There are visually stunning anime themed around each of the four seasons. In spring, there are beautiful depictions of cherry blossoms (Refer to 7 Beautiful Anime Featuring Cherry Blossoms), while in summer, episodes unfold of youth experiencing adventures by the sea. Today, I will introduce snowy anime with winter as its theme, which are perfect to watch on Christmas or the New Year’s holidays.
In anime set primarily in winter, there are depictions of snowy mountains, snowfall in the city, Christmas and New Year’s holiday, and other related events. This pristine white world suits a wide range of genres, from fantasy to slice-of-life. Moreover, winter is a season that fittingly accommodates somewhat melancholic episodes.
Here, I’ve carefully selected and will introduce seven best anime portraying beautiful snow themed around the poignant atmosphere of winter, and they are recommended to enjoy during Christmas and the New Year’s holidays. Our list ranges from movies that can be watched in about two hours to series spanning multiple seasons. How about spending this winter warmly indoors, accompanied by these anime?
1. Wolf Children
I would like to introduce Wolf Children (おおかみこどもの雨と雪) as a heartwarming anime movie that can be watched in two hours. As the title suggests, it’s a story about coexistence between humans and wolves. Because of their unique family situation, the protagonist Hana and her children move to the countryside to avoid the prying eyes of those around them. The rural scenery, especially the winter snowscapes, is depicted impressively. Yuki and Ame, who are half wolf and half human, play freely on the snowy mountains without worrying about being seen by others. The scene where the family of three frolics in the snow brings a smile to your face and a feeling of happiness.
Wolf Children is an anime movie directed by Mamoru Hosoda, who is also famous for works like Summer Wars in 2009 and Mirai in 2018, and it was released in 2012. Among his original anime works, it is one of the most emotionally impactful films that focuses on the theme of family. It is a fine piece of work that deeply explores various elements such as the mystery of wolves, the coexistence of nature and human society, family issues, and rural culture.
Runtime: 117 min
Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Studio: Studio Chizu
2. Tokyo Godfathers
Tokyo Godfathers (東京ゴッドファーザーズ) is a story set entirely in winter, starting on Christmas Eve. It is the third feature film by the internationally acclaimed director Satoshi Kon, following Perfect Blue in 1997 and Millennium Actress in 2001. Tokyo Godfathers was released in 2003 and led to the famous Paprika in 2006. The movie is about an hour and a half long, but it leaves a profound resonance in the heart. Tokyo Godfathers is also known as a film inspired by the 1948 American Western movie 3 Godfathers.
The story revolves around three homeless people with quite unique personalities who go looking for Christmas presents in a trash dump, where they find an abandoned baby. Hana, a trans woman who hasn’t been blessed with her own family, pours even more love into the baby, whom they name Kiyoko. In the cold, snowy streets of Tokyo, with minimal living conditions, the trio begin to care for Kiyoko while searching for her biological parents. Along the way, they get involved in various troubles.
Runtime: 92 min
Director: Satoshi Kon
A well-known suspense mystery anime both domestically and internationally, much of the story of Erased (僕だけがいない街) is set in the snow country of Hokkaido in winter, and many people associate it with the falling snow seen in the background. Erased was originally a manga by Kei Sanbe, serialized in Young Ace from 2012 to 2016, and was promptly adapted into the anime by A-1 Pictures in the year it concluded. With the manga spanning 9 volumes and the anime comprising 12 episodes, it’s relatively short, making it accessible and enjoyable even for casual fans.
The story progresses along two timelines: the present (2006), where the protagonist, 29-year-old manga artist Satoru Fujinuma’s mother is murdered, and the past (1988), during his elementary school days when his classmate and heroine, Kayo Hinazuki, was killed. Satoru uses a special ability called Revival that he suddenly acquires to prevent the murders of those around him, allowing him to return to the past (although he cannot control it intentionally). The series chillingly depicts the evil lurking in ordinary daily life.
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Kanon is often cited by anime fans as an anime with a memorable snowy landscape, themed around winter. This drama anime, like the famously tear-jerking Clannad and Air, is based on a visual novel game produced by the game brand Key. While Air is primarily set in a lush, green summer, Kanon is synonymous with winter. There are two versions of Kanon: the first, a 13-episode series produced by Toei Animation, followed by a 24-episode series by Kyoto Animation. These two are not continuations of each other but are treated as separate entities, with the latter 2006 series being more popular now.
