Cultural Cross-Reference

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Say hello to Ponchi and Conchi.

You're watching the dub of an anime, playing a localized version of an imported game, or reading a book or manga in translation. You stumble across a cultural reference that you're absolutely sure couldn't have been in the original—it just seems too culturally out-of-place to have been in the original source. Except that it was in the original.

Thanks to the increasingly international nature of popular culture, combined with Popcultural Osmosis, an all-too-familiar cultural reference has managed to make its way halfway around the world, showing up in a completely unexpected place.

Examples of Cultural Cross-Reference include:

Anime and Manga

  • Tower of God: Repellista Zahard's door has a sign with Fus Roh Da written on it.
  • Being a series based around pop-culture-themed alternate dimensions, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi runs up and down the buffet line between western and eastern popular culture of multiple genres.
  • The notorious Daicon IV short film made by then-unknown Gainax animators. The video itself is set to an Electric Light Orchestra song, and the animators took the opportunity to include as many cameos of sci-fi, animation and fantasy characters as possible: not only Japanese Sentai and Anime characters show up, but a crapload of Western characters appear as well, including but not limited to the Tin Man, Snake Plissken, the female robot from Metropolis, a Martian from the 1953 film version of The War of the Worlds, and even...Muttley!
  • Risky☆Safety
    • There's one line in which the protagonist's relationship is compared to that between Anakin and Amidala.
    • Another pair of episodes are titled in a way evocative of directly copying the Japanese names of the first two movies in the Austin Powers movies.
  • Azumanga Daioh
  • Fruits Basket
    • The conflict between Kyo and Yuki is compared to that between another famous cat and mouse, Tom and Jerry. Turns out that cartoon is quite popular in Japan, the only American series amongst the top 100 animated series in Japan.
    • There's also a reference to Friday the 13 th in the chapter where some of the characters go on a vacation to a cabin in the woods.
  • Pani Poni Dash!...oh God, where to even start?? That show has references to almost anything.
    • For instance, a shot-for-shot Shout-Out to the Catwoman origin scene in Batman Returns.
    • It has several Chuck Norris jokes in the original Japanese dialogue. This eventually culminates in a still of Chuck Norris' character lying dead after his fight with Bruce Lee in that one movie.
    • And then there is the Discworld reference in episode 15 with Himeko as A'Tuin.
    • Hell, episode 15, wherein the class is trapped on a bus teetering on the edge of a cliff, seems to be based on an episode of South Park.
    • And the repeated references to Full Metal Jacket. Someone really loves that movie, goddamn. "This private's rifle is named Charlene, sir!"
    • And a shout out to Carl Lewis in one of the chalkboard gags. The DVD covers are also strongly referential; you have Becky dressed up as The Terminator and Slash from Guns n' Roses, and in one of the eyecatches she dresses as the Bride from Kill Bill. Another scene transition features the manly Mesousa as Jack Torrence from The Shining and Akane Serizawa as Spider Man. Later that same episode, you have scene transitions that feature the cast as the cast of Armageddon and Ocean's Twelve. Episode 20 opens with a montage featuring a Captain Ersatz version of the Star Wars movies.
    • And episode 19 features Himeko talking about Hellboy and Daredevil. And in another episode, an Info Dump is given by the girls as the Tracy family of Thunderbirds, complete with the blinking-eye paintings.
    • Then there's Colonel Sanders, and Alien Captain is Captain Picard. This is taken to the extreme in the last few episodes, where the Alien Captain and both Alien Subordinates have straight up become Picard, Riker, and Geordi physically, except wearing sunglasses to provide plausible deniability as to their identities.
      • As the pop-up trivia track on the original US release reveals, the Captain is even voiced by the same man who dubbed Picard in Japanese.
  • Dai Mahou Touge references Platoon and Apocalypse Now, among others, during a sequence showing how Paya-tan saves the entire area from a nuke that Punie summons up because she can't pass a test.
  • Anne of Green Gables is surprisingly well-known in Japan; it helps that an anime series was based on it. For example:
  • Little Women is also surprisingly well-known in Japan, being adapted into at least 3 anime movies and mini-series, not including Burst Angel.
