Winter often brings about a certain imagery including bright lights, long nights, and a sweeping coldness that makes you want to cuddle up indoors. There’s something strangely comforting about an unforgiving chill outside while you remain toasty and warm under blankets near a fire, holding a steaming mug of hot chocolate.
Perhaps where you live is not the kind of place that gets a blanket of snow and harsh winds threatening to rip away any thought of warmth. Maybe you have yet to know what it’s like to fear stepping outside to take your dog to pee or having to mentally prepare to run from your warm car to the door while fumbling for keys with numb fingers. Well, worry not, wondering anime fans! In no particular order, we have three anime with settings so cold you’ll find yourself shivering even with the heat on.
1. Nagi no Asu kara (A Lull in the Sea)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2013 – April 2014
Beneath the sea of Oshiooshi is the town of Shioshishio where the descendants of the first humans eat, live, and play. The gift of Ena, granted by the sea god, allows them to live their whole lives underwater unlike the residents of the town on land who forsake their gift and choose life on the surface. With prejudice on both sides, four friends are sent above in an attempt to create better relations and attend a land-dwellers school. Love and heartbreak, fun and fights are not so different as the children soon realize. But will this understanding come in time to prevent a great calamity?
Nagi no Asu kara doesn’t start off as a cold world, but give it time. In the latter half of the show, things get colder and colder with no end in sight. Shioshishio experiences a saltflake snow that continuously falls upon it, blanketing everything in white as if the inhabitants are slowly being buried alive. Temperatures begin to drop not just in the sea, but on land. It becomes unclear if the world will warm up again before the humans on the surface freeze to death despite the children trying everything they can to prevent such a calamity. The drastic change in scenery both above and below sea heralds the severity of the situation and just how all-encompassing it is.
2. Golden Kamuy
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2018 – June 2018
Saichi “Immortal” Sugimoto was a renowned soldier during the Russo-Japanese War for his amazing ability to still fight after being shot or stabbed. While the loss and pain he suffered in battle hardened him into an efficient killer, Sugimoto never forgot the promise to his fellow soldier and oldest friend to take care of his wife and child after his death. After hearing a legend about gold stolen from the murdered Ainu people and hidden somewhere in the freezing land of Hokkaido, Sugimoto finds hope in fulfilling his promise. Luck seems to be with him when he is saved by a lone Ainu girl who is willing to help him find the gold not for riches, but for revenge.
Dark, bloody, and very cold, Golden Kamuy will definitely make you feel like you’re somewhere very different. Hokkaido is already a cold place, and seeing Sugimoto and Asirpa fighting frigid conditions as well as giant animals accustomed to such conditions illustrate just how cold it can get. Freshly-skinned carcasses steam in the chilling air and people’s personalities are just as cold and unforgiving as the environments they live in. It’s definitely pretty brutal as people do literally get skinned and are sometimes killed in pretty gory ways.
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2006 – March 2007
When Yuuichi returns to the snow-covered town he frequented as a child, he finds it hard to remember his time there. Very faint memories that fade as quickly as snowflakes appear in a flash and disappear. He hopes that staying with his aunt and cousin just like old times might bring back something important he can’t quite put his finger on. But as if the town were frozen in time, events start to repeat and old relationships begin again.
Kanon is a slice of life with a hint of mystery and magic and a LOT of snow. Holy crap, the snow. It really feels like it’s another world with the unending snowfall and blanket of white on the buildings, trees, and even the people sometimes. The residents seem quite unfazed by having to pour hot water on gates when they freeze shut and shoveling the front of the house but it’s Yuuichi’s complaints that really set in how cold it is. His cousin Nayuki is fine when the front door opens but Yuuichi looks as if he’s been pushed back. From the constant crunching of footsteps in the snow to steamy breaths in a mostly white and blue landscape, this anime really shows you what life in perpetual cold weather is like.
Cold can mean many things to different people. Maybe it’s the chance to find warmth in another person. Maybe it’s a forced change from the life you knew before. Or perhaps it’s something to make you numb to an unforgiving world. With these cold worlds in anime, we hope you’ll be able to enjoy the new season!