Anime is home to the most outlandish and rowdy characters in fiction.
But the same can be said for quiet and emotionally withdrawn individuals too.
Not everyone can be as larger than life as Luffy in One Piece, or as [constantly] intense as Goku in Dragon Ball — and that’s okay.
In truth, there’s something entrancing about characters whose expressions barely change in the face of tragedy or euphoria.
So who are the most disengaged characters that, ironically enough, manage to keep the show engaging for the viewers?
Let’s take a peek below.
25. Mashiro Shiina
Anime: The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
This is a shocker to many, but the female MC of this surprise stunner from 2013 simply doesn’t add much to the series to justify a higher spot here.
Yes, she’s attractive, but in an admittedly typical way.
Her world-class artistry fails to intrigue viewers as the show doesn’t dive deep into this aspect.
Furthermore, her general lack of common sense exists for fanservice and predictable comedy.
I’m sure that Mashiro develops significantly as a character in later manga chapters.
But as far as her anime version goes, this inexpressive blonde is outshone by the rest of the spectacular ensemble cast.
24. Arin Kannazuki
Anime: Trinity Seven
Similar to Sakura-sou no Pet na Kanojo, Trinity Seven has a big main cast.
The big difference, however, is the latter is a harem since Arata Kasuga is the only guy – and Arin Kannazuki is the stoic girl in his magical group.
Despite believing she’s Arata’s wife, Arin doesn’t harbor genuine anger toward the other female Trinity Seven.
She sees them as dear friends – and only feels jealous just because of her attachment to the guy.
And while she becomes more expressive later, you’ll still find yourself highly interested in her character much earlier.
For one, there’s a great mystery to her:
Arin’s memories of her younger years are nowhere to be found, only developing a sense of the world and herself at eight years old.
Second, her preference for solitude and listening grants her the ability to discern the emotional state of others with relative ease.
23. Tsukiko Tsutsukakushi
Anime: The “Hentai” Prince and the Stony Cat.
This female MC isn’t even five feet tall.
But that makes her even more adorable.
Tsukiko Tsutsukakushi is already a teenager, but her height and chest size can give the impression that she’s still in grade school.
So what’s up with her immensely quiet demeanor?
Tsukiko initially had no problems expressing her emotions — but this made her think that she was very childish.
To stop herself from being a sniveller or an easily affected individual, she prayed to the Stony Cat, the same way the perverted Youta Yokodera did.
Her wish was granted alright.
But it made her lose the ability to express any emotion whether it’s joy, sorrow, or anger.
Be careful what you wish for next time, Tsukiko (or at least be highly specific about it).
22. Tomoyo Sakagami
Clannad introduced viewers to Tomoyo Sakagami right from the first episode.
At 5 feet and 3 inches, she’s already much taller than other entries on the list.
Tomoyo will likely survive and emerge victorious in fights because she’s used to dealing with all sorts of troublemakers.
If she doesn’t need to beat up others, Tomoyo will barely speak and appear calm.
She’s stoic, but there’s a tomboyish flair to it.
Essentially, she wants to look cool and unbothered as much as possible.
Which is why she won’t instigate fights herself.
It’s in these peaceful times when her feminine allure shines most, given her long silver hair and slender figure.
21. Kyouko Kirigiri
Anime: Danganronpa: The Animation
Unlike other students, Kyouko Kirigiri didn’t know her talent at the start of the deadly game because of her amnesia.
Danganronpa fans, on the other hand, will always remember her as one of the best girls ever – whether she’s playing a supporting or main role in the series.
Kyouko is both inexpressive and solitary.
Even when working and sticking together seems to be the safest option, Kyouko prefers to be detached, choosing instead to investigate the murders by herself — and she’s arguably the best detective in class, making her a crucial ally of MC Naegi Makoto.
Blood and gore don’t make her squirm at all.
This doesn’t mean she lacks emotions, though.
In reality, several things affect her emotional state. But she has a great degree of self-control. That, and perhaps her grandfather had something to do with her personality today.
20. Misha Necron
Anime: The Misfit of Demon King Academy
Misha is easily one of the cutest stoic girls in anime.
It’s not just that her hair is short and white, but also that it’s intentionally messy.
Combine this with her disinterested green eyes and cheeks that always appear to be blushing, and you’ve got a design that can steal otaku hearts with ease.