    • Lillian's Drama Club do a stage version of it in the fourth season of Mariasama ga Miteru
    • Well, Burst Angel just used the main characters' names, actually.
  • Two words: Colonel Sanders. The founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken has shown up everywhere from Slayers to Project A-ko, usually in the form of the statue that apparently stands in front of every KFC in Japan.
  • Project A-ko also contains cameo appearances by Superman and Wonder the title character's parents.
  • Urusei Yatsura
    • At least a third the episodes in the anime have an obvious Superman pastiche somewhere in the background—and in one episode as a throwaway one-shot character. (In one sequence where Ataru was fantasizing about all the "cool alien babes" at a celebration he had been invited to, one of the "cool alien babes" was obviously Supergirl in her 1960's blue dress.)
    • Urusei Yatsura also frequently features background cameos from Batman, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, etc. in addition to similarly iconic Japanese characters (Kamen Rider, Ultraman, and so on). Episode 54, "The Big Year-End Party Lum Is Planning!" takes the cake, with references to Sherlock Holmes, The Lone Ranger ("Hi-ho Silver!"), Arsène Lupin, and an Arabian Nights style genie, in addition to the aforementioned background cameos and a host of native Japanese references. UY loved its Shout Outs.
    • Episode 89 also made an "It's a TRAP!" reference over two decades before anyone else. It's part of a fantasy sequence that's basically one big reference to Return of the Jedi.
    • There are many episodes where Onsen-mark reads various bits of English to the class; in one of these (specifically, episode 139), what he says is "Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now, I need a place to hide away. Oh, I believe in yesterday." (Incidentally, the song does not have that exact sequence of lyrics; it is parts of two different verses mixed together.)
  • Lucky Star in one scene references The Karate Kid.
    • Many viewers were surprised when the clock/split-screen style of 24 was parodied while the cast was preparing Konata's birthday party. Apparently, Jack Bauer is just as popular in Japan.
    • And then there was Episode 9, where the girls went to see Saw III. Unsurprisingly, Tsukasa didn't enjoy it much.
  • The "walls of Jericho" bit from Neon Genesis Evangelion (see This Is My Side) would qualify. It's quite obscure (and at first appears to be part of the show's What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic vibe) but is in the original version and refers to the Clark Gable film, It Happened One Night.
    • Voice actress Yuko Miyamura compared the experience of playing Asuka with being Anne Sulivan (Helen Keller's teacher, see The Miracle Worker) in an interview later reprinted in the English Language edition.
    • Being a Gainax production, Evangelion is packed with references to popular and classical culture from around the world. The Judeo-Christian themes and imagery are only the tip of the iceberg. See the Shout-Out list on the series page for more details.
  • Kouta of Elfen Lied once wore a T-shirt with a Batman logo.
  • Tsubaki Domyoji uses an obscure quote of Ernest Hemingway's (which Tsukasa proceeds to mutilate in his typical fashion) in the j-drama Hana Yori Dango.
  • Full Metal Panic!
    • In the first episode, one of the things in Kaname's school bag is a copy of So Long and Thanks for All the Fish.
    • Not the only Hitchhiker's sighting in an anime, either. One blackboard gag in Pani Poni Dash mentions The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
    • Chidori also likes to watch a mashup of what seems to be Spider-Man and Lone Wolf and Cub (or any other shogun series)called Spider Detective.
    • In the Light Novel series upon which the anime is based, Mardukas is a fan of Monty Python's Flying Circus, as indicated by his threatening to inflict punishments like "Silly Walk" and "teaching self-defense class with a banana" on Sosuke. These were mostly removed from the anime for fear that nobody would get the reference, except for one instance that ends up a double Shout-Out - a parody of the famous Psycho shower scene, with the stalker wielding a banana.
      • Although it's important to realize that the first Monty Python movie, And Now for Something Completely Different, while a huge flop in the states and Britain, made mad money in Japan. And, indeed, the "self defence against fresh fruit" sketch is included therein.
