Christmas is coming, so it’s time to check out all kinds of holiday deals to get into the festive spirit. Alongside Rankin/Bass classics and the abundance of live-action Christmas movies, there are more than a few anime specials worth checking out. Let’s take a look at some of the funniest Christmas-focused anime episodes.
Hamtaro – “Merry Christmas!”
This one is great if you just want some light early 2000s nostalgia mixed with silly Christmas hints. The second I turned on this episode while getting ready to write this feature, I was warped back to the early 2000s. This episode has everything you could want from a holiday oriented Hamtaro episode, from somewhat awkward dubbed songs to weird and funny dub lines. The hamsters all prepare for Christmas and hope that Santa will visit them, while Laura hopes to get a dollhouse. There’s really no stakes, making this a silly and breezy Christmas episode revolving around clumsy hamsters.
I also didn’t know that this series was dubbed by Canada-based Ocean Productions, who dubbed a number of famous series such as Death note and Dragon Ball Z, as well as a ton of iconic Canadian comics. You’ll likely hear a few familiar voices throughout the episode, further adding to this nostalgic Christmas treat.
Sword Art Online – “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
This one is so melancholic that it almost becomes funny again. Shortly after being trapped in Aincrad, Kirito joins a guild and makes some new friends. They go on various adventures and finally save enough to buy a house. When the manager leaves to buy the home, everyone else goes into a dungeon to earn money for furniture. They fall into a trap, and everyone but Kirito dies horribly – including the kind and nervous Sachi – leading to the guild leader killing himself. Kirito decides to fight Nicholas the Renegade on Christmas Eve – a Santa-like boss who drops an item that can revive players.
Although he wins, Kirito learns that the item can only revive someone within 10 seconds of their death and heads back to his apartment. He finds a message from Sachi humming a Christmas carol for him. It’s definitely the bleakest Christmas episode I can remember, but it’s one of the better and more self-contained stories in Sword art online and a decent choice if you prefer a bittersweet Christmas special.
My Hero Academia – “Have a Merry Christmas!”
Sure, half of this episode is more about the comical way the students of Class 1-A handle PR, but the Christmas half is a happy and sweet celebration of the holidays. The students are all dressed as Santa (except for Bakugo, of course) and are eating, drinking and generally being happy. Eri attends the celebration and proceeds to confuse Christmas for other holidays, creating a delightfully relaxing holiday special.
This episode serves as a nice break from the intense ongoing story that happens before and after the festive celebration. With the series getting pretty intense, there’s never been a better time for a bit of a Christmas break.
Pokemon – “Holiday Hi-Jynx”
There are many Pokémon Christmas episodes, but as a 90s megafan, “Holiday Hi-Jynx” sticks out in my mind as the best special. The episode is about Ash and friends meeting Santa after Team Rocket causes him trouble. Jessie believes that Santa’s Jynx stole her toy when she was a child, causing her to never forgive him. It turns out that Jynx took the toy to fix it, but couldn’t return it after Jessie stopped believing in Santa Claus. It ends on a snowy note that will get old school Pokémon nostalgic fan.
Interestingly, this episode was pulled from rotation not long after airing due to accusations that the titular Pokémon Jynx was based on a racial stereotype. Since then, Jynx has been recolored to be purple instead of black in both the games and anime – as you can see in the image above. If that wasn’t enough, this episode came right after “Electric Soldier Porygon” – the episode that gave many children in Japan fits. There were certainly a couple of rough episodes for the original series.
Gintama – “The Santa Arc”
Although called an arc, “The Santa Arc” is only two episodes long. It follows Kagura’s father and Gintoki, as well as a number of other ne’er-do-wells, as they compete to prove themselves to Kagura as the real Santa Claus. It becomes a wild competition filled with wacky hijinks and crude jokes, which get funnier and funnier as the episodes go on.
This arc pokes fun at anime tropes and holiday tropes alike, with Kagura and friends parodying everything from The little match girl to shoujo romance anime. It’s by far the funniest special on this list, but it still has plenty of heart to make you feel good afterward. If you want some real laughs and real emotions, Gintama has got you covered.
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