Passion is an amazing thing to watch in anime. Many shows ride on the positive energy from watching characters strive for their dreams. Shows like Shirobako, Space Brothers, Narutoand Spy x Family would not work if the central characters did not care for the work they were doing. That is not to say that characters without passion cannot work in a story.
There are characters who do not care for their work or jobs in the same way others do. It could be that they are in the job for reasons they cannot control. While this might not make them engaging, it is certainly relatable. Many people work in jobs that don’t speak to them. It is a fact of life that is all too familiar to some.
10 Yang Wen-li Hates Being In The Military (Legend Of The Galactic Heroes)
Yang Wen-li just wanted to be a history scholar. That was his ultimate ambition. However, his father’s passing left him with no other option but to enroll in a military academy to further his studies. This allowed him to study history, but it also forced him into the military.
Despite his distaste for warfare and politics, he was one of the most gifted strategists in Legend of the Galactic Heroes. There was no one on the Alliance’s side that could rival him in terms of military strategy. Ultimately, he still participated in the war to save the people he could, but he always threatened to retire since there was no love there.
9 Shinji Ikari Doesn’t Want To Get In The Robot (Neon Genesis Evangelion)
Shinji Ikari just wants the life of a normal high school boy with loving parents. Instead, he has to fight world-threatening monsters in a giant mech. His father does not love him but uses their parental connection to force him to become a pilot. Throughout Neon Genesis EvangelionShinji is miserable. He tries to run away from his duties as a pilot on multiple occasions.
Shinji’s aversion to piloting the Eva is understandable given the situation. However, Rei and Asuke prove to be more motivated pilots in contrast, even if their reasons have nothing to do with NERV. Ultimately, they are all children being forced into dangerous fights, and Shinji’s contempt for it makes sense.
8 The Protagonist Just Wanted An Easy Job To Match Her Temperament (Humanity Has Declined)
In the post-apocalyptic world of Humanity has Declined, knowledge is limited, but strange technology from fairies lies around unused. The protagonist’s job as a mediator might have seemed idyllic. However, she did not anticipate how hard dealing with fairies would be.
Mediating between humans and fairies requires more than just giving them sweets. Often, she is dragged into weird adventures with self-destructive bread, animated headless chickens, and time loops. It stresses her out and makes her even more cynical than she already is.
7 Inari Is Bored With His Divinity & Existence (Kyousougiga)
Kyousougiga is a colorful and loud statement against nihilism. While Myoe and Koto represent the forces of hope within the show, the crippling nihilism is embodied by Inari. He is a child of god and is tasked with maintaining the balance between worlds, but he neglects his duties. He finds his existence empty and meaningless.
He creates a looking glass world to escape his duties but abandons it once he decides to work towards the end of his existence, leaving his life-bringing powers to his son Myoe. The cycle of self-hatred he finds himself in keeps him from performing his godly duties.
6 Kaiki Takes No Pride In His Nefarious Services (Monogatari Series)
There is nothing about Kaiki’s work that breathes joy into him. He cons people for money, but there is no gleeful menace in his villainous acts. It is probably why he does not see himself as a villain. the Monogatari Series gradually reveals that Kaiki is a chronic liar, but he is still deeply human.
His occupation as a conman is merely a product of his personality. Whether or not it causes harm, he will trick people to get paid. It is impossible to say if he truly values anything. Even in his most sentimental moments, the audience cannot trust if what he says is genuine. His deceptive services are only there because it makes him money.
5 Sorcery Is Only Marginally Better Than Office Work In The Eyes Of Kento Nanami (Jujutsu Kaisen)
After graduating from Tokyo Jujutsu High, Nanami became an office worker. This was an odd choice for someone who was trained to combat curses, but it showed that he did not have any real passion for it. Regardless, when he decided to return to Jujutsu Sorcery, he proved that he was still very good at it.
As one of the few Grade 1 sorcerers in Jujutsu Kaisen, fans can see that Nanami is a very powerful character. However, he treats his position as just another 9-to-5 job. He claims that it is only slightly better than wasting his time as a salaryman.
4 Panty & Stocking Have To Be Forced To Fight Demons (Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt)
The main duo of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is selfish, lazy, and unmotivated. They are banished angels who need to defeat demons in order to return to heaven, yet they would rather eat sweets and sleep around. As exiles, it is their duty to protect humanity from the dangers demons present, but they simply do not care.
Garterbelt has to drag the two of them around, nagging them into submission. Even when they try to deal with demons, they get sidetracked by men or confectionaries. Ultimately, there is no force greater than their desire to not work. They have to be personally slighted or affected before they get serious.
3 Nanami Kuon Hates Being An Idol Star (Ya Boy Kongming)
Nanami loves music, but she hates the kind of music she is making. While it makes her successful, it is a betrayal of her motivations and passions. She has no control over her songs, how she presents them, or her outfit on stage. Her manager makes her put on a comically sexualized outfit to draw attention. It just isn’t the life her band envisioned.
Without autonomy, working in the music business is miserable for Nanami. She eventually stands up for her passions after bonding and facing off against Eiko, but that only happens by the end of Ya Boy Kongming. For most of the anime, her music career breeds self-loathing.
2 Retsuko Vents About Her Office Life Through Karaoke (Aggretsuko)
Working a desk job can be emotionally exhausting. This is the clearest in Aggretsuko. Retsuko is tired of her workload, her co-workers, and her boss. It piles up on her enough so that she has to go to a karaoke bar to scream her frustrations with metal instrumentation.
While the intent is comical, the feeling of a suffocating workspace is painfully relatable. This takes a toll on Retsuko. While she endures it, viewers can tell that she is fed up with the work she does. It is not a rewarding experience, especially when she has an awful boss and annoying co-workers.
1 Phos Recklessly Struggled Against Their Assignment (Land Of The Lustrous)
when Land of the Lustrous begins, Phos is a naive but energetic gem who wants to be out and about. However, their brittle nature makes it impossible for them to be a fighter. The job they are eventually given is to record the natural history of the land they reside in. Still, Phos craves a more glamorous occupation, so very little gets done with the natural history logs.
Instead, Phos goes on side quests and adventures that cost them. They shatter on multiple occasions. Their arms and legs need to be replaced. It drastically changes their personality and makes them a darker character. Sticking with recording the natural history of the land would have spared them a lot of pain.
NEXT: 10 Reckless Anime Characters Who Take Big Risks