AVAHS – Niko 2: Little Brother Big Trouble (A Christmas Adventure)

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Plot: Niko has been spending a lot of time with his father, Prancer, since last year. However, his mother’s none too keen on Prancer letting him stay out late or trying to go Santa Speed. Despite this, Niko still wishes for and believes that his mother and father will get back together some day.

When Oona reveals to him that she is indeed interested in bringing a father figure back into their family, he is ecstatic since he believes his mother is getting back together with his father. However, he’s quickly crestfallen when he discovers that not only are both Oona and Prancer uninterested in getting back together, but the father figure Oona had in mind was a reindeer named Lenni.

Niko is clearly upset at this news and becomes even more devastated when he learns Lenni has a young son named Jonni. Not interested in gaining a new dad or a new little brother, Niko pushes both of them away as much as possible. But when he tries to ditch Jonni during a game of Hide and Seek, Jonni gets taken away by eagles who are working for Black Wolf’s vengeful sister, White Wolf, and it’s up to him to be a good big brother and get Jonni back.

Breakdown: Last year I talked about how Niko and the Way to the Stars was a welcome surprise in the holiday movie genre. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable little family movie for Christmas.

Niko 2 is also a perfectly enjoyable movie, but it’s only barely Christmassy and it’s not really as good as the first one.

Much of the movie focuses entirely on a plot that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. In fact, the Flying Forces and Santa and Christmas as a whole seem really tacked on. Prancer and Oona butt heads, but they never settle things between them. Niko and Prancer only spend the first scene together and then nothing.

They never would have revisited the Flying Forces or Santa’s Fell again after the first act unless two stupid things didn’t occur. First, White Wolf decided to get to Niko through his father, which is why she and the eagles attacked the Flying Forces. Piss poor excuse to get them involved. It’s really such a bother to catch one flying reindeer fawn who can’t even go Santa Speed so target the Flying Forces?

Second, Julius decides to lie about Jonni being taken to Oona by saying Prancer and Niko decided to spend time with Jonni, basically pinning responsibility for the whole thing on poor Prancer, a guy who is seemingly trying to be a good dad to Niko but keeps getting the short end of the stick. (And, what’s dumber, Julius basically becomes an honesty advocate and head shaker towards Lenni and Niko for continuing the lie HE made in the first place)

Not to mention, Santa’s Fell somehow feels even worse this time around. It never seemed too fantastical, but the factory is a lifeless toy factory with literally no one in it. No elves, no nothing. It’s self-running and maintaining equipment apparently. Santa makes a brief appearance cloaked kinda in shadow just to say hi to Niko and reunite with Tobias. And Niko visits his dad all the time but it seems like Santa hasn’t seen Niko in ages.

Well, if Christmas isn’t a big highlight, I guess the only thing we can bank on is the main plot. As a whole, the main plot isn’t that bad. It’s a predictable cliché from start to finish, but it isn’t that bad. I never felt bored or annoyed for the most part, and it’s totally harmless. However, I have to call out some laziness in the conflict.

First of all, the antagonist being the sister to the antagonist from the original movie, wanting revenge for their death; wow, that’s Disquel levels of unimaginative.

Second, the eagles are a total joke. At least Black Wolf and his pack were kinda threatening in the last movie. The eagles are just complete comic relief. The only reason White Wolf even has eagles as a posse are to get to Santa’s Fell without going the same long route Niko took in the last movie. And yes, the eagles carry her like a fish to Santa’s Fell. It’s a bit ridiculous.

Third, White Wolf is in no way scary or threatening. She’s a ‘hands-off’ ‘let my minions do everything’ villain. At least Black Wolf was proactive for the entirety of the first movie. White Wolf just sits in the shadows of the eagles’ domain and commands them to do things for half the movie. She’s not even commanding the eagles out of respect or fear, she manipulates them because they have a crush on her and later because the Flying Forces banned them from the skies for no given reason. Her eyes don’t even constantly glow like Black Wolf’s. Guess that trait wasn’t genetic.

She also wasn’t taken care of in a decent manner. She’s basically tied up and that’s it. I guess she’ll just die of starvation or else the plot really isn’t over since eventually she’ll get out of those ties and go after Niko again, even more fiercely.

Lenni and Jonni are both perfectly fine new characters. I was really worried they’d make Lenni out to be a secret jerk and then Oona and Prancer would get back together or Jonni would be an annoying little brat and I’d end up wanting to play reindeer games with his face, but they’re both perfectly nice characters.

If anything, Oona’s the one I’m more annoyed with this whole movie. She obviously sees how much Niko loves his father and wishes they got back together, so what does she do? Instead of sitting him down gently and explaining that she and his father will never work and he should learn to love their slightly disjointed family and maybe learning to lay off Prancer and then later leaning into ‘Hey I’ve been dating this new guy….’ what does she do?