Misha barely talks.
But that doesn’t matter when both her loyalty and strength speak volumes.
She loves her twin sister dearly, and Anos values her for being his first actual friend upon reincarnating.
Misha was already immensely powerful in the beginning, but Anos offered to train her to further amplify her combat prowess.
An identity crisis becomes a significant turning point for her (and the series), and you can’t help but wish for the best.
Anime: Pandora Hearts
Sadly, there’s no indication anywhere of a second season (or reboot) of Pandora Hearts – even though the acclaimed manga is already complete.
But if Fruits Basket can do it, then don’t lose hope on Echo getting more appearances in anime.
As the undemonstrative servant of Vincent Nightray, Echo is essentially a doll with the loyalty and skills to fight anyone.
If she had to speak, it was only to coldly, quietly respond to commands.
But while Echo’s motives were usually in contrast to Oz’s, it was the latter who valued her as a person rather than a mere vessel.
Her musings and sense of identity were already there.
But she kept them all inside because they didn’t matter to her occupation.
Thanks to Oz, she developed a slight but noticeable degree of self-identity and confidence in acting on her decisions. Fans can only imagine now how these two wonderful individuals could’ve been if they entered a romantic relationship.
18. Suzuno Kamazuki
Anime: The Devil is a Part-Timer
The Hataraku Maou-sama Season 2 announcement is one of the first and biggest surprises of the new decade in anime.
Thus, fans are getting more of the ever-lovely Suzuno Kamazuki.
Suzuno is instantly appealing because of her character design:
Aside from her hair and eyes offering two different shades of calming blue, she prefers wearing a kimono while Emi Yusa and Sadao Maou wear the usual contemporary clothes after being sent to the human realm.
In fact, the deadly top-ranked official of the Church of Ente Isla continued to use traditional clothing even after realizing that the historical dramas she studied weren’t an accurate portrayal of present-day Japan.
But this assassin was only doing her job back then.
Suzuno never wanted to kill or punish anyone. But she had to follow the cruel ways the Church inflicts justice.
Thankfully, she’s granted a second chance on Earth to be the kind and [generally] peaceful woman she always yearned to be.
17. Minami Iwasaki
Anime: Lucky Star
Minami Iwasaki’s family is loaded – which explains why their outdoor area has a parasol and why she’s fond of the piano.
Yet this left-handed, lean, and tall girl is far from the stereotypical snobby rich kid.
Yes, she’s often just silent.
But Minami is funny, amicable, and good-natured — and she’s actually the health officer in class.
And Minami certainly loves her huge dog Cherry.
One time, she posed like a dog because she wanted Cherry to learn how to stand on her rear legs. This silly appearance (in contrast to her posh and cultured upbringing) is what provides viewers simple yet effective visual humor.
And you can always rely on her childhood friend Miyuki to bring out all the emotions from the mostly quiet Minami.
16. Koneko Toujou
Anime: High School DxD
Trinity Seven isn’t the only harem on this list with an attention-worthy stoic female MC.
High School DxD has Koneko Toujou, a 15-year-old low-ranking devil.
Given that Issei Hyoudou has multiple fiancées, how does Koneko stack up against the other equally attractive women?
For one, she’s a catgirl.
In particular, Koneko is a Nekoshou, the most powerful variant of the Nekomata species that’s sadly dwindling in numbers (the series only reveals two of them).
Second, Koneko’s emotionally withdrawn behavior is rooted in trauma — it’s not a cheap gimmick to differentiate her from the other harem members.
She doesn’t automatically fall for Issei, and Koneko even dislikes [most of] his depraved habits to this day.
And while this cat girl is short (she’s just 4’ and 6”) and teased for small chest size, Koneko can wreck others on the battlefield.
15. Momo Chiyoda
Anime: The Demon Girl Next Door
Completing the main duo of the series, Momo Chiyoda is a cute pink-haired teen girl, usually seen with a yellow jacket on in school.
Yet she’s no ordinary student.
Momo is a magical girl from the Light Clan, the rival of MC Yuko Yoshida’s Dark Clan, which was cursed by the former to forever live with barely any money and power.
To break the curse, Yuko must kill a magical girl — and her classmate Momo is a convenient target.
The huge problem, however, is that Momo is overwhelmingly more powerful than her.
