One thing anime and manga do well is present steadfast and long-standing character archetypes that are immediately identifiable given a long time enjoying the media. We’re going to zoom in on a popular archetype that has grown leaps and bounds, especially after the introduction of Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Ayanami Rei, the one known as the kuudere. Cold and stoic, kuudere characters get their name from their “coolness”, a calmness in almost any situation and an apparent lack of emotions. There can be several different types which present themselves in various ways but for the most part, if they’re cold and expressionless, they’re probably a kuudere. Now to look at ten of our favourites from manga – you might know some of these very well!
10. Kawai Maria (Akuma to Love Song)
- Authors: Toumori Miyoshi
- Genres: Drama, Romance, School, Shoujo
- Volumes: 13
- Published: December 2006 – April 2011
Published: December 2006 – April 2011
Touzuka High School is a public school with a fairly low grade point average. One day, Kawai Maria, a girl from the state’s top-class St. Katria Girls School, transfers to Touzuka High. She was expelled for a violent display against as teacher and since she has a tendency of calling a spade a spade, Maria finds herself isolated from the rest of her class. However, there may be something in her past, something hidden deep down that stands to affect her future.
Kawai Maria – a stoic, straightforward girl who consistently violates the bounds of platitude… that’s if she cared for platitudes to begin with. Her coldness gets her isolated from the rest of her classmates, but does she really care? The truth is that Maria is incredibly disillusioned with the concept of human beings and friendship and her straightforwardness is misconstrued for arrogance by her classmates, so they bully her to no end. Maria sees through people’s facades and exposes them in a way that makes them uncomfortable – and she does this without expressing a single shred of emotion.
9. Mizushima Mirea – Ratman
- Authors: Inui Sekihiko
- Genres: Comedy, Romance, School, Sci-Fi, Shounen, Super Power
- Volumes: 12
- Published: June 2007 – June 2013
Tiny Katsuragi Shuuto can’t seem to catch a break. The youngster desperately wants to be like his favourite superhero, Mr Thunder; however, his height makes him the butt of every body’s jokes and he isn’t too good at winning fights. All he has spurring him on is his passion for superheroes, a factor he has in common with classmate Mizushima Mirea. Shuuto has no idea that his growing relationship with Mirea could end up being the catalyst which makes his dreams come true!
Shuuto’s classmate and fellow lover of superheroes, Mizushima Mirea is the one who recommended that Shuuto become the hero known as Ratman. Mirea is pretty, but her icy exterior makes her classmates think twice about approaching her. This is also because she sees that the approaches from the male students in her class are just cheap attempts to hit on her and so she rejects them rather coldly. The only person who sees a warmer side to Mirea is none other than Katsuragi Shuuto – her crush.
8. Gundou Misuzu – Tomo-chan wa Onnanoko (Tomo-chan is a Girl)
- Authors: Yanagida Fumita
- Genres: Comedy, Romance, School
- Volumes: 7+ (Ongoing)
- Published: April 2015 – Ongoing
Boyish high schooler Aizawa Tomo finally gets the chance to tell her childhood friend Jun that she has a crush on him. Unfortunately, it completely misses him because he didn’t even realise that Tomo was a girl up until junior high and even now, he still thinks of her as that boy that he befriended all those years ago. Could Tomo find a way to step up from being “one of the bros” to finally being his girlfriend, just as she has dreamed?
Gundou Misuzu is another one of Tomo’s childhood friends. She is a girl who goes around expressionless most of the time, but this hides her twisted nature. Misuzu loves teasing other people and tricking them into thinking she is just a sweet girl. The only time Misuzu loses her stoic expression is when she’s inflicting psychological torture on others, which turns her expressionless face into a wicked grin.
7. Eren Jaeger (Post Time-Skip) – Shingeki no Kyojijn (Attack on Titan)
- Authors: Isayama Hajime
- Genres: Action, Mystery, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Shounen, Super Power, Supernatural
- Volumes: 27+
- Published: October 2009 – Ongoing
Several centuries ago, giant humanoid creatures known as Titans appeared, driving humanity to the brink of extinction. Their appetites for human flesh know no bounds, and soon after their appearance, humanity began fighting a seemingly hopeless fight for survival. If it weren’t for the remnants of humankind choosing to find refuge behind tall concentric walls, human beings would have long since gone extinct. Eren Jaeger, Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert are three children living in the town closest to the outermost wall. They dream of one day exploring the world beyond the walls. One day, this peaceful scene is destroyed when a massive Titan appears and tears a hole in the outermost wall, letting in hordes of Titans which then tear apart the town. Eren promises that he will eradicate every single Titan on earth in hopes that one day, humanity will be able to live without fear.