    • One episode of Fumoffu has Sosuke training the school's rugby team. Sosuke trains them in the style of a Marine Sergeant, a lot of his dialogue comes from Gunnary Sergeant Hartman of the similarly named Full Metal Jacket.
    • "Tokko Yarou?", the series' Next Episode Preview song, is a Suspiciously Similar Song version of The A-Team theme song.
  • FLCL
    • The infamous South Park sequence in episode 5. Interestingly, in the US DVD commentary, director Tsurumaki mentions that when they made that episode (in 2000), nobody in Japan had ever heard of South Park, so the reference went completely over viewers' heads.
    • Freeze-frame and you can also catch a Hellboy brand pencil case in one episode.
    • Haruko name drops Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney near the beginning of episode 5. Yes, it's in the Japanese script too.
  • The beginning of the Geobreeders OVA features a bad guy in an nWo hoodie.
  • In Shaman King, the characters Ponchi and Conchi (pictured) bear a striking—and wholly intentional—resemblance to Ren and Stimpy. (The artist, not surprisingly, is a fan.)
  • In Potemayo, the amount of Ho Yay between Those Two Guys is only aided by the way one of them refers to Brokeback Mountain and says, "Isn't friendship between men beautiful...?" In another episode, two students discuss the plot of the movie Some Like It Hot—turning out to be a Meaningful Background Event, as the main character is forced to wear a girl's outfit after his own clothes got dirty.
  • As well as Anne of Green Gables being mentioned above, there are references to the band Kiss, Bob Ross, and Hellboy in Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei. Michael Jackson even got a cameo appearance in the OVA.
    • One blackboard gag references Hiro and Sylar from Heroes.
  • In the manga that leads to Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S, the trainees of the Ground Forces Military Academy are seen using one of the cadences from Full Metal Jacket.
  • Kotomi of Clannad is quite fond if this. Her often repeated "Day before yesterday I saw a rabbit, and yesterday a deer, and today, you." is a quote from The Dandelion Girl. Also, for her Magical Girl incantation, Kotomi uses an invocation from the De Vermis Mysteriis, a grimoire found in H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler, when the show isn't referencing Japanese television, it throws in a few American references to shake things up. In one instance, there's a very obvious Knight Rider parody.
    • In fact, the series at one point makes reference to Neverland, and briefly features Michael Jackson.
  • Learning foreign ship-naming conventions (or knowing who to ask), seems to be a common manga-ka talent. Ah! My Goddess plays with this by naming a submarine in the "Terrible Master Urd" arc USS Sea Monkey.
    • Full Metal Panic! has several scenes where the Mithiril sub plays games with the USS Pasadena (no such boat, but it is a Los Angeles Class...clever).
    • There's also the food stand Ohio that sells Trident (missile-shaped instead of fish-shaped) bean pastries. Punning on Ohio being a homonym for ohayo (good morning/it's early and the class name for the USA's "boomers" (which carry Trident missiles).
  • Genshiken once had someone compare Kasakube to an elf character from Record of Lodoss War, and she responded by talking about the elves from The Lord of the Rings (probably the movie).
    • Also, the 24 ticking clock when preparing for ComiFes.
  • In addition to all its references to other anime, Suzumiya Haruhi also has quite a few cross-cultural shout-outs, to things like the Hyperion novels (one of which Yuki is seen reading a hides a message in) and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
    • Shout Outs? More like source material. Often whatever Yuki is reading has something to do with the plot at hand, as if she's studying up on what Terran literature has to say about the situation. Haruhi herself transcends the concept of Genre Savvy and sits as a God above all tropes. "Essays could be written here" doesn't even begin to describe the vast amount of references within the franchise. There are even musical ones, notably during the finale which plays Mahlar's "Symphony of a Thousand." The lyrics of the Ominous Latin Chanting is not only important to the scene at hand frame by frame, but to the franchise overall.
    • Kyon name-drops H.P. Lovecraft in The Movie.
    • The bit where Yuki is communicating with Kyon via the computer (Sleeping Beauty) surely has to count as a Shout-Out to The Matrix (Follow the white rabbit).
  • Excel Saga has all sorts of references to western pop culture, including an Homage to both several pieces of anime and western animation in episode 17.
    • In volume 19 of the manga, this exchange occurs:

