Are you ready to kick back and relax with a mug of hot cocoa? From wholesome goofing off to some heart-wrenching holiday tales, these 14 anime episodes and/or movies will keep you comfy through the Christmas season.
K-On! (Episode 7 — “Christmas!”)
K-On! follows the cute and fluffy story of high school students and best friends who play in the Light Music Club. Every day is filled with sweet, light-hearted fun, and the Christmas episode is no different.
Episode 7, “Christmas!”, opens with a flashback of Yui and Ui Hirasawa decorating a tree and wishing for a White Christmas. The Light Music Club plans a Christmas party and present exchange at the Hirasawa household. As per their usual antics, the group turns a traditional holiday into a silly and wholly K-On! experience — Mugi trades a free trip to Hawaii for a board game she wants to play with the other girls; Ritsu buys a prank gift for Mio, which Sawako ends up opening instead; and the Hirasawa siblings trade thoughtful presents and witness a magical sight.
Whether you’re diving into K-On! for the first time or bingeing your way through a rewatch, “Christmas!” illustrates just how much these girls cherish each other (and fairly early in the series, too). As always, K-On! delivers a gut-wrenchingly funny watch, while still hitting the perfect notes to fill your heart with that warm Christmas spirit.
My Little Monster (Episode 10 — “Christmas”)
My Little Monster is a romantic comedy with two high schoolers, the unsociable Shizuku Mizutani and troublesome Haru Yoshida, as its leads. The two continue to be imperfect even by this point of the show, but this Christmas episode also highlights their improvements in making human connections by having them attend a Christmas party planned by their friend Asako Natsume.
While the party doesn’t take up the entire episode’s runtime, it certainly earns the episode its “Christmas” title. It’s a small but lively gathering, with the trio’s close circle of friends being joined by Haru’s rival Kenji and his own gang. As you would expect from a Christmas party, there’s food, a Santa outfit, and goofing around involved, although Shizuku characteristically decides to study during the festivities. The show’s solid humor is also on display, with moments like Asako happily inviting Chizuru to play riddles while an argument happens in the background and Haru being casually headbutted to stop him from doing something crazy.
The cozy familiarity of the party venue, the batting center owned by Haru’s cousin, only adds to the fun and comfortable atmosphere. The episode is soured slightly by an ugly instance involving Haru’s jealousy and problematic behavior, but overall, “Christmas” is a delightful Christmas episode that will make you want to spend the occasion with your close-knit friends.
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (Movie)
Like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, this sequel follows the lives of the SOS Brigade, an unofficial high school club founded by its eccentric titular character. Except, that’s not really the case. A week before a planned Christmas party by Haruhi, snarky protagonist Kyon wakes up to discover that no one in their class can remember her and that the SOS Brigade doesn’t exist.
For its prologue, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya emulates the series’ general slice-of-life atmosphere. About twenty minutes in, however, it transforms into an engaging mystery film that has Kyon trying to figure out just what on Earth is going on. How did this happen? Where is Haruhi? At more than two-and-a-half hours long, the movie doesn’t rush to reveal its answers, but the gripping premise ensures that the wait is never dull. The strong atmosphere helps too. Dutch angles convey the uneasiness that Kyon feels during his early moments in this new reality, while the absence of the lively and unabashed Haruhi naturally makes the setting feel as distorted to the audience as it does to Kyon.
This certainly isn’t a regular Christmas experience, and it’s also a movie that requires knowledge of the preceding two seasons to really appreciate it. However, it’s a darn good movie with a winter setting. As Kyon realizes that he can’t live without Haruhi, despite her grating personality, maybe you too will grow to appreciate someone in your circle and celebrate Christmas with them.
Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle (Episode 12 — “Sleeping Princess of the Demon Castle”)
Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is a comedy fantasy anime that follows Princess Syalis “woefully” kidnapped by the “malicious” demon king. In reality, the human princess proves herself just as demonic, and potentially more, as the demons who kidnapped her. With only a desire to sleep, Syalis can kill, steal, and outmaneuver anyone in her never-ending quest for the perfect bed and sheets.
