The holidays are finally here to give us a break from the humdrum of the workweek and a chance to wear pajamas all day long. Though Christmas and other religious celebrations aren’t very popular in Japan during this time of the year, anime has managed to successfully instill audiences all around the world with the same holiday joy people have come to expect every December. The following are some shows and movies that fans can watch this season to make them feel all giddy inside before work comes to crush our souls again.
Best Holiday Anime – Clannad
Clannad is a harem anime, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it isn’t worthwhile. Starring a delinquent teenager named Tomoya, the show depicts the protagonist’s relationships with a host of other characters who struggle with social anxiety and have a hard time making friends. It’s impossible to not fall in love with Nagisa, a naive girl suffering from a mysterious illness who somehow always manages to put a smile on her face. No matter what, Clannad will make you feel grateful for the people in your life. Be warned that it’s ending may leave you crying for days.
Best Holiday Anime – Toradora!
Toradora! follows a group of high school students whose love interests collide. Taiga and Ryuuji are both outcasts who’ve become enamored with each other’s best friends. The two have to help each other win over the respective people they’re pining for, all while trying not to butt heads. It’s a show that explores how relationships develop and change over time, and teaches audiences the importance of accepting people for who they are. No one is perfect. Rather, our imperfections are what bring us closer together.
Best Holiday Anime – Tokyo Godfathers
Tokyo Godfathers revolves around a group of three homeless people who discover an abandoned baby named Kiyoko while rummaging through garbage on Christmas Eve. The trio have to use a set of clues to track down the infant’s parents and bring her home safely. Along the way, they try their best to avoid the menacing Yakuza patrolling the streets and even wind up saving someone’s life.
Tokyo Godfathers is an excellent commentary on the goodness of humanity no matter one’s wealth or social rank. It’s also made by Satoshi Kon, the mind that brought us other classics like Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and Paprika. This is one holiday anime film that still hasn’t gotten the recognition it deserves outside of Japan.
Best Holiday Anime – Wolf Children
Wolf Children centers itself around a hardworking college student named Hana who falls in love with a mysterious man that attends her classes, but isn’t actually enrolled in school. Even after she finds out that this person is a werewolf, the pair develops a powerful bond that culminates in two children named Yuki and Ame. When a tragedy befalls her husband, Hana finds herself with the difficult task of raising two shape-shifting beings all on her own. Wolf Children is a movie that will leave you speechless by the time its credits roll. You’ll definitely want to hug your mom after seeing this.
Best Holiday Anime – Winter Sonata
Based off the Korean drama of the same name, Winter Sonata is a holiday-themed anime perfect for audiences who love romance and drama. It stars a woman named Yoo Jin who falls in love with a man named Joon Sang. Unfortunately, the latter loses his life in an accident, forcing Yoo to move on and marry someone she knew since childhood.
When the woman comes across someone that looks like Joon, she begins to doubt if she made the right decision after all. Winter Sonata is a story about accepting your regrets and moving forward with the pain. It isn’t a lighthearted show to binge during the holidays, but an important one for those who are experiencing heartbreak or going through some kind of loss this season.
Best Holiday Anime – K-On!
K-On! is a slice of life show that explores the ups and downs of friendships and the importance of making people in your life happy. Arguably its cutest moments lie in the seventh episode when Ui Hirasawa talks about her sister, Yui. Yui managed to make Ui’s Christmas wish come true once by tearing out the stuffing of a pillow and littering it on the tree outside to make her little sister believe it snowed. This made Ui so happy that she continues to cherish the memory to this day.
Inspired by her story, the rest of the club decides to hold a holiday party to celebrate their own sisterly bond with one another. It’s a beautiful moment in anime that will make you want to go above and beyond for your friends, too.
Best Holiday Anime – Itsudatte My Santa!
Itsudatte My Santa!‘s main character, Santa, was born on December 24. Despite being named after the holiday, he hates anything that has to do with Christmas. His attitude changes when he meets a girl named Mai who’s practicing to become a real-life version of the man in red.
Though the premise is a bit nonsensical and a total rip-off of A Christmas Carol, Itsudatte My Santa! somehow manages to be entertaining thanks to Love Hina creator Ken Akamatsu’s knack for writing charming characters and putting them in comedic circumstances. It’s a story about giving to others even if you know you won’t get anything in return.
The ultimate purpose of each entry above is to teach anime fans what love is. Be it the romantic kind or the kind that you share with family and friends, this feeling has the profound ability to bring people together even when it’s cold outside. As you binge episodes of Toradora! and K-On! this season, don’t forget to reserve some time for the human beings that helped make you the person you are today. You can thank your wafiu or husbando for all the joy she or he has brought you later on.