OK, full disclosure. I got the idea for a list of anime characters who are always broke a while ago and just wrote it down in my drafts as a post to eventually get to without thinking it through too much. When I actually got around to writing it though, I realized there are soooo many. Like a whole bunch. Turns out being short on resources is both relatable, endearing and an easy way to inject conflict and build obstacles for your protagonists so everyone uses it. How knew.

So I am well aware that this list isn’t exhaustive. Heck, even as I write this I realize that the Cowboy Bebop cast should be on here. Why aren’t they? I dunno, I write the intro last and I figure the post is pretty long already. But they should be on there. Take note. Also Gintoki. Obviously! I mean everyone knew that right. It’s practically a character trait for him. I left them out because they were too obvious. Yeah, that’s it. I didn’t forget anything.

Cough…

5. Kyoko – Skip Beat

Talk about inequality in the workforce! Kyoko is twice, nay 3 times the hard worker any of the boys are in Skip Beat, yet she’s the one scraping to make ends meet. This said she did leave home as a teenager to pursue a career in show business without any connections or training. To be clear, her career is behind the scenes not in front of a camera.

I kinda feel like the fact that Kyoko manages to eat fairly regularly and have a roof over her head is actually pretty good for this type of situation. Girls who follow her path aren’t always that lucky. Still, she does have to work very hard for everything and doesn’t get taken in by a rich family of shapeshifting zodiac boys or anything. I figured that earned her a spot.

4. Team Rocket – Pokemon

I haven’t watched much Pokemon. I have nothing against the show, it just sort of happened that way. But even having just caught a few random episodes here and there throughout the years, I still managed to see the nefarious villains: Team Rocket, desperately try to hatch a plan to scrounge up a little cash, and fast!

I’m guessing villainy is pretty tough on the old wallet. You figure a super special magic pokemon that can talk and all would be a reliable and consistent source of revenue, but I guess not. Maybe Team Rocket didn’t want to use a living creature as a commodity… Wait who were the bad guys in the show?

3. Mako – Kill la Kill

Mako and her whole family aren’t just ridiculously broke, they are the living proof that you don,t need money to be happy. I would say that of all the characters in Kill la Kill, Mako with her financial worries and the pressure of having to feed an entire family on a small budget is the most carefree and genuinely content. She just knows how to enjoy the good things in life and let go of the bad.

And it should be noted, her family also seems to be the most tight-knit, accepting and understanding in the bunch. Just goes to show you, not all treasures have to do with money!

2. Holland – Eureka Seven

I’ll be honest with you guys, I just started watching Eureka Seven. It’s entirely possible that the Gekkostate get their affairs in order and start raking in the dough at some point. But at least for the 10 first episodes, they are constantly trying to figure out a way to stay afloat… Cause they’re on a ship…

I particularly enjoyed the contrast with the cool, mysterious persona of Holland before we meet him and the reality of a guy trying to scrape by. Suddenly he’s not so coool anymore, but he is kind of awesome. You don’t get to explore the normal everyday need for cash in futuristic sci fis usually. Either you get utopias where money is irrelevant, dystopias where everyone is broke and starving or it’s just not mentioned. Holland is a fairly rare example of the everyday schmuck just trying to earn a buck any way he can in the future.

I guess he’s my replacement entry of Cowboy Bebop which I totally did not forget to put on the list…

Honorable Mention: Maou – The Devil is a Part-Timer

Why is Maou an honourable mention? You ask a lot of questions, don’t you!

I really enjoyed the idea of the Devil being taken down by the mundane horrors of capitalism and the need for regular employment. There’s an astute commentary there. I also really liked that he was perfectly suited for low-grade customer service. I do think that it’s the type of job the devil would flourish in. Of course, Maou is a rather nice and reliable devil, as far as they go!

One thing I will say is that I don’t think he is likely to stay broke that much longer. Well, if he stops taking in freeloaders at least. Yeah, never mind, maybe he is doomed to be eating leftover burgers for the next century or so.