Of course, Christmas fits right in with a comical kidnapping-gone-right-but-not-really situation. By the twelfth episode, Syalis feels so at home with the demons that she straight up writes a letter to Santa, requesting a chance to go home so that she may retrieve some of her favorite wooly undies. When the demons end up granting her wish by teleporting her back into the castle, things go awry. The demons and Syalis still celebrate Christmas at the end — without the wooly undies she originally requested.
The chaos of gift buying for Christmas reflects well in this final episode. By the end of every big holiday shopping spree, I’m sure there are plenty of people with memories of forgetting that one thing to check off their list.
Mr. Osomatsu (Episode 11 — “Christmas Osomatsu-san”)
The purest form of Christmas cheer is undoubtedly the simple joy of laughter, and Mr. Osomatsu’s holiday special is bound to have you laughing all the way. Perhaps you’ve grown numb to the warm, wholesome atmosphere of Christmas by now, and you’re looking for something of a palette-cleanser. Or maybe you just never liked Christmas, and that’s totally fine too! Grinches are welcome here.
In either case, you’re bound to enjoy Mr. Osomatsu’s trademark cynical, vulgar, and unequivocally unique comedy. In this collection of comedy shorts, you can expect zombies, plenty of adult humor, at least one dramatic art-style change, and all in all, a wildly unpredictable ride. All of the important staples of anime are covered here — slice-of-life, romance, harem, idol, cringe-lowlife-protagonists, violence… and the list goes on.
While some jokes will always land better with pre-established fans, Christmas Osomatsu-san may very well be this list’s best standalone entry for watchers seeking a self-contained festive experience.
Asteroid in Love (Episode 8 — “Winter Diamond”)
If finding asteroids and staring at rocks are your thing, Asteroid in Love is sure to feed you nuggets of educational information while keeping things cute and light. In this cute-girls-do-cute-things anime, the two main characters Mira Konohata and Ao Manaka pursue their love for astrology with their fellow Geoscience Club members.
Christmas in Asteroid in Love is celebrated amongst friends instead of with lovers. It all goes swimmingly well until Mira and her senior Inose realize that using an induction cooker and the school heater causes the electricity to trip. The hilariously unfortunate situation sends both into a slight panic because they have little choice but to find creative solutions.
With how half of the club couldn’t swallow the spicy stew and spat it out, the episode turns into a hilarious Christmas disaster. At the same time, the episode underscores how Christmas isn’t just for lovers, but for everyone to enjoy. The smiles and chatter amongst the characters are a clear indication of how they still enjoy each other’s company despite the spicy stew and the lack of a heater (they used shiny thermal blankets instead), which is really heartwarming. Perhaps that is the true gift of Christmas: the warmth of having your friends around you.
ERASED (Episode 3 — “Birthmark”)
ERASED tells the story of Satoru Fujinuma, a detached, 29-year-old manga artist, who has mysteriously developed the ability to go back several minutes in the past before the event of a tragedy. However, when he is wrongfully accused of murder, Satoru is sent back 18 years before the incident. Soon, he realizes that the murder may be connected to the killing of one of his childhood classmates, Kayo Hinazuki.
ERASED’s premise on its own signifies a dark story, so the inclusion of a Christmas tree by the third episode might not sound fitting for the series. However, the holiday represents light and hope. After learning about Kayo’s abusive past and bullying situation in school, Satoru takes her hand and treks up a hill to show her a beautiful Christmas tree. The music swells, and Kayo’s eyes light up for the first time to enjoy the beauty of Christmas lights.
Christmas has always symbolized hope, and nothing portrays that better than from the eyes of an abused child. For the first time in her life, Kayo has found herself a friend who not only stood up for her, but also offered to guide her away from her situation. The walk up the mountain reminds audiences that the journey towards healing is often rife with energy and struggles, but at the top with the lights of Christmas shining down, Kayo sees the hope for her future that she has not felt in a long time.
