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When is an Anime Parody not a Parody?

The anime world loves a good parody. Whether it’s a casual Gundam reference or a full series dedicated to lampooning magical girl tropes, there’s a seemingly endless market for poking fun at the classics. At its best, this style of humor can serve as both entertainment and criticism, and can help shake us out of our complacency when it comes to putting up with genre clichés. For all of its good points, however, this school of comedy eventually raises a difficult question. How closely can a series imitate a genre without becoming a part of it? In other words, when is a parody no longer a parody?

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