe's condescending attitude toward her slowly changes as he observes her dedication to the shrine and her genuine attempts to get closer to him. Even though Tomoe claims love between humans and yokai is taboo and wrong, he soon becomes protective and caring toward Nanami anyway. Like many romance manga, Kamisama Kiss' popular anime adaptation never covered the full story, so fans should read the manga to see what becomes of the supernatural couple.
Wolf Girl and Black Prince
When Erika lies to her friend group that she has a boyfriend in order to fit in, she's surprised to hear the stranger she took a picture of was none other than Kyoya Sata -- the most popular boy in their high school. Despite his outstanding and princely reputation among their classmates in Wolf Girl and Black Prince, Kyoya is secretly a sadistic tsundere.
Before long, Erika is forced to approach Kyoya and beg him to be her fake boyfriend. He agrees -- under the condition that she becomes his personal pet -- and subsequently treats her like a dog, threatening to expose her lie if she doesn't do what he asks. While he enjoys teasing and blackmailing Erika at first, his feelings evolve as they're forced to spend more time together to keep up appearances. While Wolf Girl and Black Prince received an anime adaptation, it was never finished so fans should refer to the manga to get the complete story.
Special A (S.A)
Hikari Hanazono and Kei Takishima are two overperforming tsundere who can't stop competing with each other in Special A. Since childhood, Hikari has always come in second to Kei so she swears to best him, but falls short over and over again. While Hikari is initially blinded by her rivalry and revenge, Kei finds her cute when she's angry and enjoys beating her at her own game.
Kei isn't straightforward about his feelings and mocks Hikari by calling her "Miss Second Place" to provoke her. However, his cold and condescending demeanor can't mask the love he's had for Hikari since they were children. Kei becomes her overprotective knight in shining armor whenever she's in trouble -- or when another guy makes a move on her. With an incomplete anime adaptation and their future relationship in question, only the Special A manga reveals what happens between Hikari and Kei.