Spare a Thought for the Nameless Side Characters in Anime

Like it or not, they’re the unsung heroes in many narratives. Or, at the very least, they play important supporting roles despite being, well, not very important in the grand scheme of things.

For instance, attracting a huge audience which comprises almost entirely of these unknowns is frequently a prominent objective in any idol anime series. Even though the viewer will likely never find out the names for most of these mystery characters, it doesn’t stop the protagonists from considering their attendance to be important in realizing goals and dreams.

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Sometimes these unidentified characters are a source of information via rumours. The viewers may not know their names and they in turn may not know the name of the protagonists, but that doesn’t stop the mob characters from gossiping about the main characters. This in turn can help out the characters who are actually named and who are playing important roles in the story.

That’s how episode 4 of Golden Kamuy ends up playing out, it should be noted.

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Lastly, sometimes the unnamed will overhear the main characters do or say something outrageous, which is supposed to add an additional layer of hilarity. It also illustrates, to a degree, that the series is self-aware: the character is doing or saying something zany and, to a side character who is more or less a stranger, said character comes across as being weird or ridiculous as a result.

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It does beg the question why the side character is there in the first place. You might end up inventing backstories for these unknowns and start experiencing weird emotions toward characters the studio and story never really cared about.

Take the office lady in Wotakoi, who ended up being a witness to Narumi’s outburst towards Hirotaka in episode 4, for example. She could be standing outside waiting for a friend. After all, she has her phone out and seems to be anxiously looking around.

…But what if her friend ditched her or stood her up? Oh, no, I’m starting to feel a little bad for a side character I’ll probably never see again and it’s all because of my overactive imagination.

It’s a bit harder to create a backstory for the lady who overheard Ruki’s suggestive statement (in episode 5 of Comic Girls) since she’s clearly one of those salespeople who works at the clothing store, however. Oh, well.

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That’s all, folks.

Do you have any favourite unnamed side characters? I would love for you to share them in the comments section down below!

Thank you for reading.

11 thoughts on “Spare a Thought for the Nameless Side Characters in Anime

  1. LOL. At con, I often say I’m cosplaying a background character… Which is actually a very important character in many anime! I mean, wouldn’t it look silly if your MC’s were the only ones in the family restaurant? Or if they were walking along an empty street?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The shopkeeper in Girls und Panzer. In a meta sense, you could say that the entire purpose of his existence is to own a shop for tanks to wreck, and that his shop itself exists only to be destroyed and rebuilt (we don’t even know what he sells). And yet the shopkeeper not only accepts but happily embraces his role in this universe. There’s something very zen about that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ohhhh, he’s a great nameless side character. I was so caught off-guard when he celebrated the fact that his shop got wrecked.

      It’s definitely very zen.

      Like

  3. Thing related to this that I love: assuming the side characters are unnamed, then looking up additional information on the series, only to discover that all of these completely unimportant characters have names, histories, pre-existing relationships and all manner of other stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. No worries, Weekend!

          Well, I think he still counts. Lines don’t change anything. And yes, he’s so good I wish I had talked about him more during while I was enjoying your posts!

          Like

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