One day, you sat down to enjoy some good anime time. Lucky you, today your favorite characters are patronizing their favorite restaurant. You get this special peek into their everyday life, but what do you find? You find a WcDonald’s or a Moonbucks or something else that is supposed to be named something else. You think, “Seriously? Really?” There it is, the imposter store.
Usually these brand name stores appear in anime to bring a sense of realism to our drawn heroes and heroines, but licensing a trademark is expensive. It’s so much easier to just slop up the name a bit and dodge the need to do anything legal. WcDonald’s is the norm, but sometimes, the anime creators flex their creative muscles, and we get some gems in the re-name game of famous shops.
10. SisterMart from Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai (My Sister Can’t Be This Cute)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct. 2010– Dec. 2010
As per the title, the slice-of-life OreImo is all about Kousaka Kyousuke’s cute imouto (little sister), who on the outside is average but is also a model; however, she’s hiding a pretty serious ero-ge (erotic games) obsession with a particular taste for “little sister” storylines. Who doesn’t love a cute little sister? Still, we don’t take it as far as Kirino, who just can’t get enough of the cutesy goodness. It’s a comedic little tale of a brother trying to help his little sister with her little sister complex, and by “help” we mean “nurture.”
Just in case you didn’t know this show would be all about sister complexes, suddenly we see a SisterMart, an obvious reworking of FamilyMart, a famous convenience store chain that originated in Japan. This particular SisterMart is the setting of an ecchi-ful scene when Kirino drenches herself with water for reasons. Blatantly with the exact same colors, and characteristically missing a space between “Sister” and “Mart,” this parody store drives in the fact that this show is about a sister and sister complexes. We’ve already written “sister” so much that it’s starting to feel like it’s spelled wrong or something, so we’re going to stop.
9. Gonythan’s from Bakuman. 2
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct. 2011 – Mar. 2012
In Bakuman, our protagonist duo Mashiro Moritaka and Takagi Akito are fearlessly trying to make a popular manga that can become the pillar of Shonen Jack, which would be Shonen Jump in real life. The re-naming doesn’t end there. Shonen Jack manga writers would occasionally meet their editors at the nearby Gonythan’s for a change of pace. If you were watching and thought, “Oh man, that looks a lot like a Denny’s,” you wouldn’t be far off.
Gonythan’s of Bakuman is a purposeful misspelling of Jonathan’s, a chain of “family restaurants” in Japan, largely modeled after similar family establishments in America, such as the lovely diner Denny’s. Denny’s also exists in Japan in a similar capacity and can sometimes be found in anime as Benny’s (To-Love Ru) or Danny’s (Date A Live). Family restaurants are popular for having a wide variety of western, Japanese, and fusion food, along with an assortment of beverages and desserts, so you’ll be sure to see a lot of these types of establishments in anime.
8. Boobies from Space Dandy
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Jan. 2014 – Sept. 2014
Space Dandy might be a dandy guy in space, but not one episode goes by without our fearless crew taking a pit stop at their favorite Boobies branch to meet their favorite waitress Honey. Dandy and his crew are not-so-great alien hunters, trying to find new alien species to have registered in return for cold hard cash. Beyond that, they are just average guys who enjoy the female physique.
It’s easy to say such an obviously name store is blatant fan service, but to their defense, there is an actual chain of “breastaurants” named Hooters, with hundreds of shops worldwide. Whereas these types of real-life eateries will usually employ a double-entendre for their name, Space Dandy parodies such places by calling a duck a duck, or in this case, calling a booby a booby.
7. Reon from Yuusha ni Narenakatta Ore wa Shibushibu Suushoku wo Ketsui Shimashita. (I Couldn’t Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job.)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct. 2013 – Dec. 2013
From the title alone, you’re probably already thinking, “Story of my life, right?” Compared to the loaded title, our parody store in Yuushibu is a simple and short Reon, or Magic Shop Reon. Even though the demon lord has been defeated, magic is still the main energy source in town, and you can buy all the magic appliances you need at Reon. Raul was a hero-in-training but before he could take a swing at the big guy, the demon lord was defeated. He put his dreams of being a hero behind him and got a real job. In an odd-couple twist, the demon lord’s daughter Fino also finds herself in dire straits, so she takes a job running the register at Reon.
