Meme Oshino calls her tsundere chan. A lot of fans claim that Senjougahara is their favourite tsundere waifu. But Hitagi Senjougahara, the psychotic virgin we all love, is definitely not a tsundere. Or if I have to put it more precisely, Senjougahara does not fit into just a single character archetype. And this is true for the other characters in the Monogatari series too.
Because the story plays out through the eyes of an unreliable narrator. Whatever we read is an inference formed by Araragi based on his interactions with the other characters. And it is safe to say that Araragi is only human (or not) and his conjectures miss the mark by a mile.
So, coming back to the main topic. Why do I vehemently deny that Senjougahara is a typical tsundere? Well, for starters, let’s look into what type of person classifies to be a tsundere.
Tsunderes are often shown to be cold towards others initially, even though they have a warm and friendlier side to them. They typically express the exact opposite of what they actually feel. If they like someone, they’ll try to push them away, if they want something, their first reaction would be to deny the same, so on and so forth. It is sort of a defense mechanism, which makes it hard for them to outright admit or in some cases deny their feelings.
The typical examples of tsunderes would be Rin Tohsaka from Fate Series, Noelle Silva and Charlotte Roselei from Black Clover or Taiga Aisaka from Toradora (Asuka Langley from Neongenesis too?).
Now form a mental picture of these characters and their traits in your mind and compare them with that of Senjougahara. While most of the typical tsunderes had reasonable trouble expressing what they really felt, especially their feelings of attraction or romance, Senjougahara had no such trouble doing so. She is quite open and direct about her interest in Araragi and even confesses to him very early, say by the first 2 volumes (or the first 5 episodes) of the series.
While she is shown to be cold, her lack of hesitation in relaying her feelings to Araragi completely twists the typical tsundere character tropes. Outwardly expressing love is not something that a tsundere-chan does. Take Charlotte for example. She runs away from Yami when she feels that he was about to question her feelings for him. That’s how tsunderes behave.
Oshino calls Senjougahara a tsundere.
Senjougahara agrees that people like her are called tsunderes.
At some point even Araragi thinks Senjougahara is a tsundere.
But Senjougahara is as much tsundere as Araragi is a human. She is an oddity in all terms. A unique, yet complex character.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not disappointed that she does not fit the stereotype. In fact it is one of the things that makes reading/watching Bakemonogatari interesting for me. This is closer to real life. And *ahem* the warped romance they have is more relatable.
Senjougahara resembles a tsundere with her reserved behaviour, borders on being a yandere when she displays her sadistic side, destroying Araragi verbally (she definitely won’t mind making all of “killing Araragi” talks a reality) and her cold and cynical nature would put her in a spectrum of characters that are categorized as kuudere. But the truth is, none of these terms from japanese pop culture are enough to describe Hitagi Senjougahara perfectly.
NisiOisiN took a standard behaviour trope, twisted it according to his will and delivered a character who would become an archetype on her own. He has depicted real complex human behaviour, coupled with the ambiguity of an unreliable narrator, making the users fawn over the inconsistencies and the real life similarities of Senjougahara as a character, that we read in Bakemonogatari. It’s hard to say what they are thinking, it’s even harder to guess why they act the way they act, and that’s what makes Monogatari one of the most interesting “literary” (if I may say so) series out there.
To everyone who has put Hitagi Senjougahara in their list of top ten tsunderes, I ask you to reconsider. I ask you to delve deep into Monogatari and let her character take you by storm. Look closely, what you see is not a tsundere. It’s a new stereotype. And like Araragi said towards the end of the second arc in Bakemonogatari, its Senjougahara-tore. Literally a new fascination.