Iwata: Wind, clouds, and the sun! Tell me if you have a thought![1] What is love?
Sumiyoshi: Ah aanly knaa th' answaa t' life, th' universe, an everything. It's 42.

    • In volume 18 (?), when Iwata's coworkers asked him how much the (spoiled) meat they'd just eaten cost, Iwata answered, in English, "Priceless", in an apparent reference to the MasterCard ads.
  • The cockpit of one Gunmen in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has a freeze-frame cameo of Squidward Tentacles of all people.
  • Nearly half the episodes of Cowboy Bebop are named after songs in English (Wild Horses, Speak Like a Child), the only one that's not named after one exactly is "Stray Dog Strut" (a play off of "Stray Cat Strut").
  • The opening of Chapter Three of Highschool of the Dead features a blond, goateed gas station attendant standing at his cash register. He wears a white shirt, a red tie, and a nametag reading (in kanji) "Saimon". If all of this still doesn't clue you in, there's a cricket bat resting against the wall behind him.
  • In Chapter 10 of the Yonkoma strip Inaba of the Moon & Inaba of the Earth, one of the few official derivative works in the Touhou series, child historian Akyuu asks resident moon rabbit Reisen if it was true that youkai rabbits could decapitate prey with their teeth and if their weakness was Holy Hand Grenades. If that wasn't enough, the title of the strip translates to Vorpal Bunny and the hand grenade in question is spelled, in English, HHG of Aunty Ock. This, asked of a character whose game was inspired by a classic Japanese folk tale.
  • Probably the strangest reference out of them all, Digimon season two had an episode that was one long shout out to the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • The sixth episode of Gun X Sword opens with a parody of the opening to Pulp Fiction. Adding to the reference, the female robber in the pair is nicknamed "Honey Cherry", real first name Bunny; in Pulp Fiction, the female robber is "Honey Bunny"...
  • Cromartie High School has one student named Freddie, who looks an awful lot like Freddie Mercury from Queen. In the live-action movie adaptation, just to be certain everybody got it, they play a Suspiciously Similar Song version of "Another One Bites The Dust" when he appears on-screen.
  • Sgt. Frog: Giroro screaming "This is! SPARTA!" as a battle cry. It's also an Actor Allusion when you realise who dubbed Leonidas in the Japanese dub of 300.
    • Also, in the manga, Natsumi is seen with a Bubbles (from The Powerpuff Girls) keychain hanging from her bag. Then in the thirteenth volume, the chairman of the Pokopen Concealed Alien Friendship Association greatly resembles Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup (connected by the hands to form a single entity.)
  • In the second Lupin III TV series, one episode involved Lupin and Jigen breaking into some sort of government building. Two of the secret passwords to open the door are Beatles references. (strangely, the dub replaces these with Star Trek references)
  • In Secret of Cerulean Sand, we see one of the guards reading Amazing Magazine.
  • The first season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is chock-full of references to J. D. Salinger, particularly the story "The Laughing Man" and The Catcher in The Rye. The mysterious hacker at the center of the plot is apparently a fan; he took his name from the former and the quote in his logo from the latter.
  • In Vandread, Dita greets Hibiki (whom she believes to be an alien) with the hand signals from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
  • In Gundam Wing, Relena compares Heero Yuy to The Little Prince. And that's not even going into all the references to The Wizard of Oz.
    • The prologue of the manga Gundam F90 has a transport ship named Kobayashi Maru destroyed by mysterious forces, foreshadowing the main plot.
    • In G Gundam, the Japanese warships are shaped like the Enterprise but with spherical main hulls; of course, the show's director is an unabashed Star Trek fan, even putting himself in a TNG-era uniform in the second opening.
    • Advance of Zeta names all of its experimental mobile suits for the characters of Watership Down, with Hazel being the primary Gundam and Woundwort being the Super Prototype to end all Super Prototypes.
  • Ama-warashi of ×××HOLiC wears a Victorian-style black dress and flies around using an umbrella, in a clear imitation of Mary Poppins.
    • The manga also has Yuuko making a reference to Casshern and Watanuki mistaking for a Star Wars. The translation notes at the end of the Del Rey edition go out of their way to point out that it was indeed that way in the Japanese language version as well.
  • Bleach contains numerous references to the band Nirvana, of which the author is a fan, possibly including the title which was the title of one of their albums.
