The Most Out-There Anime Holiday Specials

Snorlax snowmen? Robot Grinches? It must be for some anime Christmas episodes!

A Christmas pageant in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid: “Troupe Dragon, On Stage!”
Photo: Kyoto Animation

Some anime holiday specials are kawaii and warm and fuzzy, even if they involve mutants like My Hero Academia. Then there are those which decide to take the festivities for a sleigh ride into the bizarre. The creatures invited to these Christmas parties range from demons to alien frogs to cats that run a pizza shop and even a talking slime in a Santa hat, and don’t forget Santa flying in a sleigh pulled by a robotic reindeer. Pokémon are already strange enough, but in one particular episode, Frosty has nothing on the snowman as Pikachu and his friends build him in the shape of a Snorlax.

By the way, did you know Christmas cake, which is the pièce de résistance of the parties in a few of these specials, is a huge deal in Japan around this time of year, much like KFC? That episode of Dinosaur King is not kidding. People really do order them months in advance. 

Here are some of the weirdest, wildest holiday celebrations in the anime world–and you can marathon all of them on Crunchyroll, unless noted otherwise in the entry.

The Quest for Christmas Underwear

Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle, “Sleeping Princess of the Demon Castle”

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Say you find yourself imprisoned in a castle crawling with demons. Who could possibly sneak you out? Santa, of course, as Princess Syalis realizes on Christmas Eve while she writes a letter to Santa away from prying demonic eyes—or so she thinks. The demons are eavesdropping, and while they are furious about the first thing on her list being to go home to the castle in Goodereste and sleep (the thing she does best) in her own bed, there isn’t really much more intel than her “special quest” to find Christmas woolen underwear and pajamas so she can be festive even while dreaming. It absolutely must be Christmas underwear. Priorities. 

Somehow, Syalis makes it home to Goodereste without a Santa intervention, but the demons are desperate to snatch her back, so they use one of their own as a body double that manages to fool even the queen. The only problem is that the demon girl will be guillotined if she’s found out. A hilarious mission to get her back ensues, involving a pack of demons stuffed into the armor of the castle’s enormous knight, and later, Syalis going incognito as a demon pretending to abduct her alter ego.

Alien Frog People Intercept Santa

Sgt. Frog, “Keroro: Prevent Christmas, Sir!”

While the entire anime, which follows a band of anthropomorphic alien frog militants, is literally out of this world, the holiday episode where they fight to obliterate Christmas is especially outrageous. Sgt. Keroro is a Scrooge of a leader who can’t understand why Earthlings go all out for the holidays. He declares war on Christmas, using a laser contraption from his home planet to turn all seasonal trimmings and trappings into everyday things, such as the Christmas tree that turns into a bunch of metal pipes. He even wipes December 25 off the calendar just by clicking “delete all” on his computer. 

When the deletion program starts to glitch, Keroro sends his minions after Santa on flying scooters, since his radar detectors show that sleigh is speeding unusually fast. Nothing in their arsenal of weapons can stop him. They do finally catch up, but there is just one issue. “Santa” is Keroro’s dad. The real Santa needed the frog-morphs’ help to deliver presents. He easily distracts Keroro with a shiny new Gundam Mode model. Meanwhile, the other frogs battle over who gets what piece of the Christmas cake, shrink themselves with lasers and fight in the frosting. How delicious.

Author’s note: In Japanese, the onomatopoeia for frog sounds is “kero”, so Keroro’s name is kind of like saying “Ribbit ribbit”

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Robot Grinch Tries to Cancel Christmas

Samurai Pizza Cats, “The Cheese Who Stole Christmas”

This episode starts out like a typical Christmas scene, except for, you know, cats wearing futuristic samurai armor and slinging pizza (with topping combos like mint jelly and sausage). These cats own a pizza shop that somehow doubles as the control center for an undercover superhero operation. Meanwhile, their nemesis,The Big Cheese, is being a Grinch because he never got anything he wanted for Christmas. He swears to take down Santa in his own sleigh powered by a robot reindeer.

Below on the city streets, cheer turns to chaos when the presents raining down from the Big Cheese’s sleigh are unwrapped. They all turn out to be masks that end up permanently stuck to everyone’s faces with superglue. With Santa suits over their armor, the Pizza Cats blast themselves out of a giant clock tower on top of their pizza parlor and go after the Big Cheese, who retaliates with a ginormous robot that shoots out ribbon missiles which get his enemies in a tangle. As if that isn’t enough, this robot releases another robot that whacks explosive golf balls at them. Wait. Is that the real Santa Claus soaring overhead in a vintage Chevy? Watch and find out.

