Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei/Characters

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Maria, Harumi, Kaere, Chiri, Kafuka, Nozomu, Matoi (behind him), Kiri (crouching), Abiru, Meru and Nami.

Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei is a twisted, funny, anime about a class full of weird students with a matching teacher, the titular Mr. Despair. Interestingly, every single character has a Punny Name refering to the character's personalities. And there are a lot of characters.

WARNING! There are unmarked Spoilers ahead. Beware.

The Itoshiki Family

The Itoshiki family is a powerful clan dominating over their native Kuraizawa, Shinshuu Prefecture (a No Communities Were Harmed version of Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture), whose name (糸色) can be compressed to read as 絶 -- "zetsu" ("beyond") -- which often serves to undo the specific meaning of each member's names... thus one can re-interpret "Itoshiki Household" (糸色家) as 絶家 -- "zekke" ("extinct family").

Nozomu Itoshiki (糸色 望)

Voiced by: Hiroshi Kamiya

Main male character of the series, fourth (and youngest male) of the five Itoshiki siblings, and the manic-depressive, suicidal homeroom teacher of Class 2-He.

  • Actor Allusion: He was once depicted wearing a Celestial Being space suit, and behind him is what looks like Tieria Erde—both are voiced by the same guy.
  • Anti-Hero: Type I -> Type II
  • Apathetic Teacher: The only time he's not apathetic to his students is when he rants at length about his latest excuses to commit suicide.
  • Attention Whore: Apparently the motivation for every outrageous action he does.
  • Bishonen
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: Nonfatal comedic version. Although he often attempts to commit suicide very often, the times he actually gets closer to death is when someone else gets involved, mainly Kafuka, to stop his attempt and thus the second catchphrase makes sense with this in mind.
  • Catch Phrase: Most common is...

"I'm in despair! (Subject of Nozomu's rant) has left me in despair!!!"
"What if I had died?!"

Nozomu: I'm going to hang myself.
Chiri: Go ahead, see if I care.

  • Chiri sees Matoi also about to hang herself.*

Chiri: You need not do as he does.

  • Chick Magnet/Even the Guys Want Him
  • Death Seeker: Averted hard—for all his suicidal ravings, he's not that serious about his suicide threats, especially if someone else (mostly Kafuka) almost gets him Killed Off for Real.
  • Driven to Suicide Once an Episode: In fact, the poster boy for the former.
  • The Eeyore
  • Emo
  • Flat What: His standard reaction to Kafuka's improbable explanations.
  • Hot-Blooded: Of the negative variant.
  • Hot Teacher: Which may explain the legion of female (and some male) students falling for him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A snarky, apathetic teacher he may be, who is also prone to breakdowns and occasionally dying (and coming back to life), but nevertheless he shows genuine concern for his students—well, some of them, anyways.
  • Large Ham
  • Limited Wardrobe: Always wears a kimono and hakama, otherwise anything retro and Japanese. Sometimes subverted, however—as his students found out, he wears casual western clothing in his native Kuraizawa.
  • Made of Iron
  • Meaningful Name/Punny Name: His name, written horizontally and compressed, can be read as 絶望 -- "zetsubou" ("despair"), befitting his nature.
  • Megane
  • Motive Rant: Ruthlessly parodied, as he rants every episode about his latest reason to commit suicide.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe
  • Nigh Invulnerability: Survived every threat on his life, self-inflicted or otherwise—he was hanged, stabbed, bludgeoned, exposed to carbon-monoxide poisoning, got ran over by a runaway streetcar, attempted to drown himself (or drink himself to death) in a bowl of Dom Perignon, overdosed on OTC medications, and even had his name written on the Death Note. Even when he does die, it doesn't ever stick, much to his consternation. Incidentally, popping out of his coffin at his own funeral to tell everybody to stop blaming themselves for his death inadvertently spared him (and Matoi) the inconvenience of having to survive cremation.
  • Only Sane Man: At the end of the day, and in stark contrast to most of his students, Nozomu is actually a sane, rational man whose pessimistic streak stems mostly from his high school days as an accidental member of the "Negative Club".
  • Plague of Good Fortune: His legion of admirers from both sexes.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The blue to Kafuka's red.
  • Tall, Dark, Handsome,and Snarky
  • Tsurime Eyes

Rin Itoshiki (糸色 倫)

Voiced by: Akiko Yajima

Youngest of the five Itoshiki siblings (and the only female), an ikebana master with a major complex towards the Alternate Character Reading of her own name. She eventually becomes a student in 2-He, under the tutelage of her immediate older brother Nozomu.

