Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War is one of those shows that have nearly everything going for it. Great plot? Check. Quirky interactions? Check. A stellar cast of both main and side characters? Oh, you have no idea. In fact, part of what got me to try the show wasn’t the promise of a cute but frustrating romance but how each character interacted with one another. Their dynamics flow off so well, even if some of them embody sort of typical stereotypes of high school anime, like with the male lead’s elusive sister, Kei Shirogane.
Now, Kei Shirogane is definitely confirmed to be a Tsundere. Hell, in the Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War’s English dub, the Narrator even points it out with an exuberant exclamation of her being a “Mother-Flipping Tsundere!”. So, like, there is no speculation here; she is 100% embodying the Hot and Cold trope. But is that all she is? What does it even mean to be a Tsundere in a show that subverts tropes such as Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War?
As I said, there are tons of stereotypes in anime. But it’s how the writing deals with them that makes the show so fun. Even something as arbitrary as characters that appear maybe a couple of times, they are often well written enough that they don’t end up being stale. This is why even though Kei Shirogane is a relatively quiet and unexplored individual in the plot, she is still fleshed out enough that her personality is more than just ‘I hate that I secretly love you’ garbage.
Also, it’s kind of funny how both Shirogane siblings are head over heels over Miss Kaguya Shinomiya. So, welcome to Character Analysis – where we take a closer look at some of the most trending characters in the Animesphere and break them down to see where their character arc might take us. Today we’re discussing the other Shirogane prodigy, Kei Shirogane!
What Makes A Character A Tsundere?
So, a Tsundere is defined as a character with a very aggressive personality on the outside, but as time goes on, they become warmer and friendlier to the person they are interacting with. The word itself is a portmanteau of two different terms. Tsuntsun is a term that denotes turning away in anger, and Deredere is when a person becomes affectionate.
Combine the two, and you get the signature, near bipolar personality that is an anime Tsundere. They are very harsh to everyone until you get close enough to them, revealing their inner sensitive side. And, as seasoned Otakus already know, that character trope is heavily utilized in various manga and anime. At this point, you can’t have a high school anime without at least one Tsundere character.
Some popular examples of Tsundere characters in anime include Taiga Aisaka from Toradora!, Rin Tohsaka from Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, Asuka Langley Soryu from Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Kyo Sohma from Fruits Basket. (Yes, rare as they may be, male characters can also be Tsunderes!)
Kei Shirogane: She Doesn’t Care For Her Onee-Chan?
So, what’s up with Kei, exactly? From the few cameos of her that we’ve gotten, she seems to be remarkably similar to her dear older brother, Miyuki Shirogane. She is just as dedicated to her studies, exceptionally responsible with her work, and famous for being an illustrious model student in her educational institute.
And just like Miyuki, she is very aware of her low-income background and takes care not to spend a lot of money on frivolous things. It is why she’s so closed off from her other peers, who don’t live the same lifestyle as her. But it’s precisely these similarities that have made her so cold and nervous towards Miyuki.
Not because she hates him or anything, quite the opposite, actually. She admires him to a near fault. But because she’s at that age where she has a whole ‘rebellious teen’ thing going on, she often comes off as abrasive and aloof to Miyuki. Especially considering how Miyuki treats her, with tons of nagging and remarks. Which are something every elder sibling has been guilty of doing at some point and absolutely no younger sibling appreciates.
Kei Shirogane Is A Tsundere We Stan!
Still, Kei is one of those Tsundere characters that don’t come across as being overbearing or excessive for no reason. Maybe it’s because Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War is one of those stories that are purposefully written to subvert expectations. But Kei is extremely endearing without having many appearances.
Like, she might not admit it, but Kei cares about her brother a lot. She is interested in his personal life, but her whole act rebellious act has gone on for so long that she can’t bring her pride down to hear Miyuki out. Instead, she is just awkwardly there while Miyuki is panicking over confessing to Kaguya.
And it’s that awkward and jilted dynamic between the two that makes them so enjoyable!