It is difficult to create a good parody. You not only need to know the source material, but you need to be able to exaggerate it in a way that makes it funny. Not many American television shows understand the nature of anime and are unwilling to learn. There are, however, a few shows that know you shouldn't take anything too seriously and have been able to make fun of anime in smart and creative ways.
During the last couple seasons of Futurama, the creators created episodes that featured short segments with the gang in different parodies of cartoons and TV shows. In the episode "Reincarnation" the Planet Express crew is reimagined as the Action Delivery Force, parodying '80s and '90s anime. The overall plot of the segment is that a race of gelatinous aliens attack Earth in response to a comet, which they worship, being destroyed.
While the segment is about 10 minutes long, they manage to parody so many anime cliches in a short amount of time. From mismatched lip syncing to homages to series such as Voltron and Sailor Moon, it's almost as if you're watching an old school anime. The height of the episode would have to be when Dr. Zoidberg breaks open his shell so he can do a dance of peace for the aliens. The whole sequence is nothing more than Zoidberg standing in one pose while the camera pans around him. This is a reference to the fact that older anime would use lower frame rates as well as reuse the same footage to cut back on animating costs.
3. South Park
Having been around for almost two decades, South Park has pretty much made fun of everything under the sun. While most episodes will touch upon a certain subject and leave it at that, there were a couple episodes that took on aspects of the anime world. One was the episode "Good Times With Weapons" where the boys buy weapons and act out their own fantasy of being mystic ninja warriors.
Then there was their take on the Pokemon craze. In the episode "Chinpokomon" the kids are obsessed with a Japanese toy line called Chinpokomon. While the show seems harmless enough, it is actually a front for the Japanese to brainwash kids and turn them into soldiers. The whole episode is an allegory on fads, consumerism and the lengths kids will go to be accepted.
Which is your favorite Chinpokomon? Mine is Shoe.
2. Saturday Night Live
As with South Park nothing is sacred in the realm of Saturday Night Live. They will parody anything and everything. In the recurring sketch "J-Pop American Fun Time Now," they make fun of the stereotype that anime fans are obsessed with Japan while completely misappropriating the Japanese culture.
The sketch features two college students, Jonathan Cavanaugh-san and Rebecca Stern-Markowitz-san, who run a campus TV show featuring their obsession and misunderstandings. Their Japanese studies teacher plays the straight man pointing out that what they are doing is not-representative of Japanese culture and is borderline racist.
When the sketch was first aired many were outraged at SNL for their stereotyping of anime fans. What's funny is how close to home this sketch hit for some. In the anime fandom this sort of thing does happen quite often, and is known as being a weeaboo. When some anime fans first get into anime, they develop this sort of attitude towards Japan and Japanese culture. Normally this is just a phase, but for some this what they do, and many anime fans find this annoying.
1. Robot Chicken
The creators of Robot Chicken are masters of taking our childhoods and ruining them in creative and hilarious ways. Anime has fallen into their crosshairs numerous times, such as the time Goku saved Christmas, or a dad ruins InuYasha for his daughter so he can watch sports. One of their earliest sketches took on Sailor Moon.
In the episode "Joint Point" Sailor Moon faces off against one of the Queen Beryl's henchman. She transforms in a sexually suggestive manner, which gives the henchman an erection, embarrassing them both and postponing the fight. Later on, the henchman reports his failure to his master Queen Beryl and becomes aroused when she starts yelling at him. The final sketch has Queen Beryl looking at a picture of Sailor Moon and swearing her revenge. At the end she herself gets an erection and then looks at the camera stating that anime is weird.
While this is obviously making fun the sexualization of female anime characters, it could also be an allusion to the darker corners of fandom.
Parody in itself is an art form and to see it done right gives the original material more credibility and allows for more people to enjoy it. It's meant to be all in good fun.
Even Peter Griffin went through an anime phase.
Check out how anime has had a hand in influencing Hollywood and other movies outside the genre in the video below:
Are there any shows you've seen that parody anime in hilarious fashion?