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
[audio:Love Hina – Koi no Tenshi Mai Orite (Vocal).mp3]
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.
[audio:Love Hina – Winter Wish.mp3]
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
[audio:ARIA – Santa Claus no Sora.mp3]
“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
[audio:Bartender – CHRISTMAS CHAMPAGNE ~Kiyoshiko.mp3]
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.
[audio:ef – Holy day.mp3]
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!