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)
- 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.
- 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!!!"
- Chewing the Scenery: Nozomu's rants. Most tend to ignore it.
Nozomu: I'm going to hang myself.
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
- 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.
- 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)
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)
Only son of Enishi, (missing) eldest brother of the Itoshiki siblings, who lives with his youngest uncle, Nozomu.
- Adorably Precocious Child
- Break the Cutie: Played for Laughs—he is very easily (and frequently) traumatized by Nozomu's students' antics.
- Free-Range Children: Is pretty much this thanks to Parental Abandonment. There's references in the manga to the girls in the class taking turns raising him, but other than that, he's pretty much on his own, as Nozomu isn't really parent material.
- Innocent Prodigy: Comes across as more mature and down-to-earth than his uncle, but can also act in a way fitting his age. There's also some situations that might be either this or Ping-Pong Naivete, like having a crush on a net idol and commenting on her breasts, while also thinking that storks deliver babies.
- Likes Older Women: Hinted at, with his relationship to Kiri.
- Limited Wardrobe: Just like his uncle, he frequently wears a kimono and hakama.
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name: His name, written horizontally and compressed, can be read as 絶交 -- "zekkou" ("breach in a relationship"), hinting to his broken family and having to stay with his youngest uncle.
- Mouthy Kid: Has some shades of this.
- Parental Abandonment: Which explains why he has to live with Nozomu.
- Pretty Freeloader: A rare male variant, to his uncle Nozomu.
- Tsurime Eyes
Mikoto Itoshiki (糸色 命)
Third of the Itoshiki siblings, Nozomu's immediate older brother, and a doctor running his own private clinic.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette
- Head Desk: His head repeatedly meets the wall every time his nickname "Dr. Death" gets mentioned.
- Hospital Hottie
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name: His name, written horizontally and compressed, can be read as 絶命 -- "zetsumei" ("death") -- not a good name for someone of his profession, especially if nicknamed "Zetsumei-sensei" ("Dr. Death").
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: According to him, the embarrassing Alternate Character Reading of his own name -- "death"—is what's keeping most prospective patients away from his clinic.
- Strong Family Resemblance: With Nozomu—no wonder Kafuka was confused when she saw him for the first time. Sharing the same voice actor also reinforces this.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome
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.
- Cloudcuckoolander: He is even married to the stain on the wall of his house.
- Mad Artist: Sort of.
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name: His name, written horizontally and compressed, can be read as 絶景 -- "zekkei" ("superb scenery"), although his works are not as superb as they are utterly weird.
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?!
- He Who Must Not Be Seen
- Meaningful Name: His name, written horizontally and compressed, becomes 絶縁 -- "zetsuen" ("disinherited") -- which may hint at his whereabouts.
Voiced by: Youji Ueda
The Itoshikis' family butler, although he is mostly seen in Rin's presence.
- High-Class Glass
- It Amused Me: Admitted to this when asked if the insane Arranged Marriage proceedings he put Nozomu through are just for his pleasure.
- The Jeeves
- My Name Is Not Sebastian
Hiroshi Itoshiki (糸色 大)
The Itoshiki siblings' father and a member of the Diet, the Japanese Congress.
- Genre Savvy: Implied when Nozomu tried to talk Rin out of her desperate attempts to get married away from the family and from her maiden name with an embarrassing Alternate Character Reading, saying their father won't stop having fun with making Punny Names.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name: His name, compressed and read horizontally, can be read as 絶大 -- "zetsudai" ("immense").
- The Patriarch
Tae Itoshiki (糸色 妙)
The Itoshiki siblings' mother and a cookbook author.
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Her name, compressed and read horizontally, can be read as 絶妙 -- "zetsumyou" ("exquisite").
- She Who Must Not Be Seen
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.
- Actor Allusion: In Episode 5 of the first season she is shown on an "Unlucky Channel" set -- Her voice actress also voiced Akira Kogami for the Drama CDs and DS game of Lucky Star. And in another, she holds a starfish, as an obvious nod to |Fuuko Ibuki.
- Beware the Nice Ones
Meru (monologue): This girl's scary!
How could (subject of Nozomu's rant) be possible? It's just (highly implausible theory)!
- Cute and Psycho
- Deadly Euphemism/Insistent Terminology/Unusual Euphemism: Champion of it.
You're not trying to hang yourself -- you're just trying to grow taller!
