Inu x Boku’s Tasteful Tsun: Ririchiyo Shirakiin’s Vicious Lip

by Ryan A.
Ririchiyo Shirakiin Inu x Boku SS エトウ
via エトウ

Inu x Boku SS is a Winter 2012 series which follows the life of Ririchiyo Shirakiin, a youkai descendant and a member of the wealthy Shirakiin family, as she moves into the Ayakashi Kan seeking independence. This supernatural story is filled with stylish appeal, sexual aesthetics, and light fetishism throughout, yet is not primarily service-orientated in a contemporary sense. While the story often feels generic, the characters and chemistry provide lovable elements for entertainment, and one of the freshest elements in my opinion is the main character, Ririchiyo, who is a consciously torn existence as we discover. Her surface appearance is very doll-like and she happens to be fitting of an ojou in both prideful mannerism and her silky, midnight hime-cut. Yet her most noticeable trait is a vice she clearly addresses in the first episode: a “sharp tongue.”

The tsundere classification is far from original but presented uniquely in that she is the protagonist, the primary character and brings the audience into her first-person view. Ririchiyo’s haughty tongue is also a familiar personality trait aligned with characters like Victorique (Gosick) and Dalian (Dantalian no Shokka) with an important difference in her interior monologues, which reveal truth about her feelings. She puts on a face, despite the pain it causes her (ドM).

Ririchiyo Shirakiin Inu x Boku SS 鈴音れな
via 鈴音れな

Ririchiyo’s characterization happens to be quite comical though. Sure tsundere is a tired character trait but Ririchiyo actively bends her response and manner, inside and out, in nearly every scene. Alone in her room, we see a sweet girl without the aggressive armor. While elsewhere, she is ready to verbally slash down the “opposition,” even when it leads to her own suffering. It’s quite obvious the other characters of Ayakashi House are aware of her personality, especially Sorinozuka, who is right in calling her “thoughtful.”

Her tsun is fairly moderate and cool-tempered, refraining from flashy bursts of emotion. But her reactions and the way she proceeds are amusing because of the immediate dissonance offered by her self-consciousness; essentially nodding yes while saying no. A regular example of her boutique tsun occurs in the mornings, when she readily scorns others in conversation but pliantly finishes her attack with a soft 「おはようございます。」. Though trivial, I find these small displays amusing and feel they raise her endearing qualities.

Ririchiyo Shirakiin Inu x Boku SS transformed oni 都
via 都

Additionally, being in Ririchiyo’s point-of-view allows the story to brush sentiments without needing to skillfully build up situations in-scene, and it generally works. Light drama introduced between Ririchiyo and Miketsukami remindeds me of a young lovers’ quarrel. The conflict is childish and dreck but somehow adequate in execution, a hat tip to the background music. Sustainability of this melodrama based in Ririchiyo’s social separation of self does not set Inu x Boku apart from similar stories, but the perspective offers what I believe is a less pretentious look at the tsundere archetype: her side of story is a reward.

What’s more is that Inu x Boku seems aware of it’s identity and does not needlessly play games with characters or audience. Ririchiyo’s everyday life brings enjoyment instead of despair or contempt. And through amusement and lighthearted gestures, I feel this character brings out the entertainment potential of a pretty standard anime. For that, Inu x Boku has been a surprising treat this season.

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About the Guest Author:
A super classy, intelligent man, Ryan A. has been a very close friend for a long time. I admire and love his tastes, aesthetics, styles, and attitudes. Over at aloe, dream, Ryan writes beautiful, dissecting posts about anime and other various things, all with an elegant air. It is a sincere pleasure to borrow a bit of that for Listless Ink.

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20 Responses to Inu x Boku’s Tasteful Tsun: Ririchiyo Shirakiin’s Vicious Lip

  1. gozieson says:

    You would almost never see in-person, a person who has this personality, let his or her emotional guard down. Normally you’ll have to look and hear these people rage for a while to understand all the deep secrets and thoughts that they harbor inside their hearts.