  • Actor Allusion: In the anime she frequently faces the audience backside-up, a Shout-Out to Shin-chan's ass-exposing antics—both share the same voice actress.
  • Berserk Button: Spell out "zetsurin" and she will scream for a katana in no time.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette
  • Hime Cut: With a slightly wavy hair from below the shoulders onward.
  • The Maiden Name Debate: She badly wants to get married in order to lose her maiden surname and consequentially her sexually-suggestive nickname. Unfortunately there's a Japanese custom that if the bride is of a wealthy clan (the Itoshiki family is one such clan) the groom can opt to adopt his wife's surname instead, and one of her suitors, Nozomu's "old friend" Ikkyu, is all too happy to be part of the centuries-old clan.

Nozomu: You'd better give up, Rin. Father will find this far too entertaining. He won't wanna put a stop to it.

  • Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Her name, written horizontally and compressed, can be read as 絶倫 -- "zetsurin" ("peerless"), which at first glance refers to her expertise at many skills, but is also (much to her ire) a slang for sexual prowess.
  • The Ojou: She fits both the traditional (style of dress, an ikebana master) and snobby (enters Nozomu's school just to feel what it's like being a commoner, buys off all surrounding property and evicting their residents) variants.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: One segment has her buying the entire neighborhood she lives in, so she can move around without fear of Chiri checking on her every hour.
  • Spoiled Sweet/Rich Bitch: Kind of an odd combination. Rin will often do generous things for the purpose of laughing at people, such as giving golden tickets to virgin nerds with no girlfriends to give them them chocolate.
  • Tall, Dark and Bishoujo

Majiru Itoshiki (糸色 交)

Voiced by: Akiko Yajima

Only son of Enishi, (missing) eldest brother of the Itoshiki siblings, who lives with his youngest uncle, Nozomu.

Mikoto Itoshiki (糸色 命)

Voiced by: Hiroshi Kamiya

Third of the Itoshiki siblings, Nozomu's immediate older brother, and a doctor running his own private clinic.

Kei Itoshiki (糸色 景)

Voiced by: Takehito Koyasu

Second of the Itoshiki siblings (older brother to Mikoto, Nozomu and Rin) and a surrealist artist.

Enishi Itoshiki (糸色 縁)

The unseen older brother of Kei, Mikoto, Nozomu and Rin, as well as Majiru's father.

  • Disappeared Dad
  • The Ghost: He's mentioned several times, and actually left a note in one chapter, which read "I searched everywhere, and couldn't find you guys."

Majiru: Dad was here?!

Tokita (時田)

Voiced by: Youji Ueda

The Itoshikis' family butler, although he is mostly seen in Rin's presence.

Hiroshi Itoshiki (糸色 大)

The Itoshiki siblings' father and a member of the Diet, the Japanese Congress.

Tae Itoshiki (糸色 妙)

The Itoshiki siblings' mother and a cookbook author.

Class 2-He

Nozomu's high school homeroom class. The "He" (へ in Hiragana) signifies that it is the sixth second-year section based on the iroha order (in modern nomenclatures this would be called Class 2-6 or 2-F). The class is said to have 32 students, though so far only 23 have been named.

All students in this folder are in Nozomu's class unless otherwise noted. Nozomu's younger sister Rin is also a student in this class.

Kafuka Fuura (風浦 可符香) [Pen Name]

Voiced by: Ai Nonaka

The creepily optimistic main female lead, who often gives an extremely implausible positive side to anything Nozomu is currently ranting on.

  • Meru stares through Kafuka's eyes*

Meru (monologue): This girl's scary!

How could (subject of Nozomu's rant) be possible? It's just (highly implausible theory)!

You're not trying to hang yourself -- you're just trying to grow taller!

Chiri Kitsu (木津 千里)

Voiced by: Marina Inoue

The utterly obsessive-compulsive (acting) Class Representative of Class 2-He, who believes in doing things properly, to the point of murder.

Abiru Kobushi (小節 あびる)

Voiced by: Yūko Gotō

A student who's frequently wrapped in bandages. Contrary to in-series popular belief, she is not a victim of domestic violence; rather, her injuries are caused by irate animals victimized by her tail fetish.