One day, out of the blue, after essentially leading Niko to believe that she and Prancer will be getting back together by being vague in their conversation and not disclosing who she’s talking about, she reveals that she’s been dating Lenni behind Niko’s back for some time now and that he’ll be moving in immediately. Oh and also, he has a young son, he’s Niko’s little brother now. Deal with it.

Then she pretty much expects Niko to be instantly fine with all of this, even though it’s clearly bothering the hell out of him. She briefly speaks with him about it, but it’s, again, basically just expecting that Niko will be fine with everything.

When Lenni lies to her about the situation with the boys, he says he wants to go up to Santa’s Fell to confront Prancer and she’s all ‘Whoo! I’ll go with you and give my two cents!’ Whoo yeah, he needs a talkin’ to what with his mild leniency with Niko; having fun with him and spending time with him and training him in flying and whatnot. What an ass.

Also, the reason Lenni and Jonni suddenly moved in is because she’s pregnant with Lenni’s kid. They give ‘subtle’ hints at it throughout the movie, but it’s obvious she’s preggers and both Lenni and Oona know and have known for a while. And she never tells Niko. She had to have told him some time between the final climax of the movie and the birth of the kid at the end, but she doesn’t mention it before then. Mother of the year.

We get another new character in the reindeer, Tobias, who is a pretty old reindeer living by himself out in the wilderness. His shtick is Mr. Magoo. He’s blind as a bat and frequently does silly things because he can’t see well. Also, he’s kinda looney. I went back and forth with liking Tobias. On one hand, he can be funny, but on the other hand his shtick is horribly cliché and one-note. On one hand, his backstory is kinda interesting and his life at the moment is a bit sad, but on the other hand his backstory kinda doesn’t make sense and is a bit dumb.

Last note, the thing with Niko attempting to go Santa Speed is arguably the most predictable part of this movie. It’s completely obvious that he will be able to do it by the end.

The art and animation are about on par with the original movie’s, though the lip-synching is noticeably worse.

The voice acting is alright, though, again, the emoting and vocal volumes need work.

The music is completely forgettable, and we don’t even get a song from Wilma to spice things up.

Bottom Line: I have more problems with this movie than I did the last, but it is a perfectly fine movie. If you were a fan of the original, give it a shot. If not, skip it. Also skip it if you’re looking for a fun Christmas movie. Despite the tagline being ‘A Christmas Adventure’ there is a staggering lack of anything really Christmassy. If anything, it seems to purposely skip out on it, and the stuff they do include seems really forced.


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AVAHS – Niko and The Way to the Stars/The Flight Before Christmas

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Plot: A young reindeer named Niko has always been told by his mother that he was the son of one of Santa’s flying reindeer in the flying forces. Because of this, Niko has always held the belief that he would fly, but has always been unsuccessful. He’s a bit obsessed with his flight training, and one day ends up accidentally leading a pack of fierce wolves to his herd’s location while practicing in an area he was told to stay out of.

In order to finally fly and avoid the rejection of his herd, Niko and his father figure, a flying squirrel named Julius, travel to the mysterious location of the flying forces and Santa, Santa’s Fell, to find his father. However, the wolves are hot on his trail and intend to eat him as well as the flying forces and Santa himself.

Breakdown: This was a pretty nice surprise. I honestly didn’t think much of this movie from face value, but it’s a pretty nice Christmas movie. It’s not hilarious or particularly heart-warming, but it is fun, has a pretty solid story and doesn’t try too hard to be anything more than it is.

Niko is a pretty generic character who reminds me a lot of Tarzan. Outcast because he’s trying to be something he’s not, but he’s doing this because of his mysterious past, ends up screwing up everything and putting his family in danger because of it, so he tries his hardest to achieve his dreams and find a place to belong.

I find it a little weird that his backstory is actually that his mom, Oona, had a one-night stand with one of Santa’s flying forces and just never saw him again. I mean, they don’t say it, but she met him once, never met him again and had Niko.

Julius actually has the most interesting backstory that I’m surprised they didn’t balk on. Early in the movie, Julius makes a squirrel out of snow and pretends it’s his Aunt Sally to help Niko lie and get out of trouble. Later in the movie, he makes three snow squirrels and explains to Wilma, a weasel, that these snow squirrels are actually representations of a family he actually had. He had a wife, an aunt and young son. One day, he went off to look for food and when he returned his family was gone. After seeing wolf tracks in the snow he realized that his family had all been eaten by wolves. He took in Niko as a kind of surrogate son since Niko also had no father, which serves as one of the bigger conflicts in the movie.

Wilma was a great character. She was a lot of fun, and I loved her song at Santa’s Fell. That was legitimately funny. I am kinda weirded out that she’s made out to be Julius’ love interest, though. Why don’t animated movies find inter-species mating to be weird?

