Tokyo Godfathers is a particularly special and warm anime movie to watch during the holiday season. This story follows an odd homeless trio after they discover an abandoned newborn baby on Christmas Eve. Despite having nothing to their name, the three decide to take care of the baby and give her a special name — Kiyoko, which means “pure one.” Caring for the baby and searching for her rightful home becomes a comedic adventure as the trio can’t help but run into trouble at every turn. In the midst of all the misfortune, however, the three are able to conquer their own pasts and discover that Kiyoko isn’t the only one who needs to find her place in the world.
Lucky Star (Episode 11)
Not everyone is looking for a super deep and emotional story during the holiday season. Sometimes you just want something to lift your spirits and remind you that the holiday season is a time for friends and fun. Lucky Star is a fun slice-of-life anime that highlights all things adorable and cheerful.
Combining the Lucky Star tone with the overall joy of holiday cheer is a recipe for a lighthearted Christmas special that’s all laughs and smiles. The holidays are just around the corner in this episode, which causes the girls to have various conversations exploring their outlook on the holiday season. From discussing Christmas cakes to buying sketchy Christmas cookies, this is a fun episode with holiday cheer sprinkled throughout without trying to shove you knee deep in your feels at the same time.
Itsudatte My Santa!
The premise of Itsudatte My Santa! can feel a bit cheesy to some viewers but it’s surprisingly a pretty great holiday special if you just stick with it. It follows the story of a young man who hates the holidays, which is particularly ironic since his name is Santa. Santa is destined to spend another year being his usual scrooge-like self until he comes across a young woman who is determined to turn his attitude around. Itsudatte My Santa! is another quirky and enjoyable anime from Love Hina creator Ken Akamatsu and it’s definitely worth a watch to get you in the holiday spirits.
Sailor Moon S: The Movie
If you’re looking for a more old school anime vibe that still provides tons of beautiful wintery scenery, Sailor Moon S: The Movie is the way to go. This movie isn’t actually a holiday movie necessarily but its snow-themed villains and wintry settings still evoke a holiday feeling while also providing your usual Sailor Moon brand of action. Not to mention that since most holiday movies typically take the time to focus on the magic of togetherness, Sailor Moon S: The Movie technically shares that same kind of theme. If you’re looking for an anime movie that brings action, winter, and strong bonds of friendship and romance together all in one take you won’t go wrong with Sailor Moon S: The Movie.
There are plenty of holiday anime specials that focus on one important Christmas wish, but Chocotto Sister stands out for the unusual nature of the wish its main character makes. This story starts with a young boy named Haruma Kawagoe. While most others are experiencing joy and magic over the holiday season, Haruma and his mother are coping with tragedy. Haruma’s mother has a miscarriage and their family never receives the new baby girl they had long been waiting for. That’s when Haruma makes a Christmas wish, hoping that his mother’s health will improve and that he will finally get the sister he always wanted.
White Album and White Album 2
If nothing gets you in the holiday spirits like a wintery romance, you’ll easily fall in love with White Album and White Album 2. The White Album manga and anime series provide some great fall and winter scenery that serve as the perfect backdrop for a touching romance. While both White Album and White Album 2 are absolutely worth your time, if you can only make time for one, then White Album is the way to go. In addition to the beauty it brings in there scenery and tone, the way it navigates the romance between Toya Fuji and Yuki pulls you in deep and it even uses the Christmas episode as a major plot point for the story’s development.
K-On! (Episode 7)
The Christmas episode of K-On! is a great slice-of-life option for the holidays that’s adorable and sentimental in a lighthearted way. This episode focuses on the magic of Christmas past and Christmas present. Yui’s sister Ui Hirasawa spends time reminiscing about a particularly special Christmas from when she was a child. Yui desperately wanted to give her sister a snow-filled Christmas and attempted to do so by tearing the stuffing out of her pillow and tossing it on a tree outside. The look at the sisters’ younger days makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside as it underscores the depth of their sisterly bond. Meanwhile, Ritsu is also busy planning a Christmas party for the club, which helps to trigger a ton of other holiday-oriented festivities throughout the episode.
Toradora (Episode 19)
Toradora is a romance series that follows a group of friends that string one interesting web of relationships and love interests. High school romances can be complicated and Toradora brings this to life in a way that’s captivating and hilarious throughout the entire season. Once the Christmas episode rolls around, however, the story really hits a boiling point. The holiday episode still brings laughs and feel good moments but it’ll also tug at your heart strings.
Hetalia: Axis Powers (Episode 31)
The holiday themed episode of Hetalia: Axis Powers is probably one of the best anime options for anyone who might not actually be a huge fan of the typical holiday special formula. If the mushy nature of Christmas specials makes you sick, Hetalia: Axis Powers focuses far more on poking fun at the cultural differences between nations while also underscoring just how much these different nations have in common. If you’re unfamiliar with the series as a whole, it’s a unique comedy that imagines a world where countries are personified as actual people. But even during the time of World War I and World War II, the Axis Powers can’t help but take a break from their usual matters in order to discuss and celebrate the holidays.
Sword Art Online (Episode 3)
The third episode of Sword Art Online isn’t packed with your usual holiday fluff or students exchanging gifts. It keeps in line with the rest of the series and doesn’t depart from the main plot the way many holiday episodes do in other anime. What the episode “Red-Nosed Reindeer” does provide, however, is some great holiday scenery, a Santa-esque boss that goes toe-to-toe with Kirito, and a plot that will having you wanting to drown you feels in spiked egg nog.