No one wants to work, okay? However, when you grow up, you pretty much have to if you want to eat and buy Megumin figures that you shouldn’t love, but love way too much anyway. Unfortunately, sometimes work can be something that beats you down, but we have found that when you watch the right anime, it can give you the motivation and excitement to charge on into a new work day, plus ultra-style. So if you need a little animated motivation to power your get up and go, our anime recommendations about work life are sure to please.
Let’s get this out of the way first and foremost. Working and its many sequels is about exactly what the title say, people working at a family restaurant called Wagnaria. While some of the character stories take them out of the restaurant, it is primarily about the challenges of working in food service and hospitality.
In a daring move, Planetes wedged itself into a very small sub-genre that we like to call scifi slice of life. How do you make an anime series about garbage collectors in space interesting? We don’t know, but they found a way! However, the series does tend to drift away from the slice of life element as it goes on for the sake of plot.
By now, even relatively casual anime fans have heard the stories of how overworked and underpaid animators are in Japan. Shirobako shows all the hard work that goes into creating your favorite shows, but it doesn’t really dive head on to that issue. Still, through the beautifully animated glory of Shirobako, you see how hard everyone is working to bring you great shows.
The Devil is a Part-Timer
If you’ve ever worked a part-time job, you know how utterly shit they are. So the fact that The Devil is a Part-Timer takes a powerful fantasy evil lord and the great hero that tries to stop him, and puts them both into menial jobs in the real world just to scrape by is somehow so very satisfying.
This anime has grown pretty notorious for the sheer perverse nature that is occasionally adopts. However, despite the perverted situation, the entire plot is summed up as a boy that travels and takes odd jobs to make money. Sometimes they are very strange and hilarious jobs, but we gotta do what we gotta do.
The Great Passage
Not all work life series need to focus on the glorious power of youth. The Great Passage is about a man at the end of his career as an editor in the dictionary department of Genbu Publishing who wants to retire. However, he first wants to finish his greatest work, a dictionary called the Great Passage. Yet, he just can’t seem to find the last passage he needs.
Servant x Service
Although it sounds like some sort of kinky maid show, Servant X Service actually follows the lives of three distinct civil service workers. Through getting to know their work styles and personalities, you get a taste of what goes on in the government sector. Thankfully, they made it less boring than it probably is in reality.
Aria the Animation
Anime is no stranger to the tourism sector. Some series are made purely to hype a real life town in Japan, but Aria is not that. Aria follows three gondola tour guide on Mars (except Mars is covered in water). Beautifully drawn and incredibly thoughtful, this is a work life series for those that want to anime and chill.
Who says work life has to be about human? Working with animals is better. Working animals are even better. This is about a polar bear that owns a cafe by the zoo and all the different animals that come in. Its light color palate and upbeat tone are wonderful and even if you don’t like cute anime, you can find something to like here.
New to the work life genre, Sakura Quest is about five women that were recruited to head the tourism campaign of a failing small town. Needless to say, it isn’t easy and sometimes they fail, but they have their successes, too. If nothing else, it is worth watching for the wide array of wardrobe changes that go on.
While we’d rather see a work life anime about a bartender who works in a dive bar, Bartender with its well-groomed lead and its upscale establishment is pretty good, too. The show is essentially about the bartender soothing troubled souls with advice and perfect cocktails, which is what bartenders do in real life (sometimes).
This series can be a touch sexist, but if you can look past it, it is a great work comedy about people who work too much. Obviously, it is a bit of a parody on Japan’s ridiculous culture of overworking and not having time for other aspects of life, but it doesn’t really focus on how sad that is.
I Couldn’t Be a Hero, so I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job
Not unlike The Devil is a Part-Timer, this ridiculously long titled series takes place following fantasy characters, this time in a fantasy realm. The main character wanted to defeat the evil lord, but someone else beat him too it, so he got a job. The rest of the plot follows him having to train the evil lord’s clumsy daughter that gets a job at the same place.
Amagi Brilliant Park
You’d think as much as people love amusement parks in Japan, there would be more anime about them. However, really there is only Amagi Brilliant Park, which is probably everything you hope it will be. It’s weird, it’s random, but it doesn’t go completely out there.
Nana is all about life when it comes to starting over in a new city. While rock star Nana’s story is a little out there since she stumbled very little on the road to becoming a rock star, the normal Nana’s story is a bit more down to earth. She likes to spend, the gets a menial job, she fan girls over her roommate, and gets swept off her feet by a rock star. Okay, so, not that down to earth, but close enough.
Running an inn is hard work, or so we guess from watching Hanasaku Iroha. While it occasionally trails off into the adorable main character’s love troubles, mostly the show is about her and her co-workers running an inn that is just bordering on failure. Cleaning, cooking, customer service – the whole spiel.
Tiger and Bunny
When you live in a world of super powers, having a career as a super hero is an acceptable vocation. Tiger and Bunny follows a pair of super heroes in one such world where they depend on popularity and sponsorship in order to survive. It is a unique idea and they pulled it off wonderfully.
There are a lot of cooking type anime series that can easily fit on this list, but we just picked this one. (Sorry. D: ) Yakitate! Japan follows a bread maker with warm hands perfect for making bread. It is about his journey to make the perfect bread in Japan and follows his quest for knowledge in order to do that.
Work life anime ala Working and other series are often made great because it focuses on a group of different and often eccentric people all put together in a realistic circumstance. Tamako Market is like that, but with the dial turned up a touch. This series focuses on an entire market filled with weirdos and their various businesses. That premise alone combined with the beautiful clean and fluid animation make this series a thrill.
This series is half-joke, half-serious recommendation. Basically, Salaryman Kintraro is the Great Teacher Onizuka of the work life genre. Although, GTO would probably fit in here, too. Anyway, the series follows the former fierce leader of a biker gang that decides to straighten out to care for his wife and son. So naturally, he joins Japan’s large army of paper pushers to varying effect.
There are a lot anime series about work life out there, but if you have a favorite series that you would recommend, leave it in the comments section below.