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Show Within A Show: Anime & Manga

Examples of type 1 (characters involved in production)

  • Tsurupika Hagemaru-kun has this. Ever seen the best of 10?
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: Haruhi and her subordinates film a Magical Girl movie for the School Festival with Mikuru and Yuki as the heroine and villain, respectively.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia has a strip where Estonia makes a movie starring Estonia (as Estonia), Russia (as Russia) and America (as America). The credits are twelve minutes long (out of a twenty-one minute long movie) and posted to Hetatube.
  • Billy Bat has a comic of the same name within itself, and it's actually not until halfway through chapter two that we find out the comic itself isn't the real story.
  • Gintaman in Gintama, a self-parody within the story. Also Oshiete Gin-pachi Sensei and Kintama at the start and end of the regular episodes in different seasons.
  • Haru wo Daiteita has the two main characters making a movie that actually gets spun off into its over OVA series called Winter Cicada.
  • Lucky Star's Lucky Channel. One male character shows up as one of the two characters in the show main, something that gets Lampshaded to all pain by his co-host (who doesn't get that luxury). Lucky Star and Lucky Channel are Mutually Fictional, judging by its appearance in the final episode.
    • Lucky Channel is also the name of the reader's column in the magazine Lucky Star serializes on.
  • Kodomo no Omocha within Kodomo no Omocha.
  • Episode 10 of Macross Frontier features the cast involved in the filming of "Bird Human", an in-universe retelling of the events of Macross Zero.
  • In Monster, Bonaparta's son writes and performs a puppet show that parallels the events that are actually happening, but of which does not actually know anything. Also, Grimmer loved the show Magnificent Steiner when he was a kid. He never saw the last episode, though.
  • In Naruto "Specials," and at the end of some episodes, the characters are protrayed to be narrating their own show.
    • A Type 3 variant would be Jiraiya's novels: "Icha Icha Tactics" was used as a codex, while "Tales of a Gutsy Ninja" is Naruto's namesake. Tales doubles as a Type 4, considering that the hero is an amalgam of Jiraiya and Nagato.
    • Also, the Princess Gale movies from the first movie and background elements of the anime.
  • In Prétear, Sasame is the host of a radio talk show called Sasame's Words Gate, in which he gives listeners advice about their problems they send in on anonymous postcards. Himeno's step-sister Mawata is a fan of the show and frequently sends in her own postcards — which becomes a major plot point, particularly in the anime.
  • Sakura Taisen is loaded with these, because of the entire cast's cover identities as part of a theater troupe. In addition to the many, many stage productions they put on, there are also the movies made by the studios owned by Sumire's family (including the infamous Crimson Lizard), and the radio serial Red Lad.
  • Sokosoko V, Ditzy Tiger, as well a Magical Girl series, in Yutori-chan. The cast works at an office that's responsible for promoting these series, and commercials for these meta-franchises show up at the start of every episode.
  • Tenchi in Tokyo is a mixture of both Type 1 and Type 2. In the former, Mihoshi and Kiyone got jobs playing villains in the TV series, Space Police Policeman, and in the latter, Mihoshi became a big fan of the show.
  • Time Journeys and Louis Monde III in Animation Runner Kuromi.
  • Bakuman。, being a manga about writing manga, has tons of these, with the majority of the cast involving themselves in at least two works. The manga focuses more on the characters' lives than on what's happening in their stories, but gives us occasional glimpses of pages from the characters' series. On one occasion, a special chapter of Bakuman was a chapter of an in-universe manga, Otters 11. There's also even briefer glimpses at the anime roles Mashiro's fiancee Azuki plays, but in most cases, the viewer is lucky to see their titles.
  • Most of the main characters in Aoi Hana are in their school's drama club, and stage plays for the culture festivals, the ones who aren't in the club help out anyway.
  • Gundam 00: A Wakening of the Trailblazer has Celestial Being: The Movie, a film based on the publicly-known exploits of the namesake group in years past. However, it is par for the course grossly inaccurate, for featuring a number of anime and Hollywood cliches and over-exaggerating the characters of the story. They even brought out someone who was already dead midway into the original story and used him as the over-the-top, equally-hammy main villain.
  • In what is likely a Shout-Out to Lucky Star, a few episodes of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei have the characters taking comments from viewers and behaving like actors/tv presenters. In one instance, it's referred to as "Zetsubou Channel".
  • From Cromartie High School we are introduced to Pootan, a show that makes less sense than the characters who watch it.
  • One of the extras from Black Butler involves the cast putting on a production of Hamlet as a charity event for children. At least that is the play they intended to perform.
  • Tiger & Bunny has HeroTV, a combination news-Reality TV show that focuses on the exploits of Sternbild's various corporate-sponsored superheroes.
  • Heartcatch Precure has Tsubomi and Erika discover the banchou-type character Ban is making manga. Manga of them. They give him a hand in completing the pages he'd drawn and help him finish the story he was stuck on by acting out an ending. It's also a Type 3, as Ban's afraid to reveal this to his mother, who grew up without manga and felt that if she knew, she'd hate him.
  • THE iDOLM@STER - Has at least three.
    • The Ribbit Ribbit Kitchen, an Iron Chef-esque Cooking Duel
    • Are We Live? a variety show hosted by the 765Pro Idols.
    • Muujin Gattai Kisaragi, a movie starring the 765Pro Idols.
  • Ano Natsu De Matteru is based around the extremely amateur movie the main characters are working on. It also has some elements of Plot Parallel (Ichika is a recently-arrived alien in both).
  • At the end of some episodes of SD Gundam Force is a Zako Zako Hour, a lecture hosted by three Zako Soldiers to other Zako Soldiers. These lectures act to give background information on certain aspects of the main series, like why the Dark axis uses Control Horns among other things. Each show normally takes place on a stage in the Dark Axis ship Mangamusai, even after it was converted into the Gundamusai.
  • Star Driver had "The Eve of the Legend", a play put on by the main characters near the end of the show. Its themes heavily parallel the main story and it is hinted to be a (allegorical) backstory on the the Cybodies themselves. It turns out that the club's president, and writer of the play, is a Human Alien whose race was involved in the Cybodies in times past, who likely did this on purpose. For further meta points, the play is also a prequel to a story that was told earlier in the show by "Sakana-chan" to the leader of the Glittering Crux, which also parallels the main plot!
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, there is D.D. ESPer Robin, a live-action television science fiction series. The show's star is Fuya Okudaira, who becomes a minor antagonist after falling under the control of a Number (causing him to believe he literally is the heroic character he portrays on the show). His deck as a duelist uses cards that resemble characters on the show, most likely custom-made.
  • In Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, Witch Girl is the author of a series of novels titled "Pleasant Serial Killers". Hero and Demon Queen are both fans.
  • This is unavoidable for Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to, as it is basically about a Sequential Artist. Aito works on Hajiratte Cafe Latte, which basically runs his Author Appeal of Panty Shots, Tsurameki has Hot-Blooded Fighter (which was Cut Short), Meisei has JOD: Judge of Darkness, Tamako has Tension 1000%, and Ichika's Adventure World. On the other hand, Aito follows an anime called Magical Girl Momoko-chan, clearly a spoof of the many seinen demographic magical girl anime in the 2000s/2010s.
  • In the last episode of Mangirl, they create an anime about the main characters making a manga magazine. It's identical to Mangirl! in every way. The ending merges the OP with a scene of the characters watching exactly the same OP. Whoa.