The ever-passionate Eren Jaeger, who promised to completely exterminate the titans after one of them claimed his mother’s life, loses his reactionary persona for something colder than Captain Levi himself. He grew out his hair, gained facial hair and also a sharp tongue. One so sharp that he even tells Mikasa straight-up that he has always hated her. His new appearance is first introduced when he infiltrates Marley under the alias Kruger and commits himself to his mission. His eyes have lost their famous intensity and have a dead coldness to them – a stunning change from the intense anger and passion Eren Jaeger is best known for.
6. Hishiro Chizuru – ReLIFE
- Authors: Yayoi Sou
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 9
- Published: October 2013 – March 2018
If you had a chance to relive your youthful days, would you do it? 27-year-old single, jobless and penniless Kaizaki Arata is presented with the opportunity when he is approached by a representative of a project known as ReLIFE. The project is testing an experimental pill capable of making one ten years younger, so when Kaizaki is presented with the opportunity, he reluctantly accepts, using the opportunity to change his fate.
Hishiro Chizuru is a girl in Arata’s new high school class who has a really angry-looking expression on her face most of the time. Other times, she’s expressionless. It doesn’t really help her case much that she is totally unsociable; however, she does try sometimes despite her straightforwardness and coldness. Chizuru occasionally tries her hand at smiling, but her smile is utterly terrifying.
5. Kageyama “Mob” Shigeo – Mob Psycho 100
- Authors: ONE
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Supernatural
- Volumes: 16
- Published: April 2012 – December 2017
Kageyama Shigeo, also known as “Mob”, is an eighth grader who also happens to be a super-powerful esper. He’s been able to bend spoons, lift objects with his mind since he was a child; however, a few unsavoury incidents with his abilities have caused him to hold back. All he wants now is to get closer to his crush, Tsubomi, who is in his class. In order to learn to control his powers better, Mob finds tutelage under the “psychic” Reigen Arataka, a total phony who makes money out of conning the general public with pseudo-psychic abilities, all while coming to grips with his everyday life.
Kageyama Shigeo, a stoic if there ever was one. A terrible accident involving his abilities left him working hard to seal away his emotions in order to prevent another outburst. So for the most part, Mob is completely emotionless, but somehow endearing, honest and a little bit naïve. Nonetheless, he has an emotional threshold that when breached, becomes the catalyst for the wildest outbreak of psychic power and destruction anyone has ever seen!
4. Kuchiki Byakuya – BLEACH
- Authors: Kubo Tite
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Shounen, Super Power, Supernatural
- Volumes: 74
- Published: October 2001 – August 2016
15-year-old Kurosaki Ichigo is a high school student who has always had the uncanny ability to see and interact with ghosts. When a woman in a black kimono named Kuchiki Rukia suddenly appears in his room one night, she introduces herself as a Soul Reaper, an entity which exists to guide souls to the afterlife and purge evil spirits known as Hollows. Soon after Rukia’s arrival, a Hollow attacks Ichigo’s home and wounds Rukia, who offers Ichigo her powers so he can save his family. After the encounter, Ichigo is forced to take over Rukia’s job as a Soul Reaper and his life from then on is never the same again.
The head of one of the four noble families in Soul Society, Kuchiki Byakuya. Doubling as the Captain of the 6th Squad, Byakuya is as by-the-book as it comes. His stoicism seems like his true nature; however, it is an attitude he took up soon after becoming the new Kuchiki head. He used to have major anger issues and even a bit of a foul mouth; however his coolness is unparalleled, not showing a shred of emotion not even as his sister was placed on Soul Society’s death row. Despite this, his care and regard for other people as well as his promises runs deep. A true leader, Byakuya maintains his coolness such that it is no longer just him putting on airs – his aloofness is now who he really is.
