Are References in Anime Any Good AT ALl?

For those who did not notice, I included three references in my title alone. "Ref" is from Eureka seveN while Ali project sings quite a few anime OPs and EDs, notably the Rozen Maiden, Noir and Avenger ones. And "AT" is "Air trek", the roller blades from Air gear.

This issue of references keeps popping up in my head everytime I watch Pani Poni Dash.

For those of you who do not know what PPD is (You guys still exist?), it is an anime based off a manga that has so many references in it you need a separate PDF file for reference. It’s like needing a gamefaq to watch anime. Most of the references are so obscure or hidden that it takes superhuman otaku effort to find them all, much less even know what they are referencing. I always read the PDF file first before watching the show, so I’ll get the reference straightaway and not have to waste time rewatching.

Keroro loves Gunpla.

While PPD is probably the king of references, there are plenty of other anime that sneak in quite a fair bit. Haruhi episode 7 has the FMP references, with that esper guy shouting out "Fumoffu!" and "Second Raid!" while Yuki uses a Lambda drive. Even serious anime like Last Exile has it, during the Bird Race, the announcer calls out, "Ao no Roku Gou!" (Blue No. 6), which is actually Blue Submarine 6, another of GONZO’s works. Comic Party has references to To Heart. School Rumble has references (SR’s could be parodies though) to Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Equilibrium, Japanese Wrestling, Initial D etc. Of course, Keroro Gunsou and Gundam.

Yet another Blue Submarine 6 reference in PPD.

But what happens when the anime staff start adding in their own secret stuff that they know their viewers will surely not understand? An example is Eureka seveN. The target audience for this anime is children and teens but most of the references are to really obscure, old or Western stuff that not many people in Japan would know about. Or in the case of PPD, the references are impossible to get without weeks of research, delving into the dusty archives of games, variety shows, anime, drama and even literature.

So are references in anime any good at all?

Let’s just do a vote.


  • Yes, I love them. I love hunting them down.
  • I’m glad when I catch them. Otherwise I don’t give a shit!
  • No, they are a complete otaku waste of time.

Think about the following before you cast your precious vote.

  • Do I get all the references in anime?
  • Do I feel geninuely upset that I missed a few?
  • Are references actually funny?
  • Or are they a mere distraction?
  • Who do they serve, the viewers or the staff?
  • Do I even actually bother about the references?
  • Do I feel all warm and fuzzy when something I like is referenced?
  • Do I read the PDF file (or any other guides) before or after the show?
  • Are they pointless waste of effort that could’ve been spent on making the show better?

When I was first starting out at my current slavejob, I had to write captions for military pictures. I tried to include references to anime as much as possible without any of the superiors noticing. The furthest I got was "Tank Rumble!".

Personally, I feel really peeved when I miss a reference in an anime. It’s like playing RPG games, I want to get a master game. With the large amount of anime in history and the present, it’s pretty much impossible to know most of them so I don’t get all the references in anime. Some references used in the right places are funny. I feel the staff get a bigger kick out of references than viewers really. I feel warm and fuzzy when I get a reference right. And hot and hairy when it’s something I like. I read the PDF file before the show.

The biggest problem with references is that it slows down subbing and a lot of the jokes are lost if improperly subbed. The fate of Keroro and PPD are testament to this. If subbers do not research and post notes, viewers will not get it and the show will lose some of its appeal, if it’s based heavily on that. But doing research takes a lot of time and effort and many a subber have given up on this unrewarding task.

14 Responses to “Are References in Anime Any Good AT ALl?”

  • I don’t feel that it generally detracts from the show to have easter eggs references. So long as the show isn’t made annoying or difficult to understand, put in all the references and in-jokes you can. I figure the whole point of producing entertainment is to have as much fun as you can.

  • References, parodies, homages, etc… are all Easter Eggs. The “Secret Levels” of anime.

    There are however, two types.

    The subtle, and the obvious.

    Subtle Easter Eggs include background posters, that face in the crowd, etc… Basically anything that will not subtract from the audience’s enjoyment of the anime. If you miss it, it is no big loss. If you catch it, it adds to the fun.