  • Abusive Dad: Subverted hard—contrary to the wildest imaginings of both her teacher, classmates and schoolmates, her father turns out to be one of the most mild-mannered, nicest characters in the series.
  • Actor Allusion: Abiru once chased a giraffe with a scooter. Her voice actress is a Real Life motorcycle enthusiast.
  • Attention Whore: Once admitted to wearing her bandages even when not injured, just for the sake of attention.
  • Bandage Babe: Lampshaded by Meru in her introduction, the latter saying that "bandage girls are no longer popular".
  • Collector of the Strange: Her collection of mounted animal tails.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: Subverted—she's frequently thought to be a victim of domestic violence; in reality, her injuries are caused by animals whose tails she pulls.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Emotionless Girl: Except whenever talking about animal tails or alone with Nozomu.
  • Fetish: Animal tails. She even has a part-time job at the zoo just to indulge her obsession, and frequently gets injured by irate animals whose tails she loves to pull. She even has walls full of mounted animal tails.
  • The Klutz: Somehow. She's poor at athletics.
  • Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Her name is derived from 拳[を]浴びる -- "kobushi (wo) abiru" ("to bathe in fists"), referring to her injuries.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Her green left eye (a result of a corneal transplant), which is frequently covered by an eye patch; the other is brown. In one chapter in Volume 8, she indicates that it was transplanted from a victim of a car accident, and even claims she can see the last thing the donor saw—the license plate of the killer car.

Kiri Komori (小森 霧)

Voiced by: Asuka Tanii

A hikikomori accidentally scared out of her home by Nozomu and Kafuka; she has since become a resident at school and eventually a caretaker figure for Nozomu and Majiru.

Matoi Tsunetsuki (常月 まとい)

Voiced by: Asami Sanada

A notorious stalker who fell in love with Nozomu and has since been following him and even emulating his dress code.

Nozomu: You've been here?!
Matoi: Yes. Always.

"Jii..." ("Stare...")

Nami Hito (日塔 奈美)

Voiced by: Ryoko Shintani

The only normal girl. Her original "gimmick" was her truancy, but then she showed up to school and lost her only trait that could be considered unique. Ever since she has been playing the Straight Man, whether she likes it or not.

Don't say 'normal'!
Sensei, you're speaking too much again! (Whenever Nozomu's rants portend disastrous consequences, such as Chiri going Ax Crazy again.)

  • Everyone Owns a Mac: She's a patron of Apple products; as they are very rare in Japan, this is Nami's (ultimately futile) attempt at looking special.
  • The Generic Guy: Much to her distress. So generic that in Bangaichi even real-life movie subtitle writer Todana Tsuko, (in)famous for her absurdly liberal translations of foreign films, had nothing special at all to say about Nami.

Tsuko: 'Normal' is good enough for normal!
Nami: Don't say 'normal'!

  • I Just Want to Be Special
  • Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Her name (in Japanese order) can be read as 人並み -- "hitonami" ("run-of-the-mill").
  • Only Sane Man: And does not want to be one.
  • Phrase Catcher: Nozomu always replies "How normal" whenever Nami explains her behavior and/or preferences.
  • Straight Man: According to Kafuka, she is "more normal than most people". Of course, this is subverted and Played for Laughs during her proper introduction at the first episode of Zoku, where she claimed to have various problems no normal person would have just to garner attention and sympathy, only to be outdone by her classmates, so she threatens suicide. Of course that is the moment Itoshiki makes his appearance by attempting to hang himself from the school roof. Only Nami reacts to it though.

Harumi Fujiyoshi (藤吉 晴美)

Voiced by: Miyu Matsuki

The resident doujin artist and yaoi fangirl with a taste for slash pairings (usually involving famous anime characters, her own teacher and some of her male classmates, but especially "Pine x Napple"), as well as a hidden athletic talent.

  • Badass Bookworm: Sort of—she's a manga-loving nerd with incredible athletic prowess.
  • Fetish: Cat ears
  • Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Her given name is an Alternate Character Reading of Harumi district (晴海) in Chuo, Tokyo, previous site of the Comiket before it went big and moved to the larger Tokyo Big Sight; her surname is a corruption of 腐女子 -- "fujoshi", a derogatory term for Yaoi Fangirls like herself.
  • Meganekko
  • Nerds Are Sexy: One episode even depicts her wearing nothing but spats and a bra while brainstorming for her next yaoi doujin.
  • Power Limiter: Her glasses are said to be one. She has incredible athletic talent, but doesn't want to use it for fear of being scouted to a sports club and thus chip away at her time drawing her yaoi doujins.
  • Sequential Artist
  • Yaoi Fangirl: Often doubles as a Shout-Out, given some of the pairings she likes to read about.

Taro Maria Sekiutsu (関内・マリア・太郎)

Voiced by: Miyuki Sawashiro

A brown-skinned illegal immigrant who bought her name and identity from a male bum.

