If you’re like me and you grew up watching anime, wishing you could see your current, adult life reflected in some way – here are the perfect shows for you!
5. Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku
Genres: Romance, Comedy, Drama
Available: Amazon Prime
Set in an office, this anime follows the flourishing romance between Narumi and Hirotaka, two old acquaintances who find themselves now, as adults, working for the same company. Neither have had much luck in love, both having found it hard to find a partner who really relates to their nerdy otaku interests. The pair complain about this over drinks and realise they have a lot in common – and thus the romance starts!
This series is all about staying true to your passions and interests, even those that are hard to talk about in the work place for fear of embarrassment.
Possible trigger warning: there is semi-frequent comedic violence between two of the side characters. This sort of slapstick isn’t for everyone (it isn’t really for me but I could ignore it in this particular series) and although it is never meant to be serious, I think a warning could be helpful for anyone who is easily turned off by this anime trope!
4. Heaven’s Design Team
Genres: Comedy, educational
In spite of this anime’s outlandish setting (literally Heaven) and the fact that all the characters are either angels or the personified versions of planets, I found this show to be pretty representative of office life.
This anime follows Shimoda, a rookie angel who has just been assigned as the communication point between God and the planets, who make up a design team working in Heaven. And what are this particular design team designing? Why, all of Earth’s animals of course!
Like a real office environment, all the characters are very distinct from one another, and this means that when they have group projects, their ideas tend to clash. But what’s so refreshing about Heaven’s Design Team is the display of trust and respect the characters show each other, even amongst colleagues who have completely conflicting tastes and ideas.
I also really enjoyed how this show doesn’t have a strong basis on character tropes/stereotypes. Instead, it likes to flip the script around when it comes to gender norms and gender presentation. For example, the one and only engineer of the team, Mars, is a young woman, whereas the character who is the most criticised for valuing beauty over functionality when it comes to their designs is Saturn, an older man. As a result, the characters feel really well-rounded. The cast even includes a trans character, Venus (who is my personal favourite of the team). So although it is not a series about society or about gender roles, it still does really interesting things when it comes to these topics.
This is a really fun, feel-good show that’s part comedy, part educational – so get ready for tonnes of animal facts!
3. Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san
This show is based on the real-life experiences of the original mangaka, known simply as Honda. It follows the daily lives of booksellers as they interact with difficult customers, late shipments, shifting work rotas and more.
This anime is fun and offbeat, and it’s reflected in the art style: because it’s all based on the writer’s real experiences, all the characters other than the protagonist (Honda) are anonymous. Instead of having regular human faces, these have all been replaced with pest masks, jack-o’-lanterns, knight helmets and even seal faces. The style reminds me a little of Bojack Horseman – each character head seems very thought out and fitting for their individual, eccentric personality (my favourite is the shy and panicky Kimibukuro, meaning “paperbag” – spot him in the upper right corner of the poster!). It’s a style that works really well for this particular show.
This anime is full of interesting tidbits about working life and is really easy viewing, each episode comprising two 10-minute stories.
2. Sakura Quest
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Recent university graduate Yoshino knows one thing for certain: she is destined for a busy working life in Tokyo!
However, fate doesn’t appear to be on her side. After receiving rejection after rejection from Tokyo-based companies, Yoshino bites the bullet and settles for a 1-year contract in a rural village, Manoyama, in order to gain experience.
Her role is anything but ordinary: she must act as the “Queen” of the village’s tourism board, which is originally meant to be more of a sinecure role, only meant to appear to announce events and the like. But after a few hurdles and a rocky start, Yoshino becomes impassioned and decides to invest all her time and effort into the tourism board to help the village thrive. Along the way, she is challenged in her views of the world and her bias against small towns.
This show is particularly good in terms of character growth. All the characters have something they are trying to overcome or adapt to. They get a lot wrong along the way and have to learn how to do better. As a viewer, you cannot help wanting to see them learn and succeed. It’s very kind to its characters, and with a nearly all-female cast, I found this aspect especially enjoyable.
1. The Great Passage
Genres: Drama, Romance
Available: Amazon Prime
This absolute gem of a series follows an editorial team working to create a new dictionary. Our protagonist, Majime, is somewhat of a misfit, finding it hard to express himself whilst simultaneously having an incredible knack for understanding how language works.
Due to the subject matter, the series is quite language-heavy. Sometimes the dialogue gives way to grandiosity – a clear stylistic choice. Coupled with this, the animation at times becomes metaphoric too. There is an extended metaphor used throughout the series about dictionaries being the ships that guide people across oceans – and the animation mimics this in moments where Majime experiences great emotion and finds himself lost for words; everything around him fading away and becoming replaced by an endless sea as he looks for words to help him navigate.
A good example of this is when he meets his love interest, a sushi chef named Hayashi, for the first time:
This series follows the little and large tragedies and achievements that happen in the workplace. But more than anything, it is a love letter to language: how it operates, how it’s manipulated, how we use it in our everyday lives. This being said, it’s not a complicated show, and is still great for easy viewing.
Suggestions are always welcome! If you have a favourite workplace-based anime that doesn’t appear in this list, I’d love to know about it!
 Featured image (of The Great Passage)
 Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku
Image of the two protagonists: https://butwhythopodcast.com/2018/06/19/geek-romance-and-how-wotakoi-love-is-hard-for-an-otaku-gets-it-right/
 Heaven’s Design Team
Deer/giraffe still: https://sotaku.com/heavens-design-team-a-fun-anime-that-teaches-you-about-animals-and-evolution/
Photo of the team: https://www.cbr.com/heavens-design-team-episode-1-edutainment-creationism/
 Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san
Cast photo: https://www.anime-planet.com/anime/skull-face-bookseller-honda-san/characters
 Sakura Quest
Yoshino as Queen: https://twitter.com/funimation/status/867369644214059008
Image of the tourism board: https://remyfoolblog.com/2017/09/22/sakura-quest-anime-series-review/
 The Great Passage
Majime at work: https://lostinanime.com/2016/12/fune-wo-amu-great-passage-10/
Hajime with katakana: https://www.anisearch.de/anime/11213,the-great-passage