Parody Anime Subgenre
The greatest form of flattery is imitation, but not the one where everything is a discount rip-off of a loved series. Parody is the subgenre devoted to making fun of popular tropes to both poke fun at silly things we accept without thinking and to make us laugh with things that buck the trend. Shows that closely follow the style or set-up of another (or multiple) series are parodies if those aspects are twisted in some form to make you think about the original, though not to throw hate on or otherwise condemn the original.
As comedy is multi-layered and often confusing, consider parody as a well-meaning mockery of the story or genre it is inspired by that wants you to compare the two. Stepping away from this is referential humour, the form that brings up a well-known and unaltered image or subject to gain a laugh but nothing more. Further from this is satire, the form that uses comedy as a tool to dissect the subject being made fun of. It’s a much harsher mockery of the source material and has a clear message; not quite something found in anime.
Exaggeration. One of the defining features of parody, exaggeration allows features or tropes to come to the forefront, signifying that the series is indeed about how ridiculous a certain thing is. Exaggeration is very much an indicator as it is a way to get you to notice common aspects of something. With anime already as wacky as it is, exaggeration also needs to be met with aspects that poke fun at it.
Bleeping. Since the Japanese language hardly has any swear words that need censoring, bleeping refers to the noise played over verbal references to existing brands, characters, titles or anything with a copyright. This is often done because the studio has not asked the owning company if they have permission to mention the name used. If you can potentially get into trouble with copyrighted characters or brands, it’s parody.
Not your carbon copy. Comedy is an already complicated form without needing to think about how parodies can skirt close to being a complete imitation. When it comes to anime though, you can easily dismiss series that try to directly copy famous anime from the past. Anime is thankfully more overt in its intentions and will endeavor to throw twists around to make you laugh and distinguish itself as a parody.
Comedy. Parody is an exclusive subgenre of comedy, since no matter how it plays with or changes what it likes, it’s always for comedic effect. The rest of the usual things that parody anime parodies involve other subgenres as well as comedy.
Romance. Love stories are as old as history, so it makes sense that the worn stories of falling in love, along with all the associated tropes, are made fun of every now and then. Whether it’s having to apply different rules to the game of love or switching traditional roles, you can bet there are a fair share of romance parodies.
Shounen. With shounen manga and shounen anime given so much attention, the tropes that appeal to the demographic have been fairly refined over the years. As many authors try to create a story according to a “winning formula”, others use the well-known tropes to make fun of shounen’s ridiculous favourites.
Slice of life. The lacking direction of slice of life series allow long-running comedy shows to parody everything from old favourites to popular new anime. It also lets parody series tackle a variety of things, since structured plots demand attention once in a while.
Here's our top 10 'Best Parody Anime Recommendations'
1. Gintama – Aliens have taken control of Earth, but even if samurai are forbidden from using swords, they aren’t all out of options to make a living. Follow Gintoki, a freelancing samurai, as he works to earn enough gold to fuel his comics and snacks obsession. The largest, longest parody anime ever.
2. One Punch Man – Saitama is the strongest hero to have ever lived, but not only does nobody know his name, he can’t even prove his power – in part due to his extremely average looks. His days of doing hero work for fun turn somewhat serious when he joins the Hero Association and gains an apprentice, but he’s really just out for a strong opponent. A lighthearted parody of superhero tropes with a structured story.
3. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei – Itoshiki Nozomu is far from your usual high school teacher, especially considering he’s easily thrown into suicidal despair. But his students match him almost perfectly when their exceptional worries meet his pessimistic advice. A series that comments on Japanese culture and other anime with a little more bite.
4. My Bride is a Mermaid – Nagasumi almost drowns in the sea, but life tosses him a lifesaver by rescuing him and throwing him back in the fire. For Nagasumi has been saved by the mermaid yakuza’s daughter and, by mermaid yakuza rules, must marry her or die. A romcom parody that manages to keep things funny throughout its whole run.
5. Osomatsu-san – The Matsuno sons are sextuplets, each with their own obnoxiously annoying personality and endless drive to never let any brother succeed. While trying to escape their NEET life and get ahead, the brothers squabble over everything, pushing the limits of normal family dynamics. The modern gross anime featuring non-cute characters that bring old-school Japanese humour to a current series.
6. Lucky Star – Hardcore otaku Konata can find anime and game comparisons in every aspect of her life. As she goes through her high school days, her quirky outlook on life draws her friends ever closer to the anime abyss, but sometimes they just hang out too. Hundreds of references and parodies of current and past otaku hobbies converge to make a huge parody anime.
7. Slayers – Lina Inverse is a powerful sorceress and a danger to everyone around her. It’s not her power that makes her a formidable foe but her reckless use of magic to get whatever she wants. Her big loves in life are magical treasures and food, but her adventures for priceless goods change when she’s urged to fight the dark lord. An affectionate parody of older fantasy anime.
8. Excel Saga – Odd couple Excel and Hyatt are on a journey to take over the world on behalf of the eccentric ACROSS organization leader, Il Palazzo. Part of this involves making fun of every anime genre available. The early 2000’s version of Lucky Star-level parody.
9. Hayate the Combat Butler – Hayate’s parents have left Hayate a vast and endless pit of debt, something which they intend to partially repay by selling their son to the yakuza. In a desperate effort to live, Hayate kidnaps a rich girl, but in a twist of events, ends up saving her from disaster. To thank him, the girl hires Hayate as a butler and starts a complicated love triangle in motion while she’s at it. A combination of multiple anime tropes roped together and made to be chuckled at.
10. Carnival Phantasm – Wuth Type Moon characters comprising some of the most well-known anime series, it’s about time that they’re held up for parody. As the cast of Fate/Stay Night, Melty Blood, Tsukihime and other minor works come together to act in skits based on the original stories, the series brings a healthy dose of comedy to the usually drama-filled shows. A parody series that involves many popular characters without the need for bleeping or changing appearances.