Kaere: Would dollars do?

Meru Otonashi (音無 芽留)

Voiced by: Chiwa Saitou (Zoku Episode 6)

A silent girl who only communicates with text messages—most of which are intensely scathing.

Meru Meru. Meru Meru.

Kaere Kimura (木村 カエレ)

Voiced by: Yuu Kobayashi

A foreign transfer student recently returning to Japan as a student of Class 2-He with a personality split between Kaere, a lawsuit-happy Jerkass and the in-series Ur Example of the "obnoxious foreigner" stereotype, and Kaede, a shy Yamato Nadeshiko.

  • Attention Whore: It's pretty clear that she seeks attention by flaunting herself and then loudly threatening to sue onlookers.
  • Big Breasts, Big Deal: Type 4.
  • But Not Too Foreign/Fauxreigner: She's half-Caucasian (of indeterminate nationality). A map of Britain appears when Nozomu is discussing her return, but she comes off like a Jerkass American... until she starts bringing up animal sacrifices and other pleasantries. She probably just represents the outside world that is blonde and not Japan.
  • Catch Phrase

I'll sue!

    • Also, this little exchange between her and Nozomu.

Kaere: The (custom in question) in this country [i.e., Japan] is/are weird! In the country where I came from we (perform an extremely bizarre custom).
Nozomu: I gotta ask... which country did you come from, anyway?

Ai Kaga (加賀 愛)

Voiced by: Saori Goto

An incredibly shy girl with a severe case of guilt complex and the tendency to apologize for even the most trivial of things.

I'm so sorry!

Manami Okusa (大草 麻菜実)

Voiced by: Kikuko Inoue

The only married student in Nozomu's class who frequently complains in class about her unhappy marriage.

Mayo Mitama (三珠 真夜)

Voiced by: Asuka Tanii

An intimidating girl who frequently does malicious things.

(Nozomu, inside his burning house with an unconscious Majiru, looks out the window to see Mayo with a can of gasoline and a metal bat bent out-of-shape.)
Nozomu: She couldn't possibly be at fault!

When I like somebody... [i.e, Nozomu] I always wanna do mean things to them.

Kanako Ohra (大浦 可奈子)

Voiced by: Ayahi Takagaki

A frequently spaced-out girl who wears dresses too big for her, leaves the zipper on the side of her skirt open, and always with a vacant smile.

Shouko Maruichi (丸内 翔子)

Voiced by: Yui Horie

One of the two girls performing business scams.

Miko Nezu (根津 美子)

Voiced by: Michiko Neya

One of the two girls performing business scams.

Kotonon (ことのん)

Voiced by: Miyuki Sawashiro

An internet idol who, in reality, is an obese girl who heavily edits her pictures.

Marui (丸井)

Voiced by: Saori Goto

A minor student with an unrequited crush on Kuniya.

Kagero Usui (臼井 影郎)

Voiced by: Youji Ueda

The actual Class Representative of Class 2-He. He's one of the few known males in the class, who suffers from invisibility, and so has to frequently be replaced by the obsessive-compulsive Chiri.

  • Butt Monkey
  • Class Representative: The real one. He just never gets to call the shots thanks to his invisibility.
  • Covert Pervert: Hinted to be one—that, and his invisibility.
  • Invisibility: And he's not happy about it.
  • Meaningful Name/Punny Name: His name is a pun on 影が薄い -- "kage ga usui" ("overshadowed"), while his surname also means "balding".
  • Megane
  • Out of Focus: Played with. While he is Nozomu's most recurring male student, he is often ignored whenever he attempts to tell his personal experiences and/or examples related to Nozomu's rant of the moment, meant to be even worse than previous examples presented.

(Random character): Did you hear someone?

  • Power Perversion Potential: Despite frequently complaining about his situation, however, Usui has, every now and then, used his invisibility for... less than worthy causes.
  • Prematurely Bald: To add insult to injury, he only becomes visible whenever his balding head gets exposed.
  • Kagero looks at an overembellished avatar Kiri made of him that is still balding*

Kagero: Um, isn't there a part that could use some more embellishment?
Kiri: It's already over-embellished as it is.

Jun Kudou (久藤 准)

Voiced by: Takahiro Mizushima

A master storyteller and one of Nozomu's few known male students. His ability is to tell stories that drives any listener to tears.

Kuniya Kino (木野 国也)

Voiced by: Takuma Terashima

One of Nozomu's few known male students and Jin's self-proclaimed rival in storytelling. This is largely an Informed Ability—as the series went on his main gimmick became his awful, awful fashion sense.