- Dissonant Serenity
- Hair Decorations
- Foil: To Nozomu, who is outwardly suicidal and depressed about everything, but is actually pretty normal underneath it all. Meanwhile, Kafuka is all smiles all the time, when actually...
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Her schizophrenic father once tried to commit suicide several times before and/or kill her, and her mother was once possessed by an evil spirit.
- Named After Somebody Famous: Her (pen) name sounds similar to Franz Kafka. Also, speculation has it that her real name, based on several hints throughout the series, is "An Akagi", referring to Anne of Green Gables, whose Japanese name is "Akage no An".
- The Nicknamer: Once called Nozomu "Momoiro Kakaricho" ("Pink Superintendent"), after she caught him trying to hang himself on a sakura tree.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant
- Paper Talisman
- The Pollyanna
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The red to Nozomu's blue.
- Stepford Smiler
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.
- A-Cup Angst
- The Ace
- Ax Crazy Serial Killer: Whenever her Berserk Button gets pushed.
- Berserk Button: Anything extremely out of order and/or beyond her control.
- Class Representative: Acting, in lieu of (the frequently-invisible) Kagero Usui.
- Do Wrong Right: Almost a personal philosophy. Chiri often seems annoyed by something, if only because it's not being done "properly".
- Control Freak/Neat Freak: Now cranked up to murderous heights!
- In one incident, Kafuka challenged her and other girls to a "Schrodinger's Wife" dilemma, to see who Nozomu would pick. Chiri tries to force herself onto Nozomu, much to the guy's distress. Later that day, she starts having paranoid thoughts that people may be badmouthing her behind her back, and decides to turn Clas 2-He into a "class in potentia".
- Cross-Popping Veins: Usually at the very center of her forehead.
- The Friend Nobody Likes
- Game Face: She's usually pretty cute, but when she turns into a Gonk, people die !
- Knife Nut
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Four alternate readings, to be exact. Her full name (in Japanese order) can be read as きっちり -- "kicchiri" ("precise"), referring to her Super OCD. Her given name can be compressed to form the first kanji of 埋める -- "umeru" ("to bury"), which explains her spade, or used as the first two kanji for 千里眼 -- "senrigan" ("clairvoyance"), explaining her Third Eye. Finally, her given name can be an onomatopeia, "chirichiri" ("frizzy"), as her hair is actually frizzy, and she has to frequently iron it out to give it a perfectly straight look.
- Panty Shot: Still not as frequent as Kaere, but recent strips show her in a slight upskirt with striped panties.
- Shotgun Wedding: Insists on this to Nozomu after accidentally sleeping together in a clinic bed (though it is Chiri herself who rolls through the curtains into Nozomu's side).
- Sibling Yin-Yang: With the extremely messy Tane.
- Sociopathic Hero
- Straight Edge Evil
- Super OCD: And how!
- Terrible Artist: One segment shows her with bad drawing skills. Ironically, her voice actress is a good artist who even has her own Pixiv page.
- Third Eye: Occasionally reveals one.
- Tsurime Eyes: Occasionally sports these.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: Her bra (which is a few cups too large for her actual bust size) serves as this, concealing her throwing knives.
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.
- Blinding Bangs/Peek-a-Bangs
- The Caretaker: For Nozomu and Majiru.
- Catch Phrase: "Don't open it."
- Cool Big Sis: To Majiru.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Due to being inside 99% of the time, she's always barefoot.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette
- Hot for Teacher: Once to Chie, recently to Nozomu.
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Her name in Japanese order can be read as 籠もりきり -- "komorikiri" ("recluse") and, in Western order, even sounds like "Hikikomori".
- Ms. Fanservice: Sometimes seen semi-clad. The manga volumes even have pictures of her in varying states of undress.
- Running Gag: She frequently appears in the least expected of places.
- Security Blanket: She's rarely seen without one.
- Shotacon: Implied to be one for Majiru.
- Yamato Nadeshiko
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?!
- Hot for Teacher: The feeling isn't reciprocated, of course, but still.
- Limited Wardrobe: Depending on her current crush; currently she wears a kimono to emulate Nozomu.
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Her name is derived from 常[に]付き纏い -- "tsune (ni) tsukimatoi" ("always dangling after").
- No Sense of Personal Space
- Stalker Shrine: Her room is surrounded with nothing but Nozomu's pictures.
