Love of Kill is a brand-new anime in the Winter 2022 anime season, and it's only taken three episodes for fans to notice some intriguing trends and themes in this new shojo anime series. For one thing, its surprisingly violent and gritty tone is reminiscent of seinen anime, and the main characters are almost like Mr. & Mrs. Smith too.
Some anime fans might even call this Kaguya-sama with guns, and there's some merit to that argument. But this time, instead of two equally stubborn lovers, Love of Kill has an offense vs. defense dynamic between its leads, who fit two of the most electrifying -dere character types in anime. This is the showdown between tsundere and yandere.
Song Ryang-Ha, Love Of Kill's Benevolent Yandere Lead
In the world of anime, the yandere character archetype describes a highly possessive and obsessive stalker, usually a female character who verbally or physically abuses anyone who gets near the object of their affection. Examples include the likes of Toga Himiko the villain and Gasai Yuno of Future Diary fame, but interestingly, shojo anime sometimes turns this archetype on its head in several ways at once, and that includes Love of Kill. Song Ryang-Ha is a different breed of yandere -- a male stalker type who actually has the other person's best interests at heart rather than his own.
So far, Song Ryang-Ha has been defined not only by his elite skills but also by his evident infatuation with the bounty hunter Chateau and his persistent efforts in winning her trust. Ryang-Ha calls her often and aids in her work without being asked, and he even got her to agree to a Christmas Eve date with him. Chateau finds all this annoying, but Ryang-Ha appears to mean no real harm and to be protective of her. One of Ryang-Ha's old enemies, Hou, attacked Chateau in a recent episode, and Ryang-Ha went to great lengths to keep her safe. This transforms the lovesick stalker archetype into the overly protective, self-appointed boyfriend type, and shojo has a few other such characters as well.
Ryang-Ha may remind Love of Kill fans of the seemingly perfect but mysterious Usui Takumi from the hit shojo series Maid-Sama!, who annoyed Misaki with his nosy antics but genuinely cared for her and shielded her from harm any way he could. Misaki barely put up with him at first, until she came to appreciate what Takumi did for her, without ever losing sight of how obnoxious he still was.
In Love of Kill and Maid-Sama! alike, the male love interest is on the "offensive," being the proactive party who approaches the female lead and initiates almost everything, from awkward date nights to battles against rivals and other parties. On a more personal level, this means Ryang-Ha is politely laying siege to Chateau's defensive nature and trying to pry into what makes her who she is. Through Ryang-Ha, Love of Kill fans may soon learn more about the mysterious Chateau, and perhaps more of Ryang-Ha himself in the process.
Chateau, Love Of Kill's Defensive Tsundere Lead
Love of Kill's main pairing is an offense vs. defense battle, making it a more one-sided version of the battle of wits found in Kaguya-sama: Love is War. Chateau the bounty hunter is the Kaguya of this romance, except she rarely goes on the offensive against Ryang-Ha and feels no need to draw a love confession out of him. Instead, Chateau is a prickly but well-meaning tsundere anime character -- someone who can't easily admit their feelings to another party. Tsunderes are much more vulnerable than their aggressive and pushy exteriors would suggest, often due to insecurities or past trauma, and Chateau's case is the latter.
Chateau is just as mysterious as Ryang-Ha, although some early hints suggest that in her childhood, Chateau narrowly avoided death when her father, who was driving their car, was shot dead. This might have something to do with Ryang-Ha, and if he can get Chateau to open up, fans may learn much more about what connects the two characters. For now, it's a mystery, and Chateau's distinct tsundere behavior is making this tough for Ryang-Ha and audiences alike.
Understandably, Chateau doesn't want to re-open any old wounds, and she can't find a reason to tell this to an obnoxious stranger like Ryang-Ha anyway, although Chateau's tsundere ways may endear both Ryang-Ha and audiences to her regardless. Her tsundere defenses are at maximum, and Ryang-Ha's quest to pierce Chateau's prickly tsundere exterior may be one of the most intriguing and tense plotlines in the entire Love of Kill anime. Ultimately, Ryang-Ha and Chateau make up the perfect -dere pairing to make Love of Kill's central romance exciting, amusing, tense and mysterious all at once.