    • This is an especially prevalent facet of the series in the early manga volumes, where Ichigo idolizes Al Pacino and Chad's theme song is "No Song Unheard" by the Hellacopters.
    • More recently, some shadowy monsters in the anime are clearly the characters from the first wave of Transformers Animated toys.
  • One Piece has No Celebrities Were Harmed version of several western celebrities including Jim Carrey (Franky), Michael Jackson (Jango), and possibly Eminem (Eneru). Emporio Invankov basically just is Dr. Frank-N-Furter's Good Twin.
  • In Naruto, Hachibi (the eight tails) uses the phrase "Fly like a butterfly...sting like a bee".
  • Slayers Revolution has a pirate captain who looks like Jack Sparrow.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima has several others besides the Colonel Sanders mentioned above. For example, when the characters are talking about the existence of Time Travel, the background shows pictures of a Terminator shortly after a time jump and the DeLorean. In a later arc, when Akira and Natsumi are talking about their situation, Natsumi makes a censored reference to The Matrix when she mentions the possibility of being trapped in a Virtual Reality machine.
  • Ken Akamatsu's previous series, Love Hina, had a lot of Star Wars Shout Outs, such as the license plate on Seta's van being "R2-D2", and lightsabers make several appearances.
  • In Nerima Daikon Brothers, one of the villains is a very thinly veiled parody of Michael Jackson. He's building a theme park, dresses up like Peter Pan, insists on calling the female lead "Wendy", has a group of mooks that are basically mummies that dance "Thriller", and is revealed to have a fake nose which later falls off, revealing nothing but an empty hole.
    • And a lot of those elements are taken directly from the infamous "Mr. Jefferson" episode of South Park.
  • In the Saki anime, the book that the title character was reading in the first episode is shown to be The Lord Rord of the Rings.
  • Miyako of Hidamari Sketch is able to quote Western classics like Mother Goose rhymes or The Gift of the Magi at will, especially in the anime. Certainly, her co-tenants don't understand them at all.
  • One episode of Godannar has Shinobu telling to Anna the plot of Marcelino Pan y Vino, an old-ish Spanish book that is more popular for its film adaptation.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
    • The series has so many Western music references, most from 1980s rock, that it's actually rare for anything from Japanese media to be referenced at all. Especially with character names like Robert E.O. (or REO) Speedwagon, Dire Straits, and Tom Petty.
    • They even go meta; Joseph Joestar is seen listening to The Beatles "Get Back" on his cassette player twice, which is where the "JoJo" in the title comes from.
    • For that matter, Stands were inspired by an issue of X-Men where Professor X fights the Shadow King using spectral avatars of themselves.
  • In Maison Ikkoku, tennis coach Shun Mitaka names his dog "McEnroe".
    • Also there's a character who owns several dogs and is named Asuna Kujō. Might be a coincidence, since Kujō is a real surname that fits the Numerical Theme Naming.
  • Android Kikaider begins with a retelling of Pinocchio...and the references to that story don't end there. Indeed, one reference is specifically to Disney's version of the story: Kikaider's conscience circuit is known as Gemini. (Get it?)
  • One bit in the seventh episode of Maria Holic references MasterCard's "priceless" commercial campaigns, complete with "priceless" in Gratuitous English.
  • One of the SD Gundam shorts is a full-on parody of Wacky Races, with Gundam ZZ villains Yazan Gable and Gemon Bajack taking the places of Dick Dastardly and Muttley, complete with the costumes and gadget-laden car.
    • It seems Wacky Races has enjoyed some cult popularity in Japan; apart from the Daicon IV video and SD Gundam, Asobi Ni Iku Yo also features an Expy of Muttley as the villain's sidekick.
  • Red Garden has a reference to the Soup Nazi, of all things. But the characters are Americans in New York, so why not.
  • The last episode of Nurse Witch Komugi featured a cameo of Luke and Blubber Bear in the Arkansas Chuggabug, late of Wacky Races.
  • Virtually everything in Eureka Seven is a reference to some English-language cultural thing. Renton is named after the main character from Trainspotting and his last name, Thurston, is taken from Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. His father Adrock and his associates are based on the Beastie Boys, Jobs and Woz are named after Apple cofounders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Dr. Greg "Bear" Eagan is named after Sci-Fi authors Greg Bear and Greg Eagan, Gidget and Moondoggie are named after the characters from the movie Gidget, LFO, the show's mechs, are named after the British techno pioneers, Ray and Charles Beams are named after Ray and Charles Eames and maybe Ray Charles, every episode is named after a song...
