As a series about anime production, Shirobako goes out of its way to reference people, places, notable works, and historical events within the business.
- Musashino Animation is most likely a spoof of Kyoto Animation, only moved to the Musashino township in Greater Tokyo.
- Could also be named for M.S.J. Musashino Production which provides a great amount of animation services (though oddly enough, not for this series).
- G.I.Staff, the studio that Tomigaya works for, is a mix of Production I.G and JC Staff.
- Sunup studios is well known for their Humongous Mecha anime, just like Sunrise.
- Musashino Animation's predecessor, Musashino Pictures, was eerily similar to the original Mushi Productions that went bankrupt in 1973, complete with many of its staff founding new studios in the wake of Mushi's fall. In this sense, MusAni itself may also be a reference to the modern MushiPro, especially given that MusAni CEO Masato Marukawa is based on MushiPro alumnus Masao Maruyama, co-founder of Madhouse and current CEO of MAPPA. In addition, MushiPro's longtime leaders after Osamu Tezuka, Hideaki and Yoko Hatta, later founded KyoAni.
- Other companies include The Born (Studio Bones), B Production (Shin-Ei Animation) and HD Studio (a combination between two of the show's real life subcontractors — compositing firm T2 Studio (for the name and building exterior) and editing firm Good Job Tokyo (the company's function)).
- The episode of Exodus included on volume three of the home video release. And later, the Third Aerial Girls' Squad episode on the final volume. Also has one for another of the show's real life subcontractors- FFW International for FAI International. T2 Studio is also credited under the MusAni moniker for these productions as well.
- Kyoto Animation is also referenced as Naniwa Animation. Naniwa is another name for Osaka, which is right next to Kyoto. In addition KyoAni's subsidiary, Animation Do, is located in Osaka.
- R&B Studio, the place where the voice recording was done, is a reference to real-world Studio T&T, specifically studio B.
- Pexar for Pixar in episode 21.
- In episode 4, a large number of voice-talent agencies were bland-named:
- Across Entertainment became Icaros.
- 81 Production became 24 Production.
- Aoni Production became Aka Oni Production.
- Axl One became Axl Two.
- Nippairen became Hairen.
- Ken Production (often shortened to KenPro) became FugenPro.
- Episode 12 gives us Studio Gibli only one letter off of Studio Ghibli.
- When Musashino is unable to access their FTP server, they complain to "TNN" and have them look for connectivity issues. NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone) is the largest telecommunications company in Japan.
- G Colle for KanColle
- Prince of Baseball from episode 9 for The Prince of Tennis
- Zoo Park Story from Episode 9 for Madagascar
- Neon Generation Avangaldon for Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- Cura-Cool Zero for Pretty Cure.
- Examples in Exodus!:
- When they first get their bike, Alpine mentions that she was a stunt actor in a Tokusatsu show not very unlike Kamen Rider, complete with Riderman mask.
- During their escape from the police, the girls run into a police detective who looks not very unlike Harry Callahan.
- Aoi's favourite, Andes Chucky, is a reference to the World Masterpiece Theater work Rocky Chuck the Mountain Rat.
- In episode 6, there was a Space Exodus Idepon exhibit, a bland-name version of Space Runaway Ideon.
- Shizuka's mentor is directing a play, apparently an all-female production of Waiting for Godot, it being possibly too enthusiastic of a shout out. A couple of weeks after its debut, the episode 6 (and only episode 6) was pulled from streaming sites with the only reason being given as "rights issues"—the issue being that Samuel Beckett absolutely hated having the play performed by women, and his estate follows suit.
- Ogasawara-san's flashback in episode 16 features a Kill Bridal poster, a bland-named version of Kill Bill.
- In episode 4, a famous voice actress, Rena Souma note , was mentioned to have acted in Corruption Robot: Sadoka Mazoka, Mon Mon Biyori and Ai Pura, which are obvious references to Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Non Non Biyori and Ai Kora, respectively.
- Nogame's previous manga title, Sailor Suits and F3s, a manga about schoolgirls runing racing carts, bland-named his bland-named counterpart, Takeshi Nogami's actual work, Sailor Suits and Heavy Tanks, which itself also bland-named Japan's 70's novel-turned-film, Sailor Suit and Machine Gun.
- The reference to the bland-named manga's anime adaptation giving the creator some backlash for excessive fanservice might be a nod on itself to Sailor Suits and Heavy Tanks having been accused of exactly the same.
- While Nogame's Third Aerial Girl's Squad is based on Nogami's own manga, Shidenkai no Maki.
- For added measure, Third Aerial Girl's Squad's main character Aria shares face, expression, and clothes (down to their color) with the main character of Nogami's newer manga, the Ribbon Warrior spin-off of Girls und Panzer, making the Shout-Out multi-layered.
- Episode 17 pictures a poster referencing Street Fighter during a very short still.
- And finally, Two Piece for One Piece in episode 24.
- Director Seiichi Kinoshita's looks is based on Seiji Mizushima (director of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 and Fullmetal Alchemist).
- Company president Masahito Marukawa's design is based on Masao Maruyama (co-founder of Madhouse and the C.E.O. of MAPPA).
- The sound director at Studio R&B is based on industry veteran Yoshikazu Iwanami.
- Not quite exhaustive, but these◊ images◊ give◊ you◊ an idea of just how many real-life industry persona Shirobako based its characters on.
- Ema idolizes Horiuchi-san from Naniwa Animation who specializes in animating everyday life. This is a reference to Yukiko Horiguchi of Kyoto Animation who did the character design for K-On!, Lucky Star, and Tamako Market
- Episode 16's semi-Baseball Episode shows the girls in several stances that are references to real Japanese baseball players, such as Ogasawara's stance being based on Michihiro Ogasawara, or Miyamori's being based on Ichiro Suzuki◊.
- Taro's screw-up seems to be a reference to series director's Tsutomu Mizushima's own experiences in some of his projects (Girls und Panzer in particular), where a single mistake cascaded into a massive problem. While Tarou hasn't affected Exodus! too much, Girls und Panzer had to pass recaps for its final two episodes on the standard airing block, while the real finale only aired an entire anime cour later. Mizushima has clearly not gotten over the experience yet.