There are not many forms of entertainment that feel more limitless than anime. The medium often tackles highly hyperbolized characters who engage in unbelievable displays of power, but there are just as many series that explore more muted and mundane stories. There’s no denying that anime has a flair for the weird and extreme, which can often manifest in unexpected ways.
They’re often a lot of fun, but cameos become tricky territory since they run the risk of feeling gratuitous. However, it’s truly incredible when they properly work. Cameos can extend to other famous anime characters with crossovers in mind, but there are also occasions where real-life celebrities have found themselves transported into anime series.
10 Stan Lee Is A Regular Presence In The Heroman Universe
Stan Lee is such a prolific voice in the comics industry that there are a number of occasions where television and other forms of media have recruited him to create original properties. Heroman is an anime that Stan Lee is responsible for creating that functions a lot like Big Hero 6 and offers a unique perspective on superheroes. As a fitting tribute to Stan Lee, the anime’s creator is a regular at the restaurant where Heroman’s protagonist works, which means he makes plenty of appearances, even if they’re just in the background.
9 Gintama Brings In Jackie Chan And Makes His Nose His Most Fascinating Feature
It’s rare for an anime series to last for as long as Gintama has, let alone one that’s a comedy that actively grows funnier with each episode. Gintama is a true masterpiece and it understands the art of how to get the most out of every single joke. A running gag with Yamazaki is that he’s suspicious that the new Dragon Leader is in fact Jackie Chan, largely because of how he recognizes his nose. It’s such a bizarre digression to place the focus on this martial arts and acting legend’s nose of all things, but that’s classic Gintama.
8 Steven Seagal Is A Strangely Sympathetic Fixture In Tokyo ESP’s Weird World
Tokyo ESP is a more recent series that combines slice-of-life mundanity with incredible supernatural powers in a very self-aware fashion. Tokyo ESP shares a lot in common with Mob Psycho 100, but it has even more of a flair for the absurd and making the audience question what they’ve just seen.
Tokyo ESP is full of some tough individuals, so it seems oddly appropriate that action genre grunt Steven Seagal shows up as an emotional bartender and acquaintance of Rindo. Admittedly, this individual goes by the nickname, Cayce, but everything about him is modeled after Steven Seagal.
7 Freddie Mercury Somehow Isn’t The Weirdest Student Present At Cromartie High School
It’s become a well-trodden archetype in high school anime series that some educational institutions are homes for some extremely irregular or mischievous students. Cromartie High School is a hilarious subversion of the delinquent school premise and features a wide range of eccentric personalities, including a robot. Somehow, Freddie Mercury matriculates at Cromartie, a bizarre detail that becomes even more entertaining since it’s never questioned or treated like anything that’s out of the norm. Freddie remains an unusual enigma throughout the anime, but his appearances always deliver and his zest for music often breaks through.
6 The Absurdity In Osomatsu-San Goes All The Way Up To The President
Legacy sequels and reboot culture are just as alive in anime and manga as it is in mainstream film and television. Osomatsu-san is a modern update of the classic Osomatsu-kun franchise, but the new version transforms the gentle comedy into an adult meta masterpiece. It’s impossible to predict where episodes of Osomatsu-san will go. Simple actions often balloon to an extreme scope, which, on one occasion, reaches a level that President Barack Obama gets involved. Obama’s presence is no more absurd than anything else in the gag anime series, but his passion for American hotdogs is a fun touch.
5 Love Hina Collapses In On Itself When Famous Mangaka Ken Akamatsu Shows Up
Anime and manga culture is at such a height in Japan that the mangaka behind major series are frequently viewed as sizable celebrities on the level of film and TV stars. Love Hina is one of the more notable romantic comedy series that’s become an iconic example of the harem romance genre.
The author of Love Hina, Ken Akamatsu, engages in a peculiar burst of vanity when he decides to put himself into his own series. It’s a brief cameo that also pays homage to Titanic, another monument of hubris.
4 Muhammad Ali Gets To Inspire And Challenge Baki The Grappler
There are several iconic boxing and wrestling anime series, but Baki the Grappler has built quite the legacy and turned the signature character into a recurring protagonist that returns every few years. Baki tells an original story about competition and perseverance, but it makes the curious decision to have Baki come in contact with real figures like Muhammad Ali. Baki uses Ali’s legend and wisdom to inspire Baki in a very exaggerated fashion, but one that still works. Baki ultimately fights against Muhammad Ali Jr., which makes for one of the series’ most exciting battles.
3 Nothing And No One Are Sacred In NouCome, Including Steve Jobs
Noucome, otherwise known as My Mental Choices are Completely Interfering with my School Romantic Comedy, crams a surprising amount of nonsense into only ten episodes. Noucome radically pivots whenever it feels like it’s become predictable and it has a penchant for some high profile cameos, such as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, or Steve Jobs. Noucome flies through these appearances in a manner that’s overwhelming and turns these important figures into punchlines. Steve Jobs remains the most satisfying since Noucome presents him almost like a Lex Luthor-esque evil genius.
2 Gene Simmons’ Swagger Invades Detroit Metal City In Anime And Live-Action
Anime often tells stories that feel like they’d be impossible in any other medium and Detroit Metal City is a prime example. It’s an eccentric mix of sensibilities that hinges on a KISS-like metal band and the lead guitarist’s struggles to balance his passion with his home life. Detroit Metal City owes a lot to KISS, so it’s not exactly a surprise when a Gene Simmons surrogate briefly shows up. Admittedly, this isn’t exactly Simmons, but Detroit Metal City’s live-action adaptation somehow gets Simmons to play this character. This confluence of art and real life is significant enough to include.
1 Nerima Daikon Brothers Presents An Absurdist Caricature Of Michael Jackson
Nerima Daikon Brothers has flown under the radar, but it has a fantastic sense of humor. Part of the fun in Nerima Daikon Brothers is the ridiculous figures that these two brothers and their cousins encounter. The weirdest is “Yukel Hakushon,” which phonetically sounds familiar. The whole character’s ethos is to embrace children and avoid a life of adults. He dresses like Peter Pan, his minions act out the Thriller music video, and there are consistent jokes about his “malfunctioning” nose. This is clearly Michael Jackson and the only reason it doesn’t get more explicit is for legal reasons.
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About The Author
(647 Articles Published)
Daniel Kurland is a freelance writer, comedian, and critic, who lives in the cultural mosaic that is Brooklyn, New York. Daniel’s work can be read on ScreenRant, Splitsider, Bloody Disgusting, Den of Geek, and across the Internet. He recently completed work on a noir anthology graphic novel titled, “Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Noir: A Rag of Bizarre Noir and Hard Boiled Tales” and he’s currently toiling away on his first novel.
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