I think there may be such a thing as a reverse tsundere show, much the same way as there’s a reverse harem. I’m no expert on harem and shoujo. I’m not an expert. Nonetheless I theorize that the root of violence and vengeance on the part of Kyouko towards Shou is love. We may not see any further dere-dere (but I think we will), but this is something like, if not already is a trope that I’m seeing in anime.
Tropes are not necessarily bad or cliche, it’s shorthand that allows the creators to concisely communicate certain if not important aspects of a show, which allows them to add a variety of other elements, Related to this idea is a good treatise on how visual presentation is matched with a character’s ideology. It may be too early for me to make these statements about Skip Beat, especially since I’ve never read the manga but here I go anyway.
I’m not a follower of shoujo titles, though I find myself watching/reading them because well, the waifu. Us men can be influenced, and she watches some mecha anime with me anyway (now if only I’d get her to see that GAR >>>> Bishonen).
Kyouko is, or would have been easily pigeonholed as a martyr. She’s made her whole life about the success of another person: her rabu-rabu object Shou. To this end she entered the work force and did massive toil to put up Kyou who would have been a starving artist (see Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad). I don’t want to demonize Kyou immediately for this (as I myself am a beneficiary of similar largesse at some point in my life), but it does turn out that Shou is a major asshat.
Shou is a scion of hoteliers in Kyoto who look to him to take over the family business and marry the yamato nadeshiko childhood friend. He has dreams of celebrity and sees Kyou as plain and boring. He cons her to come with him to Tokyo to pursue his dream with him, but really just needs her to work for him as a maid who also provides for upkeep.
Kyouko overhears him expose this to his manager and confronts him. Shou frames her dismissal in terms of the impossibility for her to enter his world (and therefore she will never be a match for him). She vows to become his rival and beat him. This is the plot contrivance that allows for the showbusiness setting of the narrative.
I’ve been watching Special A with the waifu and see a similar dynamic between its two leads. Hikari is oblivious of her own attraction to Kei and is hell bent in defeating him in anything and everything. Kyouko while not oblivious of her devotion to Shou, she has probably convinced herself that he’s undeserving of her generosity and love and has decided to crush him. But I doubt that she has indeed given up all that love, as immature as it may be (given their respective ages: 16).
The devotion to support has just been realigned into a devotion to destroy – but there are problems to this: Kyouko doesn’t really want Shou to to fail, she just wants to be better than he is. A more efficient revenge would be to undermine his career, perhaps through malicious gossip, etc. But a makeover doesn’t truly change the yamato nadeshiko (a frequent trait among mary sue tropes), she’d rather just inflict physical damage, and beat him in his own game. She doesn’t really want to harm him – since physical damage from tsunderes has no real effect (see Akira and Tadashi in Special A, Taiga and Ryuji in Toradora!), it’s a convenient code for (repressed) rabu-rabu.
Not related to my thesis, but something I find equally interesting is the morality of Kyouko, particularly in Nietzchean discourse. I recently praised Michiko to Hatchin for portraying Hana beyond the tradition of suffering martyrs when she pwnd Maria in a full mount, ground-and-pound TKO victory. At first I thought the similarity of Kyouko and Hana is superficial: they just stood up for themselves. Now I think Kyouko’s is far more awesome.
Slave morality in Nietzsche’s discourse re-values the values of the masters. If Kyouko went the slave route she could’ve dismissed Shou and everything he’s about, particularly the pursuit of (superficial) celebrity as beneath her. This value of his would make him less of a person in her eyes. Instead she acknowledged the actual jerkassery of using and mistreating her, and not his goals as the reprehensible acts.
She then embarks to become a celebrity herself, and avoids the pretensious morality that could easily have entrapped her. If she did it would be awfully hypocritical anyway, even if she only got into celebrities and showbusiness because of Shou in the first place.
The waifu likes the anime, which means I will follow this series. Did you see what I just did there? I just avoided taking responsibility for liking this show. I’m getting the hang of this tsundere business.