Examples of type 2 (characters are fans)

  • The titular character of Crayon Shin Chan loves to watch Action Kamen. Some episodes of the series are dedicated to him, only showing his adventures, and then they show Shin-chan laughing like Action Kamen while watching the episode on TV.
    • In the gag dub, it is called Action Bastard
    • He also likes to watch Quantum Robot
  • Bamboo Blade's Tama is a fan of the toku show Chouken Sentai Blade Braver. Another show called Materia Puzzle also makes a short appearance.
  • Mogenta in Fruits Basket is about this boy and his sidekick Mogenta, a creature thing, who go around fighting monsters. There are many references made to it: Kyo, Yuki, Tohru and Kagura go on a Double Date to one of the movies, Yuki goes out of his way to buy Machi a paperweight and later a soft toy and Kisa, Hiro and Momiji watch the show while at the Sohma summer home.
  • Haiyore! Nyarko-san has sentai show Iron Striver. Nyarlathotep (yes, that one) is a huge fan.
  • Hand Maid May has an incredibly cheesy and overdone soap opera. Its tropes are turned Up to Eleven.
  • Kujibiki Unbalance within Genshiken (which eventually spun off as its own show).
  • An "anime within an anime", the fictional anime series Liddo-kun no Daibouken (and the stuffed Liddo-kun toy owned by Naru) figures significantly into Love Hina.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico, a mecha anime, has the fake mecha anime Gekigangar 3 in it, which parodies old mecha anime and their fandom (especially Mazinger Z). The anime itself parodies mecha anime as well, but becomes more serious as the show progresses. In Episode 14, the Show Within A Show trope is inverted with the characters from Gekigangar watching Martian Successor Nadesico and complaining that the episode is merely a filler recap episode, hanging quite a lampshade.
    • An Abridged Series replaced Gekiganger 3 with Gekiganger 3: The Abridged Series. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Nadesico ends up being a type 2, 3, and 4. The characters are fans of the show and watch it quite frequently. But fandom of Gekiganger 3 becomes a fairly large plot point. And at its less serious moments, the events of the show mirror what happens in the Nadesico episode. One has to imagine the writers had a lot of fun with this trope.
    • Gekiganger 3 also has a show within a show: Martian Successor Nadesico, but the episode of Gekiganger 3 is a Recap Episode of Nadesico... ow, my head.
  • Detective Kunkun within Rozen Maiden (may actually fall into the "eerily similar" category in some respects, as it's a puppet-based show watched by the Rozen Maiden dolls, who are convinced it is reality). The irony of the characters watching a dark and edgy cartoon involving dolls does not go unnoticed.
  • School Rumble has The Three Slashed and Hatenkou Robo Dojibiron.
  • The unnamed alien Soap Opera that most of the Masaki household watches at one time or another in Tenchi Muyo!
  • Welcome to the NHK has Puru Puru Pururin, which is believed by the show's protagonist to be the forefront of a conspiracy. Despite its show-within-a-show nature, it has a real website.
  • Sensei and Ninomiya-kun, the soap opera that the Minami sisters watch in Minami-ke.
  • In Penguin Musume Heart, Sakura is a fangirl of the Sunday morning Magical Girl show Takenoko-chan. That Kujira looks like the main character is partially responsible for Sakura starting her crazy antics.
  • Takumi of Chaos;Head is a fan of the show Blood Tune. It appears to be some type of Magical Girl show — or at least a moe one, given the sheer amount of figures he has of lead character Seira. Creepier, though, is that he's deluded enough to see Seira in his room and talking to him.
  • The bizarre Binkan Salaryman in the even more bizarre Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan.
  • Mahou Shoujo Biblion, a Magical Girl Warrior series in Mahou Sensei Negima!, which the series's own Cosplay Otaku Girl often dresses as.
  • Princess Tutu: In two different episodes the school puts on a ballet and a dramatic play, each mimicking the plot & themes of those particular episodes.
    • The story of The Prince and The Raven guides the characters both thematically and, in some cases, literally. It exists as both a living narrative and an actual novel that various characters read.
