‘Parody’ is often defined as the imitation or the production of a ridiculous effect. In ancient Greek literature, a parodia (para means ‘counter, against’ and oide means ‘song’) was a narrative poem that imitates the style and rhythm of other poets but presents satirical or mock-heroic subjects. Thus, the word parodia has sometimes been taken to mean ‘counter-song’, an imitation that is set against the original.
We witness parody in every aspect of art or culture with its focus being on making fun or exaggerating original works or actual history events. Of course, anime couldn’t be left out. Although it’s a tough genre to get it right and make it work, the following anime recommendations certainly know how to make quality, witty, and hilarious comedy. They either have small parody bits or act as a more general parody of a time period, topic, or society.
Make sure you are up to date with the otaku, anime and pop culture scene because you will certainly need all the knowledge you can get to understand all the references that these series offer.
Summer 2007 12 Episodes
Nozomu Itoshiki is always in despair. He is a high school teacher who is so pessimistic that even the smallest of misfortunes can send him into a pit of raging despair and some of these ‘disasters’ even lead to suicide attempts. But when the time comes to end it all, Itoshiki’s attempted suicide on the first day of the new school year is stopped by the ruthlessly positive Fuura Kafuka.
Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei is an anime known for its satire. It is a slice-of-life comedy that is set in modern day and mocks (or more likely takes way too literally) various aspects of Japanese life and culture through Nozomu and his interactions with his students. This show has comedy that tends to go to very dark places and I must warn you that you need to be vigilant and overly focused when you watch this because its pace is extremely fast. it has plenty of visual gags, call-outs to the anime culture as well as interesting takes on the Japanese language; this show is an absolute joy to watch.
Fall 2015 12 Episodes
In a city where criminals, thugs, and super-villains are everywhere, Saitama decides to become a superhero. He trains so hard and ends up becoming so strong that he defeats every enemy with one punch. His dream of fighting exciting and overpowered enemies is replaced by overpowered boredom as he is too strong for everyone. A cyborg named Genos learns about his abilities and tries to become his disciple but Saitama isn’t interested.
This is probably one of the most popular anime titles of the last few years and if you haven’t seen it already, you should definitely get right into it. If you are a shounen enthusiast, One-Punch Man has a very attractive plotline. It explores the very unusual scenario of a hero that has become so extremely overpowered against his enemies that he can no longer evolve and find any further thrill or excitement to his cause. It likes to parody common anime and manga tropes of the genre that it represents but at the same time it keeps it both exciting and funny.
During the events of World War I and World War II, where many problems exist between nations, there lives a group of beautiful boys that are the personification of the world’s countries. The story focuses on the Axis Powers, and occasionally throws the spotlight onto the wild relationship between the Allied Forces that tackle several issues in fun and unreasonable ways.
Hetalia Axis Powers asks the question of what if nations were people? It’s a show that is quite unique in its genre since it is a parody of history and of countries themselves. All the characters are based on stereotypes (that sometimes can be hilariously accurate) and exaggerated versions of the cultures they represent: North Italy, who is clumsy, carefree, and loves pasta; Germany, who is very serious but easily flustered; and Japan, who is stoic but has bizarre interests. It’s a historical comedy that has a light approachon politics and historical events and likes to examine the relationships between nations while educating and entertaining the viewer at the same time.
Chiyo Sakura is a high school girl who is in love with Umetarou Nozaki, another high schooler who happens to be a very famous shoujo mangaka. In her attempt to confess her feelings to him, she is being misunderstood as his fan and ends up as his manga assistant. Nevertheless, she strives to help Nozaki with his manga and hopes that he will eventually notice her feelings.
It is quite unusual to find a romance anime that appeals to both a male and female audience and Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is one of these exceptions. It is an anime that acts as a parody to any rom-com out there and that likes to joke about the situation it presents. It is aware of its absurdity and clichés and embraces them in a very clever and not-too-serious way, so the viewers can enjoy its jokes, comedy, and cute moments.
Detroit Metal City
Summer 2008 12 Episodes
Negishi Souichi moves to Tokyo with dreams of joining a trendy pop band. After graduating, he actually manages to join one, but not the kind he was wishing for. He is now known as Krauser II, the lead singer of the death metal band Detroit Metal City, where he is forced to do extravagant performances and gets publicized as a demonic being who has risen from the fiery pits of hell itself in order to bring the world to its knees and lord over all mortals.
As someone who is into that music scene, I find this show to be brilliantly hilarious. Known for its vulgarity, foul language, and widely offensive jokes, this anime acts like the best parody of your favorite metal band. Although, if jokes about raping and murdering your own mother or seeing Krauser furiously thrusting his junk against a piece of government property in order to please his crazy fans, offend you, then maybe DMC is not for you. But if you are willing to go through some dark humor and obscenity, then this anime is hands-down the best thing you can experience.
