I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…

With the end of our Twelve Days of Anime fast approaching, we thought it’d be nice to take a break from all of these random shows to talk about something a little more season appropriate – Christmas! Christmas (in anime) is one of those funny little things, something that seems so similar to a thing you’re used to, despite being so markedly different from the holiday many of us enjoy. It’s worth taking a moment to stop and examine what the trope of Christmas (in anime) is all about, and what it means in these shows we love so much.

A bird in the hand, and a bird in the other hand. Lucky bastard.

Stilts


I must admit that I’ve long felt rather disconnected from Christmas as a holiday. I enjoy getting together with my family – as trying as that can be at times – as well as getting a day or two off of work, but the rest is lost on me. Where again is the fun in buying my friends and family a bunch of crap they don’t need, in return for receiving a bunch of crap that I don’t need? To me, the magic of Christmas sadly died a long time ago. The last time I can remember feeling it was when a much younger Stilts stood on the side of a snowy mountain with his older brother one Christmas morning, with the delicate snowflakes sprinkling down around us…though to be honest, I think that had more to do with the snow than anything else. Or possibly the fact that it was morning. I’m not really a morning person.

But in anime, I found something else, something that I liked far more. It’s not better, by any means! Just something that had more allure to the hopeless romantic that I am. Rather than a time of crass commercialization (and family), Christmas in Japan is a time for crass commercialization (and love). Love! Though an ideal that is undoubtedly rarely realized in real life, I always enjoy the Christmas date-o. I could list off ones I especially enjoyed…so I think I will. Hatsukoi Limited (d’aaaw, that outfit), Toradora! (that song, that bear), School Rumble (that sled, those fish missiles!), Asobi ni Iku Yo! (those kisses, that space elevator!) and of course, Amagami SS (that entire series). Yet if I had to pick one, it was the second Christmas in the Love Hina manga that was the first one to really draw me in.

It’s not a date, not really. It’s silly and funny, and not conclusive in the slightest, plot-wise. It’s not even all that sappy and romantic, at least not compared to many of the Christmas date-os I’ve seen since then. But what it is – or rather, was – was the first time I realized the romantic power of Christmas in Japan. That yearning to be together, the loneliness of those who have no one’s hand to hold, the rambunctious parties masking the uncertainty of where this thing you’re stumbling towards is heading (maybe, maybe!). It was a turning point, where the central mystery of Love Hina became a little bit clearer, which I enjoyed in and of itself. But more than that was the romantic hijinks of girls wearing santa suits amidst the gentle falling snow that made me fall in love with romance in December. Not better than how we do it in my neck of the woods, certainly, but for some reason it calls out to me. Oh Santa, for this Christmas I wish for…

Ho ho ho. Merry Christmas!

Moomba


Christmas is used as a theme in all kinds of anime, most often in the form of Christmas dates or time spent with the family just as you might expect. But not all shows approach it in quite such an orthodox manner. I’m going to quickly recap one instance which features quite possibly the deepest and most symbolic of all Christmas dates drawn from a rather unusual source. You see, a long time ago in a future far, far removed from linear storytelling, there was a side story. A Sword Art Online side story. This side story inspired much rage, so much so, in fact, that the depth and symbolic meanings were completely lost amidst the cries of protestors.

Our story begins with Kirito seated alone on a bench in a park, faced with an enormous Christmas tree, bright sparkly lights and festive music. Couples abound, revelling in the festive season, angrily eyeing the loner who’s taking up the only damn bench around when they should be occupying it in typical Christmas date fashion. But no, this scene serves to deconstruct all those anime where the main couple go off on a date and sit together on a bench in front of a brightly lit Christmas tree, for Kirito is alone, rejected by the tides of fate themselves. This socially awkward male protagonist in a harem anime doesn’t get a joyful Christmas date. Not this time. No girls fawn over the hardcore gamer. It just doesn’t work that way.

Eventually he leaves, his darkness crushing the purity of the snow as he walks, the emptiness resonating with the feelings in his heart. His black coat stands stark against the whiteness – a single anomaly amidst the festive air. Christmas isn’t a time for singles, for soloers and loners. No, Christmas is for couples and families. Heck, even Klein and the faceless evil guys have their guild families to spend time with. Klein sheds a tear for the wayward lost soul. But Kirito has something he needs to do. In the depths of the forest, he faces off against an embodiment of the warped commercialisation of Christmas, a hideous creature that barely represents what it once stood for. For his trouble he receives something irrelevant which is soon forgotten, a present that wasn’t quite what he wanted. Yet at the very end, after all these hardships, he moves on, reborn as a saviour under the shining star of Sacchi’s glowy voice orb thing. This shit is deep man.

And a Merry Christmas to you too.

Zephyr


At this point, I’ve admittedly lost track of how many Christmas themed episodes I’ve watched during my 90 odd days’ worth of anime. Either way though, there’s a heck of a lot of em’—filled with tropes about dates, couples, Christmas trees, giving gifts, having a party, dressing up as Santa etc. etc. The list goes on and on.