Even if Momo doesn’t use her magical skills, her physical strength (she loves muscle training) will bring Yuko down.
But Momo is a good person.
Rather than ignoring the inferior Yuko, she helps her become stronger.
She may be a stolid and lazy individual who doesn’t even want to be the subject of discussion, but Momo will always support her dear friends.
14. Yuki Nagato
Anime: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Yes, Yuki Nagato became the main character in Satelight’s 2015 adaptation of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan.
There she was more of a typical quiet teen girl than a mysterious club member.
But her stoic greatness exists in her playing the supporting role in this older (but significantly better) series.
Yuki looked like nothing more than the silent and book-loving recruit to the SOS Brigade – a totally normal club that hopes to unravel all sorts of supernatural phenomena.
However, as you consume more Haruhi episodes and catch both the acclaimed The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya movie and the unusual Endless Eight sequel, you’ll see that being normal is a rarity in the SOS Brigade.
Yuki’s origins and how she conveys her unique brand of stoicism are equally intriguing.
And as she unfurls a sense of human-like identity alongside her original purpose the more she interacts with Kyon, you’ll understand why producers took a chance in adapting Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu.
Anime: Hetalia: Axis Powers
Yes, an entire country is one of anime’s most stoic characters in history.
Okay, Sweden in Hetalia isn’t a huge landmass with a face… but rather a personification of IKEA and ABBA’s country of origin — and his design fits so well.
Unsurprisingly, Sweden has blue eyes and blonde hair.
You can approach him, but his menacing vibe deters many others.
Speculation suggests that he appears this way because he lives in a cold region.
But he’ll display a much warmer personality if you get to know him.
Sweden is still mostly serious, but he can also be gentle, sincere, and spirited. And as you’ve expected, he loves building pieces of furniture and thinking about his people’s welfare.
Plus, Sweden now is more preferable to his old battle-hungry version.
12. Shizuku Mizutani
Anime: My Little Monster
It’s no surprise that Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is one of my all-time favorite standard school rom-coms.
So while I wait (in vain, perhaps) for Season 2, this space is dedicated to the apathetic female MC Shizuku Mizutani.
When you ask to leave earlier than the rest of your classmates who were grieving the death of the class pet, and you’re asking to leave just because you want to do your homework immediately, be prepared to be seen as an insensitive person.
For many years, Shizuku built this public image at school.
She doesn’t want to spend her time and energy helping others, believing that they should fix their own issues. Only her studies matter.
Yet I can’t hate Shizuku.
Her undesirable traits are rooted in long-running familial problems.
She aspires to be successful because her mother worked extra hard when her father couldn’t financially provide enough for them.
Shizuku is dense, but she’s no denser than many MCs in this common genre in anime and manga.
Finally, her eventual character development and undeniable chemistry with Haru Yoshida (right from the start) make her one of the most charming stoic characters out there.
11. Shoto Todoroki
Anime: My Hero Academia
The tertiary MC of this long-running superhero shounen franchise has figures and fanart illustrations that sell like hotcakes — and for a good reason.
Shoto Todoroki’s character design effortlessly gives you a good idea about his Quirk.
With his hair having two different colors on each side, one white and one red, you’ll correctly guess that he’s gifted with both ice and fire abilities.
These two clashing elements are similar to his personality as well:
He’s often emotionally distant because of his parents.
Specifically, his dad (Endeavor, a top-ranking hero) mistreated both him and his mom due to his selfishness and thirst for prestige and power.
The events that transpired during the school sports festival have since made Shoto more open to others. But the familial wounds still prove much harder to mend.
10. Yakumo Tsukamoto
Anime: School Rumble
With 54 episodes, School Rumble still felt like it could’ve gone on for five more seasons.
It has one of the best big teen casts in anime, and an effortlessly charming kuudere MC like Yakumo Tsukamoto is hard to find.
The main love story is between her younger sister Tenma and Ooji Karasuma.
But you can’t help but root for her when she slowly but surely falls for Kenji Harima.
Sadly, she’s hesitant about a romantic pursuit – as Harima is head over heels for Tenma.
On the bright side, Yakumo doesn’t need a man to earn her spotlight.
Many fans see her as the No. 1 ‘traditional’ waifu/housewife in the show, and for multiple reasons:
Yakumo is intelligent, gentle, cares for her younger sister, keeps the house neat and tidy, and excels in academics and sports alike.