    • I recall a mention of the Sacred King and the Lake of Niemi—which are right out of The Golden Bough.
  • In one Shout-Out-crammed page of Akumetsu, amongst all the various Japanese references, is...Picard and the Enterprise?! See for yourself.
    • Akumetsu in general is crammed with references, almost entirely by virtue of Shou's weird taste (and possibly 'his' attempts at populism), but most of them are to Japanese television. Periodically a Cultural Cross-Reference works its way in there, simply because whatever-it-is is big enough in Japan to contribute to the mood.
  • In the Electric Tale of Pikachu manga, Ash mentions offhandedly that he gives his Pokémon nicknames but never really uses them. Pikachu's nickname is Jean-Luc Pikachu; he even has a Starfleet insignia on his chest when this is revealed.
  • While not prevalent in the animation, the visual style of much of the illustrations for the original Mobile Suit Gundam's supplementary materials, particularly MSV, appears to be based on animated Soviet sci-fi shorts such as Firing Range.
  • Ranma ½ has the Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs training technique called "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire", the name of which is taken from the lyrics from "The Christmas Song" (written by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells, performed by Nat King Cole). (This, however, is a Woolseyism from the English translation; the original name of the technique is Kachū Tenshin Amaguriken, which is rather more literally translated as "Imperial Roasting Chestnuts in the Fire Fist".)
  • Megazone 23 Part 2 briefly features Thundercats and Silverhawks pinball machines, and has "Blue Devil", "Frank Baum", and "Dorothy" on computer screens.
  • The Kare Kano manga contains a reference to the Stephen King novel and film Carrie, using it as a visual-only metaphor for someone snapping under the strain of having perfectionist, controlling parents.
    • One episode of the anime has characters playing Uno, complete with licensed card images.
  • In Kimagure Orange Road, there's a couple that's constantly quoting the "Wherefore art thou" dialogue from Romeo and Juliet. Surprisingly, this isn't a case of Cultural Translation--- that's actually what they're reciting in Japanese.
  • In Eyeshield 21, the Devil Bats are aghast when they see that Yamato Takeru has neutralized Sena's Devil Bat Ghost maneuver. "The Devil Bat Ghost...busted?!"
  • The entire point of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, with everything from animation styles to episodes to background details referencing something. The second episode alone is essentially a Whole-Plot Reference to every USA High School film in existence, along with the "sex education" scene in Mean Girls taken almost word-for-word, a doll that looks like a Powerpuff Girl, and Ghostbusters equipment. The character Chuck even owes its existence to this, being one huge reference to GIR of Invader Zim.
    • It also contains a scene where the titular girls dance to "Telephone" by Lady Gaga and Beyoncé.
  • A chapter in Princess Resurrection is very Back to the Future-esque in its plot line complete with a car going up to 88 mph.
  • 20th Century Boys has a character mistake another for Hulk Hogan of all people. Although he does look like him in a way.
  • A significant subplot in Whisper of the Heart revolves around translating John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" into Japanese for a school performance.
  • Ichigo Mashimaro: The Big Friendly Dog is named Frusciante. There are also some goldfish named after the members of Aphex Twin (which might possibly double as a Red Dwarf Shout-Out on the grounds that Lister owned robot goldfish named Lennon and McCartney).
  • Magical Pokaan: The geek in the first episode is wearing a Red Dwarf tee shirt.
  • Sailor Moon: Among other things, the episode "Loved and Chased: Luna's Worst Day Ever" contains several references to Gone With the Wind, which were oddly excised from the dub version. Also, Rei is a Michael Jackson fan.
  • Nyarko San is fond of referencing the SAN checks from the Western tabletop RPG Call of Cthulhu (tabletop game).
  • Fighting Foodons features the Burger Brigade, which are based of the Japanese Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger'.' American fans recognized them as a reference to the first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
  • A manga-only storyline in Ah! My Goddess is resolved by Keiichi deliberately copying the solution to the crisis in the pilot episode of Thunderbirds.

