Otaku USA Magazine
Three Anime Series You’ll Find Hiding Inside Other Anime Series

These anime series hide a secret: a second show!

We heard you like anime. How about an anime series hiding inside another anime series?

With shows being pretty self-aware lately, you’re likely to find anime fans in the cast. That means they need something to watch… and that means a whole other show-within-a-show. Whether it’s a throwaway, or it go so popular that it had to be made, these titles are fun to imagine. How many of these are you familiar with?


Steel Samurai: Warrior of Neo Olde Tokyo

Steel Samurai: Warrior of Neo Olde Tokyo (Ace Attorney)

Yes, technically this is a tokusatsu and not an anime series… but can you blame us for including it?

The Steel Samurai series and its many offshoots are a major part of the Ace Attorney games, from cultural presence to courtroom drama. Small medium Maya Fey is a massive fan of the shows and their follow-ups — The Pink Princess, The Nickel Samurai, and lots more. When our heroes aren’t watching the series, they’re defending its stars against murder allegations. And, of course, using the theme as their ringtone.


Kujibiki Unbalance

Kujibiki Unbalance (Genshiken)

An anime series about anime fans will, by necessity, need a show for them to be fans of. Enter Kujibiki Unbalance, just one of the fictional titles in seinen slice-of-life series Genshiken. The show is deliberately a massive pile of anime tropes, from an overpowered student council to utterly ridiculously school life. And it got so popular that it became a reality!… sort of.

Initially a manga discussed in the Genshiken manga, the show-within-a-show’s anime adaptation got more attention when its source got an adaptation of its own. If you’re curious about the show — in which students navigate school life via a series of lotteries and competitions — you can actually watch episodes 1, 21, and 25. Or, in other words, a three-episode OVA.


Gekiganger III

If hot-blooded 1970s super robot action is more your style, you and the stars of Martian Successor Nadesico have a lot in common! The 1990s mecha anime series featured a character whose dreams of giant robot piloting came from one such show. Gekiganger III, a send up of many super robot anime (in particular Getter Robo), perfectly encapsulated the mood of the genre at the time. It even had a pitch-perfect theme song.

Much like Kujibiki Unbalance, Gekiganger III got its own spinoff. This time, though, it was in the form of a half-hour movie. And that movie looped back into Nadesico, so it’s a show within a show within a show… yeah, we’re not going to think too hard about it.

Which anime series have shows in them you’d like to see become reality?

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.