Magic Shop Reon has all the necessities from Papasonic washing machines and Zony Magic Vision televisions to light bulbs and disaster supplies, you can get anything and everything. Its real life counterpart would be the similar-sounding Japanese brand Aeon store, which carries everything, similar to Walmart or Sears. The whole series takes place almost entirely inside the store, as our once could-be hero tries his best to guide his cute and devilish kouhai in this ecchi, comedy slice of life.
6. MeTune from Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul. 2014 – Sept. 2014
In today’s digital age, brick and mortar shops aren’t the only ones under the anime name-change attack. In Terror in Resonance, Japan’s police meetings of old talking heads appears utterly useless to the digital-literate terrorist duo. In addition to having to be briefed on technology like Tor routers, the Japanese police force find themselves having to answer fire with fire by using their own live streams. From Twitter to Amazon to things of more illegal nature, Nine and Twelve use a number of online resources that are common of hacking groups like Anonymous. One thing they have most in common with the real Anonymous is that they announced their famous Sphinx riddles using MeTune, an especially YouTube-looking video uploading service.
In the first episode of Terror in Resonance, there was no mistake that the “video uploading service” that hosted Sphinx’s first cryptic message was in fact YouTube, complete with logo. Yet, by Episode 3, the YouTube doppelganger had to be changed, probably due to legal backlash. The YouTube logo was replaced by a blue and black logo that reads “MeTune,” but they’re not fooling anybody. Arguably though, it could also be one of the very real YouTube copycat sites, but a copy is still a copy!
Finally, in an ironic stroke of brilliance, Nine and Twelve’s voice actors donned the Sphinx masks to present and attempt to solve Mensa riddles in a series of short videos. Yes, you read that correctly: The actual actors behind Nine and Twelve put on Sphinx masks and implore you to solve legitimately difficult riddles. These videos were made under a collaboration of Terror in Resonance and Japan Mensa, you know, the “high IQ society.” Of course, these videos would eventually make their way to YouTube, where they belong.
5. Sudoh-Bucks Coffee from Toradora!
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct. 2008 – Mar. 2009
When people think of a chain coffee shop, they think of Starbucks. The company enjoys constant popularity in Japan, where it’s just as ridiculously expensive as in America. You may have seen parodies of this brand as Moonbucks in The Devil is a Part-Timer, as Starbacchus in Nisekoi, or as Starchild in Ghost in the Shell. Perhaps, as a stab at the chain or its clientele, the brand even shows up as Starjackass in Onegai Twins.
Starbucks, true to life, can pop up anywhere in anime. Still, as with most of these parodies, the famous coffee house is most likely to appear in the slice of life genre. When the characters in the mega-hit romantic comedy Toradora! go for a cup of joe, where else could they possibly go but Sudoh-bucks? Our fearless hero Takasu Ryuuji isn’t one to shy away from pointing out the obvious rip-off of the famous brand. In especially meta fashion, Ryuuji ponders, “How is this place not getting sued?” Yes, how are they not getting sued, indeed.
4. Maid Latte from Kaichou wa Maid-sama!
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr. 2010 – Sept. 2010
Maid-sama! was the shoujo romantic comedy that trumped all other shoujo romantic comedies during its run on the airwaves; but our favorite heroine Ayuzawa Misaki wouldn’t have had such an interesting life if it weren’t for her super otaku workplace, a lovely and active maid café called Maid Latte. Because Misaki’s part-time job clashes with her image as a tough class president at school, Usui Takumi was very entertained seeing Misaki giving a too cute, “Welcome home, master” to patrons of Maid Latte. Beyond watching a funny budding romance, we get to learn way too much about the ins and outs of a maid café.
If you didn’t know, maid cafés are real, and there are a number of popular maid brands in Japan. Maid Latte is modeled after such establishments, although due to the nature of maid cafés, it would be hard to pin it down to just one. They’re usually full of cute girls in maid costumes who, on special occasions, will cosplay according to a theme-of-the-day. Of course, you can find maid cafes in a number of series, including the cat-themed Maid Queen Nyan-nyan in Steins;Gate. Still, Maid-sama really hit the nail hard on the head as far as the type of services you can expect at a real maid café: maids drawing cute things on your food in ketchup or syrup, cutesy catchphrases, and fancy desserts. Oh, there are a lot of frilly maid costumes too, if that’s your cup of tea.