I also appreciate that they didn’t make out Santa’s flying forces to be a bunch of jerk-offs. While they’re not the smartest nor the humblest reindeer alive, they’re not that bad and they’re perfectly nice to Niko throughout. Would’ve been nice for Niko’s father to have fleshed out a bit more. He really doesn’t stand out anymore than the others.

I found that Niko’s relationship to his mother and his love interest, Saga, weren’t fleshed out enough either. Saga’s whole role is, in a Faline fashion, to be the love interest and nothing else. She’s at the beginning and end of the movie to be simply that.

Finally, the antagonists of the wolves, in particular Black Wolf (guess what color he is) are…..fine. They’re really just terribly generic and their plan makes no sense. I mean, finding the herd of reindeer makes sense because they’re their main source of food. However, planning a terribly dangerous mission to Santa’s Fell to eat Santa’s reindeer and Santa as well as every little girl and boy that they will visit on Christmas? Plus, Black Wolf’s eyes, which are yellow, literally glow throughout the entire movie.

The fact is, he’s more focused on killing Niko, also for no real reason. He has no idea who he is or where he’s heading, he just wants to kill him for existing.

Along with the wolves is a pink poodle named Essie, who also really serves no other purpose than to be a love interest for one of the wolves, Specs, who is basically an example to prove that not all of the wolves are all bad….even though the rest of them are shown to be bad. I actually kinda liked their relationship…it’s much more fleshed out and interesting than Niko and Saga or Oona and Prancer.

This is actually a Finnish movie with an English dub, and you can tell with the various accents that pop up. It’s like they were trying to hide their accents half the time, but were inconsistent with it. Most of the voice acting is decent enough, but my god the VA for Niko is just awful. He can’t emote at all, nor can he raise his voice. Every time he yells it’s like there’s someone in the studio reminding him to use his ‘inside voice’.

The animation is….good. It’s kinda like a mix between Dreamworks and Sony. Trying to be realistic with the backgrounds and snow but wanting a more cartoony look for the characters. I think it works well enough, though I still can’t decide if the snow effects were that good.

All in all, a surprisingly good movie. It’s not forcing some ‘true meaning of Christmas’ down our throats nor does it follow too many clichés. While not doing anything grand or fantastic, it’s still a fun ride.

Recommended Audience: E for everyone!


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Christmas Special Review: Itsudatte My Santa! Review

Plot: A boy is left all alone every single Christmas, which makes him hate the holiday and never believe in the magic of Santa. When a girl shows up proclaiming to be Santa Claus, she wishes for nothing more than to make him happy this Christmas.

Breakdown: Let it be known that I went into this wanting to review a good stand-alone Christmas special for the holidays. Anime doesn’t get a whole lot when it comes to Christmas specials, especially stand alone features. I’ve seen the Christmas specials for Cyborg 009, Azumanga Daioh, Ai Yori Aoshi and a few others, but I’ve never really seen a stand-alone anime based on Christmas.

In comes Itsudatte My Santa – an anime special made by the same person who made Love Hina, a harem anime I’ve never seen and have never really wanted to see either.

Reviews that I’ve read about this series are ultimately mixed, but siding on the negative. In fact, the only article-based review I’ve found was completely negative. I did find some pretty positive reviews on it, though. So it seems I’m left at a crossroads. I really want this OVA to be good since it may give me another Christmas special to watch as a holiday tradition.

I made a deal with myself before I wrote this review, and even before I watched the anime, that I would post it before Christmas if I enjoyed it enough, to give people an early Christmas gift, and I would post it between Christmas and New Years if I didn’t like it, to avoid putting a damper on the holiday.

So, yeah, you can not only tell my feelings based on the rating, but also when I released the review. Hooray!

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We start off with narration and a flashback from our main lead wondering when it is that people stop believing in Santa. The normal rate, he presumes, is when children enter elementary school and start understanding reality more clearly. Or it could be due to accidentally seeing presents hidden around the house before Christmas or catching their parents in the act etc. For him, however, he never believed in Santa. His parents were always away for Christmas, and all of his gifts were mailed to him.

He was always lonely on Christmas, even if he points out that his grandma was there and even baked a Christmas cake for him every year.

Not only did his parents ditch him every Christmas, but they told him that if he was a good boy, not only would Santa come, but THEY WOULD COME BACK HOME. What dicks.

“Oh sorry son, we still can’t make it back for Christmas. Guess you must’ve been a little asshole. Maybe next year.”

He states again that, no matter how good he was, he was still alone on Christmas, even though in this very shot we see him being held back by his Grandma and whom I assume is his Grandpa beside him. I understand missing his parents every Christmas, but you can try to enjoy the holiday with your Grandparents whom seem to care about you greatly.

