Take a trip back to Bubble Era ’80s Japan and the series where the tsundere archetype started.

Among the words that have trickled into English from Japanese anime fandom is “tsundere.” A combination of “tsun tsun” (literally “spiky” but also “thorny,” in a figurative sense) and “dere dere” (smotheringly affectionate), tsundere is a handy shorthand to describe a character who’s outwardly aloof, standoffish or irritable, but also kind and loving when the circumstances are just right.

Any half-way experienced anime fan could rattle off a half-dozen characters that fit that archetype, but they all owe a debt to the first tsundere, landmark anime/manga Kimagure Orange Road’s Madoka Ayukawa, whose birthday is today, May 25.

Running from 1984 to 1987, creator Izumi Matsumoto’s KOR is set right in the middle of Japan’s Bubble Economy glory days. The story begins when teenager Kyosuke Kasuga moves to Tokyo with his family, and before starting school he has a chance encounter with the beautiful and friendly Madoka, who turns out to be one of his new classmates. At school, though, she acts entirely differently, cool and distant, and rumors abound that she’s a dangerous delinquent. Things get progressively more complicated as Madoka’s best friend takes a romantic shining to Kyosuke, and also as we found out that he and his sisters have psychic powers, but through it all, the real focus is on Madoka’s complex, multi-faceted personality, and whether she can reconcile those apparent contradictions and form lasting relationships with other people.

The series works as a snapshot of both young love and life in 1980s Japan (sometimes literally, with the frequent use of photograph motifs). But the Kimagure Orange Road manga isn’t just a great read, it’s a free one too, as the entire series, all 156 chapters, is available to read online for free at Japanese manga hosting website Sukima.

The entire series can be read in your browser with no need to register any sort of account or email address. You’ll get a single pop-up at the start and finish of each chapter, but they’re for pretty benign products (no shady pyramid scheme or “performance enhancing” medicine offers), with no auto-play audio or video elements, plus a nice, big, easy-to-see X to click on close the ad.

If you’re looking for the exact chapter where Madoka’s birthday is revealed, it’s the one titled “Private Memory,” the fourth chapter in Volume 4. And while her date of birth is never specified in the manga, a rewatch of the Kimagure Orange Road: I Want to Return to that Day anime film tells us both she and Kyosuke were born in 1969, meaning that she’s now 51 years old, but as many times as she’s been imitated, there’s still no tsundere quite like the original tsundere, and if you want to see where it all began, KOR can be found on Sukima here.

Images: Sukima
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he says Lum doesn’t count as a tsundre because “sweet and affectionate” is her default mood until something makes her go into a murderous rage.

[ Read in Japanese ]