Comic Books

  • An issue of Spider-Man involving Time Travel and alternate universes had the phrase Bad Wolf appear as a graffiti in one panel. Bad Wolf was the Arc Words in the first series of the new Doctor Who.
  • One Asterix comic involved a war between two groups of aliens over the Gauls' super strength potion. One group was based on Mickey Mouse, and their name was an anagram of Walt Disney. The other one? Anagram of Manga.
  • The Super Young Team of The DCU aren't that referential on the surface. But then you notice that Big Atomic Lantern Boy looks exactly like Hayashida from Cromartie High School.
    • Big Science Action is more appropriate in this case, though, because while they're all based on heroes from Japanese media, Senior Waveman is based on the super obscure Marine Boy. The others are more familiar; Ultimon is Ultraman, Boss Bosozoku and Boss Bishounen are based on Kaneda from Akira with elements of Ghost Rider, Goraiko is My Neighbor Totoro (though he was originally conceived as the Hulk Captain Ersatz in the Ultramarine Corps), etc.
  • Apparently Deadpool is a fan of Naruto.



  • The Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami does this a lot, and it's considered one of the distinguishing features of his popular style from more traditional Japanese literature. It also makes sense, as he lived in the U.S. for much of his life. Examples include:
    • The novel Norwegian Wood is named for the song by The Beatles, which plays a pivotal role in the story. (It's also a bit of a pun, since the song refers to "Wood" as in wood and the novel's title refers to "wood" as in a forest.)
    • Kafka on the Shore: the title character is named after Franz Kafka and the plot alludes to Oedipus Rex, which are not so unusual for literature, but the novel also features Colonel Sanders (as a pimp!), and Johnnie Walker as a cat-killer and possibly Kafka's father.
    • The title would also seem to be a riff on Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach.
  • In the first Night Watch book, Anton briefly considers telling Egor he can be a Jedi of the Light, but quickly decides it's a bad idea. He also specifically explains that Night Watch agents are different to Superman.
    • Another book has a girl named Alita wearing a t-shirt of Battle Angel...Alita.
    • 'Who is James Bond?' 'A mythological character.'

Live-Action TV

Tabletop Games

  • An American example: Twilight 2000 has some of the early modules set in Poland after WW III. Some of the Polish gamers can't believe that this game exists.


