Alya Sometimes Hides Her Feelings in Russian (or Roshidere for short) by Sunsunsun is absolutely going to get an anime in the near future. The story was initially posted on Shousetsuka ni Narou as a short serialisation in 2020, but a Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko editor took interest in it and asked the author to turn it into a full series. By the time the first volume even came out in February 2021, the series already had a voice cast.
That’s right. The very first Roshidere media to come out was an audio drama featuring Sumire Uesaka and Kouhei Amasaki as the lead couple. This attracted a lot of buzz because Uesaka is a well-known Russophile among voice actor fans. Also, the short skit (embedded below) captured the simple and playful premise. Several days later, the first volume would become an instant hit in Japan, achieving a total print circulation of over 100,000 copies just on its own.
So what is Roshidere about? Like many light novels, the story is in the title. The heroine Alya pretends to be cold to her crush but whispers compliments in Russian. Too bad for her, Kuze understands what she’s saying. If you’re familiar with the Teasing Master Takagi-san anime, it’s kind of like that, only the dynamic is weighted more in favour of the guy.
The first volume came out in English this week, so I tried it for myself. And it’s honestly, genuinely funny! Although it’s nothing original, it employs the classic romcom trope of miscommunication to great effect. In their dynamic, whoever shows visible embarrassment “loses”, so they end up playing mind games and overthinking everything. Kuze might seem to have the upper hand because he understands Alya’s Russian, but he also has his hands full trying not to let on that he knows. If he blushes, the cat is out of the bag!
This tentative balance is at its funniest in the chapter where the two go clothes shopping. Alya thinks she can cause a funny reaction in Kuze by dressing in cute clothes for him, only for him to predict the move and lavish her with praise instead. There is also a great scene where Alya demands Kuze put on her socks on her feet, which culminates in him texting his sister later: “I might have a foot fetish.”
At least so far, the story is pretty light on drama. Rather than an obstacle between the main couple, the conflict in the first volume revolved around Kuze’s hesitancy to join the student council. Even a series of comedic misunderstandings around Kuze’s relationship with another girl on the student council doesn’t come between him and Alya, which is kind of relieving since I find drama of that kind rather tedious. This book is trope-y, but it’s selective about using the comfy tropes rather than the annoying ones.
All in all, I was pretty satisfied with the first volume because I think it exemplifies the appeal of a “light” novel, but the story definitely has room to grow. Not only are Alya and Kuze cute together, they are also equals who challenge each other’s weak points. Where Alya is headstrong and motivated, Kuze is laid-back and pragmatic, but they both feel guilty about what they lack within themselves. I can see the story moving in a direction where they feel unworthy of each other, so I am pretty interested to read what comes next.
So yeah, if you wanna get the jump start on this series before the inevitable anime adaptation, check out the light novel! In Japanese, there are currently four volumes for the main story, plus one interim volume. Yen Press publishes the light novel in English, and the translation really captures the charm in the dialogue. Long story short, read this if you’re in the mood for a light-hearted romcom where the tsundere is more “dere” than “tsun”.
Boycotting this and all Russophilic media until Russia withdraws all troops from Ukraine
No matter how you feel about this war, it’s crazy to think that Putin will withdraw the troops because of the boycott of anime with Russian wiafu. This is so absurd that it borders on mocking.
I’ve been thinking about reading this series for a while! I love romances where the leads end up complementing each other rather than just being generally “nice” people (which usually just means decent in comparison to everyone else lol). It’s just a deeper view of what love is—seeing & accepting someone through both their strengths and weaknesses while also supporting them in the ways that you can and helping them to grow. Not that I’m expecting super deep commentary on love from my light novel, but hey, when novels do that well,
Thanks for the post!!
Nice! I hope you enjoy the LN!
Oh lol, is this the same LN whose adaptation so many are waiting for as a Sumipe benefit? Anyway, as a person with part Russian roots, I still wonder why the Japanese remain interested in us even during political conflicts.
“So yeah, if you wanna get the jump start on this series before the inevitable anime adaptation, check out the light novel!”
Depends on if my local library gets a copy…. :)
Would you say there’s a small Russophile wave in Japan right now? I guess if I have to ask the question then it just goes to show how small the wave is, if it exists, but I feel like this isn’t the first Russian or part-Russian love interest I’ve seen in the Japanese geek media ecosystem (LN, manga, anime). Although thinking about it further, the love interests are female and I can’t recall any shojo stories showing a schoolgirl blushing like mad because a hot Russian guy is hitting on her.
I suppose a related observation is that I sometimes comes across half-Japanese female love interests but the girl’s non-Japanese half is usually something white (half-British, half-French, half-Brazilian, etc) and is never like half-British Nigerian, half-Korean, or half-Afro-Brazilian, for example.
I wouldn’t call it a wave, because Russian characters have been in anime for a long time (just remember Anya in 00s Idolmaster 2) . This is what interests me as a part Russian, because it seems that this little representation always persists, even when Russo-Japanese relations are, to put it mildly, in a rather bad state (for example, in this season there are Renai Flops and Akiba Maid, each of which has one token russian character). In terms of male characters, Hetalia’s Russia is one of the most frequent and popular characters in the franchise. Mostly because of the references to politics, but still.