    My younger sister personally has an aggressive trait when she’s around her friends and me but I see a side of her that is weak to judgement when things don’t go her way. Sure, she’s the kind of girl who would even bully the biggest person in the world, but deep down, she knows that she has problems, she doesn’t want to deal with them personally or she doesn’t want to seem weak towards her peers by acting mellow all of a sudden for the sake of her future.

    That might just be it though, some people just don’t want to let anyone else see them lowering their guard so that they can gain the upper-hand in society. But in truth, everyone is human, we are a species which have evolved to have different emotional feelings towards others. The only thing we can do for these people is to understand what they’re going through. we shouldn’t give people solutions to their problems, we should only hear them out and comfort them.

    • Ryan A says:

      It’s rare indeed. And seeing the softer side likely depends on how obstinate a person is about their ‘guard’. I think we all can admit to saying things we really didn’t mean, either purposely or out of emotion, but what’s important is how we reflect and move on imo. Ririchiyo has a nice feel about her because she’s actively trying to become more open.

      I suppose it’s great that you’re aware of your sister, she sounds like quite a character. ^ ^

  2. w says:

    Inu x Boku is a perfect example of why I think that automatically labeling a show with stereotypes as bad is a very ignorant move.

    • Ryan A says:

      Further inquisition: are stereotypes in fiction inherently bad? I think not, and to extend your thoughts, I find it more interesting when we can embrace and enjoy the more unique aspects of shows that appear one way or another. And some shows are exactly as the appear to be, stereotypes and all, but I believe we can still find something notable in most works.

      It may come as a surprise that I walked into Inu x Boku without any foreknowledge of the series. I suspected it was going to be a run-of-the-mill display of fanservice hijinks, and perhaps that made the experience all the more enjoyable thus far. Of course, it couldn’t hurt to have a larger plot/theme beyond Ririchiyo’s character.

  3. Hana says:

    I confess, tsundere female leads who appear to be tsun/ just plain rude for no apparent reason other than the fact that they still look cute while being so are one of my pet peeves. This is what turned me off from watching any more of Dantalian no Shokka after episode one, though I never got around to watching Gosick because of the mixed reviews I’ve heard of it. Saying that, when tsun is used as a layer or mask within deeper characterisation, then that’s another story. I’m reminded of Misaki from Kaichou wa Maid-sama! and Kanae from Skip Beat! amongst others here, as these are strong females with interesting family circumstances and backgrounds that help to convey why they both at times hide behind their tsun sides (though, clearly, their tsundere sides can be very funny and sweet). Thus, what you say about Ririchiyo’s torn existence and the use of her viewpoint and interior monologues interests me. I like the suggestion that the fun, if standard, elements are supported by a thoughtful development that makes you care about the character as well as (legitimately (if that makes sense)) enjoy the aesthetics, melodrama and supernatural elements.

    Um, I guess I’ll let you know more if I actually watch it! ^ ^

    • Ryan A says:

      Dantalian and Gosick both had fairly good settings, but I can see how the characters would become irritating, especially in Gosick, which used a poor inner-narration of the MC to develop Victorique for half the series. Dantalian though had a few other interesting points in the story and setting, which animekritik and draggle touched on in their episodic deconstructions.

      I think the primary turn off for “tsundere” characters, and many other characters, is the lack of dimension. And it’s a bit ‘easy’ to add dimension through Ririchiyo’s the inner-monologues, but ultimately I think these kind of characters desperately need a dynamic from start to finish; preferably growth. Ririchiyo is trying, but another example to support this idea would be Taiga in Toradora!, who showed viewers all kinds of characteristics as she grew throughout the story. Though I also think situation and circumstance play into the depth.

