Anime Music of Christmases (Long) Past

Unlike the iconic Dickens novel, I do mean long-past. I won’t be talking about special vocal albums like the Marimite Christmas album either, as hilarious as it is. No, for the purposes of this entry, I’m going to focus more on compositions or instrumental arrangements that channel the spirit of Christmas.

Back when I started watching anime, it never occurred to me that Japan would embrace the holiday to the point that they’d roll out their own Christmas tunes; up to that point, my experience with “foreign” Christmas music was mostly confined to “Feliz Navidad” and Asian-language variations of popular Christmas carols. It wasn’t until I finally watched Nadesico that I realized, to a mixture of horror and delight, that Japanese Christmas music is just as cheesy and unbearable as those commonly heard over here in the States!

“Christmas in the Galaxy” has that festive air that lights up the anime through the Nadesico’s kitchen crew’s joyous, peppy melody. This song ranks pretty high on the cheese factor, even when I first encountered it, but now, listening to it is tolerable on account of the nostalgia this piece invokes. It hearkens back to my younger days where I was first introduced to anime and, despite not having a solid background with the anime tropes Nadesico poked fun of, I still found the show hilarious.

It wasn’t until I watched the Christmas episode of Love Hina that I was exposed to the kind of Christmas music that really resonated with me. The Love Hina Christmas Special, if memory serves, opened with the wonderful “Koi no Tenshi Mai Orite.” Like the Nadesico track, it maintains the joyous levels of energy through it’s pop-ish flavor, but mixes in enough of the heavenly high chorus in the introduction as to render it a perfect song for the season.

Koi no Tenshi Mai Orite

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Now, if high bursts of energy aren’t your thing, the Love Hina Christmas Special did add a very heartfelt, sentimental track in Yonekura Chihiro’s “Winter Wish.” Her vocals are already really soothing, but what clinched it for me was the guitar work (or is it a dulcimer?). Between the two Love Hina Christmas tracks, I have difficulties deciding between them. It’s really dependent on the mood I’m in. When I want that infusion of happiness, “Koi no Tenshi” works. When I’m looking for mellower holiday fare, “Winter Wish” fits the bill.

Winter Wish

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You’d have to make a jump all the way to 2005 to listen to the next one, but by doing so, you’ll hit upon a series that’s well-loved on this site. Yes, I’m referring to none other than ARIA the Animation, which features a track titled “Santa Claus no Sora” performed by the late Eri Kawai. I love how evocative it is. Just imagine Santa Claus’s predicament for a moment. You’ve got the job of delivering toys for girls and boys around the world at night. What must the world look like from the skies above at this late hour? This song answers that through a soft, tranquil melody that’s wonderfully soothing, conjuring images of the world in a deep, peaceful slumber, hearkening to the lines of that iconic poem where “all through the house,/not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” As the song proceeds, the twinkling sound cultivates a magical energy that augments the quiet joy that gently issues forth.

Santa Claus no Sora

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“Silent Night” by any other name would be just as serene, and that’s exactly what you get out of Bartender’s “CHRISTMAS CHAMPAGNE ~ Kiyoshiko.” The arrangement takes the original theme and sets down a strong, serene melody, while retaining the quiet sense of joy that’s similar to the ARIA track. It’s difficult to dissociate the show’s content from this track, so whenever I hear it, I imagine myself sitting in some quiet lounge, taking a sip here and there, and letting the alcohol warm me up as I enjoy the snow falling outside.

CHRISTMAS CHAMPAGNE ~ Kiyoshiko

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Ef – a tale of memories’s “Holy Day” takes more of a traditional approach to Christmas, what with the introduction filled with harpsichord, organ, and bells that jingle on through the night. The joy that flows through the piece once it hits its stride immerses you into the bright lights and festive air that characterizes many a town square at this time of year, filled with throngs of revelers. It’s a great mood-setter, one that captures the upbeat tones of the season as the piece fills your heart with gladness.