3. Himuro Yukina – Watashi ni xx Shinasai! (Missions of Love)
- Authors: Touyama Ema
- Genres: Comedy, Romance, School, Shoujo
- Volumes: 19
- Published: May 2009 – September 2015
While seemingly a normal high school student, Himuro Yukina is actually the popular cell phone novelist Yupina. However, given her cold demeanour and icy glare, Yukina’s classmates tend to avoid her entirely and have given her the nickname “Absolute Zero Snow Woman”. Yukina’s writing is going through a slight rough patch and her ratings have decreased, so she wants to put romance into her work to spice things up, but she has no experience whatsoever with that kind of thing. While looking for a way to change this, she runs into Kitami Shigure, the charming student council president, who drops his notebook. When she opens it, she finds a list of every single girl who has ever confessed to him, realising that he manipulate girls into confessing to him just so he can reject them and that his personality is nothing like what he pretends to be. Confronting Shigure about what she has learned, Yukina tries to use it to blackmail him into teacher her about love. However, things get a little hairy when Yukina’s cousin and only friend, Shimotsuki Akira, becomes jealous and confesses his love to her – perhaps Yukina has signed up for more than she bargained for!
Himuro Yukina, also known as Absolute Zero Snow Woman, is a seriously cold high school girl. Her stoicism knows no bounds and she comes off as incredibly aloof to anyone who doesn’t know her very well. This is very much because of her disconnection from her emotions and the abstract aspects of her being. Which is why she clumsily tries to manipulate her way into understanding things like love and romantic relationships, due to the fact that she can only observe what happens around her and barely understands her inner workings – but that can change… with time.
2. Ray – Yakusoku no Neverland (The Promised Neverland)
- Authors: Demizu Posuka (Art), Shirai Kaiu (Story)
- Genres: Mystery, Horror, Sci-Fi, Shounen
- Volumes: 11+
- Published: August 2016 - Ongoing
The orphans of Grace Field House live great lives. Despite not having any parents, their every need is cared for and they live together in a big family all taken care of by their “Mama”, Isabella. At the age of 12, the children are adopted into happy hopes. Their daily lives consist of rigorous tests but they’re allowed to play outside. The only rule – they may not leave the orphanage. However, one day, Emma and Norman, two of the highest-scoring children, venture past the gate and come to realise why they were never supposed to leave the orphanage in the first place. The true cruelty of their existence becomes apparent and Emma and Norman try to think hard… in order to get everybody away from Grace Field House.
Ray is one of the three highest-scoring kids in Grace Field House. At 11-years-old, his intelligence is scary – far beyond most of the other kids. He keeps to himself for the most part; however, he is very passionate about his friends and when Emma and Norman tell him about the truth of Grace Field House’s position as a farm for human meat, he calmly walks them through the truth that he has always known…
1. Akiyama Shinichi – Liar Game
- Authors: Kaitani Shinobu
- Genres: Drama, Game, Psychological, Seinen
- Volumes: 19
- Published: February 2005 – January 2015
Kanzaki Nao’s father taught her to be honest, so she can live up to her name. However, Nao has taken being honest to its logical conclusion, which sees her being labelled a “foolishly honest girl” by the people around her. This obviously makes her the worst possible candidate for the “Liar Game”, a game in which players must deceive other players out of large sums of money, which in turn places them in huge debt. Despite her being ill-suited to it all, Nao receives a large box containing 100 million yen and a card informing her of her participation in the high-stakes game. Soon after receiving it, Nao is deceived out of all the cash and soon thrown into despair. However, she hears of a genius scammer being released from prison after serving his sentence on the back of sending a large major corporation into bankruptcy. Nao finds the man, Akiyama Shinichi, and begs for his help. So begins Kanzaki Nao’s descent into the greed and deception of the Liar Game.
Akiyama Shinichi, a genius swindler who knows human nature like the back of his hand. Shinichi is Nao’s best bet at surviving the treachery of the Liar Game and his plans are almost always fool-proof. One of the main aspects of his deceit is his never-changing expressionless face – Akiyama Shinichi can keep his cool under any and all circumstances, making his inclusion in the Liar Game the best decision honest Nao has made.
In reality, a lot of people take aloofness the wrong way. The inability to see what someone is thinking at a glance tends to make people uncomfortable, but realistically, it only makes sense that people who don’t always outright display their emotions still have emotions. The kuudere characters in anime and manga are the perfect depiction of this – their coldness and stoic nature are parts of who they are and because of these aspects, we come to appreciate the character a whole lot more! Who are your favourite manga kuudere characters? Drop a comment below and tell us all about them!