If we were to seriously think about it, most anime characters are more or less insane. Even the most basic, plain harem protagonist vanilla character has some delusions going on. If nothing else, they seem perfectly fine with being surrounded by crazy people. That’s a bit odd….
However, once in a while we come across characters so certifiably mad that they manage to stand out in the seas of lunacy. Actually, we do pretty often. All the dere types seem to be maladjusted on some level….
In order to narrow the list down a bit, I’ve decided to concentrate on a very specific subset of anime nutjobs. The obsessive compulsives! Because we weird detail-oriented lot have to stick together!
I’ve written more seriously about OCD before and feel free to ask me about it if you like. Today, we’re just having fun and throwing around a lot of borderline offensive and outdated terms like “crazy” and “wackadoo”.
5. Eizen (Tales of Berseria)
OK so he’s not technically an anime character (anime adjacent) but I wanted to add him in because I absolutely adored the organic way in which the characters slightly off behaviour is presented.
Throughout the game, if you bother to talk to Eizen’s ship mates and old friends, you will often hear tales of how he makes everyone clean the ship until it’s just right or how he needs to have his quarters arranged in very specific ways. In certain parts of the game, he seems to get fixated on some random unimportant element and will be unable to focus on anything else until it’s resolved.
This character trait is never spelled out or explicitly named but if you pay at all attention to the character, you realize that he has some clear OCD symptoms which delightfully clash with his big Bad Guy persona. Presented lightly as just another character trait but one that occasionally does have some repercussions, I appreciated this subtle depiction.
4. Nitta (Hinamatsuri)
Have you noticed how often we see Nitta cleaning his apartment? Considering the amount of time he spends on screen, 1/3 of it is dedicated to cleaning. And what’s with the vase fetish? Another tall blonde tough guy, and another neat freak.
Once more, the show doesn’t beat us over the head with this characterization, and let’s face it, everyone in this cast is pretty nuts so Nitta’s little peculiarities can easily fly under the radar. Still, I liked how he needed to rearrange his vases, so they remained evenly displayed whenever Hina broke one.
In my head, all the time we were not seeing him during the course of the series, was spent carefully moving those vases around to find the perfect layout then polishing the finger prints out of them!
3. Ryuji (Toradora)
I’m starting to see a pattern here…..
Ryuji is one of my favorite best boys ever. I really like t6his character. I’m guessing the writer was afraid he would turn out a bit *too basic, plain harem protagonist vanilla character* which is why they made him into a compulsive cleaner.
Ryuji’s peculiarity is that his compulsion to clean up any messes he finds is also rooted in his background and character development. Having had to take care of the household from a very young age, he has been doing all the cleaning and cooking at home for as long as he can remember. And since he’s a surprisingly optimistic and goodhearted character, he managed to develop a fondness for the tasks and takes a sense of pride in a clean room.
His obsession is portrayed not merely as a nit-picky comedic quirk but as a tribute to a guy who knows how to make the best of any situation. What’s not to love?
2. Aoyama (Clean Freak)
Obviously, I couldn’t leave Aoyama off the list! This series was a weird little seasonal offering. A blend of sports, slice of life and comedy and drama. It got a bit too disorganized for most people’s liking. I do still have to give it props for being one of the very rare shows to openly tackle mental illness and at least try to have an open discourse.
Aoyama’s OCD is plainly detailed and spoken to at length. The narrative makes an effort to show the various drawbacks and difficulties of the condition without sensationalizing it or pitying its leading character. There are even attempts at showing a balanced viewpoint by occasionally showing what could be considered an advantage.
In the end, we are left with a fairly fleshed out picture of OCD which is impressive for 12-episode light hearted comedy. It still sticks to the stereotypical germaphobic OCD and largely avoids mention of the wider range of possible symptoms, but it looks at the potential social implications from many different angles, elevating the trope from a quirk to an actual character trait.
1 Death the Kid (Soul Eater)
And then we go right back to quirk.
In a way Death the Kid is both the best and worst example of OCD characters. He’s a complete stereotype in that regard, the bit is played for a joke and can be occasionally tone deaf. Worse of all, it’s not properly integrated into his background story or character, so it feels like something added to make the character stand out. He needed a thing. Oh but what a thing it is!
Let’s face it, Kid may not be the best representation of OCD but he’s sure the most famous one. And the fact that he doesn’t become completely insufferable in the process really says something about how well the character is written.
So Death the Kid takes the top spot through charisma and that great fashion sense. Also because his disease of order is mostly represented through symmetry rather than cleanliness for a change!
Are there any well-known female characters with OCD? I couldn’t come up with one.
I did learn something while making this list: Be nice to the weird kind that cleans his school desk with a toothbrush and breaks into cold sweat when his pen is not perfectly parallel to the edge of that desk. He (always a he) is going to turn out looking pretty intimidating but having a heart of gold! You are going to want to be his friend!