The story is set in 1999, in a quiet, snow-covered northern town. The protagonist, high school student Yuichi Aizawa, moves in with his aunt in this town and reunites with his cousin Nayuki Minase, marking the beginning of the story. Although Yuichi had visited this town several times before, he hardly remembers anything from those times. Through his interactions with five girls he meets there, his past gradually becomes clearer. Witness the story of miracles woven by Yuichi’s mysterious memories and these encounters.
While some may find the art style a bit outdated or the characters excessively “anime-like” and shy away from watching it, the emotionally stirring stories from Key are not only recommended for anime fans but also for beginners to anime.
Aired: 2002 (First Series)/2006 (Second Series)
Episodes: 13 (First Series)/24 (Second Series)
Studio: Toei Animation (First Series)/Kyoto Animation (Second Series)
5. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの消失) is a movie from the Haruhi Suzumiya series, one of the best anime of the 2000s. While not necessarily characterized by snowy landscapes, it is set during the cold Christmas season. The TV anime series The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was broadcast in 28 episodes in 2006 and 2009, and its sequel, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, was released subsequently. The story continues from the final episode of the TV anime series and serves as a culmination of the series. With a runtime exceeding 160 minutes, it is unusually long for an anime movie.
The title of this anime movie comes from the title of the fourth volume of the original light novel series. As the title suggests, Haruhi, the symbol of this anime, disappears. As the Christmas season approaches, Haruhi is excited about hosting a party with the SOS Brigade. However, one day in December, Kyon enters the classroom and is surprised to find that Haruhi is not in her usual seat. Moreover, none of his classmates seem to know who Haruhi is. Another significant change is that Yuki Nagato, a key character in the story, appears as an ordinary girl, lacking her usual mechanical calmness. Kyon must accept that the world has somehow been altered and realizes his strong desire to meet Haruhi again.
As of now, the light novel series has been published up to volume 12, but the anime series and this movie have only covered up to volume 4. Those curious about what happens next can check out the following article for ways to enjoy the continuation of the anime.
Runtime: 162 min
Director: Tatsuya Ishihara (Chief)/Yasuhiro Takemoto
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Haruhi Suzumiya Series is well known in various respects: As a representative Sekai-kei (a kind of genre in anime and li[…]
6. Girls’ Last Tour
Girls’ Last Tour (少女終末旅行) is recommended for those who want to enjoy a winter anime in a relatively short period. It’s particularly suited for people who prefer a calm atmosphere and a leisurely pace. The setting is a post-apocalyptic world after a great war has led to the collapse of civilization. In this desolate, snow-covered world, two girls, Chito and Yuuri, wander alone. From the beginning of the story, although there’s a relaxed atmosphere around the two, the reality is harsh: there are no other survivors to be found, and the environment is barely sufficient for survival.
This slice-of-life and post-apocalyptic anime is based on a manga by Tsukumizu, which was serialized from 2014 to 2018 and was later adapted into an anime by White Fox. The original manga is complete in 6 volumes, and the anime covers up to volume 4 in its single season of 12 episodes, making it easily enjoyable. For those who wish to continue the story, it’s recommended to start reading from volume 5 of the manga.
Studio: White Fox
7. A Place Further than the Universe
Since its broadcast in 2018, A Place Further than the Universe (宇宙よりも遠い場所) has been loved by many as an anime that beautifully depicts the youth of high school students. Although its main theme season isn’t specifically winter, the vast white snow is a crucial theme in this anime, as the destination of the four main girl characters is Antarctica. The life of Mari Tamaki, an ordinary high school student living in Gunma Prefecture, changes when she meets Shirase Kobuchizawa, a peer who wishes to travel to Antarctica in pursuit of her mother, a member of an Antarctic observation team.
A Place Further than the Universe is an original anime produced by Madhouse, spanning 13 episodes. It’s known for being produced by the same team that created the popular 2014 anime No Game No Life. This coming-of-age anime has won over new fans continuously with its story of young people facing challenges, high-quality character designs, and beautiful landscape depictions. The anime has been acclaimed worldwide, and it ranked 8th in The New York Times’ The Best International Shows of 2018.
While winter may not be the central theme, there are famous anime series that feature episodes depicting the winter season with snow. Laid-Back Camp (ゆるキャン△) starts by conveying the charm of camping in winter, and in Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World (Re:ゼロから始める異世界生活), ice and snow are important elements, even becoming the main theme of spin-off films like Memory Snow. Golden Kamuy (ゴールデンカムイ) is also an adventure set in snowy regions. Be sure to enjoy these works as well.
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If you’re looking for more heartwarming anime or unique anime, please also check out the following lists.
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