    Obvious Easter Eggs will be when the episode practically slaps it into your face that something is out of the ordinary here. Pani Poni Dash(PPD) is choke full of these, and without understanding most of them, the audience is left in confusion. Without the understanding, PPD falls flat on its’ face.

    The FMP! references in SHaruhi came in two flavours, subtle and obvious. “Fumoffu” and “Second Raid” were such weird battle cries that the audience would probably question their origin. These were the obvious ones. The Lambada Driver parody however, was subtle. Without watching FMP! beforehand, the audience would be left none the wiser. Despite this however, it is of no consequence because it was well integrated into the fight scene, and the audience still gets the satisfaction of seeing a cool clash with pretty colours. FMP! fans however, get the added omph of being in the knowing.

    Comic Party Revolution is another one that was filled with obvious parodies. Cardcaptor Sakura, Prince of Tennis, Gundam SEED, To Heart 2, etc…

    Ah, another example of a subtle reference in SHaruhi is the Touch theme song during the baseball episode. I myself never watched the Touch before, so the reference was obviously lost on me. I only found out about it when I started reading episodic reviews on that episode. Did my lack of knowing detract my enjoyment of the episode? Nope, it did not. Did the relevation after watching the episode add to my appreciation of the episode? Yes, it did.

    So yes, I do like references in my anime, but mostly the subtle ones, since it takes skill to integrate a reference into an episode without breaking the flow. Due to this, I tend to appreciate them more. Besides, one gets more joy out of knowing a hidden gem, than one that is thrown into your face.


  • There was also a reference to Higurashi at the end of Haruhi 7.
    Brilliant paraody/reference i must admit. Hahaha.

  • I don’t see the parody/reference to Higurashi! Where??

    And Tsubaki: You use the same external hard disk enclosure as me.

    Skane: I didn’t use the term “easter egg” because to me, it felt like that term applies to games only. On hindsight, I suppose it can apply to other media as well.

    I can’t actually remember what the original point of the article was, due to severe lack of sleep from Champions League action. There are way too many references to discussion individually here but let me just add some more interesting ones. Akira’s spy scene in SR season 1 is a parody of Madlax.

  • I just bought that today, and i already have problem with the LED.
    It’s not working at all, and it’s properly connected. >.>

  • You really should just et the guys at the store to fix it for it. They do it in 2 minutes for free. See this post btw.

  • Well, you’re always bringing some sort of knowledge into your viewing experience, so the whole “even if you don’t know about X” thing doesn’t really hold up.

    There’s also the Family Guy-style reference, where they make a reference, you know that they’re making a reference, you don’t get the reference at all, but you laugh anyway. Oh and also the Ouran 7 reference where the show makes a reference to something and then explains it.

    What I do get annoyed at are cloying references that only serve to make the audience or producers feel like they are smart.

  • [QUOTE]
    I don’t see the parody/reference to Higurashi! Where??

    Observe the colour of the next episode’s title in the preview.

  • Yeah, i’m going down later to get it fixed.
    Bringing my HDD along so that they can do it for me as well. Hahaha.
    I’m not pulling any chances now.

  • It is important when used in the hands of a master.

  • “An example is Eureka seveN. The target audience for this anime is children and teens but most of the references are to really obscure, old or Western stuff that not many people in Japan would know about.”

    Animaniacs was also targetted at an audience very unlikely to understand most of its cultural references. Didn’t seem to hurt the kids-laugh quotient.

  • WHAT? Ok I was 10 or younger when I saw Animaniacs. I did not realise it had references.

    I can’t help but notice your url address is the name of an expensive Premiership footballer flop who used to be from Leeds.

  • Tis true. I had the benefit of being an old teen when I watched Animaniacs, so I got a bang out of the references. Being an American production however, most of the gags were natually American-based.

    Same with the Simpsons.

    Heck, you could say the same of our local movies. Most foreigners will not catch the in-jokes in Jack Neo’s movies.

  • I don't watch ANIME.
    I want to know why people like it.. or what's cool with it.
    I might want to try watching it someday,
    what can you recommend?

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