Acchi Kocchi (Episode 10, Part B — “Lovelymas”)
Acchi Kocchi follows the story of two high school students, Tsumiki Miniwa and Io Otonashi, and their friends Hime, Sakaki, and Mayoi. The anime is a cute slice-of-life show with comical situations and teenage mischief being par for the course. The Christmassy portion occurs in the second half of episode 10 when the friends prepare for the selling of Christmas cake on Christmas Eve.
The anime is meant to be lighthearted and comedic, and this segment lines up with that theme. The chaotic pair of Mayoi and Sakaki come up with exaggerated comments when silly situations occur, Tsumiki is comically unable to fit into her costume due to her stature, and pure-hearted Io’s actions make him an unintended casanova. The friends’ closeness is well depicted — Io gives Tsumiki and Mayoi disposable hand warmers since they’re working out in the cold with him. Watching this close-knit group of friends care for each other really warms the heart.
The episode illustrates how Christmas is about spending time with people you care about instead of it being just for lovers to enjoy. It is time well spent, as these five friends still have fun together, even after a tiring day of work. Overall, if you are looking for a sweet, platonic Christmas episode, this is for you.
Tokyo Godfathers (Movie)
Tokyo Godfathers is an unconventional, but festive type of Christmas story full of wacky twists that turns into a collection of small miracles. The story centers around three homeless people: runaway high-school student Miyuki, former drag queen Hana, and middle-aged alcoholic Gin. This mismatched trio comes together as a family on the streets of Tokyo and they find an abandoned newborn baby in the garbage on Christmas Eve. After naming the baby Kiyoko, meaning “pure child,” they begin a quest to find the baby’s parents.
The movie dives into each of the character’s stories, piecing together how each became homeless through flashbacks and what family means to them. While the story branches off in different directions, it is easy to understand and has all the traditional elements of a Christmas movie underneath the surface: joy, hope, goodwill, and a little bit of imagination.
In the process of uncovering the baby’s story, they learn more about each other and themselves as well. These Tokyo godparents will certainly never leave your memory as a Christmas special.
Gabriel DropOut (Episode 9 — “Christmas and New Year’s Eve Surprise”)
If you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like if angels and demons had a Christmas party together, the 2017 comedy Gabriel DropOut, about two angels and two demons are living on Earth as part of their studies, offers one hilarious answer.
In the first half of episode 9, the pure-hearted demon Vignette attempts to host a Christmas party with the help of the manipulative angel Raphiel. However, the mischievous but incompetent demon Satanichia plans to wreak havoc on Christmas, prompting Vignette and Raphiel to use various methods to trick her into celebrating the event. Food and hypnotization are employed, and there’s also a hilariously absurd scene involving a reindeer costume. By the time the titular Gabriel, a star angel-turned-addicted gamer, shows up to the party, forceful methods like rope and forks come into play.
Watching Satanichia fail in various ways is the main delight of Gabriel DropOut, and the first half of episode nine basically offers more of that with a Christmas twist. It’s hugely entertaining to see Vignette and Raphiel deal with Satanichia, and the characters’ different personalities also play off one another well as usual. The joy found here comes at the expense of poor Satanichia, but it’s great joy nevertheless.
School Babysitters (Episode 12)
School Babysitters centers on two brothers, Ryuichi and Kotaro, who have both lost their parents in a terrible airplane accident. An old lady who lost her son and daughter-in-law in that same accident with no grandchildren of her own decides to adopt these two brothers, help them acclimate to a new school, and learn to become a family as they both deal with their separate losses.
An entire episode was dedicated to the celebration of Christmas in episode 12. While a joyous holiday for everyone, this was a heavy reminder to the audience that the protagonist brothers had lost their parents and would spend their first Christmas without them. As Ryuichi prepares to dress up as Santa to surprise Kotaro, Ryuichi himself receives a big Christmas surprise from his adopted family, his friends, and the families of the toddlers he babysits. A Christmas party picture is taken at the end with the two smiling brothers surrounded by people who love and care for them.