  • Hidamari Sketch has Fashionable Detective Lovely Chocolat in its anime version.
  • In Codename: Sailor V, Minako is obsessed with a manga and anime called Aurora Wedding, which is about a group of Magical Girls who run a bridal shop. Though we never get a good look at the women, it's clear from their hairstyles that they look exactly (at least in silhouette) like the main characters of Sailor Moon.
  • Sailor Moon features the Sailor V franchise, which started out as a video game Artemis came up with to train Minako in Codename: Sailor V. The kicker is that Sailor V is a real person, but apparently has shows and merchandising anyway that she clearly has nothing to do with. The show itself is never seen, but an episode of season 1 of The Nineties Sailor Moon features the production studio for Sailor V and was an excuse for the Sailor Moon animation studio making fun of themselves. We later see evidence — a plush doll of Sailor Moon herself — that similar exploitation of the Senshi is taking place.
    • This is subverted and parodied in the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, where Minako (Sailor V) is a recording superstar and media juggernaut who apparently creates all her own promotional campaigns. Minako's current hit song in the series is "C'est La Vie", which is phonetically identical to "Sailor V" in Japanese. It comes off an album entitled "Venus", and includes lines like "As long as I am me, C'est la vie". Another song off the same album is named "Venus Over My Shoulder".
  • Cowboy Bebop has Big Shot!, which features information for bounty hunters on the latest rewards posted for the capture of criminals. Possibly a pirate show, since the picture is always grainy and flickering.
    • Or more likely the fact that the main characters are usually watching it several million miles from the nearest inhabited planet has something to do with the flickering image. The whole show has deliberate retro quality.
    • After Big Shot! is canceled late in the series, the male host has a cameo (sans accent and costume), which makes Cowboy Bebop similar to variety one.
  • Nodame Cantabile has that Puri Gorota show, that Nodame is an Otaku about (even to collect the figures of it).
    • One teacher uses her addiction to bring hear to the classes she kept missing!
    • It borders type 3 because Nodame uses it as example to teach Chiaki a lesson. In Paris, Frank was trying to record the french dub of it when Nodame notices it and watches several dozens of times in order to learn French.
  • Ladies Versus Butlers! has Magical Diva, a Magical Girl who solves problems with violence and her trusty hammer.
  • Most of the real kids in Detective Conan are fans of Kamen Yaiba, a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo version of Kamen Rider (which takes the name "Yaiba" from another of the Conan mangaka's works). A number of times, Conan & company solve mysteries at sets, stunt shows, production offices, or production studios associated with the franchise (and in one case at a costume party where cosplayers showed up in intricate Kamen Yaiba outfits).
  • Oreimo has Stardust Witch Meruru, a magical girl show (pretty much based in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha) of which Kirino is a fan. In one episode, she made Kanako dress up as Meruru, and Kanako won the contest.
  • In Pokémon Special, Diamond is a massive fan of Proteam Omega, an anime featuring the superhero adventures of a Combining Mecha. Diamond sings the theme song to bolster his spirits whenever he's afraid, and the show in fact is one of the reasons he decides to fight Team Galactic. The Goldenrod City Radio Director made the show by basing the mecha off of Red's team. Silver, adorably enough, is also a massive fan.
  • In A Certain Magical Index:
    • Index and Hyouka Kazakiri are fans of the show Magical Powered Kanamin, a Magical Girl series.
    • Later, a director named Beverly Seethrough is introduced and several characters are shown as fans of her movies.
    • In New Testament Vol. 1, Shiage and Rikou go to the theater and watch a film clearly based on Heavy Object.
  • Helvetica Standard, a manga/show that is much, much weirder than is already implied by being named after a typeface, within Nichijou. It mostly pops up randomly as an intermission, but characters are seen reading Helvetica mangas occasionally.


