Five Anime To Watch This Holiday

It’s that time of year again. You know, that wistful period before New Year where you find yourself wishing you were still opening presents and stuffing your gullet with turkey. The thing is, just because Christmas Day has been and gone doesn’t mean the celebrations have to stop. With more of the holiday left to go, 2012 just around the corner and the increasing likelihood of snow, there are plenty of excuses to remain festive. We all know that watching anime is a fun pastime, therefore it should be no surprise that it also acts as the perfect remedy for post-Crimbo blues! So while the world outside is still wintery, we suggest that you wrap up infront of your TV with a duvet and a mug of hot chocolate and indulge in our ‘Five anime to watch this holiday!’


1. Tokyo Godfathers

Gin, Miyuki, Hana & baby Kiyoko

Tokyo Godfathers is a beautiful film from the late Satoshi Kon (Millennium Actress, Paprika) and begins our list perfectly. It revolves around the discovery of an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve by three homeless misfits: Gin, a divorced middle-aged alcoholic, Hana, a gay drag-queen with a maternal instinct, and Miyuki, a troubled high school student who has run away from home. The plot follows the trio’s search for baby Kiyoko‘s parents, getting into numerous scrapes and learning more about themselves along the way. The set-up might sound trite, but the sheer whimsicality of the characters keeps the film fresh and the way the lead threesome bounce off each other is hilarious. It’s hard not to fall in love with them for all their quirks. This is a very warm story about love, family and the miracle of coincidences, with enough drama and adult undertones to steer it away from sugar.


2. Haibane Renmei

Rakka sprouting her wings

Haibane Renmei (‘Charcoal Feather Federation‘) is a stunning series created by Yoshitoshi ABe, the artist behind Serial Experiments Lain. It opens with a young girl named Rakka having a nightmare in which she is falling through the sky. She wakes to find herself encased in a giant pearly cocoon with no memory of the life before her dream. When she hatches she is welcomed to the world (or, in this case, a cluttered storage room) by several Haibane, creatures which resemble angels, and shortly after acquires her own wings and halo. The main story is about Rakka coming to terms with what it means to be a Haibane. Though slow to begin with, this series is worth watching for its soulful exploration of death, loss and sin, as well as its more playful scenes – this writer’s favourite is when Rakka‘s halo causes so much static electricity that her hair stands on end! This anime is on the list not just because it’s excellent, but because of its glorious snowy scenes – and angels are Christmassy too, right?


3. Noein

Haruka, Noein's heroine

There’s something comforting about Noein. It might be the opening theme, a familiar sort of song which starts with gentle echoing vocals, or in a broader sense it might be the nostalgic feel of the show, brought on by the characters’ experiences of growing up. Things are harder for these kids than most, because ontop of schoolwork, romance, jealousy and friendship, they also have to cope with otherworldly phenomenon. At the story’s heart is a boy named Yuu who lives under the strict rule of his mother, and Haruka, his friend who unknowingly possesses the Dragon Torque, a power sought after by two futuristic factions. When a strange white-haired man named Karasu appears from another dimension, his arrival heralded by blue snowfall, Yuu, Haruka and their friends are forced to deal with the consequences. Even though the visuals are odd at times (CGI houses – really?), the awesome fight scenes and post-apocalyptic vision of Karasu‘s world more than make up for it.


4. Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh: Uno, Duo, Septem, Novem, Tria, Decem, Cinque, Octo, Quattuor & Sex

Gilgamesh is perhaps a strange choice for this list as it’s about the end of the world… not exactly relaxing or festive stuff. However, it contains lots of snow. The series is very loosely adapted from the Epic of Gilgamesh and depicts the world after a terrorist attack which transformed the sky into a strange, shifting mirror. It focuses on the battle between two sides: Orga, a group of children with power known as Dynamis who are trying to protect their world, and Gilgamesh, ten powerful half-Gods who intend to finish what the terrorist attack started. Caught in the fray are Tatsuya and Kiyoko, orphaned siblings who only wish to live a carefree life together. Gilgamesh may give a weak first impression with its crude animation but it boasts a deep story, original characters and brilliant voicework (both from the seiyū and dub cast). This is not one for the faint-hearted due to its bleak and sometimes gory nature, but is still highly recommended – if not for its clever plot then for the ridiculously cute snow bunnies which feature.


5. Lucky Star (Episode 11)

Konata gets sleepy on the train

Most of us know of Lucky Star, the feel-good anime series starring blue-haired otaku Konata Izumi. In sharp contrast to some of the heavier titles in this list, Lucky Star is a light-hearted ‘slice of life’ anime which makes for easy viewing. Episode 11, ‘Various Ways to Spend Christmas Eve,’ sees Konata and her friends discussing Santa Claus, Christmas cakes and presents, among other things such as exams, dentist appointments and falling asleep on public transport. Highlights include the epic-faced train passenger (seen above reading the paper), and Konata and Tsukasa‘s topical exchange: Tsukasa: “How old were you when you found out there really wasn’t any Santa Claus?” Konata: “…Huh? You mean there’s no such thing as Santa Claus?”

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