Top 5: Christmas Episodes in Anime

sawako christmas

I will admit, I am not the biggest fan of Christmas episodes whether they be in anime or anything else. They all kind of feel the same after awhile.

When narrowing down the list I decided to stick with shows where I just enjoyed the Christmas episode rather than found it a bit of a tag on annoyance. That said, Christmas isn’t as pervasive in anime as Valentines or New Years so trying to remember which shows actually focussed on Christmas proved a bit of a challenge.

As always, I’d love to know your favourite episodes below.

Favourite Christmas Episodes in Anime

Honourable mentions to Haruhi Suzumiya (not an episode but the movie focussed on Christmas), Clannad After Story, and the Sailor Moon second movie (again not an episode).

Number 5: Karin Chibi Vampire

Episode 19 gives us a Christmas Eve episode where both Karin and her friend Maki are trying to make gifts for the objects of their affections. It isn’t all happy news for the pair but there’s enough sweetness in this episode to make it an uplifting experience for the most part. That and it seems like another logical step in Karin and Usui’s relationship rather than an added in episode for the sake of having a Christmas episode.

Number 4: Hayate Combat Butler

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Alright, this one probably isn’t really capturing the spirit of Christmas given his parents leave him their debt and run away and then Hayate tries to kidnap someone (fairly unsuccessfully) but Santa’s dream response to Hayate asking why he didn’t get a present is pretty amusing.

Again, the Christmas element doesn’t feel like an add in because it is used to make you feel genuinely sorry for Hayate and the end result is reasonably positive (unless you truly feel that Hayate got a bad deal having to work for Nagisa) so go Christmas.



Number 3: Sword Art Online

SAO - Nicholas.png

Definitely not capturing the spirit of Christmas, I liked this episode because it tapped in to a few different ideas.

Firstly this Christmas episode consolidates the fact that death is going to be final in the game world. Sachi is dead and all of Kirito’s actions won’t bring her back. Secondly, it presents Santa in a way you never wanted to see him and visually this is one of the more interesting boss’ that show up in the series. And finally, I like this episode because there are events in games and they do tie in to holidays so this just worked.

Plus it kind of broke my heart as they gave us a promise  of resurrection, we watched Kirito fight to even get to the location of the event, Klein first trying to stop Kirito and then assisting him to get to where he needed to be, watched Kirito succeed at defeating the boss, and then the realisation that it won’t help him anyway because of the time limit. Everything about this episode was perfect (though perhaps not really within the spirit of Christmas).

Number 2: Kobato

A near love triangle resolved when one of the suitors bows out realising the girl he likes only has eyes for one guy. Using the Christmas episode as a chance to get the two together is just the great kind of excuse everyone needs. Except that the guy in question (Fujimoto) has genuine issues about being abandoned on Christmas Eve so his surly tone for the earlier parts of this episode are completely understandable even if he is misdirecting some of that angst at Kobato.

And Kobato doesn’t really get Christmas anyway and is just fluttering along as always. Still, this episode marks a change in the tone of the show and the central relationship being built and so is pretty important from a plot point of view.

Number 1: Kimi ni Todoke

Christmas episode - Kimi ni todoke

The class Christmas party that Sawako couldn’t go to because… she never got up the nerve to ask her parents? This episode was a really important one as we saw Sawako actually want something more than just Kazahaya to speak with her and we saw her genuinely struggle as she didn’t want to let her parents down. More importantly, she finally comes to the realisation that perhaps she’s been too considerate and it is okay to want things.

Good thing her parents are both alive (a novelty in anime) and actually pretty supportive and understanding. She might not get to see much of the class party but it’s enough that she did actually develop another step as a character.

So that’s my top 5 but I’ve probably missed a bunch so feel free to tell us about your favourite Christmas episodes in anime.


