Christmas episodes in shonen anime are about as ubiquitous as tournament arcs are. Not all Christmas episodes in shonen anime involve romantic confessions or an abundance of presents, but there are a few that do.
Then you have things like Gintama’s Santa Claus bow where all kinds of holiday tropes are lampooned or Toradora! which made a whole arc out of the season. The point is: For every heartwarming special, there’s a shonen anime that turns up the volume on its own ridiculousness.
This article will focus on ten shonen anime series that made such an indelible impression on viewers that they became instantly recognizable symbols of not only that series, but the entire genre. In fact, they are so popular that they are on many recommended viewing lists.
Disclaimer: These episodes will contain spoilers for the various shonen anime profiles. It also reflects the author’s opinions solely.
“Presenting” the 10 most recommended classic shonen anime holiday episodes of all time
1) Toradora! Episodes 17 – 19 – “Mercury Retrogrades at Christmas”, “Under the Spruce Tree” and “Christmas Eve Festival”
Toradora!, despite being a romantic comedy, it is a shonen anime, considering that the manga was published in a shonen magazine. More to the point, this is one of the shonen anime most notorious for making an entire arc out of Christmas. The basic idea revolves around a series of touching events that take place between Taiga and Ryuuji in the days leading up to the holiday party. You can count on hijinks every time Taiga tries to play cupid.
It’s considered iconic for a shonen anime given that Taiga was treated like literal trash at their school. So seeing her happy and content for once, complete with singing to school with Ami, gives the impression that she’s come extremely far.
In episode 19, Ryuuji surprised Taiga by arriving at her house on Christmas Eve dressed as a teddy bear, rather than as a prank like their usual boast.
2) Love Hina (OVA) – Christmas Special: Silent Eve
The Love Hina Christmas Special is surprisingly heartfelt for a rom-com shonen anime where the main character gets hit a lot for his random perverted moments. The basic plot is incredibly simple: Keitaro tries to buy Naru a present and is fussy about it. Meanwhile, Shinobu is set to reunite with her father on Christmas Eve, having not seen him since she ran away to move into the boarding house the rest of the cast share.
For a 45-minute special, it makes the most of its running time by focusing on the very heart of the romantic drama between Naru and Keitaro. It is also notable and iconic for not has a lot if any fanservice, no “flying Keitaro” humor, and really plays the story and conflicts straight.
It’s also worth noting that this is where Naru and Keitaro finally get together after 25 episodes of “will they, won’t they” and tsundere actions.
3) Komi Can’t Communicate (Ep. 16 & 17) – “It’s just a merry Christmas”, It’s just a snowman / It’s just a snowball fight / It’s just the end of the year / It’s just the New Year“
Komi cannot communicate stars Komi, is about Komi, a high school student who has severe social anxiety and is unable to communicate with others. Komi learns to communicate effectively in Season 2’s two-holiday episodes, which include gift exchanges, Komi’s family, and an epic snowball fight. All of this adds up to a fantastic Christmas and New Year episode duology.
The shonen anime showing all of Komi’s friends trying to get her gifts while she tries to do the same and avoids them is great. However, the snowball fight between Komi and friends and some neighborhood kids pushes this into iconic territory for how over the top it is.
Where else will you see a snowball fight as epically depicted as here?
4) Digimon Adventure 02 (Ep. 38) – “A Very Digi-Christmas (Holy Night the Digimon Big Gathering!)
What could be better than catching up with the first generation Digi-Destined during the holidays? A crossover involving the two casts of the first two Digimon Adventure series. The gist of this episode is that it’s the holidays, and while several of the D2 kids are cleaning up the digital world after the Digimon Emperor Ken was defeated, everyone is rushing to get presents and be with their families.
This episode is also iconic for showing Ken, the former Digimon Emperor, making amends with the rest of the group. He starts by cooking for them and inviting them over for the holiday. It is interrupted when a rabid Digimon is unleashed into the real world.
It’s fun to see both Digidestined working together to solve a crisis like this. Plus, the episode ends on a new problem: Control Spiers are popping up all over the world, and they really need to step up their game.
5) Dr. Stone – Spartan Crafts Club
Dr. Stones The Christmas-themed episode is surprisingly well done for a shonen anime that takes place in a dystopian world. The story follows Senku, Kaseki and Chrome as they try to help villagers prepare for winter, helping with projects such as storing electricity and helping to automate several processes. Since we’re talking about Dr. Stone, that means they start by reusing materials from the water wheel they built to make light bulbs.
