Vacation episodes are a staple of all kinds of genres, and anime is no exception. Holidays can bring out all kinds of emotions in us, after all – from existential loneliness to deep connections, a vacation episode can be a catalyst to bring out the more intense parts of a character’s arc or light up. a fire under a conflict in the making, for better or worse. Christmas episodes – or more specifically, Christmas Eve – are some of the most ubiquitous anime holiday stories, and it’s safe to say there are plenty of good ones, so let’s take a look at some of the best. .

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Ping Pong Animation

Image via Funimation

Holidays are not a good time for everyone, because Ping Pong AnimationThe sixth episode is about to show. Ping Pong Animation follows a handful of exceptionally talented athletes, titular masters of the sport who have made excellence an important part of their lives. At their age, however, the time has come when their future with sports is on the line – after all, few people can actually make a living from gambling, and some of them will inevitably have to give up on their dreams. An adaptation of Taiyo Matsumotothe masterful sports manga of 1996, Devilman crybaby‘s Masaaki yuasa brought the comic to life with his delicate approach to rhythm and his deep understanding of what makes drama ring true. This is particularly evident in Ping pongThe Christmas episode of “You love this sport more than anyone !!”, which is placed right in the middle of the 11 episodes of the series.

At this point in history, the various young ping pong pros are each at their respective lowest levels, worrying about expectations placed on them or losses they don’t know if they can come back to. The centerpiece of the episode is a montage of how each character spends their Christmas Eve night, feeling alone in a world filled with bright lights and smiling friends. In addition to these scenes, a song is sung by the character of Kong Wenge, a Chinese player who came to Japan to save his career, spending his night at karaoke with his teammates while yearning for home, feeling more lonely than ever. It’s a perfect synthesis of how vacations, with their sometimes manufactured happiness, can actually make us feel more alienated than ever before.



Image via TV5

If you can understand how the holidays can bring us conflicting feelings – both oneness and loneliness – Toradora!The Christmas episode is sure to get the job done. Toradora! is a lovely romantic anime with a kind of love triangle at its center and is about a group of teenagers who each feel alone in their own way and find solace in their shared experiences. Yes Toradora! is good at everything, derives as much emotion as possible from any given situation, and the heightened drama of the holidays is no exception. In Episode 19, “Christmas Eve Festival,” the series’ main trio are in the depths of their romantic desperation – protagonist Ryuji finds the courage to ask his longtime friend Minori, and the sheltered taiga feels like a third wheel, deciding not to even attend the school Christmas party.

Ryuji decides to sacrifice his time at the party to visit Taiga and help her feel less alone, bringing us one of the most memorable scenes in the series for how heartwarming it is to see Ryuji show up at her apartment. Taiga in a silly Santa Claus theme. bear costume. They spend time together, bonding about how comfortable they feel with each other during such a vulnerable time in their lives. Soon after, however, the still undecided Minori communicates to Ryuji that she isn’t looking for a relationship just yet, crushing him just when he was about to come out of his shell. Friends get together but also go their separate ways as the world around them celebrates, creating a cacophony of emotions that can only be found in a world of holiday cheer.

Himouto! Umaru-chan

Image via Yes!

Of course, some of us enjoy the holidays in totally ironic ways, and there are Christmas episodes for them too. Among the best comes from an unexpected place, the wacky sitcom, Himouto! Umaru-chan. Himouto! Umaru-chan is about a girl, the titular Umaru, who, despite being a social and popular girl at school, secretly spends all of her free time lazing around with video games and junk food. She lives with her older brother, Taihei, a kind employee who works hard to take care of her naive sister while she finishes high school.

Much of the comedy and light drama comes from their relationship and the conflict between the siblings’ lifestyles with Umaru often clashing with Taihei as he tries to encourage him to lead a more active life. It could easily have been where Himouto! Umaru-chan decided to stop with his characterization, with Umaru as the slob forever and Taihei destined to clean up after his mess, as the antics Umaru does are generally fun. In his Christmas episode, however, he finds his pathos, and he doesn’t pass up this opportunity at the end of the holidays.

Episode 8, aptly titled “Umaru and Christmas and the New Year,” is about the couple (and Taihei’s work friend, Takeshi) spending the end of the year together. Along the way, Umaru has a rare moment of self-awareness and reflects on the time and effort her brother has put into helping her through the good times and the bad, and she decides to show her appreciation for her brother to his way. The result is a surprisingly serious bonding episode between the two as they enjoy Christmas night together and try to stay up to see the first sunrise of the New Year.

Best of all, this episode sets up a shift in Umaru’s characterization and priorities for the series as a whole, and Himouto! Umaru-chan ends up keeping his promise to show Umaru grow as a person. Most comedies with solid premises and sympathetic characters are afraid to shake things up for fear of spoiling the formula, but the power of Christmas ends up being the harbinger of a better Umaru to come, proving the strength. holidays when you spend them with the people you love.

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