1. Yato – Noragami

We go from the Devil to a god. Well a god of calamity so I,m not entirely sure how different that is from a devil. Is anime trying to tell me evil doesn’t pay? Did it take me this long to realize that… I mean, no… I knew all along! Don’t be evil kids!

so uhm, where were we. Oh yeah, Yato! The entire framing of Yato as a character and Noragami as a story revolves around wants and needs. More specifically Yato’s want for recognition, his struggle with existence and finding a place in the world, which is translated in the very tangible need for resources. Just a bit of money to fund his life and make sure his followers are taken care of. Just enough donations to show that he is someone through monetary means. it,s a pretty apt metaphor for anyone entering the workforce and having their philosop^hical/existential angst crash into practical considerations.

Basically, if Yato hadn’t been dirt poor, Noragami as a story wouldn’t have happened. None of it. That’s why I put him in my number 1 spot. Yat being broke is a necessary condition for Noragami!

There you have it, a few anime characters that are always trying to make a buck. There are a lot more of them. Do you have a favourite one that comes to mind?

14 thoughts

  1. The only one on that list I have seen is Yato (good choice!)..oh, yeah, and the cast of Cowboy Bebop, which you obviously didn’t forget!

    1. I did read a bit but it just didn’t really catch my attention. Hinamatsuri also has a lot of broke charas

  2. I immediately thought of Yato from Noragami but the other character I associate with always being broke is Sven from Black Cat.
    Great list.

        1. Black Cat was one of those series that I initially found really interesting…and then, about half way through, something happened, it took a turn in a particular direction or something, and I lost all interest…

          1. It really did take a turn and tried to juggle too many ideas. The end result wasn’t great but there were some good moments along the way.

  3. I’d have to pick Kaiji, a depressed youth who slides into deep debt, against the backdrop of the Lost Decade. Lacking a stable job, he wastes whatever money he has on bad booze or mahjong. His financial distress provides the set-up for the story, in which he decides to participate in dangerous gambling games to annul his loans.

    Kaiji suddenly falls into a dog-eat-dog world, in which the dregs of society are forced into vicious competition, to entertain grinning billionaires. Faced with a life-or-death situation, most of us would break. Especially men like Kaiji. He’s a dumb bum, who spends his days vandalizing illegally-parked Ferraris. A fallible fool, easily preyed upon by his peers. A cowardly kid, suddenly forced to fight to survive.

    But with his life on the line, Kaiji somehow thrives. He shows remarkable resourcefulness under extreme duress. With his irrepressible will to live, he staves off challenge after challenge. Against all odds, this is the stage where he finds his calling, the place where he can finally fulfill his potential!

    And despite being given every incentive to backstab his competitors, Kaiji refuses to cave in. He doggedly places his trust in them, even when he has no reason to. They will inevitably fail him, or betray him. Kaiji knows this, and fears his faith in them will doom him. But he can’t help it. He has to try to save them, consequences be damned.

    For a brief moment, Kaiji takes a stand against a system where self-interest runs rampant. He becomes the revolutionary leader his fellow proles don’t deserve, the counterpoint to the selfish losers their rich tormentors think them to be. And he narrowly escapes with his life, at brutal personal cost!

    That is, until he lets his weakness get the better of him. You see, Kaiji doesn’t know it yet, but deep down he craves that spark. This thrill, that only comes from living on the precipice of death. Without it, he grows aimless & despondent. So he seeks out the rabbit hole once again, and thus the cycle repeats itself.

      1. I found it a little reminiscent of JoJo, in its over-the-top goofy presentation. The narrator’s a particular highlight, he’s like Speedwagon on LSD — peppering his commentary with ridiculous metaphors.

        But although some of Kaiji’s antagonists are cartoonish mustache-twirling villains, the show expounds significant emotional capital on evil of the most banal sort, committed by regular folks down on their luck who convince themselves they have no choice but to hurt others. I don’t know if you’d greatly enjoy that aspect, although I’m interested to find out.

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