If, when reading about the word tsundere in our earlier post, you remember thinking about themes of tough love and knowing people in your life who possess those characteristics, today’s word is largely the opposite. While yandere can definitely be beneficial in certain situations, more often than not, these are the people you regret knowing and putting it mildly, things don’t usually end up well.
If tsundere are off-putting then loving, yandere can be attractive then dangerous.
The term itself defines people (usually female) who generally have an unhealthy romantic obsession. Formed in the same fashion as tsundere, yandere is a portmanteau of yanderu (病んでる), meaning ‘a mental or emotional illness’, and deredere (でれでれ), meaning ‘becoming head-over-heels in love’. Essentially, these are the people who love beyond the point of rationality.
Developmentally, the yandere character often begins as the ideal mate – they present numerous attractive facets and are often totally in love with you, and you’d be crazy not to like them back. Unfortunately, while rational people understand that, as any relationship either develops or ends, as the dynamics change from the initial infatuation, yandere characters don’t. Even worse, they see this occurrence as being due to somebody interfering in the relationship and react swiftly and violently. If you have ever watched Fatal Attraction or Stephen King’s Misery, Glenn Close and Kathy Bates are prime examples of the yandere character.
Though the yandere characteristics have been noticeable in anime and manga since being introduced in 1985’s Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, actual usage of the term as it is now known only began around the year 2000. As would be expected with anime-related words, the term arrived on the Internet thanks to 4chan’s anime board, and, from there, has reached widespread usage and understanding.
Aside from the term, particularly as it relates to anime and manga, yandere may also speak to an older Japanese cultural concept. Described as Japanese culture’s idealised woman, the concept of “Yamato Nadeshiko” in the 19th century revolved around the Confucian ideals of family loyalty and an almost feudalistic obedience, while concealing an always present, yet hidden, drive to protect those she cares about at all costs.
So, while encountering someone with the characteristics of today’s word can be problematic, they can also, from a certain perspective, be quite beneficial. After all, who doesn’t want to be with someone who is devoted and willing to protect you at all costs? That being said, it’s important to remember that there’s a fine line between being overprotective and chasing away a flirty co-worker with an axe (Yandere Simulator reference).