You know what they say: art often imitates life…
I’m of course making a little light-hearted fun of the anime culture there – but there’s a little truth in it. You see, anime characters are representative of people. Real people with real lives and obviously real hobbies.
And why would they choose any other set of hobbies than the ones that make them appear to be a big nerd?
They’re the best hobbies to have, after all!
So this list is a celebration of all things geeky, nerdy, and everything in between, by ranking our favorite nerdy anime characters.
20. Erika Karisawa
Be careful what you say around Erika – there’s a chance that if you land on an anime-related topic, she’ll just never stop talking!
I could have featured Walker here as well, given their shared love of all things otaku (in fact, I use couples a few times further down the list so I don’t know why I didn’t!)
But I’ve picked Erika because she seems the most enthusiastic of the two.
Which is saying something, if you’ve seen the anime!
If you haven’t, I hope you’ve at least watched a few other anime, because Erika talks almost exclusively in references.
Not that I’d relate to that… anyway, moving on!
Anime: Angel Beats!
Have you ever met someone who loves the nerd culture so much, that they try to literally embody it with their own name?
I know I have.
In this case, the offender is Takeyama, a sci-fi manga loving afterlife school student who has taken to asking people to call him “Christ”.
It’s little wonder that nobody really wants to go along with it.
18. Nagi Senzenin
Anime: Hayate the Combat Butler
Tell me this isn’t the dream scenario – being an otaku so rich that money is literally no object. I mean, think about the manga library you could have!
Such is the case of Nagi Senzenin, who would rather spend time watching her favorite anime than worrying about the enormous inheritance that she has had foisted upon her.
Of course, that much money usually means trouble – extortion, kidnapping, etc. are such a common occurrence that her butler is constantly getting her out of trouble.
After which, she usually just goes straight back to video games or reading manga.
I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same in her situation.
17. Tsuyoshi and Yukiko
Anime: Nijiro Days
This is the first of a few “couple character” entries.
Tsuyoshi and Yukiko are so joined at the hip that it would be impossible to pry them apart, even for separate list entries.
And their shared love of all things nerdy, including video games, manga, and cosplay, makes it even more difficult to separate the two of them!
Yes, between them they cover pretty much every base there is to cover in nerd culture.
And the fact that they have so much in common with their shared love of the genres and formats makes this a clear case of couple goals, if you ask me.
16. Hajime Tsunashi
Anime: I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying
A computer programmer can often be difficult to understand, due to the technical language and jargon they use on a day to day basis.
A computer programmer who also runs an anime blog on the side to pick up a few extra bucks here and there?
Now that’s a recipe for someone who’s impenetrable in a conversation!
That’s the plot and character story of Hajime Tsunashi, in one of possibly the most aptly named anime I’ve ever seen.
Getting paid to write about anime? Now that’s a gig I can heartily endorse!
15. Megumi Chihaya
Anime: Servant x Service
A fervent cosplayer, Megumi is one of those people who really, REALLY want you to understand the things she likes.
So much so in fact, that when she isn’t trying to convince her friends to take up cosplaying as well, she’s lending them her manga volumes so they can better understand who exactly it is she’s dressing up as.
As a man who was introduced to manga (and subsequently anime) at school through borrowed and well-read volumes of manga, this speaks to me on a personal level.
So always have friends like Megumi around.
They might be insistent, but you could pick up a new love for life.
14. Subaru Uchimaki
Anime: This Art Club Has A Problem!
Subaru Uchimaki has a very particular taste in women.
How particular, you ask? Well…
See, he loves everything 2-D. Manga, anime, you know the drill. But this also extends to his taste in who he wants to date and eventually marry.
Being a talented artist, he often whips up renditions of his perfect bride, stating quite often that he’d like them to stay 2-D.
Oh, and they always have cat ears.
Because of course they always have cat ears.
13. Sakamichi Onoda
Anime: Yowamushi Pedal Go!!
You wouldn’t expect an anime about a cycling club would have much time to devote to otaku obsessions.
That’s where you’d be wrong – because we’ve got quite the nerd on our hands here!
Sakamichi ends up in the cycling club pretty much by accident, before discovering he has a knack for hill climbing on a bike. But that’s not the reason he’s on the list, oh no.
No, it’s his absolute obsession with anime, particularly the anime-within-an-anime “Love Hime” that has earned him this place.
He’s so in love with it, in fact, he can often be heard singing the theme tune while out on his bike and trying to navigate particularly tricky climbs.
I don’t blame him. I mean, I listen to the Attack on Titan themes at the gym for motivation, so it definitely works!
12. Tamako Arai
Tamako Arai is a wannabe mangaka who draws her own horror manga (talk about a dream date!)
She initially starts out as a reserved, shy girl.
This doesn’t take long to change, however, as when she’s criticized for her self-drawn manga being too “gory”, she flips out and thrusts a bag full of manga at her detractor to help him understand the format a little better.
Classic creative genius is on display right there.
11. Itaru Hashida
Everyone’s favorite video-game turned anime Steins;Gate has plenty of memorable characters, for right or wrong reasons.
But nobody ever shows Itaru, or “Daru”, the love he deserves (in my opinion).
Sure, he’s a giant nerd both literally and figuratively. And his, well, perverted nature can rub people up the wrong way (I promise that isn’t a pun).
But his skills as a hacker & his unmatched nerd-isms make him a character who’s lovable in his own way. Especially when he loses the perverted side.
