The Armadillo Effect
Most of us are familiar with the “Hedgehog’s Dilemma.” It’s the cute little metaphor that they used in Evangelion to explain Shinji’s wussiness (And, yes, Eva blatantly lifted it from existing psychology crap.). Hedgehogs are afraid to get close to people because:
A) They’re afraid to hurt others because of their quills stabbing these people’s guts out.
B) They’re afraid that said quills will in turn hurt themselves as they press into their own flesh if they become too close to someone else.
The Hedgehog’s Dilemma applies to many loser male anime leads, and I think I’ve figured out another cute animal metaphor that works well for many female anime leads.
I propose The Armadillo Effect.
Y’all know what an armadillo is. You’re also likely familiar with the fact that said little dudes are the poster child of Texas road kill. The main reason why so many armadillos get offed by cars (Other than the fact that they can’t outrun a Chevy pick-up going 110mph in a 55mph zone.) is the fact that their primary defensive mechanism when faced with a potential predator is to jump. Armadillos jump straight into the air before attempting to hightail it out of the way. That’s their natural reaction to “big thing coming at me that probably wants to eat me alive.”
Therefore, when an armadillo sees a car coming, he doesn’t bolt out of the way, heightening his chances to dodge said oncoming vehicle. Nope. The dude jumps straight into the air, often resulting in him jumping into the car’s path and getting hit in mid-air.
When it comes to dealing with cars, the armadillo’s naturally evolved defensive mechanism actually makes his situation worse. Such is the case with the classic anime chick stereotype: the tsundere.
Tsunderes react to romantic and suggestive situations with emotional distancing, anger, and violence. If you say “I love you,” she gets angry, grabs you by your school uniform tie, calls you a fucking asshole, and likely decks you with a flash kick or dragon punch. They want to feel loved, but their naturally evolved reaction to any sort of confrontation (hostile or benevolent) is to react with aggression and violence.
Obviously, such reactions only make the situation worse for the tsundere. The guy might be turned off by her behavior, or it keeps the characters from coming to a romantic reconciliation at an earlier point in the series.
Tsunderes essentially react to love the same way an armadillo reacts to a car: they do the exact opposite thing from what they should do and often get hit by a metaphorical semi.