Examples of type 3 (SWAS is plot point)

  • In (Zoku) Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei episode 3, we see Harumi undergo the process of drawing her yaoi doujin one summer night while listening to a radio show with the other characters talking about acting their age. These are two separate stories, though they occasionally overlap with cut shots and her comments. The radio show is the actual adaptation of the manga chapter, while the night in the life of Harumi is anime-specific.
  • Kirby of the Stars features its own television channel. Said channel generally only contains shows made by King Dedede himself, and is often used to start off or elaborate the plot.
    • Dedede took a shot at adding anime to his channel. Shows made include Dedede Of The Stars, an anime where Dedede trades roles with Kirby, but which fell victim to QUALITY animation and odd dubbing (While Meta Knight was the narrator, he found the script too ridiculous to finish) and Fumu-Tan of the Stars which was made by some of Fumu's unwanted fans featuring an aged-up Fumu. She was not pleased.
  • ChobitsA City Without People, drawn by Chi's original creator. It hangs a lampshade on the problems Persocoms are causing and drops hints on Chi's nature and eventual internal struggle.
  • Tenchi Universe gives us one program that distracts Mihoshi so badly that Washu's Mecha Washu-Mihoshi runs off to watch it mid-fight. That show? Moldiver.
  • In Servant × Service, there is Magical Flowers, a Magical Girl series which bears more than a few similarities to HeartCatch Pretty Cure!. Its five protagonists' color schemes also bring to mind Puella Magi Madoka Magica, while one of them, Rose Black, looks like a recolored and redesigned Blue Rose. However, its use seems to only allow the local Cosplay Otaku Girl Chihaya something to cosplay on; most of the young-adult cast don't even know what it is.