Video Games

  • The Mad Butcher enemy from Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia looks an awful lot like Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He even has the chainsaw, despite the game taking place in the 19th century.
    • Another good example from the same game is the Jersey Devil that shows up in the Agila Swamp.
  • Battalion Wars II's last boss was described by Kaiser Vlad as a "fully armed and operational mining spider". You do the math.
  • The Final Fantasy series has recurring minor characters known as Biggs (occasionally mistranslated as "Vicks") and Wedge, named after Luke Skywalker's fellow Red Squadron pilots in Star Wars.
    • In addition to "Biggs" and "Wedge," Final Fantasy VIII had a character named "Piett" (as in The Imperial Admiral from ESB and RotJ) as well. The characters Nida (like "Needa") and Martine (who was named "Dodonna" in the Japanese version) are also Star Wars references.
    • Not to mention the final boss of the ninth game quotes Yoda: "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering."
    • Vicks, Wedge, and Piett also appear as part of a guessing game in Chrono Trigger.
    • Aside from Balthier's uncanny resemblance to Han Solo, Final Fantasy XII also throws in several Homage Shots to Star Wars.
  • While Viva Pinata is native to Britain, one pinata species' Punny Name references the popular Japanese cookie snack Pocky. (The pinata in question is the Ponocky, by the way.)
  • Mega Ten tosses in a few of these. Possibly the most famous are a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Michael Jackson and Lawyer Friendly Cameos of Audrey Jr. and Betelgeuse in Shin Megami Tensei II, but they take demons and other things from such diverse sources that they're hardly the only ones. Among others, the inhabitants of the Velvet Room in the Persona series have theme naming from Frankenstein that goes far deeper than the cursory knowledge one would expect, and Persona's Philemon is derived from a Jungian figure that's obscure in cultures you would expect to be familiar with his work.
  • At one point in The Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass, Link must go through a quiz to become an honorary member of the Goron village. This quiz is rather reminiscent of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, including the whole "final answer?" routine, increasing prizes for each question, and having a lifeline to eliminate one of the wrong answers. It's not a coincidence; there was indeed a Japanese version of Millionaire on Fuji TV.
  • The Metal Gear series contains so many Shout Outs to American and British action movies you could easily forget it was made in Japan. The surprise was Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots including a Shout-Out to Police Squad!.
  • When Gig of Soul Nomad and The World Eaters is asked about any of the other World Eaters, he responds by describing Superman, Martian Manhunter, a generic Green Lantern, and The Flash.
  • One of the club games in the When They Cry visual novels is noted to be a "foreign game", and it becomes clear that they're playing a modified version of Clue (with the board game's characters replaced by cards with the club member's names on them and instead of moving from one location to another to guess they just take turns).
  • EarthBound was made in Japan, but has a huge number of Shout Outs to The Beatles and others.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins you are asked a riddle that begins 'The smallest lark can carry it...'. One of the multiple choices is 'A coconut'. However, Monty Python and the Holy Grail probably has more cultural penetration than any film you can think of. How often do you hear "I'm not dead", "It's just a flesh wound", etc. More than one game has sentinels asking "What is your name", "What is your quest" followed by something difficult. And the ancient game Wizardry 1 has the Vorpal Bunny that had only a few hit points but could suddenly do 100 damage.
  • The first Silent Hill game, during a level in the school you can obtain a list of teachers, which reads: K. Gordon, T. Moore, L. Ranaldo, S. Shelley. A much larger list of references is available on That Other Wiki.
  • Nostalgia features a minor pair of NPCs, the newlywed Anastasia and Dmitri. Yes, like the Don Bluth Anastasia movie.
  • Touhou, given that it references everything, inevitably contains this, ranging from the overt (a lot of the gameplay in Undefined Fantastic Object is one big Space Invaders reference) to the subtle (Flandre's theme music and one of her Spell Cards take their names from Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None) and everything in between.
  • In Yoake Mae Yori Ruriiro na: Moonlight Cradle (a collection of side-stories), there's a scene in which Stars and Stripes Forever appears as background music.
  • The Quox in The Tower of Druaga is apparently named after a dragon from Tik-Tok of Oz.
  • World of Warcraft has a quest called "A Tiny, Clever Commander" featuring Commander Nazrim of the rat-like kobold race, all of which is a rather unexpected Shout-Out to Touhou, specifically to Nazrin and her Leitmotif, "A Tiny, Tiny, Clever Commander".

Western Animation

  1. The editor's notes mention that this is a reference to Choujinki Metalder.