The term “useless” is often exaggerated when it comes to anime. A lot of characters are accused of being useless, simply because they aren’t as powerful as the main heroes of a story or because their flaws are more immediately apparent. At other times, people accuse characters from comedy shows for being useless, even if that’s the joke. Their uselessness is averted because it entertains us.
For today’s list, I wanted to find the actual “useless anime characters”. Characters that are horrifically bad at what they are meant to do, serve no purpose at all, or just exist to be frustrating. These are characters that are so useless that their respective anime would benefit from not having them at all.
Limelda Jorg – Madlax
Limelda is a highly-trained marksman who serves in the royal guard of the war-torn Kingdom of Gazth-Sonika. She is meant to be a rival to the titular Madlax, who is a mercenary that often fights against the government forces; a rivalry that quickly calls Limelda’s credentials into question.
Anytime we see her attempting to use her iconic sniper rifle, her aim wavers all over the place. She is always slow and awkward, never managing to hit any target even if they barely move. She only manages to kill one person with her rifle throughout the entire anime, which was entirely accidental.
Just being a bad shot as a sniper is already quite useless in and of itself, but what truly puts Limelda on this list is her detachment from the actual plot. She is only barely related to the overall story and only serves to be a nuisance to the other main characters. Her entire motivation revolves around her obsession with Madlax, who she keeps pursuing and harassing, even as significantly more important events are unfolding.
She becomes an annoying distraction to the main plot. Somebody that just keeps coming out of nowhere for a one-sided fight and to spout some self-absorbed philosophies about the relationship between her and her target. Towards the end, Madlax doesn’t even put in the effort to fight her anymore. She can just casually walk off because Limelda will never hit a thing anyway.
Kaere Kimura – Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
Every student in Nozomu Itoshiki’s class is a bit of a weirdo; ranging from illegal immigrants to yaoi-obsessed doujin artists. Then there is Kaere Kimura, a girl who’d be a very interesting and funny character indeed, if only her personality ever came up.
Kaere is introduced early on in the show as a transfer student. Her gimmick is that she has two alternating personalities: an obnoxious, belligerent foreigner that resents Japanese customs and a humble, maidenly girl who is entirely adapted to Japanese culture. Certain triggers cause Kaere to switch between the two, which happens exactly once. In her introduction episode.
Though her “bilingual” personality is brought up in conversation, she permanently remains in her foreigner mode throughout all of the anime’s seasons and spin-offs. Even that is gradually reduced, with Kaere becoming less belligerent and bombastic over time. She also literally loses her place in the anime, as she is often left out of the actual storylines and banter between the characters. When she does appear, it’s often far in the background and usually for fanservice gags.
Fanservice could be a use… but there’s plenty of that in the anime already, even without Kaere. Instead, she only serves as a perfect example of the franchise’s wasted potential.
Diana – Sailor Moon
The feline companions Luna and Artemis are iconic for Sailor Moon. Both of them prominently feature throughout the entire Sailor Moon saga and they have been beloved characters since season 1. Then they tried to add another kitty-cat into the mix and… failed spectacularly.
Diana comes into Sailor Moon at an incredibly awkward point. Several mainstay, fan-favorite characters have just completely left the story, so there was a hole to fill in the cast. A hole that a tiny kitten certainly did not fit.
Outside of her introduction episode, Diana just immediately ceases to be interesting. Luna and Artemis continue to fulfill the roles they always have, but now with an extra kitten just being present. And even that presence is a “sometimes” thing, as Diana is frequently left out of the story entirely. Just as well, because she never again has any impact on the actual plot and barely has any lines throughout the season.
She is a bizarre and forgettable inclusion in the franchise’s history, made extra annoying by the fact that she was meant to replace far more endearing characters.
Carim Gracia – Lyrical Nanoha
The Nanoha universe is full of colorful characters, many of which wield amazing weapons and powerful magic. There is a very detailed logic to the series’ magic system, which is an amazing show of dedication on the part of the writer. However, this specificity also causes bizarre results when powers get a little too complex.
Carim Gracia is important to the story of StrikerS—the third season in the mainline franchise—but her actual power is baffling. Effectively, she is a prophetess; she predicts future events, which allow her allies to take necessary precautions. Her method of communicating these predictions, however, is utterly useless.
She can only use her magic once a year because it’s tied to the alignment of her planet’s moons. When she does, she can only predict events within a specific timeframe, with a questionable degree of accuracy. She can then only record what she foresees in the format of a poem, which is then also written in an older version of a mostly-dead language.
With so many layers of unreliability, you honestly might as well guess at what the future may hold.
Sniff – Moomins
Essential to a character’s uselessness being excused because of comedy is that the character has to be funny. Sniff from Moomins is distinctly not.
His sole purpose is that he is the only other boy in Moomin’s circle of friends at the start of the anime. This means he is quickly made irrelevant with the introduction of Snufkin early on in the show, with whom Moomin has a lot more in common and spends significantly more time with. Compared to his adventurous friends, Sniff is a coward that doesn’t want to do much of anything. He can only be convinced to partake in the story when tempted by money, which also means that he frequently ends up betraying his “friends” for financial gain.
He’s a shameless profiteer who’d sell out anyone at any time, but continues to hang around Moomin to leech off his family’s generosity. Even so, the story suggests that we are meant to like him. He’s a fellow protagonist and even the official website describes him as “good-hearted”. Yet in the anime, he’s objectively terrible, annoying, and not the least bit endearing. Snufkin just replaces him as Moomin’s friend and even his occasional villain roles could be taken over by Stinky; there’s no point to keeping him around.