- Stalker with a Crush
- Stalking Is Funny If It Is Female After Male
- Stalking Is Love
- Stealth Hi Bye
- Unsound Effect: Audibly gazes Nozomu at all times.
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.
- Butt Monkey: Due to being the "normal" girl in the group. Treated as this mostly by Chiri or Abiru.
- Catch Phrase:
Don't say 'normal'!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Ambiguously Brown: Generally implied to be a Filipina (a Hispanicized real name, her home nation's close proximity to Japan and its poverty-ridden, war-torn history), although she claims her previous school was "Mesopotamia Academy".
- Barefoot Poverty: Is portrayed like this with socks and shoes. Even after the others in the class try and get her into a Instant Cosplay Surprise or other normal outfits actually wearing socks and/or shoes, it gives her vertigo because she has never worn them before.
- Boomerang Bigot: One episode (where she got obsessed with the Boke and Tsukkomi Routine) has her making a privileged speech before the Diet to stem the influx of illegal immigrants.
- Cloudcuckoolander: She even calls pedophiles nice guys toward little children.
- Cute Little Fang
- Does Not Like Shoes/Going Commando/Vapor Wear: Wearing panties, socks and/or shoes gives her vertigo.
- Easily Forgiven: She can cause an international incident and get away with it because she's cute.
- The Illegal
- Mama Bear: Evokes this instinct from anyone who sees her, including lawsuit-happy Kaere.
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name: "Taro Sekiutsu" ("Maria" is her given name), a name she bought from a guy willing to sell everything connected to him, can be read as 籍売ったろう -- "seki-uttaro" ("I'll sell my name").
- The Woobie: In-Universe. Her impoverished lifestyle frequently elicits pity and support from anyone who sees her, even lawsuit-happy Kaere.
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.
- A-Cup Angst
- Black Speech: Whenever she's caught in a spot with no signal.
- Cute Mute: Except one can only witness her fouler side through text messages.
- GIFT: An interesting case. She's a seemingly plain old Shrinking Violet unable to communicate verbally. However, with the power of texting she can (and does) unleash torrents of verbal abuse on the undeserving people around her. The odd part is that she does this while only standing a few feet away from them and personally giving them her e-mail address, taking away the anonymity aspect that usually is the reason GIFT exists.
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Her given name is a loan word for "mail" ("メール"), and her surname means "soundless". In addition, her email address "hazukashigariyasan" means 恥ずかしがり屋さん -- "full of shyness".
- Little Miss Snarker
- Lonely Rich Kid: Coupled with an Overprotective Dad.
- Unsound Effect
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
- 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).
- Catholic School Girls Rule: Wears a more westernized school uniform with a plaid skirt, jacket, and long socks.
- Evil Foreigner: As Kaere, though she's more of a lawsuit-happy Jerkass.
- Frivolous Lawsuit: As Kaere. The manga volumes even include transcripts of lawsuit documents filed against anyone who offends her throughout the span of said volume.
- Hair Colors: Justified; she's a blonde half-Caucasian in a class full of typically black-haired Japanese students.
- Hollywood Tone Deaf: Her Running Gag. Ironically, her voice actress is a singer with a good vocal range.
- Jerkass: As Kaere.
- Magic Skirt: Averted hard, in comparison to most of her classmates. In fact, they even have a tendency to fly upwards at the slightest provocation.
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name: "Kaere" ("帰れ") is an imperative form of 帰る -- "kaeru" ("go away") -- which is also her Split Personality Trigger Phrase; she is also named after idol Kaela Kimura.
- Ms. Fanservice: Designated, even.
- Nonuniform Uniform
- Panty Shot: Undisputed champion of it within the series.
- Phenotype Stereotype: She's half-Japanese, half-Caucasian (of indeterminate nationality).
- Split Personality: Kaere, the insufferable Evil Foreigner, and Kaede, the shy Yamato Nadeshiko, although the former is apparently the more dominant side.
- Trigger Phrase: The word "kaeru" ("go away"). When used at Kaere, it turns her into Kaede; used at Kaede, it turns her into Kaere.
- Yamato Nadeshiko: Kaede
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!
- Expressive Hair: Her ponytail, when distressed.
- The Fool: She even accidentally headbutts her assailants while apologizing during the first third of the first episode of Zan.
