All is calm, all is bright, the Christmas season is drawing nigh. With Christmas slowly approaching, many have already started decorating their houses, preparing for New Year’s, or going around shopping for Christmas. Whether you like all the festivities that come along with the holiday season, getting tons of gifts, enjoying the snowy and cold weather (if you are somewhere in the world that actually snows during Christmas), or just getting time off work to spend with those close to you, you can’t help but anticipate Christmas.
So since the most wonderful time of the year is coming, what better way to get you in the mood for Christmas than watching various anime specials? Even though Christmas in Japan is all about the dating and less about family time, anime can be a nice way to explore and enjoy how Christmas is celebrated in that corner of the world.
If you are already familiar with the traditions that accompany the season sit back and enjoy. If not the following recommendations will make you explore Christmas in a very Japanese (or not) way!
Christmas is all about family:
Usagi Drop – ‘Dear Santa’
If you are already familiar with Usagi Drop, you know that this is a very heart-warming anime that will make you laugh and cry at the same time. The relationship between Daikichi and Rin is just a joy to watch and this bonus episode that shows them preparing for Christmas will make you love the family atmosphere. Daikichi tries for the first time to ‘become Santa’ and bring gifts to Rin and the lovely little girl, as she is trying to embrace the traditions of Christmas by preparing food for Mr. Claus, she even leaves carrots for the ‘tired reindeers’ to enjoy. She is just so delightful.
Gakuen Babysitters – ‘Part 12’
Adorable cute babies preparing for Christmas; what more can you really ask for? The last episode of Gakuen Babysitters involves the Christmas holidays and how Kotaro and Ryuu spend their day together with their new family and friends. If you love seeing a baby being obsessed with Santa, a terrible day-care teacher trolling his student to make him eat broccoli, and an older brother dressing up as Santa-san to bring gifts to his baby brother, then this is a must-watch for you. It will make you realize once more that Christmas cannot be celebrated properly without having those that you love around you.
Gakuen Babysitters Episode 12 (Final) Review: Part 12
Minami-ke – ‘Christmas Along with Eve’
Slice-of-life anime titles tend to involve episodes that are dedicated to various holidays and Japanese traditions, so a Christmas special is never left out. On the 12th episode of Minami-ke, we see the Minami family celebrating Christmas Eve in their own way. What you can expect from this is the usual fights between the sisters over stupid reasons even during Christmas, making their friends dress up as Santa to make their younger sister believe in him once more, and overall goofiness and funny family time.
Japanese Christmas traditions through randomness and humor:
Azumanga Daioh – ‘ Osaka’s Scary Story / Feeling Different / December / Incredible Santa / Christmas Meeting’
Azumanga Daioh is such a random anime and the way they would present Christmas couldn’t be in an ordinary and mundane way. Despite the various scenes of the girls discussing Christmas related subjects such as: Chiyo’s belief in Santa Claus, explanations regarding how gifts are given around the world in one night, Kagura asking if reindeers really exist, and Tomo and Osaka trying to figure out what will be the Chinese Zodiac for the following year, this episode gives you a slight insight as to what Japanese people do for Christmas. Seeing Yukari checking a mail order gift catalogue, focusing only on Matsusaka beef (very pricey meat), will show you that people in Japan sometimes like to gift expensive delicacies to each other for the holidays.
Himouto! Umaru-Chan – ‘Umaru and Christmas and New Year’s’
This episode of Himouto! Umaru-Chan, is just packed with Japanese Christmas traditions. It opens with the most essential winter furniture in Japan (which is not really related to Christmas), the kotatsu and the joys of having something like that in your house, and continues with the eating KFC Christmas tradition (yes Japanese people have their Christmas Eve dinner in KFC), the various different cola Christmas exclusive flavors, and their overall drinking traditions. These will make you feel like you are part of their culture. It also shows Umaru and her brother visiting a shrine for the New Year’s to ring the bell, discussing about kimonos, and testing their luck by getting their fortune slips for the year.
Christmas in Japan is all about the couples:
Kimi ni Todoke – ‘Christmas’
Kimi ni Todoke, is your typical school life shoujo series that shows Sawako, the outcast of the class, trying to experience the normal life of a high school girl. If you are up for some nice cosy romance and doki doki feelings, this is a great option to put you in the mood for Christmas. Sawako makes hand crafted gifts for her friends, cooks an amazing Christmas cake, spends her birthday and the New Year’s with her family, manages to go out to her class party with her new friends and finally starts getting closer with Kazehaya.
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku – ‘Bleak Christmas’
Wotakoi is one of those romance shows that can be very #relatable. It shows mature adults trying to cope with everyday life and portrays the true side of Christmas (hence the title) for many of us out there. ‘Working adults don’t get Christmas, anyways’. With this quote actually being mentioned during the episode you will get to see otaku couples trying to balance their working life and relationships (the realism in this is on point. I mean poor Kabakura had to reserve a table at a fancy restaurant half a year ago in order to be able to dine there in Christmas) as well as Naoya working during Christmas eve, dressed up in a Santa costume, while everyone is happily going around. So if you don’t want to hear equally amazing motivational quotes like the one of Narumi’s: ‘I hope all the happy people out there explode’, think twice before you act in front of someone who works during Christmas.
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku Episode 6 Review: Bleak Christmas
I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying – ‘Fusion Sage Day’
Married life is not easy. I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying is another show that portrays adult relationships in a very funny way. Hajime is an otaku and more-or-less a NEET, so when he learns that Kaoru has to work on Christmas Day, he decides to go to Rino and Nozomu’s house to avoid being alone on the 25th. This episode will provide you with the naughty and lewd part of Christmas in Japan: the period of time from 9 PM on the 24th to 3 AM on the 25th is the time when the most couples in Japan have sex in the year. It’s known as the ‘Six Hours of Sex’. So yeah, I don’t have anything else to add on this one.
Because anime can make Christmas weird:
Gintama – ‘Santa Claus Red Is Blood Red’ – ‘Everybody’s a Santa’
Episodes 200 – 201
Even though these are not the first Christmas themed episodes of Gintama, the Santa Arc story is one of the funniest in the show. Kagura decides to write a letter to her father and also ends up asking why Santa never visits. Umibozu takes some time off to surprise her as Santa, but he isn’t the only one. These two episodes are basically a battle for the title of the Santa King and they are just hilarious. If you like pop culture and various otaku references then this arc will be a delight for you.
Polar Bear Café – ‘Christmas Planning’ – ‘Christmas Trouble’
Are you tired of seeing only humans celebrating Christmas? Well, in Polar Bear Café, you get to see an alpaca and a llama making hand-knitted items out of their own wool and be quite religious by going to the mass, a penguin eager to show off his storytelling that seeks to get invited to a Christmas party, and a polar bear that gets extra shifts on Christmas to help his friend go on a date with his girlfriend. And if this is not enough for you, you can witness a grown man being obsessed with pandas and have everything from his Christmas festivities and decorations involving pandas in some way (Christmas cake, cards, tree, Santa himself, even bloody panda New Year soup).
Tis the season to be anime jolly.
All the anime mentioned in the list are very different from each other but at the end of the day, they are all about how important it is to spend Christmas with your family and the people you love. So even if you don’t have crazy plans for the holidays, don’t feel bad and just ‘Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la’. Merry Christmas everyone!