Christmas in Japan is quite different from what we're used to in the West. While, for us, the tradition has to do a lot with religion and being together with our family, in Japan, it’s more of a romantic day or a day to spend with friends. This means their Christmas specials are either very influenced by the American view of Christmas with buying presents and somehow having to save Santa because the man gets kidnapped by everyone in town or a calm moment for the characters to reflect on what has happened to them over the year.
Which brings us to the Christmas dinner, which sometimes is with their family, but most of the time is with the friends they’ve made over the series. And sometimes, even when the series is not a comedy, Christmas is the time to relax, have a good laugh and for us the viewers, to see how different our favorites can be when they’re not in the middle of a crisis. Today we’ll go through some of the best Christmas Dinner scenes in Anime for you to enjoy this Holiday season.
Word of warning: Because most of these specials happen in the middle of a season, there may be some slight spoilers in the entries. Proceed with caution.
10. Sakura-sou no Pet na Kanojo (Pet Girl of Sakurasou) episode 14
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2012 – March 2013
Life at Sakura-sou is as chaotic as ever, especially as the students are preparing for Christmas Eve. Misaki needs everyone out of the house as she needs privacy to confess her feelings to Jin, Sorata and Mashiro’s relationship is very strained as Mashiro doesn’t really understand why Sorata is angry at her and her attempts to apologize have only made Sorata angrier, and Nanami is being pressured on by her friends to confess her feelings to Sorata. With that combination, we can only expect wacky hijinks, right? Wrong.
Windows and Lights on Christmas Eve, episode 14 of Sakura-Sou no Pet na Kanojo, subverts a lot of expectations, but as we're talking about Christmas Dinners, let us talk about that: We don't get to see the fancy dinner party that Mashiro was invited to, or Sorata and Nanami’s dinner date because Sorata is informed that Mashiro disappeared from the party and has to look for her. When she finds her, we discover that it is because she wanted to share a Baumkuchen with Sorata and carried it out to look for him. That's it, that's the "dinner scene", but it's so lovely and so full of the meaning of Christmas—reaching out to our families and friends to make amends and treasure their company—that we just had to add it to the list.
9. Kimi ni Todoke (Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to you) episode 22
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2009 – March 2010
To make a fun Christmas for everyone, even those who have to take remedial classes due to their low grades, Shouta organizes a party for everyone and makes sure Sawako knows that she is included, which makes the girl very happy. However, her family traditionally spends Christmas together, and thus, she is torn between her "first" Christmas with friends and making her parents happy. It's a contrast between the Japanese tradition of friends and romance, with the more Western view of Christmas, especially as we see how important family is to Sawako and why her parents want to celebrate it together: She was originally going to be born on Christmas, and thus, she was considered a gift from heaven.
Christmas is a heartwarming episode of Kimi ni Todoke, that you should always watch over the holidays because it has everything: both the desire of friends to spend time together and have fun as they remember the year gone by and the importance of family. Dinner at the Kuronuma’s house looks beautiful. While only Sawako and her parents are there, and the only real decoration is the tree, we see the careful preparation of chicken and cake, as well as the traditional toast. It is interrupted by a call from Ayane, which makes Sawako’s parents realize what she was missing and thus, they send her to the party. Heartwarming doesn’t even begin to describe what happens next, and you really should watch it for yourself.
8. Kobayashi-San no Maid Dragon (Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid) Episode 10
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: January 2017 – April 2017
When you are a hardworking office woman who also happens to live with two dragons, Christmas may not be the first thing on your mind. So when Tohru is asked by a friend to do a Christmas show for the elderly, Kobayashi is filled with anxiety since she’s not sure if the dragons know how to do something like that properly. At the same time, Kanna learns about Santa and is not sure if she will get presents as she’s no longer in the magic world and is trying to make sure that everyone knows she’s a nice girl. When the girls decide on “The Little Match Girl” as their play, things get a bit more complicated as the dragons decide the story itself is not interesting enough, so they add a bit of magic to the play.
While the play is the best part of the episode, as you would never imagine how "The Little Match Girl" suddenly became an action film, it is the dinner afterward with all the dragons and their masters at Kobayashi's apartment what really warms the heart. We get to see a short shot of the food they have for the night, which includes chicken, cake—given to Elma by the elders as a thank you for the part, and turkey. We also get to see them play together and act like a real family, which is, after all, what Christmas is about.
7. Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii (Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku) episode 6
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: April 2018 – June 2018
It’s Narumi and Hirotaka’s first Christmas as a couple, but Hirotaka is not precisely excited about the date. On the other hand, Koyanagi is very annoyed as it seems that her Christmas will be lonely again since her boyfriend Kabakura is quite serious around the holiday about work but she is surprised when he reveals that he was working hard to pay for a reservation he made six months ago at a fancy restaurant to make up for their last year.
For many anime fans, Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii may hit very close to home as Narumi seems more preoccupied with the prospect of getting a special mystery box from her favorite series and Hirotaka prefers to spend the time playing videogames and doesn’t really seem to care for the whole tradition of Santa. In fact, they spend their Christmas together playing games and eating pizza. It’s still a reminder, mostly thanks to a short scene with Naoka, that the important part of Christmas is the connections we make with each other, even if said connection is through Wi-fi.
6. Himouto! Umaru-chan, episode 8
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2015 – December 2015
There’s one thing that will make Umaru work when she’s at home and ditch her favorite hoodie, and that’s the chance to turn on the kotatsu for winter. Sure, it only lasts for a few minutes, but at least Taihei manages to get her to help clean the house. The reason behind Umaru’s love for Christmas is basically because she has the chance to stay at home and do nothing except having a nice dinner with her brother. Unfortunately for her, Taihei needs to work overtime on Christmas and she ends up feeling lonely in her own house.