Holy Day

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Last, but not least, a discussion of Christmas anime music wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Toradora!’s Christmas insert song, “Holy Night.” Now, I’m not altogether fond of this theme since well… it feels like a generic Christmas song except sung by Rie Kugimiya and Eri Kitamura. That said, it’s not lacking in sentiment, especially when taken in the anime’s context. The singing might leave much to be desired, but it still made for a special moment when it showed up during the anime all the same.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

zzeroparticle

Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

12 thoughts on “Anime Music of Christmases (Long) Past

  • December 23, 2010 at 12:09 pm
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    Surprise surprise I like em all but the Aria one XD

    Not too fond of the Toradora one either honestly 😛

    The Bartender one is the best

    Reply
  • December 23, 2010 at 5:03 pm
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    Winter Wish all the way. If I get around to writing a certain review, you will know why.

    Reply
  • December 23, 2010 at 7:46 pm
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    I think I’m alone in saying I kind of liked Holy Night.

    And anyway, Bartender one all the way. It really does sound like music you’d listen to, watching the snow falling outside, with a glass of Dom Perignon in hand…

    Reply
    • December 24, 2010 at 1:36 am
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      @lelangir
      To quote Mallory, “Because it’s there!” Probably not the best of reasons though, but hey.

      @chii
      Yeah, that’s not really a surprise w/ ARIA. And as far as the Toradora one goes, I don’t know many people who like it from the musical standpoint. A lot of people that I normally talk to find it to be fairly mediocre to horrible, depending on their take on Kugimiya doing the singing.

      But yeah, I’d have a rough time choosing between Winter Wish and Bartender. Both carry their own flavor of Christmas that’s really uplifting.

      @Baka-Raptor
      Looking forward to your objective analysis then. Wonder if Kajiura will be one of the checkboxes still as far as musical mentions go :p

      @Valence
      The feeling that I get from the Bartender track captures how I’d like to spend Christmas: in quiet introspection with a glass of alcohol to just savor as it warms me up.

      @Ottocycle
      Normally yes. But somehow, that Hatsukoi track never stuck with me and I was never able to recall it for some reason.

      Reply
  • December 24, 2010 at 1:45 pm
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    Looks like the review won’t happen this year. My mother is going to make me hang out with one of her friend’s sons for the next few days. This is the worst Christmas ever. Maybe next year.

    Reply
  • December 24, 2010 at 4:58 pm
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    Awesome! My knowledge of anime/ Japanese Christmas songs was also confined to “Asian-language variations of popular Christmas carols.” But it’s nice to see that anime has taken the Christmas spirit and made some good music around it. I like Santa Claus no Sora.

    Anyways, merry Christmas. I hope you have an incredible winter. ^ ^

    Reply
    • December 27, 2010 at 12:02 am
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      @Baka-Raptor
      Better than having your parents try to hang out with some girl in hopes of hooking you up with her. Hasn’t happened to me, but I know someone who suffered this indignity. Guess that post should be filed under asexual adventures or something :p

      @Yi
      The winter’s been going pretty well even if I’m a bit lazy about getting reviews up. But I am waiting for a few shipments to come in which should hopefully inspire me enough to toss some material.

      Hope your holidays were enjoyable!

      Reply
  • December 27, 2010 at 11:32 am
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    Interesting to note that many of these songs wouldn’t sound ‘Christmas-y’ without all the jingle bell-ing they ram into the left channel or the constant mentioning of ‘Christmas’. Also worth mentioning that very few Japanese people acknowledge the religious aspect of Christmas. Most people just view it as a fashionable western-feeling festivity around the winter.

    Reply
  • December 27, 2010 at 11:33 pm
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    @Aftershok
    I think that’s the basic formula for coming up with Christmas music. Unless you capture the idea of angels heard on high or the jingling of bells, most people just aren’t going to get the idea. It’s sort of why stuff like Feliz Navidad and Jingle Bell Rock rely on the mentioning of Christmas to be elevated to Christmas music. You wouldn’t know it from the melodies alone otherwise :p

    Reply
  • October 3, 2011 at 3:40 am
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    looks like i bumped this up! 😀 anyway guys, try to include magic knight rayearth [seiya no tenshi tachi / angels of the holy night]. and yes, i had a pet project of compiling christmas songs from anime series, so this listing will help.
    and yes, i gotta love that “Bartender” tune ^_^

    Reply

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