Anime has the unique ability to send viewers to all sorts of wondrous places, including cheery and colorful locales. This even extends to the holiday times, and many holiday-themed anime movies and episodes exist for the medium.
The best holiday anime movies and episodes, in no particular order, showcase the most wonderful time of the year in a brilliant fashion, such as with its emotional storylines or bright tone. These best holiday anime movies and episodes help fans get into the holiday spirit.
1. Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
This remains the quintessential holiday anime movie for fans looking to get into the holiday cheer. The Madhouse-produced masterpiece follows three homeless people who find a lost baby and go on a journey to find the parents. It has the right mix of gorgeous winter visuals, genuine laughs, and heartwarming moments.
2. Sword Art Online: “The Red-Nosed Reindeer” (Season 1, Episode 3)
The third episode of this, at the time, unique anime series about people stuck in a video game where their lives are on the line has a disturbing and sinister holiday episode. It remains the best episode in the first couple of seasons, with its twist on Christmas and the game's heartbreaking consequences.
3. Ace Attorney: “Turnabout Goodbyes” (Season 1, Episodes 8-12)
This holiday anime adaptation of a popular video game series sees attorney at law Phoenix Wright defend his rival and former childhood friend in a chilling murder trial set on Christmas. It also remains the strongest trial case Wright goes through in the anime.
4. Aggretsuko: “We Wish You a Metal Christmas” (Special)
This holiday anime special episode after Season 1 sees Retsuko further obsessed with getting likes on Instagram instead of planning for Christmas Eve and Christmas. This leads to an intriguing look at friendship and overworking on holidays.
5. Blend-S: “I Love You!” (Episode 12)
The finale of this rom-com anime series acts as a wrapping up for the series so far. It centers on romance and confessing feelings with hilarious antics, Christmas Eve food, and lighthearted moments throughout.
6. Cardcaptor Sakura: “Sakura's Wonderful Christmas” (Episode 35)
This episode sees the main character, Sakura, try to figure out the best present for her friend Yukito for his unique birthday on Christmas. It gives a nice, cheerful vibe for a more filler-like episode.
7. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (2010)
This movie adaptation of the anime series sees Kyon caught up in a mysterious event as people disappear, and everything changes right around Christmas. He races against time to fix everything and bring Haruhi back for their Christmas party.
8. Dr. Stone: “Spartan Crafts Club” (Season 1, Episode 21)
This post-apocalyptic anime series follows humanity reviving itself, and this late Season 1 episode explores Christmas and the holiday season. It shows a primitive and intriguing take on re-inventing light bulbs and holiday decorations for the occasion.
9. Horimiya: “Hitherto, and Forevermore” (Episode 12)
The Season 1 penultimate episode of this romantic anime series sees the various couples interact with one another as feelings start to arise between them on an eventful Christmas. It concludes with a monumental moment between the two lead characters.
10. Golden Time: “Golden Time” (Episode 24)
The series finale of this beloved and masterful romance series sees the main character dealing with the final obstacle between his past self and his new amnesiac self. It results in a grand and emotional Christmas episode as he has to choose which girl to end up with.
11. My Love Story: “My Christmas” (Episode 17)
This ridiculous and fun rom-com anime series follows two opposite teens who fall for each other. This later Christmas-themed episode sees their relationship grow and gives a unique touch as the lead couple helps another young couple end up together.
12. Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz (1998)
This beloved Mobile Suit Gundam anime series concluded in a bizarre anime movie set around Christmas. It follows a new, surprising threat, which opts to destroy the peace at the most beautiful time of the year. It leads to a dramatic and more action-packed holiday anime movie than most.
13. March Comes in Like a Lion: “Something Given” (Season 1, Episode 10)
This emotional anime series and its exploration of mental health in a teen Shogi player has a fascinating holiday episode. It follows the main character, Rei, as he prepares for his Christmas match and the trauma from holidays past, which still haunts him.
14. My Hero Academia: “Have a Merry Christmas!” (Episode 101)
So much happens in the episodes building up to this one that it makes sense for it to focus on a quieter and more relaxing break for the superhero teens at UA High School. This holiday episode lets them be kids again and not worry about villains ending the world.
15. Sing Yesterday for Me (Episodes 9-10)
This classic romance series, with its mature and serious tone, has its turning point in this two-part story arc about Christmas and the holiday season. It has a more serious side to it, but one that feels realistic compared to the cheery nature of other holiday anime episodes.
16. The Quintessential Quintuplets: “Seven Goodbyes Part 3” (Season 2, Episode 4)
The last episode in this particular story arc about a boy and the five quintuplets who fall for him sees a significant change in his relationship with a few of them. The main character resolves to move forward away from his past, and it shows some heart-pounding holiday anime moments with each of the girls.
17. Rent-a-Girlfriend: “Christmas and Girlfriend” (Season 1, Episode 8)
The main character of this rom-com anime series, Kazuya, stands out as one of the genre's more problematic but hilarious protagonists. This leads to a more stalker-ish but entertaining holiday anime episode where the main girl, Chizuru, grows as a character.
18. Kaguya-sama: Love Is War – The First Kiss That Never Ends (2022)
This movie sequel to the anime series gives a holiday twist as the battle between the two main characters, Kazuya and Shirogane, heats up regarding who will confess their feelings first. The movie surprises viewers with how it advances the story quite far.
19. Sailor Moon S: Hearts in Ice (1994)
The teenage superhero Sailor Moon gets no break from defeating bad guys, even on Christmas. This holiday film follows the alien villain Princess Snow Kaguya, who tries to freeze Earth. This leads to some excellent development for characters like Luna and even Tuxedo Mask, who gets a Santa Claus makeover.
20. Toradora (Episodes 17-19)
The eternal battle between the two leads, who probably should confess their feelings for one another reaches its fever pitch moment in this three-episode story arc centering around the holidays. This results in a more grand and wondrous holiday anime winter arc.
21. Rascal Does Not Dream of a Dreaming Girl (2019)
The holiday anime movie sequel to the Bunny Girl Senpai TV series excels far beyond the original show. It depicts the turning point in the main character Sakuta's life as he chooses between his first love and his current girlfriend. This movie showcases some tear-jerker and shocking moments, which make this a more emotional and masterful Christmas movie.