Christmas in Japan is a bit of a different animal than it is here in the West; it’s not considered a major “family” holiday at all (that would be New Year’s), and it’s mostly only celebrated by very young children or by young couples. As a result, Christmas episodes and themes usually only show up in anime and manga if it’s meant for young children or if it incorporates some romance; often the most “Christmas-y” episodes involve finding a boyfriend or girlfriend to spend the holiday with, or the boy buying a ring or other piece of jewelry for his beloved.
There are quite a few good lists of good anime Christmas episodes to watch already, so I highly recommend checking some of them out… but they missed a few that, in my mind, are well worth a watch for fans of the medium… even if not for the reasons you might expect. So, if you’re looking to have a different sort of Christmas experience, here are my picks for some memorable Christmas anime.
The Nostalgic Fan Christmas
The Sailor Moon S movie
Yes, Sailor Moon did its own take on Christmas, albeit somewhat limited to the background imagery and a few character references. The story revolves around Usagi’s cat Luna and her… um… crush?… on a human astrophysicist, all while an evil snow queen attempts to freeze the planet for her own selfish reasons. Snow and Christmas lights line the streets of Tokyo, and the theme of love and giftgiving is consistent throughout, but… really, I mostly put this on here because it has the BEST. TUXEDO KAMEN ENTRANCE. EVER. It’s like some beautiful gem of Christmas dorkitude, and I love it. If you were a fan of Sailor Moon and feel like refreshing some cheesy, happy memories, dig this one up again.
The D’AWWW Romantic Christmas
Episodes 4-5 of the 1993-1994 Oh My Goddess! OAV
This was the first anime version of Oh! My Goddess (or Aa Megami-sama), and managed to pack in a good deal of content for only 5 short episodes. The last two episodes form a two-part story-arc that is alternately touching, funny, and heartwrenching. After a series of strange events, Belldandy is told by God that she must return to the heavens and leave her beloved Keiichi behind; Keiichi, for his part, is driven to work himself to the bone to give her one last memento before she goes, a memento which has more meaning than he realizes. It’s an achingly sweet story about true love, sad partings, and family coming together.
The Bitchy Catty Christmas
Episode 33 of Death Note
Wait, Death Note had a Christmas episode? That series involving a crazed high school boy who uses a magic notebook to kill criminals and the equally crazed detective(s) trying to catch him? Merry Christmas! There is nothing particularly “Christmas-y” about the episode other than the snow, lights, and Near’s Christmas tree, but in many ways this works to its advantage as a deconstruction of the Christmas theme and what it means to the heroes and villains of Death Note. Heck, the fact the episode is called, “Scorn” might be a hint as to the big issue. Christmas is supposed to be a time of love and sharing, yet Light, with all his vaunted ideals of being the new god of justice and bringing about a happy peaceful world, is totally disconnected from the season and the people he’s using. The best moment, however, is the dinner shared between Misa, Light’s current girlfriend, and Kiyomi Takada, the woman who Light is having an affair with and using to further Kira’s ends. It’s a beautiful parade of cattiness and snide remarks that’s totally at odds with the beautiful, peaceful imagery of a snowy night lit up by the faint glow of candles and Christmas lights. If ever two people miss the point of Christmas, it would be these two… and that, in itself, may be the point.
The So Glad I’m Single Christmas
Episodes 11 and 12 of School Days
School Days is an… interesting series. It’s not exactly good, but it certainly succeeds at being highly unsettling and disturbing, to the point of pure squick. It’s a classic boy-meets-girl story, if the boy was a cheating jackass, the girl was an unstable stalker, and the OTHER girl is a manipulative temptress. The “hero” Makoto starts off with good intentions, trying to win the heart of elegant and sweet Kotonoha with the help of his friend Sekai… but then Sekai reveals her feelings and everything starts going downhill. What began as a friendly, happy school romance anime soon becomes depressing, then dark and forboding. Things reach a head on Christmas Eve, with Makoto suffering the consequences of his irresponsible and hurtful behavior (dumping Kotonoha for Sekai then cheating on Sekai with HALF THE SCHOOL), Sekai trying desperately to salvage a Christmas dinner for the boy she loves, and a poor, shattered Kotonoha wandering the streets in a daze, completely out of her mind. And then it gets WORSE. If your holidays are tinged with a bit too much happiness for your tastes, watch the last few episodes of this series and you’ll be miserable in no time. Just… bring a sick bucket.
What are your favorite Christmas anime episodes and movies?