9. Ais Wallenstein
Anime: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
In Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka, Ais Wallenstein proves that not all elite members of society are intent on preventing the development of others.
Unlike some first-class adventurers, Ais doesn’t ridicule the weaker adventurers — and she’s viewed as the strongest in her division.
No wonder she’s blessed with strength and beauty, from her long and lustrous hair and golden eyes to her graceful figure.
Whether she’s clad in heavy armor or a pretty white dress, Ais always evokes honor and mystery since she’s often quiet.
Yet this isn’t about appearing emotionally withdrawn for the sake of it.
In truth, Ais needs more time and practice in verbal expression.
If only everyone could see how her mind works, then they’d know that Ais can be quite childlike and extra-adorable.
8. Mikasa Ackerman
Anime: Attack on Titan
What else is there to say about Mikasa Ackerman?
She’s one of the three MCs of the biggest success story in anime in the 2010s — and the fourth and final AoT season once again put the series in the eyes of everyone.
Granted, Mikasa has had her emotional moments from anger to desperation and sorrow, but she’s also been a favorite for her unbothered facial expression.
Mikasa is one of the strongest and smartest in her batch. But her face shows neither arrogant pride nor embarrassment.
Ideally, Mikasa wanted to live in peace and never go beyond the walls, growing old together with Eren and Armin (but most especially Eren).
She was also more joyful and easygoing when she was a kid, back before tragedies came one after the other.
But Shingeki no Kyojin is far from peaceful.
Not wanting to be left behind by the people she considers her family, she joins Eren in the military and comes face-to-face with the horrors of titans and humanity.
Titans won’t usually change her expression.
But the sight of a loved one in danger can make her lose her cool — but not her deadly combat abilities.
7. Jun Satou
The 20-year-old head chef of the Wagnaria family restaurant is crucial to the series:
He’s arguably the person who ensures that the “work” part of this workplace comedy is maintained across three entire seasons.
Of course, Satou isn’t characterized only by his devotion to work.
When he’s not scolding the rest of the employees for being silly, he’s worried about how he can finally confess his love for Yachiyo Todoroki.
Unfortunately, Yachiyo is infatuated with Kyouko Shirafuji, the 28-year-old restaurant manager.
Do you know what’s worse for him?
She often tells Satou all the details about her affection for Kyouko.
That’s a sharp arrow right into his kokoro every time.
Yet his dreams of romantic love are incomparable to his work ethic and helpful nature.
Yes, Satou barely changes his expression. But he’s a true listener.
He takes orders and cooks, while others vent their worries and frustrations — and he’ll provide solid useful advice at the end.
You deserve all the smoke breaks and chances at love, Satou.
6. Kanade Tachibana
Anime: Angel Beats!
Angel Beats proves that a show doesn’t have to make complete sense (or have 24 episodes) to forever be remembered by anime fans.
Otherwise known as Angel, Kanade Tachibana appeared to be the big bad boss of this instant-classic Jun Maeda original series in the earliest episodes.
Otonashi, Yuri Nakamura, and the rest of the Afterlife Battlefront trembled at the sight of her in battle.
She showed no emotions while withstanding injuries, wielding deadly blades, and using superhuman abilities.
Soon enough, viewers realized that Kanade was not evil — far from it.
She loves to take care of the garden (and she was once a member of the gardening club).
But most of all, for all of her stoic moments, she’s key to one of the show’s most emotional moments – an ending that no viewer could ever forget.
5. Kanna Kamui
Anime: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
After the deadly arson incident, Kyoto Animation is finally back in seasonal TV anime — and everyone opened their arms in welcoming the second season of Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon.
Every character in the series is delicately drawn and animated to showcase nuances in their personality, but Kanna Kamui will likely remain as the cutest dragon in anime history.
Her small huggable frame captures the “blob” aesthetic of Kyoto Animation design that fans also saw in K-On.
Maria Naganawa’s voice acting is sheer perfection, never failing to exude Kanna’s childlike, curious nature.
And speaking of Kyoto Animation, the studio’s artistic identity makes Kanna shine in the adaptation.
She could’ve been bland because she barely spoke, becoming nothing more than another cute but ultimately generic hushed anime girl.
Thanks to stellar and meaningful editing, direction, and animation, Kanna’s body movement alone tells a lot about herself.