When Santa Brings You Dinosaurs…and Cake

Dinosaur King: “Santa Saurus!”

Where to watch: YouTube

Paleontologist’s son Max Taylor and his appropriately named friend Rex can’t stand the holidays. These two members of the D-team would rather be out searching for mysterious dinosaur trading cards that turn into actual dinosaurs when you rub them with a rock, which also explains why dinosaur hatchlings are roaming the house. As their D-team friend Zoe tries to get them into ridiculous holiday costumes, archnemesis Dr. Z of the Alpha Gang is trying to figure out a way to seize their dino cards. What better way to manipulate someone this time of year than lonely children?

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As Mrs. Taylor walks home with the Christmas cake she ordered months ago, Dr. Z’s grandchildren Rod and Laura try to steal it. They end up being invited to the Taylors’ to enjoy some cake with everyone else—and infiltrate. After dessert is the perfect time for them to get their hands on both the dinosaur cards, but when they get caught by the D-team, it turns into a dinosaur fight. A T. Rex, Triceratops and Carnotaurus all charging at each other isn’t exactly what you’d imagine on Christmas Eve. Neither is the Megalosaurus that goes Godzilla on the city and could destroy more than just Christmas if it isn’t zapped back into a card soon.

It’s Holiday Slime Time

The Slime Diaries: “Where Is Santa Claus?”

This spinoff of That Time I Got Reincarnated As a Slime follows Rimuru’s everyday life as a blob of talking slime who can sometimes morph into the human form of a blue-haired child. The holiday season doesn’t exist in the parallel world of Tempest, until Milim’s computer analysis determines that Christmas can be replicated. Rimuru wonders whether there is anyone named Santa Claus around. The fact that Santa is supposed to sneak into people’s houses at night freaks out his hobgoblin friend Gobta, at least until Rimuru mentions food and presents and parties, so Tempest decides to throw its own Christmas party. Even in slime form, Rimuru can still wear a Santa hat. 

This party is nothing short of unearthly. There is a giant statue of Rimuru as a slime among the lighted trees in the town square. Most of the elderly men are dressed up as a parade of Santa Clauses. Every bizarre creature in Tempest joins in at the table, including what appear to be human-sized insects, and the Christmas cake is topped off with a jelly slime. Somewhere, a dragon in a Santa suit is watching all this contentedly on a screen. But what about the Santa visit Milim is so excited for? Rimuru has to try and pull that off himself.

The Christmas Pageant From Another Universe

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid: “Troupe Dragon, On Stage!”

Tohru, a dragon in humanoid form, has been Miss Kobayashi’s maid since she was exiled from her own world. Where there be dragons, there be a menagerie of magical creatures, such as an ex-goddess, a mage, and of course, other dragons in human skin. The holiday season probably isn’t a thing over there. Tohru and her friends take on the assignment of putting on the annual play at the retirement home—except the dragon-humans and other beings decide The Little Match Girl is just not exciting enough.

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To Miss Kobayashi’s horror, what plays out on stage is a mashup of s, including traditional Japanese hats, fairies, magical girls and The 47 Ronin. It only starts out as The Little Match Girl before a pastiche of anime tropes and mixed mythologies gets thrown at it. The main focus turns out to be the struggle to grab a wand that could have been straight out of Sailor Moon or Cardcaptor Sakura. Tohru even has a moment when she morphs into her full dragon form and breathes fire. At least the audience doesn’t suspect anything supernatural, thinking that clouds of purple smoke and any other magic performed onstage are just special effects.

Let It Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snorlax

Pikachu’s Winter Vacation: “Snorlax Snowman”

Never mind that a Snorlax already kind of looks like a snowman. Pikachu and his friends decide to build one out of snow anyway, but what they don’t know is that they created the ultimate abominable Snorlax that comes to life (except this one is friendly). They supposedly believed in magic enough to make the thing they built come to life. Not only that, but despite this creature’s bulk, it can outrun them all. When it falls down a cliff, everyone sleds down on the Snow-Snorlax. They end up floating on a chunk of ice where the Snorlax does what it’s best at—sleep. 

The rest of the Pokémon are mesmerized by the northern lights until they realize they’re being pulled into a massive cyclone. This is when the snoring Snorlax wakes up and breathes out iridescent ice, freezing the swirling water into an instant aquarium, and some of the things swimming in that ocean are stranger than land Pokémon. They float away on another chunk of ice and sink until two Lapras emerge and save them. When the Snorlax sees an entire herd of Snow-laxes waving back at him, he joins them. Was this even real? Who knows, because the next morning, he’s just a snowman.