- Guilt Complex
- It's All My Fault
- Meaningful Name/Named After Somebody Famous/Punny Name: In Japanese order her name can be read as 加害 -- "kagai" ("perpetrator"). Her name is also a pun on that of Morning Musume Idol Singer Ai Kago.
- Tsundere: So her many admirers think she is, with her Guilt Complex-driven tendency to explain that she doesn't want anything in return for helping others, fearing she'll be a burden in the long run.
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.
- Housewife: And with an unhappy marriage, at that.
- Love Hurts/Love Martyr
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Her name can be read as 奥様な身 -- "okusama-nami" ("she is a housewife").
- Shout-Out: Kikuko Inoue herself appears in one segment of Zoku, complete with her trademark "I'm eternally 17!" Catch Phrase.
- Your Cheating Heart: Her husband frequently cheats on her, but also has the gall to mooch off her.
Mayo Mitama (三珠 真夜)
Voiced by: Asuka Tanii
An intimidating girl who frequently does malicious things.
- Black Comedy Rape: She anally violates dogs with pencils, branches, barbecue sticks—anything small, sharp and pointy.
- Comedic Sociopathy
- Cute Mute: In an evil way.
- Devil in Plain Sight
- Face of a Thug: With a personality to match.
- Karma Houdini: Played for Laughs—and she's Dangerously Genre Savvy enough to exploit the fact that she can always get away with any evil thing she does, because nobody would want to judge her based on her looks (even when caught red-handed).
(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.)
- In a sense, she does all those evil things because she wants to get called out.
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Her name can be read as 見たままよ -- "mita mama yo" ("exactly as one looks").
- Tsundere: As Maria pointed out.
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.
- Dissonant Serenity: Sits calmly with a vacant smile on her face amidst the carnage from one of Chiri's rampages.
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Her name can be read as 大らかな子 -- "ooraka na ko" ("big-hearted girl").
- Phrase Catcher: Everyone refer to her as a big-hearted girl.
- Somebody Else's Problem
Shouko Maruichi (丸内 翔子)
Voiced by: Yui Horie
One of the two girls performing business scams.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Don't let her Tareme Eyes eyes fool anyone—she's in collusion with Miko in their business scams.
- High School Hustler: She sells premium products at a cheap price.
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name: Her name is a pun on マルチ商法 -- "maruchi-shouho" ("multi-level marketing").
- Those Two Girls: With Miko.
- Tareme Eyes
Miko Nezu (根津 美子)
Voiced by: Michiko Neya
One of the two girls performing business scams.
- High School Hustler: She sells common complimentary items (e.g. blocks of ice) with exorbiant prices.
- Meaningful Name: Her name can be read as ネズミ講 -- "nezumi-kou" ("pyramid scheme").
- Those Two Girls: With Shouko.
- Tsurime Eyes
Voiced by: Miyuki Sawashiro
An internet idol who, in reality, is an obese girl who heavily edits her pictures.
- Cosplay Otaku Girl
- Elegant Gothic Lolita
- Fat Girl: In reality—her "net idol" pictures are actually heavily edited.
- Girlish Pigtails
- Gonk: Shares the distinct features of one-shot characters—beady eyes, a rectangular mouth, and a flat nose.
- Shout-Out Theme Naming: Deliberately named after Kotono Mitsuishi, and her pigtails-buns even emulate Sailor Moon, her breakout role.
Voiced by: Saori Goto
A minor student with an unrequited crush on Kuniya.
- Meaningful Name: Her name means "circular", referring to her double-bun hairstyle.
- Stalker with a Crush: A mild case to Kuniya, but is in frequent despair over his... bad fashion sense.
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".
- 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: Um, isn't there a part that could use some more embellishment?
- Something Else Also Rises: Whenever aroused, some of Usui's remaining hair flies off.
- Stalker with a Crush: A minor case, towards Abiru.
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.
- Named After Somebody Famous: Junkudo-Shoten (ジュンク堂書店), one of the largest bookstores in Kyoto.
- The Storyteller
- Tear Jerker: In-Universe—any story he tells can make his listeners cry, including the cynical Nozomu.
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.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Outside school, much to Marui's neverending despair.
- The Storyteller
- Named After Somebody Famous: Books Kinokuniya (紀伊國屋書店), Japan's largest bookstore chain, with 56 domestic and 28 overseas branches.
- Those Three Guys: With Aoyama and Haga.