3. Maji Burger from Kuroko no Basket (Kuroko’s Basketball)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr. 2012 – Sept. 2012
As a quick and easy way to let you know, “Hey, this guy is really American,” Kuroko no Basket has their recently returned power forward Kagami Taiga eating a mountain of burgers at Maji Burger. Here, he runs into his new teammate Kuroko Tetsuya, who likes Maji’s vanilla shakes. The choice of menus is representative of the characters themselves: Kagami is a mountain of muscle. Kuroko is understated and an unpredictable. After the chance meeting at the Maji, the two make the fateful decision to defeat the greatest high school players in the country, the Generation of Miracles, together.
Maji Burger, much like Maid Latte, is hard attribute to one specific brand, because most fast food burger joints will generally appear the same. It’s possible the Seirin favorite Maji Burger was modeled after McDonald’s. Look at those fry box designs! It’s not much of a stretch that an American-raised high school student would go to a fast food restaurant and eat way too much. It’s also pretty true that fast food vanilla shakes have a strangely thin but creamy appeal. Maji, however, isn’t getting this ranking so much for its accuracy, but more for its staying power. Be it a very important plot point or good old Seirin comic relief, the scenes that happen at the Maji Burger are the ones that fans won’t ever forget.
2. Umanohone from Denki-gai no Honya-san
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct. 2014 – Dec. 2014
The people you meet at your part-time job can be some of the most unique and interesting people you will ever meet. This factoid of life holds true for Umio, who meets a whole bunch of quirky folks at his job at a manga store called Umanohone. Sensei is a doujinshi mangaka who is teased for lacking “girl power.” Fu Girl has an unhealthy obsession with zombies and normally teams up with the big and tough-looking Sommelier, who can choose the perfect manga for anyone with just a look.
Overall, working at Umanohone looks like it would be a whole of fun. Guess what? It’s possible, given some special circumstances, but still possible. Umanohone is a parody of the real-life manga store Toranoana, as umanohone means “the horse’s bone,” and Toranoana means “the tiger’s lair” in Japanese. With all the manga books showcased in this anime, otakus can only hope that working at a manga store would be everything Denki-gai promises it to be. Seriously though, if anyone knows the real-life version of Sommelier who can make perfect personalized manga recommendations, please leave contact information of such a person in the comments. Thank you.
1. MgRonald’s from Hataraku Maou-sama! (The Devil is a Part-Timer!)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr. 2013 – Jun. 2013
While watching anime, like Sakamoto desu ga?, there was probably a time you thought, “What’s up with the WcDonald’s?” That’s not the case for The Devil is a Part-Timer!! It’s MgRonald’s! The demon lord Sadao Maou, in a daring escape from a horrible defeat in his world, somehow ends up in modern-day Tokyo. Unfortunately, in the dimension jump, he lost most of his magical power. With no credentials and desperate for cash, Maou takes a job at the local MgRonald’s.
Yes, obviously MgRonald’s is McDonald’s, no question. Unlike other anime though, the fast food parody isn’t just another random meeting spot for people living off allowances. Instead, our protagonist spends every day working hard and becoming a respectable member of the community at MgRonald’s. Their rival company would be none other than Sentucky Fried Chicken. Do I even need to say it?
Although the anime didn’t have any real legal connection with McDonald’s, The Devil is a Part-Timer! is good free PR for the global fast food empire. A place that even can help a fallen demon lord get back on his feet, MgRonald’s could be the perfect job for you too!
Art often imitates life, but due to trademark laws, it can’t always be a carbon copy. Yet, when your main or supporting characters are supposed to work at your everyday fast food joint or convenience store, why world build when you could just parody the name? Regardless, the parody store can give you that sense of real and everyday: “Hey, these characters are going where I go, eating what I eat, and working where I could work, maybe.” It helps us relate to the characters in a more personal way, so as ridiculous as some of these made-up names can sound, they are still hilariously welcome in our anime lives.