      You mentioned family circumstance and background regarding Misaki and Kanae, which contrasts well to what we’ve learned about Ririchiyo’s family and history. Circumstance, especially when conflicting, help us feel the characters’ weight of being. I can’t say Ririchiyo has complex characterization, yet she is quaint.

      And It might not be your cup of tea, but I have a feeling you might enjoy the male character dynamics, which often tend to be warm, playful, and humorous. This is a fun show.

  4. AKJ says:

    There’s just something about Riricho-sama that’s so endearing ♥

  5. Metaler says:

    I watched only the first episode so far, and I absolutely loved it. It has a very shoujo-ish feel to it, somehow, which I think it’s very refreshing.

    Ririchiyo’s so cute~ <3

    • Ryan A says:

      Indeed, and I agree some of the story’s elements such as the SS boys and character chemistry do feel a bit like shoujo. I also find it refreshing that most of the story doesn’t seem to cater to a shounen/shoujo demographic. It’s kind of enjoyable all around without needing a gender-oriented audience. At least that’s my opinion.

  6. wieselhead says:

    Ririchiyo is a transparent tsundere for the audience, its good that they portray her like in a more multilayered way, it appears more believeable and interesting like that. Random tsunderes are quite popular, but in general it is no character trait I really like on an anime girl.

    It’s good that Ririchiyo isn’t completely unable to show her true emotions to others, it was a lovely scene as she send this honest message to Miketsukami.
    But It is a bit sad, that Ririchiyo’s fears her own vicious tounge and that she might say something rude to people who have good intentions.

    I hope she will make even more progress in interacting better with people who are kind to her.

    • Ryan A says:

      Random tsunderes are quite popular, but in general it is no character trait I really like on an anime girl.

      It’s tough to enjoy the singular dimension as-is. I feel we are able to love (or maybe hate) characters to a greater extent when we’re given more depth to the characters beyond their primitive archetypes. The trouble with tsundere is the fad associated with it in which creators may have contrived their characters with the idea that “tsundere sells.” Then again, I am a sucker for certain types of characters ^ ^ …but not usually to a mindless extent.

      …it was a lovely scene as she send this honest message to Miketsukami.

      She was so adorable in letting out a little honesty.

  7. Nopy says:

    I absolutely love Ririchiyo, her imprefections are what make her so cute. While she’s the main driving force for Inu x Boku, I think Karuta, Watanuki, and the really laid back guy also add some comic relief.

    • Ryan A says:

      Oh, yes. She is socially flawed but aware of it, and it’s cute when we see little things in her past, like with her writing letters and hoping for mail. And Karuta, lol. I could see Karuta keeping bees behind the gym by the end of the series. She’s amusing. Nobara and Renshou are also a cool pairing. The characters are quirky but not outrageously so and maybe that’s why it’s an easy show to watch.

  8. lelangir says:

    kinda random but this is a good summary of Miketsukami.

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  12. Yi says:

    Lovely post on Ririchiyo! Agreed that she’s a fascinating take on an old trope: tsundere. In fact, just that she is essentially the perspective we see stories unfold make this tsundere particularly interesting. We see her “dere” and insecurities much more intimately, and often coming from her own admission. This intimacy really does make her so much more endearing, especially for a character who actively—though unintentionally—pushes away others.

    “the perspective offers what I believe is a less pretentious look at the tsundere archetype: her side of story is a reward.”

    Yes, indeed! The tsundere archetype has been done to death, so much so that we know exactly when to expect the blush, the yellings, the slappings, and the dere moments. Yet, what we usually never expect is a monologue of the stress that their personalities impose on them. Instead, most often, we just accept the archetype as a trope. Breaking this, I think, is what makes Ririchiyo so lovely. (Plus, I like cute girls, especially ones with a mean tongue.)

    p.s. Thank you so so much for the guest post. To be honest, your style is one of the few that have really influenced my blog in terms of topic, length, thoughts, even the little things like footnotes. So it was truly an honor to have you.

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