This episode embodied the Christmas spirit expertly in a story about loss, but also joy. By wrapping the atmosphere in eager anticipation of Santa from the toddlers, the series is able to keep the happiness in Christmas cheer while handling a tragic topic of a lonely Christmas. Yet, at the end of the day, it serves to remind the audience that the true heart of Christmas is not the gifts, Santa, or the parties but really the emotional love your friends and families unconditionally provide you.
D4DJ: First Mix (Episode 7 — “Holy Gifts”)
D4DJ: First Mix follows Rinku Aimoto, our protagonist who lived a relatively sheltered childhood on a quiet island in Africa, and her high school shenanigans. Unsurprisingly, this music anime tackles Christmas by focusing on — you guessed it — music!
One of the first scenes features a smooth arrangement of “Angels We Have Heard on High,” as the core cast explain some would-be-obvious Christmas culture to Rinku. Though the episode itself isn’t completely tied to Christmas itself, the holiday season remains crucial to the episode’s plot revolving around dance parties and sharing immaterial presents. One supporting character reveals that, years ago, she received the best Christmas present from a childhood friend, and she aims to share that same joy with everyone she knows.
D4DJ: First Mix’s seventh episode stands out not only for its plot significance and key character movements, but also features the best concert scene to date in regards to both visuals and sound. Studio Sanzigen really went the extra mile to flex their 3D animation talent in an earlier scene, where Rinku just binge-eats her anger away. D4DJ’s core offering may be music and cute girls doing cute things, and “Holy Gifts” doubles down on that with even more feel-good moments — and a dash of holiday spirit sprinkled on top.
Rent-a-Girlfriend (Episode 8 — “Christmas and Girlfriend”)
I don’t like Rent-a-Girlfriend, but it has a Christmas episode, so… here we are. The anime is about Kazuya, a 20-year-old college student and archetypical “virgin loser” who could be considered relatable were it not for the fact that he is a walking pile of misogyny. Instead, he is perhaps the best example of how not to act during Christmastime, or as a person in general.
Episode 8 showcases Kazuya’s problematic personality. While exiting the bank, Kazuya sees Chizuru out on what he assumes is a date. Thrown into despair at the thought of another person being happy, Kazuya decides to stalk her. Creeping behind trees and eavesdropping on conversations, he lets his imagination run rampant, angry that Chizuru might actually have a life outside of being a rental girlfriend. When he accidentally reveals that he has been stalking her for the better part of a day, Chizuru is frustrated to the point of wanting to pull her own hair out as she explains that it’s all his misunderstanding. The episode ends with a moment of forgiveness bordering on idiocy, as Chizuru forgives Kazuya of his actual crime and gives him a gift.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Christmas episode so devoid of the goodwill that usually accompanies the holiday. This is a Christmas episode in the same way that Die Hard is a Christmas movie: it happens to take place during Christmas. At least the soundtrack tries to up the immersion with a passable rendition of “Jingle Bells.”
Sakura Trick (Episode 8, Part B — “Cherry Blossom-Colored Christmas”)
Sakura Trick follows two best friends, Haruka Takayama and Yuu Sonoda. In their first year of high school, the two decide to do something special to signify their closeness, which leads to a kiss. However, following episode after episode of seeing Haruka and Yuu get increasingly intimate, “Cherry Blossom-Colored Christmas” illustrates the two suddenly avoiding each other.
This rift catches the attention of Yuu’s older sister, Mitsuki. During a group outing with the main duo and their friends to watch a Christmas light show, Mitsuki tries to get the two to talk about their problems. Since the segment is just half the length of a single episode, it’s not long before we find out what’s really behind the couple’s weird behavior. Before that, viewers get to enjoy the usual comedy that Sakura Trick has, with Mitsuki’s fixation on Haruka and Yuu’s relationship (albeit for their distance rather than proximity this time) annoying Yuzu once more and Kaede getting depressed over her used-up Christmas budget.
As is the norm for the show, the segment also has adorable and fluffy yuri moments that will make even the stoniest of personalities go “awww.” In the end, Haruka and Yuu get over their issues and kiss while embracing each other, with the light show’s heart-shaped displays serving as the backdrop. It’s an absolutely lovely sight that will make you want to spend the holiday with your beloved.