There is a lot of discrimination against Koreans in Japan, which is why Korean characters rarely appear as love interests rather than rivals, I guess. When it comes to POC characters, in my experience, such characters, especially female ones, appear more often in all-female shows as moe characters.
Yeah, I guess it’s better to call it ongoing representation, and like you I’m mystified at where it’s coming from. For Francophilia you can point at the mutual regard French and Japanese filmmakers had for each other in the 60s onward, for Brazilian representation you can look at links to the diaspora in Brazil. But whither this small but persistent affinity for Russia? I wonder if it’s mostly a post-Soviet love?
Spitballing here, and I don’t know how Russia is spoken of in Japanese news, but you’re probably aware that English language news media talks about Russia like it’s a Third World country with white people: oligarchs, corruption, authoritarianism. If the discourse is similar in Japan, perhaps Russia occupies a space in the Japanese imaginary as a non-threatening European country for white people to be from? Russia as geopolitically moe? Absent Khalkin Gol, Japan doesn’t have a history of direct conflict with Russia, after all.
Anyway, that’s me pulling a theory out of my ass, feel free to tear it to shreds.
As for Koreans, I’m aware of their situation. I can’t actually recall any Korean characters at all from anime or manga, which is telling considering how Japan and Korea’s recent history are so closely intertwined.
Sorry, that was meant to be a reply to John, it ended up in the wrong spot.
From what I hear, the Japanese treat Russia as something like European China. That is, to a country with which it is beneficial to have economic relations, but which is potentially dangerous for geopolitical reasons. But judging by the anime, I got the impression that Russia is for the Japanese something like a northern European country mixed with Soviet stereotypes. If you pay attention, then the Russians in the anime are just repeating the Japanese stereotypes about the Soviets and Northern Europeans. Gray hair (an interesting connection with albinism in anime as a symbol of detachment and coldness), Nordic mentality that combines coldness with outbursts of violence, naive machismo, early 20th century dominance in culture, etc. By the way, last year there was a near-yuri anime that seemed to be based on the Russian revolution. Or the vampire fantasy about Gagarin’s flight, which came out this spring. You could see the full set of these nordic cold + communist stereotypes in both show.
Because of the gray hair, I thought that Yosuga no Sora was also going this way, but it turned out that the European mother of the twins is actually the canonical Estonian. Although this is probably just an association with the former USSR, as other shows also portray the Baltic countries in a similar way to Russian characters.
Well, I see Korean characters most often in martial arts content. For example, Tekken’s Hworang, which is a prime example of stock shonen rival, is getting a lot of attention in the latest anime adaptation of the game. Often to the level of token taekwondo master, by analogy with Chinese kung fu masters, Mexican luchadors and other brightly national martial arts.
By the way, if you think about it, you are also unlikely to see other Asian characters as ordinary people. They almost always have some kind of cultural context. Although you will see a half-white half-Japanese character as an ordinary love interest or an ordinary person in SoL anime without any problems. For example, in the Renai Flops I mentioned, the Russian and American girls just have gray and red hair colors and kanji problems, while the Chinese girl wears a qipai and knows kung fu like an action movie hero.
You’re absolutely right, it’s so obvious now after you’ve pointed out, but Russians in Japanese nerd media are in the same vague place that Nordic people occupy, at least in romance stories.
And hoo boy, did you know that in Ranma 1/2, the one Chinese person, when speaking Chinese, was actually just saying the names of Chinese food, i.e. wonton ma po tofu chow mein? The English dub just took what she was supposed to be saying and had the voice actors say it in Mandarin instead. The Mandarin pronunciation was terrible but the change was a definite improvement.
It reminded me of the 00s American parody of The Ring and the Grudge, where Anna Faris “spoke Japanese” to a ghost, actually saying Japanese clichés like Mitsubishi, ninja or sushi, and the movie literally translated it into English. But it was a Western parody, it’s strange to me to think that the Japanese portray the Chinese in a more cheesy stereotype way than the Europeans.
Liking if only because I’m pretty sure my partner, a native Russian speaker, will be highly amused at the possibly hilariously awkward translations/pronunciations.
You can see how it will look on the example of the voiced commercial for LN. From what I’ve heard, it’s within reason.
I had never read a light novel before. But I kept seeing your thread on this years reads on your Twitter. I saw your post a about Ayla and figured it seemed like a good place to dip my toe in. Picked it up on Bookwalker and read it pretty quickly. While I don’t know if I loved it, I still quite enjoyed it. Your line in this post about it going with comfy tropes and avoiding annoying ones, finally made me realised why I still managed to enjoy it.
Cheers for leading to this LN. I’ll be going back through your Twitter LN post to look for my next one.
Also does anyone know why Russian characters have silver hair? Is it just because Russia is cold and silver hair makes a character look cold?
Because gray hair is associated in Japanese culture with coldness and a mysterious personality. Eva’s Rei is a prime example of this. It also comes with Yuki Onna.
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