Still, regardless of the sheer volume of Christmas oriented tropes and series I could reference from for this discussion, I have to say that there’s always one thing that pops up in my head when talking about Christmas in anime. And that’s the whole dressing up as Santa trope… particularly in Amagami SS. Admittedly, I have no idea why I think of this out of the many other examples I could be remembering… but yeah, that’s the one thing that just comes up. Maybe it’s because Haruka and Tsukasa were just awesome… Maybe it’s the fact that the series in general had much more gals dressing up as Santa than any other… or something.

Seriously though, I really don’t know. I actually wish I knew so I could write more about it, but yeah, it is how it is. Some things just can’t be explained, and this is one of them. T’was just darn memorable.

‘Tis the season for fanservice. Ho ho ho…oh my!

36 Comments

      1. Doesn’t the preview usually come before the schedule though? Patience is necessary when considering that our writers likely have real life priorities this time of year. As much as we’d probably like their focus to be here, it really shouldn’t have to be.

        sakuga
      1. Pretty sure it’s a fan drawing of a scene from Gintama, but i can’t quote myself on that. If it was, it would have come from the episode the comment above yours mentioned, “Santa Claus’ Red is Blood Red”, and the character itself bears resemblance to Kagura’s father, in his Santa suit.

        DSSeraph
      2. With further inspection though, the quote seems to be slightly modified from a Mobile Fighter G Gundam line “Look the east is burning red”, so perhaps it’s a Christmas fan art of a character from that show, i haven’t watched a Gundam series since wing, so that’s not my area.

        DSSeraph
  1. What Christmas in anime tells us: doesn’t matter what you do, in what situation you are, what you want to celebrate, whether it is about Santa, the gifts, the family, the birth of Jesus, your own birthday, the birth of Isaac Newton, the girls in Santa costumes, it truly can be all summarized in one phrase: celebrating the joy life!

    SouthSky
  2. My favorite Christmas episodes:

    Mitsudomoe — Every Christmas episode of Mitsudomoe is hilarious. I can’t forget about Yabecchi all alone in his room with a mannequin dressed in a Santa costume and listening to the Gachi Rangers theme song. It was so funny and sad at the same time. And then there was that episode when Chiba dressed as Santa Claus!!! XD

    ToraDora — Who could forget that Christmas episode of toradora. That episode was all kinds of awesome, especially that Bear Scene. Also, who could forget about THIS SONG! <3<3<3

    The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya — Instead of talking about it I’ll just let you watch it HERE!!!

    And finally I’ll let you watch this awesome Christmas House, just in case you haven’t seen it yet. It’s not related to anime but it is related to Christmas soo~ HERE. Enjoy! ^_^

    Just Passing By
  3. so Christmas started off as some pagan winter solstice celebration or something, then got replaced with the birth of Jesus. This is now in the western world replaced with words like Christmas spirit and buy your family and friends presents plus have some sort of massive meal.

    which brings me to the next topic, presents. these are hard to buy, most of us have plenty. we already have too much crap that we don’t need. then Christmas comes around and then you have to buy someone who has everything some crap they don’t really need or you hope they need it. one solution is to just give money, except then that’s too impersonal. so maybe you go down the path of buying something that you know that they will use, but this in many cases ends up just being offensive (giving soap or deodorant) or impersonal again because its a generic item.

    and as a friend said today ‘Christmas was good when we were kids but now we are adults it sucks.’ couples have to visit hes family and her family. some sort of meals need to happen. and then you have all the single people feeling depressed because everyone else is doing something.

    I like how Christmas is in anime. focusing on love and not buying crap. but the Christmas date probably wont ever happen for me.

    so when it comes down to it i don’t really like real life Christmas, but there is something nice about anime Christmas and cant forget the girls in sexy Santa outfits.

    CaffeinatedSentryGnome
    1. Awfully tempted to start a segue into religion in anime, but that is a difficult topic without much fruit, and will take an entire editorial to cover.

      Speaking of which: RC guys, are you guys moving towards having more editorial content on RC?

      Passerby
  4. ^^ Christmas in anime. I know practically every anime has a christmas episode which usually has someone dressing up in santa outfit, handing out presents, some unfortunate events regarding mistletoe, etc etc. But all around, I think my favorite EVER christmas themed anime would be the movie, Tokyo Godfathers.

    The movie has gone from curious picking off the shelf at a local record exchange to classic must watch at christmas along with The Christmas Story, Nightmare Before Christmas, Muppet Christmas Carol, and Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown. The movie makes me laugh, cry, and just feel so happy, especially after having to work Christmas eve, I come home to watch this and I feel so much better. Especially when Hana sings Sound of Music. 🙂 Makes me cry happy tears.

    Tomato-Smoothie

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