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Karandi James


Kobato Series Review

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Overview:

This one is kind of hard to explain without spoilers but I will avoid the major revelations as much as possible. Essentially we are following Kobato who has limited memories but has arrived in the town with Ioryogi (who looks like a stuffed toy) and she has a mission. Essentially she has to fill a jar with shiny things and she does this by healing the hearts of those around her. Later we learn there is a time limit as to how long she can take to fill it the jar. Meanwhile, Kobato gets a job at a childcare/kindergarten and slowly grows closer to the children and the others working there. This anime also got a spot on my Top 5 Christmas Focussed Episodes list.

Review:

This anime is all about sweetness and light and breaking your heart so if that isn’t appealing you should probably move on. While there is a supernatural element at play this anime all boils down to human emotions and experiencing them and learning from them. While most episodes fall into the Kobato finds someone who has a problem and by the end she’s solved said problem and left them smiling, the ongoing story of Kobato’s quest to have an unnamed wish fulfilled is never forgotten as Ioryogi steadily works to keep both Kobato and the audience on track with what the real story is supposed to be.

And that’s probably how Kobato gets away with being so ridiculously sweet early on. There isn’t much happening in the story in the first half. She gets a job, she meets people, she says naive things, she sings a lot, and she occasionally manages to help out in situations. If that was all there was to this story, some people would still enjoy it as a nice slice of life. But between Ioryogi and Fujimoto we realise not everything in this anime is sweetness and light.

Ioryogi knows a lot more about what is going on with Kobato and the wish than he is intent on letting on. At times the audience are given some insight into what those secrets are as Ioryogi occasionally leaves Kobato’s side to visit his ‘friends’ and we learn about his past. As you would expect from CLAMP, this backstory is full of magic and lore and while we never learn all of the details, the picture it paints is pretty vivid (and part of me wonders why we didn’t get to see that story instead, though perhaps the imagining of what happened is greater than the viewing would be).  This darker side to the story lets us know early on we’re dealing with a tragic tale and it gives us just enough to really cut through that sickly sweet tone that Kobato herself keeps throwing off.

The other reason this show doesn’t become overly adorable is Fujimoto. He is a very angry young man and of course bullies Kobato fairly mercilessly for being useless (which given she has no memories and other than singing can’t really do anything is probably a fair call). Of course Fujimoto is actually a great guy under it all and Kobato is going to become infatuated, hence the Christmas episode with the potential love triangle, but Fujimoto injects some very much needed rancour into what the early episodes.

For fans of Tsubasa Chronicles there’s also a small cameo from some of our favourite inter-dimensional travellers during one of the episodes.

Other points of interest include Kobato’s outfits. She has one outfit for each season so it is very easy to keep track of time and how long she’s been there and how long she has left. The time limit is literally the only thing driving any sense of haste in this story as Kobato herself is completely unable to really care about time passing. As Ioryogi becomes desperate, Kobato all but throws off her duty to fill the jar to go on a personal mission to save Fujimoto and at that point most of the pieces of the puzzle as to what is going on click but the final revelations in the last couple of episodes will still break your heart and then slowly help you piece it back together.

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There’s an array of interesting side and supporting characters and some of these add much needed humour and human interactions. The whole kindergarten getting shut down storyline is necessary though seems really dragged out at times and yet still manages to turn itself around into something sweet.

That’s really the recurring theme. Things don’t really end they just get new and different beginnings. It fits with the overall tone of the anime and makes the ending a little easier to take. And it’s a theme that is interwoven through almost every plot and subplot in this story so there is a cohesion to this show that is fairly rare in anime.

Anyway, this isn’t fast moving, it isn’t overly exciting, and the emotions it hits you with are clearly telegraphed from a mile away but it is very effective and it is some good entertainment for when you just want the world to be a little bit nicer (first half) or when you’d like a good cry (second half). I would recommend this anime but I know that it won’t be for everyone and Kobato as a blank slate protagonist (particularly in the early episodes) is certainly not going to win everyone’s hearts no matter how sweet she is.

If you’ve watch Kobato let me know what you thought of it.


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Karandi James.

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