When it starts to snow, Senku effectively makes a Christmas tree by placing light bulbs on a tree and then removing the air from them. This induces nostalgia in Gen, who realizes that it is Christmas Day.
A Christmas/New Year’s miracle occurs when they find a large gem of scheelite used in tungsten. In other words, an ideal electrical conductor compared to copper pipes.
6) Pokémon Chronicles (Ep. 4, 22) – “Pikachu’s Winter Vacation (Delibird’s Dilemma and Snorlax Snowman)”, “Pikachu’s Winter Vacation (Christmas Night and Kanga Games)” and Holiday Hi-Jynx/Snow Way Out
It was a tough conversation between all the different ones Pokemon episodes that explicitly featured Christmas and the one that was banned from US syndication. So why not combine them all?
Pikachu’s Winter Vacation episodes have been iconic for several moments. From Pikachu and other Pokemon having too much fun destroying a house to rehabilitating an injured Delibird and collecting all their presents to deliver to befriending a Winter Snorlax to rescuing a Kangaskhan from a lake.
These episodes are iconic because they feature Pikachu as the main character Pokemon Chronicles usually focuses on other characters besides Ash and his friends in one-shot episodes. The latter two are about Ash and company.
While Holiday Hi-Jynx was banned from syndication due to Jynx’s original design allegedly being based on Blackface despite still featuring Santa Claus and Christmas, Snow way out is also considered a Christmas episode due to Ash and his Pokémon being trapped in the snow and surviving together.
7) Gintama – Santa’s Bow
Although marked as an arch, Gintama’s “Santa Arc” is only two episodes long. It follows Kagura’s father and Gintoki, as well as a host of other rogue characters, as they compete to determine who genuine Santa is around there for Kagura’s sake. As history often goes Gintama, this is done in various crazy and over-the-top hijinks involving rocket launchers, fistfights and cake throwing.
The aforementioned episodes lampoon anime tropes and holiday tropes alike, parodies everything from The little match girl to shojo anime, shonen anime, and even fanservice anime.
Gintama is known for making fun of literally every anime that came before it. Despite this, there is still a lot of heart in trying to help a teenager believe in the spirit of giving.
8) My Hero Academia – “Have a Merry Christmas!”
PR is more than a bit of a problem in shonen anime My Hero Academia, which Class 1-A must inevitably deal with. The first half of the special features everyone trying to give interviews to Mount Lady and Midnight, both of whom grill the class a lot.
The second half of the episode, on the other hand, focuses on the Christmas season. To know that all the students (except Bakugo, as usual) dress up as Santa and exchange food and gifts.
Eri attended the celebration and continued to confuse Christmas with other holidays. This episode is a welcome respite from the tense paranormal liberation war, with even Baguko forced to relax. It’s nice to see kids just being kids at Christmas before the world comes crashing down.
9) Death Note (Ep. 33-34) – “Taunt”, “Vigilance”
As surprising as this sounds, the exciting and horrifying shonen anime Death note has a Christmas special. In fact, there are two episodes, one of which focuses on decorating a Christmas tree in the secret headquarters with various handheld gaming systems. There are also two short manga parodies featuring Light and Ryuk arguing over what to get for Christmas.
It may be a strange coincidence that this anime depicts the holidays during Mikami’s plain trip. Anyway, it’s nice to think that despite all the twists and turns, at least this anime can lighten up the death to focus on the holidays and music festivals.
10) Detective Conan (ep. 843-844, episodes 885-886) – “The detective boys in a grove (parts 1 and 2)“Solving Mysteries at the Poirot Café” (parts 1 and 2)
If a shonen anime like Death note can show a bit of party atmosphere, then it can too Detective Conan! The long-running detective shonen anime has many Christmas-themed episodes and cases that Conan Edogawa is tasked with solving, whether it happens during Christmas itself or just around that time. This entry will cover four anime episodes for the sake of brevity.
The first case is an attempted murder, which takes place in a department store while everyone is trying to buy early Christmas presents. This involves a chef being stabbed and trying to get hold of the culprit, which is not easy since they have three different descriptions of the suspect.
The second takes place while everyone is running to try and catch the Tokyo Kinza Block 4 Christmas lights. Unfortunately, this was again interrupted by an assassination attempt. Funny how the festivities can suddenly be halted by tragedy in a shiny anime, isn’t it?
This concludes our list of ten of the most famous shonen anime Christmas episodes and specials. There are probably many others that are sweeter, more appropriate for the season, or even better. Readers are encouraged to share their favorite Christmas-themed episodes of their favorite shonen anime series in the comments section below.