If you ever feel down, catch an episode of Kobayashi and see how Kanna can brighten your day.
Simply put: Kanna is a pure ball of stoic moe sunshine (or destruction, if she ever wanted to go back to her more draconic ways).
4. Mizore Yoroizuka
Anime: Sound! Euphonium
Why do you play an instrument?
Usually it’s because you love the sounds it produces.
Mizore Yoroizuka is a phenomenal oboe player, but her main reason for choosing it is more about the timeless memories that music creates, rather than just the music itself.
Mizore is a quiet and unemotional girl.
She’s good friends with other girls in the concert band, but she prefers to be alone most of the time — and she’ll even attend school way early just to practice the oboe by herself.
And speaking of friends, the blue-haired musician captures the heart of the Kyoto Animation audience when she and Nozomi Kasaki grapple with the fallout of their friendship.
It’s relatable, beautifully told, and soul-stirring.
So if you already find Mizori to be a top-notch supporting character in the series, you should definitely see her as one of the MCs in the instant-classic film Liz and the Blue Bird.
3. Ouji Karasuma
Anime: School Rumble
As the most stoic character in the series (even more than Yakumo), Ouji Karasuma has the face of a guy who wants to go back home and sleep as soon as he steps into the school property.
I don’t even think an earthquake can make him scream.
Yet this is the beauty and charm of Ouji.
Tenma is unabashedly in love with him, but he barely speaks and shows any emotion.
Since his face is almost always the same, it’s so much funnier when he does something exciting such as when he played with the national soccer team (and won the championship) or played the electric guitar in a band.
He has more unusual hobbies and habits – but they all work in making him more likable than annoyingly weird.
Even after all these years, I still remember him the most as that stoic teenager who looks like a kappa (a green, turtle-like creature in Japanese folklore) whenever it rains.
And once you discover why he acts the way he does, he’ll probably end up as one of your all-time faves.
Anime: Tanaka-kun is Always Listless
Tanaka reminds me a lot of Ouji Karasuma.
They both have this disinterested & unmotivated look in their black eyes — and they’re often wearing similar-looking school uniforms.
This doesn’t mean that Tanaka is a mere carbon copy.
For one, he’s the protagonist of the titular Silver Link series, which I rated a 10/10 as soon as I finished the final episode back in 2016.
Thanks to the show’s warm and relaxing color palette and distinct, crisp backgrounds (especially the school interior), Tanaka’s stoic and sleepy personality feels more like an invitation to rest than to be emotionally withdrawn while watching.
You’d think that an MC who wants nothing more in the world than to sleep wouldn’t work, but Tanaka complements the other characters and nourishes the social dynamics in the series.
He’s not an ideal and admittedly good-looking guy — and that’s great.
Tanaka’s varied actions and responses may showcase him as surprisingly kind, witty, and understanding.
But on other occasions, his demeanor may make you see him as a self-interested, apathetic, or childish individual.
Thus, there’s considerable room for Tanaka to develop himself as an individual and a friend to many – all the while retaining his signature listless look.
1. Rei Ayanami
Anime: Neon Genesis Evangelion
In the same way that Asuka Langley Sohryu shaped the tsundere archetype forever, the other main girl of Hideaki Anno’s masterpiece was a catalyst of the kuudere archetype.
Rei Ayanami’s presence and importance are barely felt at the start of the 1995 series – at least compared to the vibrant Asuka and the troubled Shinji, whose crippling loneliness and confusion (with himself and the world around him) are palpable.
But then she offers a glimmer into her headspace as Shinji and the rest of the cast interact with her.
From the near emptiness of her apartment, to the rare instances of her sadness becoming visible, Rei’s character carefully balances her unmistakable mysteriousness with the familiar pains and doldrums of human life.
And then came The End of Evangelion.
This film raises Rei Ayanami’s significance and exposure by unprecedented proportions.
And you simply have to experience the movie yourself to understand.
Personally, the apocalyptic climax simultaneously felt haunting, transcendent, and ultimately humane — and Rei was right there.
More than 25 years after her debut in EP 01, Rei Ayanami is still the most unforgettable stoic character in anime.
With Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time finally released (after multiple delays) and gathering praise from critics and long-time fans alike, Rei’s cultural legacy as an archetype – and as a complex well-written character – isn’t going anywhere for a long time.