One reason I love anime is that it’s like an onion, with lots of layers, and we can often enjoy a show on one level, then when we’ve learned more about the series, go back and enjoy it again in a deeper way. Often the anime we watch today has been made by creators who grew up loving a certain show, and who want to show that love by parodying it in their own works. Let’s look at nine times anime parodied other famous works!
It’s fun when anime does a parody or send-up of some other show, like the parody of the rugby drama and film School Wars from the 80s.
Got any more examples of these send-ups anime does for the post I’m writing today? pic.twitter.com/oJie4OHGbO
— Peter Payne (@JListPeter) June 15, 2020
Kaguya-sama Parodies Classic 80s Dramas
The anime Kaguya-sama: Love is War is filled with parodies and shout-outs to older shows, many of which will sail over the heads of viewers not familiar with Japanese dramas from the 80s and 90s. One example was when the new student council member Miko tells the story of her frustrations dealing with her fellow council members, embellishing it with elements from a famous rugby drama called School Wars as well as the legendary school drama Kinpachi-sensei.
There are probably too many of these classic references in Kaguya-sama to completely document. Every time the guitar riff suddenly sounds when a romantic event happens, it’s a shout-out to Tokyo Love Story, an influential drama from the 1990s, and Korean drama fans will appreciate the Winter Sonota-esque BGM used in many melodramatic scenes. And one of the best of these shout-outs was the scene where Chika’s “ramen switch” gets turned on and she goes to eat ramen, which is one giant send-up of Solitary Gourmet, about a Japanese salaryman who roams Japan on business, eating alone at awesome small restaurants along the way and narrating his eating experience inside his head.
(I also love how Miko and Kobachi are designed to reference Peppermint Patty and Marcie from Peanuts.)
Kill la Kill is a Love Letter to Sukeban Deka
One of the major influences on Trigger’s epic Kill la Kill is Sukeban Deka (“Delinquent Girl Detective”), about a rough delinquent high school girl who becomes an undercover detective to solve crimes.
Aim for the Top: Gunbuster is a Parody of a Tennis Anime
One of my favorite anime series of all time is Gunbuster, the story of mankind’s battle with horrible space monsters that spans 12,000 years, with lots of human drama, time dilation physics and, er, “Gainax bounce” moments. But it’s actually an extended parody of a 1970s tennis anime called Aim for the Ace! in which young Hiromi asks strict coach Jin Munakata to train her at tennis so she can be like her beloved onee-sama, Reika.
Darling in the Franxx is Filled with Gainax References
Darling was basically a vehicle to make references to all the great Gainax anime of the past, from Evangelion to Gurren Lagann. I literally foresaw the bizarre space ending at least ten episodes before it showed up, being a Gunbuster fan. There was literally no other way to end the show by that point.
Fushigi no Umi no Nadia is a Giant Parody of Miyazaki’s Best Works
Another wonderful anime that’s filled with parodies and references was Nadia, in which Gainax made endless references to the classic works of Hayao Miyazaki (up to that point).
Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is a Love Letter to Studio Ghibli
Eizouken ni Te wo Dasu Na! is a genius anime that captures the soul of anime through three girls who form a “visual arts research club” and set out to make an anime. It’s actually about the three founders of Studio Ghibli, and quickly became one of my favorite series ever. I hope you watch it!
SD Gundam Made a Shoutout to…Wacky Racers?
One of the most popular Western “anime” — frustratingly, the Japanese use this term for all animation, from Gundam to Disney to Pixar — in Japan was Hanna-Barbara’s Wacky Races, shown here from the 1970s as Chiki Chiki Machine Mou Race. You can tell how popular it was because the Japanese Wikipedia article for it is ridiculously long and detailed. The original SD Gundam series made an extended parody episode of the show, which is probably the strangest thing you’ll see all day.
Did we miss any other famous anime parodies or homages? Post it in the comments below, or tell us on Twitter!
In these complex times, we all need something to make us smile, and a good place to start is with the new anime figures we posted to the site. Browse our new offerings here!