The references are fun, easy to understand if they are part of a work embedded in pop culture and, above all, they have become something that fans look for in every piece of entertainment today.
They bring us closer to the work, they speak to us directly and although currently the Captain America meme made him a sensation, the world of anime has implemented them in most of its series for decades.
With franchises like ‘Dragon Ball’, ‘Naruto’ and ‘One Piece’ inspiring generations of mangakas, it is not difficult to get references, but the big question is if they are part of a tribute or if it is about convenience to promote a work and that’s just what we’re going to find out.
The nature of a referral
It is strange to define the nature of the references and it is that, because they are captured by different people, the intention behind can vary drastically and their interpretation will always be entirely speculative.
With this in mind, the only support we have is to review patterns reflected in the series, starting with the most common use that is given to them and those are to generate a humorous moment, connect with the audience and create a multiverse.
Of course, there are many more reasons, but as we said, each head is a world, so these three pillars will help us to talk about the final result and move away from the field of “maybe”.
Shounen is full of tropes and one of the most common is that once the battles are over, both the protagonists and the viewer need to relax and for this the references are a good tool.
Instead of doing a comedy routine, adding a reference can completely change the tone of the scene and we see it in anime like ‘Jujutsu Kaisen’, which has no qualms about bombarding audiences with Hollywood movies, video games and anime. popular to create these moments.
A good example is when Itadori, after reviving and starting his training, refers to Rasengan from ‘Naruto’ denoting how young Yuji is, his hobbies and his lively personality despite being dead and reviving hours before.
Of course, this is not exclusive to the adaptation of the Gege Akutami manga, the parody animes that leave the battles and focus on giving us references after references like ‘Gintama’ and ‘Excel Saga’ are the leaders, although not exactly subtle.
Identify with me
Let’s leave humor behind, since this point is one of the most important in anime of the last 6 years and that is to make the viewer feel identified with the characters they see.
Since the isekai began to create protagonists who want you to identify with them, the series that do not have the unsuccessful boy who travels to a new world and becomes the most powerful being must find another way out and those are the references.
When your favorite characters mention that their favorite manga are the same as yours or that they aspire to be like their protagonists, a bond is generated in which you can feel closer to that character.
This one now belongs to your world, one in which they appreciate the very things you admire, so they could become friends or it could even be you, just like the isekai effect.
Multiverses are not exclusive to Disney
If your only interaction with a multiverse are Disney franchises such as Marvel and Pixar, you may come to believe that this concept full of references to sustain it belongs to the house of the mouse, but it does not.
From comics, movies, books to art, many media have a multiverse or tracks of it and anime is the same with directors, screenwriters, animators and voice actors who put their personal stamp on it.
Perhaps the most talked about case are the works of Shinichiro Watanabe, the man behind classics like ‘Samurai Champloo’, ‘Cowboy Bebop’, ‘Space Dandy’ and his most recent anime, ‘Carole and Tuesday’.
Although each of these series is a work of art by itself, fan theories position ‘Cowboy Bebop’, ‘Space Dandy’ and ‘Carole and Tuesday’ in the same universe thanks to the references they provide.
These three different universes eventually lead us to the planet Mars, they share the same currency, the Woolong, and even in ‘Space Dandy’ we can see objects like Bebop’s fridge years later in a landfill.
Of course, there is nothing confirmed by Watanabe, but if you are a close fan of his works, you surely understood the reference.
The convenience of a referral
We have talked about the use itself and what the references achieve, but we have not touched until now if they exist for convenience because the truth is something that does not have a precise answer.
Perhaps the most honest thing we can say is that yes, there is a degree of convenience in using a well-known work to provide context, after all it is easy for the audience to tackle and does not require much creativity.
Even so, to say that an author acts in bad faith, or that he uses it as a stepping stone to increase his popularity is outdated, since no matter how many references you apply, if the story they created around it does not work, nothing will be able to keep it standing.
To that we add that certain franchises are more delicate than others, although it can be allowed in the manga if they belong to the same publisher, when it comes to bringing it to animation, the studios usually put obstacles.
If to this we add that many mangakas admire the authors or are even friends of those they refer to in real life, it is healthy to say that the use of these is closer to homage than to convenience.