Avid gamers (and treasure hunt enthusiasts) know all about the Easter Egg. Not to be confused with the chocolate treat typically hidden in strange places in Easter time, the Easter Egg in gaming and other media is a meta-trope that plays on various elements; sometimes at the same time. The term “Easter Egg” refers to a hidden object; however, these days we regard Easter Eggs as hidden messages, images, motifs, or features hidden in a piece of (usually) electronic media.
This use of the term came to rise when the Atari 2600 game Adventure featured a hidden message found in a previously-forbidden part of the game’s map. The message itself was put there because videogames didn’t have credits at the time, so Adventure programmer Warren Robinett hid the message “Created by Warren Robinett” so his supervisor wouldn’t find it. When a player eventually found the message, Atari left it as is, encouraging more people to do the same in future games and calling them Easter Eggs that gamers can find. Right now, Easter Eggs are everywhere and are a brilliant inclusion to any medium because it elevates the experience. Now here are some of our favourites in anime!
– Major Spoilers Ahead –
Durarara!!–The Password of the Dollars Website
Durarara!! follows the adventures of Ryuugamine Mikado after his recent move to Ikebukuro, Tokyo, to meet up with an old friend, Kida Masaomi. In the series, there are various factions and colour gangs, but the true giant is the colourless gang known as “The Dollars”. Becoming a Dollar is a matter of signing up on the website, so the Easter Egg is in the details, for one needs the password to sign up–the password of The Dollars’ site is “BACCANO!”, the title of another work by author Narita Ryougo, with a similar look and feel as far as the construction of the story goes. It all lines up perfectly when you consider that “BACCANO!” is Italian for “ruckus”, and quite frankly, that’s what the Dollars end up doing in Ikebukuro–causing one big ruckus!
Hirano Kouta, High School of the Dead
Hirano Kouta is one of the main characters of the anime and manga series High School of the Dead; however, few people know the character’s inspiration. From his appearance down to his name, the character is actually an Easter Egg based on Hellsing author Hirano Kouta! The character even makes a few Hellsing references. When he’s first given a gun, Kouta’s reaction is the same as that of Hellsing’s Seras Victoria and his maniacal grin is exactly the same as Alucard’s! Given the author Hirano's obvious experience with zombie-killing and mythological creatures and the character Hirano’s cameo in Triage X, it could be safe to say High School of the Dead author Sato Daisuke was a Hellsing and Hirano Kouta fan in his life. After having his likeness in two shows, it’s even safer to say Hirano Kouta is… a bit of a drifter.
Osomatsu-san (Mr. Osomatsu) – “It’s been 27 years”
27 years after the last episode of Osomatsu-kun aired in 1989, Osomatsu-san was a continuation and reboot in celebration of author Akatsuka Fujio’s 80th birthday, airing in January 2016. The pilot episode of the aptly named Osomatsu-san (Mr. Osomatsu) features the Matsuno sextuplets now living as adults; however, the episode was committed to making several references to popular shows that have been since the Osomatsu franchise’s absence.
The Matsuno brothers learn that Osomatsu-kun is getting a new anime but they think their jokes are a bit dated for contemporary anime, so they attempt to rebrand. Haikyuu, Kuroko no Basket, and Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) as well as many other famous titles are parodied to the point of copyright infringement, so they do nothing for ten more years before the actual anime starts. The episode itself isn’t available for streaming, nor is it in any home video releases for the aforementioned reason.
Death Parade - Yagami Light in the Afterlife
Death Note is an extremely well-known anime classic that has stood as one of many must-see titles. That being said, Death Note is also a title that is often parodied or referenced in other titles if not straight-up appearing in other shows. Spoiler, Light dies in the end and ends up somewhere in Death Parade’s realm of “Viginti”, one of many floors in a tower where the souls of the dead await their fate. Okay, we’re joking, but an unnamed character who looks very simliar to Yagami Light appears in Death Parade. Heaven or Hell? In this case, neither, but it’s really fun to think about!
Akira Bike-turn Omnibus featuring Nisemonogatari, Hands Off Eizouken, and more!
Akira is a classic movie, so it’s not very surprising that there have been Akira references in all kinds of media, from Kanye West songs to other anime. Akira and Kaneda’s iconic red jacket have been the kind of thing that feels like what Easter Eggs are made of. However, it is really Kaneda’s dramatic bike turn that became a solid trope within the anime medium. The so-called “Akira bike turn” has featured in something as recent as the Winter season’s Eizouken ni Te wo Dasu na!! (Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken), where a slightly parodied version featuring a red bicycle could be seen in episode 10. The trope has been seen in the original Pokémon anime (1997), in Batman: The Animated Series (1992), Gurren Lagann (2007), Michiko to Hatchin (2008), and even Nisemonogatari (2012)! Ironically, Kaneda had intended to stop but he ended up creating a movement in the medium instead!
The WEBTOON “LOOKISM” gets an honorable mention for episode 288, where it featured a brilliant Demon Slayer Easter Egg when the main character, Daniel Park, dresses up in an off-colour Tanjiro costume complete with Nezuko’s mouthguard. The element of the Demon Slayer Easter Egg created a multi-layered plot device that heightened the excitement for the upcoming arc.
Easter Eggs are fun because they can be so many different things. They can be messages, or jokes, or even obscure references and fourth-wall breaks. What are your favourite anime Easter Eggs? Drop a comment below and tell us what you think!