- Unknown Rival: He has a one-sided rivalry with Jun, and it all began when he became the target of one of Jun's tear-inducing stories.
Voiced by: Tomokazu Sugita
A friend of Kino and Haga, as well as one of Nozomu's few known male students.
- Cool Shades: Wears red-tinted glasses.
- The Eeyore: He once even stood in for Nozomu.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Outside school, just like Kino and Haga.
- Those Three Guys: With Kino and Haga.
Voiced by: Takahiro Mizushima
A friend of Kino and Aoyama, as well as one of Nozomu's few known male students.
- Lovable Sex Maniac
- Rummage Sale Reject: Outside school, just like Kino and Aoyama.
- Those Three Guys: With Kino and Aoyama.
Chie Arai (新井 智惠)
The school counselor.
- Covert Pervert: Has shades of enjoyment of sexual sadism.
- Hot Teacher
- Idol Singer: So she wanted to be in her youth, as an Embarrassing Old Photo which slipped off her hands and into Nozomu's reveals. According to Kafuka, Chie was rejected because she was "too pretty".
- Ms. Fanservice: For the first season.
- Named After Somebody Famous: Her name can be read together as "niichie", which sounds a lot like Friedrich Nietzsche... for an unknown reason.
- Out of Focus: Has reduced appearances as both the manga and anime progressed.
- There Are No Therapists: Ironically enough, since she is a therapist and is surrounded by people who need it, Chie does almost no counseling. The only person she counsels is, from time to time, of all people, Nozomu himself.
Voiced by: Youji Ueda
A quiet, friendly male teacher.
- Cool Old Guy
- Eyes Always Shut
- Hidden Depths: He is a fan of Real Life Visual Kei band "Nightmare".
- Yakuza: Hinted to have been one—an episode in Zoku (as well as in vol. 9 of the manga) reveals he has a large Yakuza tattoo on his back.
Voiced by: Tomokazu Sugita
Nozomu's "old friend" with a fascination for the antiquated.
- Childhood Friends: With Nozomu... or at least for one day during their grade-school days.
- Drop-In Character
- Fan of the Past
- Fascinating Eyebrow
- Large Ham: To some extent.
- Limited Wardrobe: Just like his "old friend", he frequently wears a kimono and hakama.
- Meaningful Name/Punny Name/Named After Somebody Famous: Not exactly his name, but his relationship to Nozomu. Turns out that they're more like one-day friends ("1日友") than old-time friends ("旧友"), with the author making a word play on the visual similarities between the two words. He's also named after a Buddhist sage, or specifically, his incarnation in the manga Ikkyu-san. All three Ikkyus are characterized by a quirky personality and scholarly interests.
- Visual Pun: "One-day friends" ("1日友") and "old-time friends" ("旧友").
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)
The disheveled, unshaven in-series caricature of the series author.
- Author Avatar
- Self-Deprecation: Kumeta often uses his Author Avatar to spew out many Take Thats upon himself. He is even used as a textbook example of whatever Nozomu is complaining about at the moment.
Voiced by: Maeda-kun
An in-series caricature of Kumeta's assistant.
- Censor Box: With his face in it, expressing almost any kind of self-imposed restraint marks.
- I Have Many Names: From the first season onwards, he went under the stage name "MAEDAX", "MAEDAX G" and "MAEDAX R".
- Xtreme Kool Letterz
Voiced by: Kenjirou Hata
An in-series caricature of Kumeta's former assistant and author of Hayate the Combat Butler.
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.
Voiced by: Mugihito
- Knight Templar Parent: He even gives Nozomu a mean hook for (unintentionally) making her cry when he notes how she doesn't have a voice actress.
- Overprotective Dad
A spy from "a certain nation".
- Chinese Girl: Her homeland is conveniently censored-out in-series as "a certain nation", although clues abound, from a map of China on her HQ to references to both the Cultural Revolution and Tibet.
- Drop-In Character
- Femme Fatale
- Honey Trap: Her method of extracting information. Too bad the Japanese government was Dangerously Genre Savvy enough to confer its secrets to a bunch of Otaku with absolutely no interest in 3-D women and Chinese ripoffs of Clannad, Haruhi Suzumiya and Lucky Star.
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.
- 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.
- Back to Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei
- After all, even ignoring the Nietzsche angle, she's still one of the sanest characters in the series.