The List
7 Anime Within Anime

by Lynzee Loveridge,

Anime is an inescapable aspect of Japanese culture. Even if you live in Japan and don't watch late-night anime series, there's still video games, local moe mascots, and prominent advertising at major train stations. So anime starring otaku or spotlighting the industry itself aren't rare. Writers often need to come up with an anime within their anime; an obvious stand-in for a popular show like PreCure, Sailor Moon, or Gundam. Taking the reference even further, sometimes these shows within shows spin-off into their own legitimate anime series or made into special features for the DVD release.

Embracing Love: A Cicada in Winter The yaoi anime OVA Embracing Love: Cherished Spring stars Kyōsuke Iwaki and Yōji Katō, two characters also happen to be actors. In the midst of their burgeoning love affair and ongoing careers is A Cicada in Winter. Both vie for parts in this historical drama during the OVA, and about two years later, the characters get their wish. A Cicada in Winter eventually got spun off into its own historical drama OVA, and yes, there's yaoi in there too.

Nurse Witch Komugi The original Nurse Witch Komugi takes the "anime within anime" concept in reverse, in a way retconning its predecessor Soul Taker. Soul Taker is a dark action series that takes some notes from other complicated brainbending anime like Serial Experiments Lain and Boogiepop Phantom. Nurse Witch Komugi, on the other hand, plays up the cute appeal of a minor antagonist from the series. These incongruous differences are resolved by later claiming that Soul Taker was actually a TV drama within the show.

Exodus (Shirobako) The characters of Shirobako all work within the anime industry in some capacity, whether as in-betweeners, burgeoning voice actors, or production runners. One series featured in Shirobako is Exodus, a story about three low-rent idols who are accused of murdering their manager. The characters of Shirobako are shown working hard on the show, as well as The Third Aerial Girls Squad. Both concepts were turned into single-episode bonus anime released with Shirobako on DVD.

Kujibiki Unbalance The otaku of Genshiken's anime club are always tuning into Kujibiki Unbalance, a romantic comedy about a competition to join the high school student council. The anime has mixed reviews among Genshiken's cast, so it's hard to say whether the OVA and full-fledged television anime's staff were aiming for the same response. Either way, the show isn't particularly memorable apart from Ritsuko Kübel Kettenkrad, who for some reason always wears a weird helmet.

Gekigangar 3 The crew of Martian Successor Nadesico are obsessed with Gekigangar 3, a mecha anime they watch from space that mainly pokes fun at popular mecha anime of yesteryear, like Mazinger Z. Its protagonists Ken, Joe, and Akira form together to make one giant robot and fight Prince Akara or Emperor Hyperion. It got its own OVA, a compilation of scenes appearing within Nadesico along with some new material. Of course, the cast of Gekiganger 3 are later shown watching Martian Successor Nadesico, leaving the audience to wonder which is the "real" anime.

Puru Puru Pururin (Welcome to the NHK) Magical cat girl Pururin looks like a mash-up of Dejiko from Di Gi Charat, Tokyo Mew Mew, Magical Meow Meow Taruto, and many other wide-eyed, bell-wearing catgirls of the time period. Shut-in prtoagonist Tatsuhiro Sato obsesses over the late-night anime series, as his anxiety and delusions fuel a plot that the television station NHK and Pururin are turning normal otaku into hikikkomori. Aiding Pururin's conspiracy is an incredibly catchy theme song that Sato can hear endlessly through a shared wall of his apartment. Fortunately for the rest of us, Pururin remained within the confines of Welcome to the NHK, with the exception of a fake promotional website and opening sequence.

Getsumen To Heiki Mina I'm probably the only person continuing to champion this weird sci-fi magical girl series. Its concept first appeared in Densha Otoko, so technically this is an anime within a live-action series. That said, the story takes place after our planet's first contact with aliens. The visiting aliens obsessive behavior becomes disruptive, so legislation is passed to let a trio of rabbit-themed magical girls capture any offenders. The series features character designs by Okama, who later worked on the character designs for Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live, Aquarion, Himawari, and Saint October.

The new poll: By comparison, Hiroshi Kamiya is one of anime's most popular voice actors. Which of his roles did you enjoy the most?

The old poll: Which of Kana Hanazawa's roles did you enjoy the most?

  1. Psycho-Pass: Akane Tsunemori
  2. Steins;Gate: Mayuri Shiina
  3. Angel Beats!: Tenshi/Kanade Tachibana
  4. Durarara!!: Anri Sonohara
  5. Bakemonogatari: Nadeko Sengoku
  6. Princess Jellyfish: Tsukimi Kurashita
  7. Blue Exorcist: Shiemi Moriyama
  8. Oreimo: Ruri Gokō/Kuroneko
  9. Nisekoi - False Love: Kosaki Onodera
  10. Tokyo Ghoul: Rize Kamishiro
  11. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic: Kōgyoku Ren
  12. Danganronpa: Chiaki Nanami
  13. Gabriel DropOut: Raphiel Ainsworth Shiraha
  14. March comes in like a lion: Hinata Kawamoto
  15. To Love-Ru: Mikan Yūki
  16. Bodacious Space Pirates: Chiaki Kurihara
  17. Prison School: Hana Midorikawa
  18. The irregular at magic high school: Mayumi Saegusa
  19. Infinite Stratos 2: Charlotte Dunois
  20. Deadman Wonderland: Shiro


When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

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