Examples of type 4 (Plot Parallel)

  • Haruhi Suzumiya: The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina, the Non-Indicative First Episode (sort of) produced by the main characters, foreshadows the weird goings on (most notably the existence of aliens, time travelers, and espers) that are the focus of the rest of the series.
  • A chapter of Assassination Classroom revolves around several of the characters going to see "Sonic Ninja," an American superhero movie. The major connection comes when the film's Big Bad is revealed to be the heroine's brother, which serves as Foreshadowing for the eventual revelation that the next assassin to come after Koro-Sensei is his younger brother.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion there are frequently radio and TV talk shows subtly playing in the background that mirror psychological issues being dealt with in the show. Especially prevalent in the first half of the show.
  • Yes! Precure 5 has a variation, in which Urara plays a character on an as-yet-unnamed TV show. By all indications, said show appears to be essentially a live-action version of... Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash☆Star, the previous Pretty Cure series.
    • Just to make things more complicated, a question on an English test seen in an episode of Splash Star suggests that that series has the original Futari wa Pretty Cure as a show-within-a-show. Although it's probably just an Easter Egg, a number of fans (including this editor) have taken both of these as gospel and sincerely hope that this trend continues with later Pretty Cure shows.
  • Some of Mamoru's classmates in GaoGaiGar are fans of a show called GaGaGatchi, which stars a little gnome robot who bears suspicious similarities to GGG himself. When Sixth Ranger King J-Der shows up, he gets his own GaGaGatchi expy in the form of The Rival "King Snow".
  • Admiral Geroro in Keroro Gunsou, although Geroro sounds as though he has more luck than Keroro.
  • In the universe of Digimon Tamers, "Digimon" is a popular franchise, implied to even have a T.V. show. The cards, specifically, were very useful. The Saban English dub wrongly assumed (it's contradicted in-universe and by Word of God) that the TV series were the prior two series of the franchise (collectively known as Digimon Adventure), which irked plenty of fans.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya! has done this a few times. One is when King Dedede convinces everyone in Cappy Town to get him his own anime series. Since nobody has had any professional training, and each animator has a different style, it comes out looking shoddy and inconsistent (in one case, Dedede and Escargoon are drawn hyper-realistically). Since Kirby is just a baby, his scenes are just scribbles. Another is when Dedede creates his own TV channel that he uses to convince people that Kirby is evil. There's also the Otakings' anime featuring Bouncy Tiff...
  • In Saint Beast the Poison Saint show plays on earth, which has Super-Deformed versions of the characters doing things that just happened in the show. The actual characters fail to acknowledge it's about them even despite the fact one of them watches it avidly.
  • In chapter 37 of the Omamori Himari manga, there's a single panel showing Yuuto playing a video game — of Himari fighting Shizuku.
  • Taken to MindScrewy heights in Satoshi Kon's Perfect Blue, where the internal show's plot seems to mirror reality so impossibly well that the line becomes impossible to find. There's a part at the height of the confusion where there's a sequence of scenes which all look like they're about the main character's real life struggles, including a scene where she's declared to have multiple personality disorder and to falsely believe she's an actress, only for someone to yell "Cut!", several times (while she's suffering identity crises of her own thanks to her stalker/impostor). The viewer is left questioning whether that really was just part of the show. The show also pushes itself onto reality with the rape scene, which Mima tries to play off as no big deal except as a boost to her career but in reality took very hard).
  • Similarly played with (but mostly without the horror aspect) in another of Satoshi Kon's movies, Millennium Actress. The movie depicts the life of a retired actress through a series of long flashbacks, which are intertwined with scenes from her movies. This being a Satoshi Kon movie, it's rarely entirely clear what's from a movie and what was her actual life. Either she was typecast in a ludicrously specific role, which happened to very closely mirror her actual life, or...
  • The first episode of Gundam Unicorn features an advertisement for a film called "Runaway Princess." Guess what the plot of the series revolves around?
  • Persona 4 revolves around a group of high school kids as they try to solve a series of bizarre serial killings in their town. As a plot parallel, the main protagonist's younger cousin is obsessed with "Magical Detective Loveline", a fictional Magical Girl anime about a teen detective.


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