Because even I don’t like that part of him much!
10. Yutaka Itazu
Anime: Eden of the East
Here’s another programmer turned hacker-extraordinaire to add to the list.
Yutaka Itazu was, at one point, feared by the Japanese government itself because of his incredible skills.
That is to say, until the “pants” incident. I won’t spoil it, the show is too good to be spoiled. But it left him as a bit of a laughing stock.
Yutaka is a very typical, near-stereotype of a nerd character.
He loves manga, anything to do with computers and is a self-professed “NEET” to boot.
Just don’t call him “Pants”. You’ll find out why.
9. Ken Kubo
Anime: Otaku no Video
I think it would be impossible to have a list about nerds in anime without featuring a story literally based on the founding of the legendary Gainax anime company, wouldn’t it?
Frankly, I could have picked any one of two handfuls of characters from this anime to showcase. But I’ve gone with Ken Kubo, the lead character who’s a deliberately bland sort of everyman, so as to not out the particularly nerdy tendencies of anyone person. I think, anyway!
Crammed full of nerd culture references, particularly ones that Gainax themselves came up with, the show is a pop-culture delight.
And Ken is just one of many lovable nerds you’ll meet on the journey through it.
8. Sora and Shiro
Anime: No Game No Life
Here’s another gaming power couple (but not an actual couple, given that they are step-siblings!).
Sora and Shiro are the epitomai of video game addicts.
From playing tens of games in a day when they first met, to devising new ways to beat the latest games at lightning speeds, the pair are about as close to geniuses when it comes to playing games as you’ll find.
They’re so good, in fact, that they’re regarded as almost legendary online – leaving a trail of rumors and myths in the wake of their insane skills.
It doesn’t get much nerdier than that, when it comes to video games at least!
7. Tatsunosuke Sakonji
Sometimes you never really know who the true nerds are – the ones that blend in – until you discover just how much of an otaku they are.
Step forward Tatsunosuke Sakonji, whose love of manga and video games is given more screen time than the fact that he’s a police officer!
That’s right, you won’t see much uniformed action going on – certainly, no more than the underpants wearing game sessions that I know a lot of you reading are familiar with.
6. Kazuyoshi Usui
Anime: Sket Dance
Here’s a character that is so “one with computers” that he even speaks through a voice synthesizer.
And Kazuyoshi’s nerdy obsessions only became stronger over time.
Due to him being locked in a self-imposed exile after blaming himself for tragic events, Kazuyoshi became a connoisseur of anime. I don’t use that phrase lightly, either.
His in-depth, near-encyclopaedic knowledge of the anime series that feature within the show is played for laughs fairly often. But it shows just how much of a dedicated otaku he really is.
5. Izumi Sena
Anime: Love Stage!!
Brace yourselves, we’ve got nerd behavior on multiple fronts!
Yes, not content with running his own high school otaku club, Izumi Sena (not the other Izumi Sena from a totally different anime, in case you were confused), Izumi is also an aspiring mangaka who loves to read any novel he can get his hands on.
I say “aspiring” – he’s a lot closer to obsessing over becoming a mangaka.
This includes several quite long scenes of Izumi not quite drooling over posters of his favorite anime character, but it’s about as close as it gets without something getting saliva on it.
4. Mikoto Mikoshiba
Anime: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
When it comes to trying to win over girls, Mikoto had it all pretty much going for him already.
In fact, he’s so handsome and charming that half of the boys like him as well!
But unfortunately, that’s just a front. Mikoto is a very shy character in reality. And despite his good looks, he felt like he needed to practice wooing women somewhere.
He picked dating sims and figurine collecting as his way in.
I couldn’t think of two worse things to choose, given his objective was to talk to real women.
And so, the obsession with the two grew until Mikoto was a straight-A otaku. Talk about starting off on the wrong foot.
3. Keima Katsurugi
Anime: The World God Only Knows
While I may have just mentioned a character with a leaning for dating sims, Mikoto is nothing compared to Keima Katsurigi.
He’s the master of them.
I mean, you have to have some pretty impressive skills to land a nickname like “The God of Conquest”, after all!
And while it’s not just dating sims he concerns himself with (literally locking himself in his room for three days at one point to play games), it’s certainly the main reason I’d consider him to be one of the biggest nerds in the anime world.
2. Umaru Doma
Anime: Himouto! Omaru-chan
At first look, you might not think Umaru was a hardcore otaku – given her perfect grades, her active social life, and outstanding yet humble personality.
But this is merely her outdoor mode.
Her otaku side is firmly hidden until her indoor mode is on.
And then? She’s the complete opposite of how people normally see her.
A lazy, junk-food scarfing gamer who only wants to spend time watching anime and reading manga.
Appearances can certainly be deceiving – but you do have to feel sorry for her poor brother, who’s the only one who has to deal with her indoor mode!
1. Kae Serinuma
Anime: Kiss Him, Not Me
Here’s the hardcore nerd that all other nerds look up to.
Our deserved number one is, of course, Kae Serinuma.
Bodypillows of her favorite characters, endless volumes of manga, and enough anime references to make even the most passionate otaku feel like they’re not in her league. Kae is the undisputed Queen of nerd culture.
She’s such an anime & manga nerd that she has, on multiple occasions, used the knowledge she’s learned from them to do things she’s never done before – like winning a soccer trophy.
And in case you didn’t have enough evidence to feel like she deserves to be here – she also ships her friends. Case closed!