Ouran High School Host Club
Spring 2006 26 Episodes
Ouran High School is an exclusive academy for very wealthy, prestigious, and talented students. Haruhi is one of those talented students but at the same time a poor clumsy commoner. One day, she accidentally drops an eight million yen vase in a music room, which happened to be owned by Ouran High School Host Club, a group of attractive young men who provide their time and affection to the female students. Fascinated by Haruhi’s background, they force her to work for them until the debt is repaid.
Ouran High School Host Club is a very weird combination of shoujo and parody. It kind of deconstructs the whole reverse harem setting that it represents and after watching it you might have a hard time categorizing it. Nevertheless, it involves various hilarious parody bits and with every character of the show based upon a stereotype that is found in the genre: the strong protective wild Mori, the childlike boy Lolita Honey, the mischievous Hitachiin twins, the cool and smart Kyouya, and of course the charming prince-like Tamaki. This anime will satisfy your thirst for humor and romance at the same time.
Spring 2007 24 Episodes
In present day Japan, four cute high school girls (Konata Izumi, the lazy otaku; the smart and well-mannered Miyuki Takara, and the Hiiragi twins) develop their eccentric and lively friendship by making humorous observations about the world around them.
Lucky Star is a story that focuses around the life of an otaku girl, so you can expect a fair amount of anime and manga-related humor, but you should keep in mind that this is an anime title from over a decade ago, so if you are not familiar with older popular anime titles like the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Initial D, Code Geass, Dragon Ball, Fullmetal Alchemist, etc. you might not get most of the references. However, since it’s a parody on Japanese tradition, the intricacies of otaku culture, and includes many other general obvious anime references, you will find this show to be very funny and relatable. Can we also mention that the opening song is probably the most addictive thing you will ever listen to?
KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!
Winter 2016 10 Episodes
Kazuma Satou’s life ends after a traffic accident, but he wakes up to see a beautiful girl before him. Aqua claims to be a goddess and provides him with two options: continue on to heaven or reincarnate in every gamer’s dream—a real fantasy world – but with the option to bring only one thing with him. Choosing to start a new life, Kazuma decides to bring with him the goddess herself, and they are transported to a fantasy world filled with adventure and ruled by a demon king. But living in such a world is far different from what they imagined it to be, which leads them to endless misfortunes.
If you follow the latest trends of the anime industry, you will certainly know by now that the isekai genre has become extremely popular. Even though Konosuba doesn’t have any distinct anime references in it, it parodies the whole genre of isekai, RPG, and Person in a Strange World. So don’t expect your usual fantasy tropes and get yourself ready to laugh with the alternate scenario of a teenager being transported to a fantasy world and where things don’t actually work out that well as he does not succeed in getting the girl or becoming badass.
Spring 2006 201 Episodes
The Amanto, aliens from outer space, have invaded Earth and taken over feudal Japan, which ended the samurai era. However, Gintoki Sakata, a yorozuya (someone who completes any job in exchange for money) along with Shinpachi Shimura, a boy with a strong heart, Kagura with her umbrella never-ending appetite, as well as Sadaharu, their oversized pet dog, take on jobs that lead them to humorous but unfortunate consequences.
Okay, Gintama has always been considered the king of parody anime and is extremely popular in Japan. It literally parodies everything: from anime, games, pop culture or more obscure Japanese media to even their own production and real-world events. Gintama knows how to utilize great humor, references, and comedy to its storytelling in order to deliver the best comedic impact possible. With its fast-paced humor, hilarious characters, great fights, and action scenes (not all the time because according to them sometimes it’s easier for their artists to make them short), Gintama is a show everyone can enjoy.
Fall 2015 25 Episodes
Matsuno household has six identical, naughty, and mischievous sons (who are sextuplets), with the oldest one being Osomatsu. Despite each one of them being over the age of 20, they are incredibly lazy, they have absolutely no motivation about anything, and choose to live as NEETs instead. Though they are constantly trying to change their situation, their unique personalities lead them to many everyday challenges.
Mr. Osomatsu is the anime equivalent of South Park. It has past-paced humor, loads of anime references, as well as parodies of the Japanese society and occasionally of Western pop culture. The first episode is packed with so many anime references, including titles like Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) and Kuroko no Basuke, that it has been pulled entirely from streaming sites and the Japanese Blu-Ray release, due to the fact that it contained too many parodies. The third episode resembled Anpanman so closely, a popular kids anime show, that the network forced it to be reanimated, as it is a show written for an adult audience (ridiculous, I know…). If you are looking for a rather recent show with somewhat relevant references, then you should definitely check out Mr. Osomatsu.
Parodies to make everything even more absurd than it was.
Each anime included in this list has something different to offer. Whether you are looking for something that parodies specific genres like isekai or the death metal scene, or something more general about anime or history, this list includes a little bit of everything. Even if you are not into parodies or satire, these anime are bound to make you laugh with their amazing humor and cleverly written plots.