Aoyama (青山)

Voiced by: Tomokazu Sugita

A friend of Kino and Haga, as well as one of Nozomu's few known male students.

Haga (芳賀)

Voiced by: Takahiro Mizushima

A friend of Kino and Aoyama, as well as one of Nozomu's few known male students.

Other Teachers

Chie Arai (新井 智惠)

Voiced by: Akiko Yajima

The school counselor.

Jinroku (甚六)

Voiced by: Youji Ueda

A quiet, friendly male teacher.

Other Characters

Ikkyu (一旧)

Voiced by: Tomokazu Sugita

Nozomu's "old friend" with a fascination for the antiquated.

Tane Kitsu (木津 多祢)

Voiced by: Ryoko Shiraishi

Chiri's older (and extremely messy) sister.

  • Heroic Sacrifice: She sacrificed her sense of hygiene in order to keep Chiri's pathological obsession with cleanliness in check.
  • Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Her name can be read as きったねー -- "kittane" ("dirty").
  • Morality Chain: Volunterily enforced this trope in order to ensure the safety of her and C Hiri's pet goldfish (and possibly all of civilization).
  • Morality Pet: Had anyone but Chiri's sister attempted to stall her by creating mess after mess, they would've most likely been dealt with in the most inhumane way possible. But despite Chiri's frustrations concerning her sister's uncleanliness, Tane is still alive and is, to all appearances, unharmed.
  • The Pig Pen: She manages to either create a huge mess of clutter all around her wherever she goes, or attract garbage, literal (e.g. trash) or metaphorical (e.g. drug addicts, hippies, and others at the dregs of society).
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: On the other hand, if she wanted to and had the time, she can groom herself up as perfectly as her sister, such as that time when she dated Nozomu. So far she's the only girl whose affection to Nozomu was reciprocated, upon the latter learning of her predicament.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: With Chiri.
  • Trash of the Titans
  • Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness: Inverted. She's the good sister, while neat and clean Chiri is the evil one (sort of).
  • When It All Began: When they were children, Chiri wanted to clean their pet goldfish by pouring shampoo onto the aquarium. Tane jumped into a pool of mud to distract Chiri and spare the goldfish (and perhaps the rest of humanity) her murderous obsession with cleanliness.

Koji Kumeta (久米田康治)

Voiced by: Hiroshi Kamiya

The disheveled, unshaven in-series caricature of the series author.

Maeda-kun (前田君)

Voiced by: Maeda-kun

An in-series caricature of Kumeta's assistant.

Hata-kun (畑君)

Voiced by: Kenjirou Hata

An in-series caricature of Kumeta's former assistant and author of Hayate the Combat Butler.

Abiru's Father

Voiced by: Yuuichi Nakamura

  • Abusive Dad: Subverted hard. Turns out he's actually a Nice Guy.
  • Good Parents: Beneath all those allegations of abuse against his daughter, he turns out to be a mild-mannered, loving father who once even bought her a cake for her birthday her classmates and even teacher forgot.
  • Nice Guy
  • Sarcastic Confession: Easily confesses to Abiru that he and his wife had just divorced a month ago.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Thanks to a colossal series of misunderstandings (in part caused by Abiru's frequent injuries), he gained notoriety for (allegedly) abusing his daughter.

Meru's Father

Voiced by: Mugihito

Niang-Niang (娘々)

Voiced by: Akiko Yajima

A spy from "a certain nation".

Hatsune Miku (初音ミク)

Voiced by: Saki Fujita

The famous Vocaloid's first (and so far only) actual appearance in an anime series.


One of the first gen Vocaloids made an appearance.

  • Cameo: Just like Hatsune Miku

Kagamine Rin and Len (鏡音りん&レン)

The Vocaloid twins auditioned to voice Meru Otonashi.

  • Cameo: Same as Hatsune Miku and KAITO.


KAITO's fellow first gen Vocaloid.

  • Cameo: Like her fellow Vocaloids listed here, she made a cameo as well.

Commodore Matthew Perry

  • Historical Domain Character: Famous for (ahem) convincing Japan to reopen its ports to the world, he returns with an insatiable desire to (literally) open everything closed that he comes across—lockers, books, gas valves, etc., about 150 years after his death.
    • It turns out he's actually a badly-behaved foreigner who happens to look like Perry, opened an unsuccessful shop, and befriended Kafuka. The irony of "Perry" having to close something at the end is not lost on the cast.

  1. After all, even ignoring the Nietzsche angle, she's still one of the sanest characters in the series.