The first half of the episode is the only part dedicated to Christmas, as the second one is reserved for New Year. And again, we only get a short image of what Umaru considers a perfect Christmas dinner: Umaru, her brother, her hamsters, a box of KFC, and two liters of Coke. We don’t get to see a more complex dinner until her New Year, still under the kotatsu, but now accompanied by Taihei and his friend Takeshi who have a very special ritual for the countdown. This is a sweet episode, at a slower pace than usual, ideal for a slow Christmas Eve.
5. Ore Monogatari!! (My love story!!), episode 17
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2015 – September 2015
Yamato and Takeo decide to organize a Christmas party for all their friends, which makes everyone happy as that means that they won’t spend the day alone. They both are very interested in their friends Kurihara and Nanako getting time alone so that they can talk about their feelings, but Kurihara is so nervous that he keeps messing up the situation even as Yamato and Takeo do their best to keep them alone in a very awkward way, making Nanako think twice about going out with him.
The dinner, which is a small buffet at the karaoke place, is more aligned to what one would expect of a Christmas dinner with friends. There are a lot of different fruits and vegetables, beef and cold cuts, and even a small fondue setting. It’s enough to make you hungry as you see every student pick their favorites around the table and share food with each other. It’s a fun party, even with the awkward situation that Kurihara and Nanako find themselves in.
4. Fairy Tail OVA (2016)
- Episodes: 3
- Aired: May 2016– December 2016
As the town of Magnolia also celebrates Christmas, all the members of Fairy Tail are helping to decorate the whole town for the holiday. However, the fact that they are not in a mission doesn’t mean that their normal troubles are over, and so, Lucy spends most of her time complaining about everyone to anyone who cares to listen to her more than five seconds. This is not just for their usual quirks but also because Lucy’s apartment got volunteered for the Fairy Tail’s Christmas Party and she’s not quite happy about that because she knows the chaos her teammates can cause.
As it’s to be expected, the whole dinner happens to be a big disaster: There is a lot of alcohol so everyone gets drunk, and a game of Guild Master ends up with Gray ordering Erza to strip naked and go home like that, which does help to sober up some of the group. It’s fun, it’s chaotic, and there’s very little time to enjoy the food, but in the end, it reminds us that they’re not just teammates, they’re also friends.
3. Hug tto! Precure, episode 45
- Episodes: 49
- Aired: February 2018 – January 2019
When Santa Claus comes down with a cold and his reindeers also get sick, it’s up to Hanna and the Precure team to save Christmas. Dr. Traum, still trying to get Ruru to recognize him as her father, creates a mechanical reindeer and sled and the whole team works to make all the presents on time. But while Dr. Traum, Santa, Hana, and Emiru are out giving out presents, Ruru stays home as she wants to learn how to cook a special meal for a Christmas party. Unfortunately, said party is interrupted by Gelos who is desperate to stop time to make sure she will never grow old.
In a sweet change from the usual Save Christmas’s plot, the time spent with Hana playing as Santa is quite short, less than half the episode, and the battle to purify Gelos is also quick. What is given more focus are Ruru’s attempts to replicate a curry recipe, and the advice given to her not to do that, but instead, make her own special dish to show Dr. Traum her true feelings. As it’s very close to the series’ end, they have made friends with practically all the villains and the Christmas party is with them, even with the most recently purified. While the general theme of Hug tto! Precure is to face the future with your friends, this particular episode doubles on the meaning of choosing your family, just in time for the Holidays.
2. Saiki Kusuo no Ψ-Nan (The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.), episode 32
- Episodes: 120
- Aired: July 2016 – December 2016
Christmas is a very difficult time for a psychic, and Saiki is the living proof of it. After all, he doesn’t just get to see the nice part of the holidays, with people being nice and loving each other, he can also read their darkest, most depressing thoughts. But his parents try very hard to make Christmas a tradition, no matter what. On this particular night, Nendou has invited himself to dinner and, once Seiki’s parents learn that he’s never had Santa visit his home, they decide it’s time to correct that situation, no matter what.
Dinner at the Kusuos’ is very nice, even if Kusuke is not present. We get to see a bit of it before Kunihari and Kurumi realize that Nendou has never seen Santa, and it's a very western-style dinner with turkey, spaghetti, sushi, ham, and a gorgeous strawberry cake. It's just a pity that Saiki seems to be completely unimpressed by his family’s attempts to make a happy holiday dinner for everyone.
1. Aggressive Retsuko: We Wish You A Metal Christmas (Aggretsuko: We wish you a Metal Christmas)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: December 2018
Retsuko has had an interesting year, and now she wants to finish it with style: the perfect Christmas dinner to photograph for her Instagram account, as she wants the high that validation from perfect strangers gives her. At the same time, Haida is stressing about inviting Retsukto to his club's Christmas Party but keeps freezing as he remembers how she rejected him last time he asked her out. As the clock keeps ticking and Retsuko realizes that there’s no time for her to get a fancy dinner and show how happy she is to her followers, she stresses more and more until she can’t hide it anymore.
As we can imagine, everything piles up against Retsuko and we can't help but feel amused at all those problems until she realizes that the true meaning of the holidays has nothing to do with how fancy or special the place you spend them in is but with whom you spend them. It's a heartwarming moment for our favorite metal lover red raccoon and a good reminder that if you have friends, even fast food can be a great holiday meal.
There’s not much more to say about Christmas Dinner that we haven’t said before with all the series we’ve discussed: it’s not just the food, it’s the company and the feelings behind it. So all we want to say is that this holiday season, no matter what you celebrate, we hope that you spend it the way that you love and with the people you treasure the most.
But please, let us know what is your favorite holiday meal, and while you’re at it, your favorite holiday anime special, in the comments below! Happy Holidays!