The holiday season is upon us, although department stores started blaring Christmas music over the intercom well before Thanksgiving. Whether you’re already over the festivities (STRESS! AWKWARD FAMILY GATHERINGS!) or will be up on Christmas morning with bells on, the season is on its way. The holiday is a shade different in Japan, where fried chicken is as linked with Christmas as Santa Claus, who still acts as the mascot of Christmas if you will. Characters sometimes encounter the gift-giving elf in the staple “holiday episode” but he isn’t always so jolly. In fact, sometimes Santa is downright terrifying. This week we’re counting down anime’s strangest Santas, the ones you’d make sure to keep a fire in your chimney for in the hopes they skip over your house.
Santa the Serial Killer (Vatican Miracle Examiner) This Santa is mentioned only once in episode five, when the two examiners share tea with a man named Hiraga who tells them the story of John. John was an average kid until he found out his dear old dad was actually a demon, and now he has a bunch of free wishes to make his life turn out however he wants. This serial killer dressed as Santa was roaming the area, but he passed over John’s window and didn’t murder him because he accidentally wished for it, killing his neighbors instead. This incident is never spoken of again, and it’s not even close to the strangest thing that happens in this series.
Sumo Claus (Persona 4 the Golden Animation) This mostly filler episode starts with each of the girls thinking she’s been asked out on a date with Yu, when really they got a group invitation to a party. Most of the girls are getting ready through the episode, but Chie starts off by popping in the only Christmas movie she owns: a weird martial arts film where Santa, also known as “Thunder Cross”, promises to paint the snow red with the blood of his enemies.
Santa (Hayate the Combat Butler) If Santa is all about charity and goodwill toward men in most stories, Hayate definitely got the short end of the Santa stick. Instead of meeting a good-natured Santa Claus as a child, he had the unfortunate luck of encountering Nagi’s grandfather Mikado Sanzenin when he was masquerading as Santa. He tells the young Hayate that he won’t give him any presents because his family is poor, and the only thing Hayate can do to earn presents is work hard because those who “don’t work hard don’t deserve to eat.” That’s quite a lesson for a little kid, but Hayate ends up getting the last laugh.
Santa Battle (Kyōran Kazoku Nikki) Santa’s had a rough year. After a falling out with Mrs. Claus, the overpowered elder goes into a rage, tearing off his red suit and attacking Kyouka with energy balls he shoots from his hands. He was egged into ruining Christmas by his granddaughter Chloe, but the two reconcile after Kyouka manages to beat him into submission. Christmas is saved, but I’ll never look at Santa the same way again.
Santa & Ben the Reindeer (Gintama) Gintama is hands down the winner in the “weird Santa” category, with three entries on this list. This Santa (and his off-putting humanoid reindeer named Ben) are on the outs after their sleigh gets busted. Both are exceptionally irritable and get into a skirmish with Gintoki, but they eventually agree to Gintoki’s offer to improve the public’s opinion of them. This fails spectacularly, as Santa and Ben spend much of the episode getting into fights with anyone and everyone, including Kagura. As a result, she maybe kills them both at the end. RIP Santa.
Umibōzu Santa (Gintama) Kagura’s dad decides to take a break from alien hunting to surprise his daughter as Santa Claus after she writes him a letter questioning why she never gets any presents. However, things go from heartwarming to ridiculous when more members of the cast decide to also dress up as Santa and think their disguised counterparts are the real deal. This also terrifies Kagura who still believes Santa is real but doesn’t understand why there are multiple Saint Nicks roaming around. This leads to an all-out multi-episode competition to prove which Santa is real, but everyone gets bored of the contest halfway through.
Demon Santas (Gintama) The only thing worse than having a bunch of half-assed Santas is celebrating Christmas in Hell. Gedomaru takes the crew to Hell to do some last minute Christmas shopping, but they find themselves in the midst of a Santa Festival gone wrong. The “Satan Festival” is full of demons shopping for skull headdresses, Pandemonium snacks, and terrifying bidets. Things get worse when a demon refuses to sell Gintoki anything from his stall and the rest of the patrons notice there are humans among them. They converge on the unsuspecting shoppers, including one evil Santa wielding an axe, but they quickly get made an example of by Gendomaru.
The new poll: What’s your favorite anime to watch during the holiday season?
The old poll: Which of these precocious kindergartners would you like to raise?
- Sweetness & Lightning: Tsumugi Inuzuka
- Clannad After Story: Ushio Okazaki
- Yotsuba&!: Yotsuba Koiwai
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Nina Tucker
- Bunny Drop: Rin Kaga
- March comes in like a lion: Momo
- Listen to Me Girls! I Am Your Father: Hina Takanashi
- Non Non Biyori: Ren-chon
- Angelic Layer: Hatoko Kobayashi
- Ponyo: Ponyo
When she isn’t compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.