Thus, he doesn’t believe Santa exists and hates Christmas.

Cut back to present (hehe, puns) day where the first line we hear is a girl asking if the main character wants to spend the night with her. Everyone around them hears her, because obviously the middle of Tokyo is just so quiet, especially in the midst of Christmas, and they start gawking and chattering about what she said. She sees the blush and look of shock on the boy’s face and instantly slaps him for thinking dirty thoughts.

If there’s one thing I do know about the creator of this show, Ken Akamatsu, is that slapstick (literally) is kinda his thing, especially when it comes to males being the abuse victims.

This is completely unwarranted. This strange girl randomly walks up and the first thing out of her mouth, and the second, no less, is ‘Do you want to spend the night with me?’ ANYONE’S first thought, as portrayed by the crowd, would be instantly jumping to sexual insinuations. The main character didn’t even say anything, he just sat there with a shocked face and blushed. Yet, nope, he deserves a huge slap in the face for taking that ridiculous line and thinking it’s something dirty. Bitch.

She proclaims she’s Santa Claus and gives dreams and hopes to children, thus it’s awful to think such a thing about her, even though it was such an easily misconstrued sentence that even the cops are quickly taking her away for prostitution.

Santa got arrested for prostitution……I don’t have a joke, I just wanted to say that.

As the main character is about to leave, the girl pops up out of nowhere sans police escort and says she can detect loneliness and sadness on Christmas with her….hair antennae….Because that’s something Santa has right? She detects this in our main character, and says that, because she’s ‘Santa’ and spreads hope and dreams to children, she wants to spend the night with him to make him happier with her Santa powers—okay, now you’re just trying to sound like bad Christmas themed porn.

He runs away only to be latched onto by ‘Santa’. He keeps proclaiming that he hates Christmas and doesn’t believe in Santa, so she should just leave. She doesn’t understand how such a person could exist, so she pesters him for the reason behind his hate.

Surprisingly, he doesn’t mention the stuff with his parents first. Instead he yells that he was born on Christmas Eve and that his parents named him……Santa.

His parents…..must hate him.

I can’t really give any other explanation. The whole thing about not being there for him on Christmas is dick-ish, but maybe understandable if they had to be away for some reason. Saying they’d come home for Christmas if he was good enough was just awful. Naming him Santa is a ticket to asskicking and mocking throughout his life, let alone Christmas. Ditching him around Christmas when it’s also his birthday on Christmas eve is just terrible. Naming him Santa with all of that crap piled on top is borderline evil.

And, really, his parents named him Santa because he was born on Christmas eve? People have holiday themed names, sure. There are even people literally named ‘Christmas’ but out of all the names associated with Christmas, why choose one you really can’t recover from? One you can’t even really shoo aside with a nickname?

So….’Santa’ (the girl one) starts rolling around on the floor laughing her ass off that he’s a guy named Santa born on Christmas Eve. Yeah, you spread those hopes and dreams you bitch. And who are you to talk when you introduced yourself as freakin’ Santa Claus? Is it the whole ‘born on Christmas eve’ thing that pushed you over the edge into hilarity?

I guess we’re also supposed to take that everyone in the crowd’s laughing too since it sounds that way, but they’re not animated to be laughing.

He runs away, upset because that’s the very reaction that makes him hate Christmas—Dude, pick a lane. Do you hate Christmas and Santa because of your name and birthday or because of your insanely douchey parents?

However, girl Santa stops him, apologizes for laughing, says she’ll do anything to make him happy and begs to allow him to spend the night with her.

Seriously, you’re just doing that on purpose now.

He denies her, however, and runs away yet again.

Later, as he’s getting a drink, girl Santa arrives yet again to pester him and we get this line;

“I’ll bring you something tastier, Santa!”

She actually means, however, that she’ll dump pounds of saury on his head, because apparently another of her powers is to make things that start with ‘S’ appear from nowhere because Santa begins with S.

Airtight logic, that is.

He manages to get away again and we cut to a video arcade. Damn, I miss arcades. He’s playing a fighting game when, surprise, girl Santa pops up and says he should play a real version of that game. He gains the power of sambo, the martial art, because sambo also begins with S.

Later still, he’s gawking at a game world icon when girl Santa pops up saying a real world icon is better. She uses the power of her ‘Sample dressing room’–Okay now you’re just cheating. You can make anything a legit S word if you purposely put an S word in front of it.

“Oh gee, I’d sure love a bicycle for Christmas. But it doesn’t start with S. Hm. I know, I’d love a SUPER COOL bicycle for Christmas! *poof* Yay loopholes!”

She uses her ‘Sample’ dressing room to dress up in various outfits and tells Santa to take pictures of her. However, her outfits (and subsequent light fanservice) turns the pervy crowd’s attention to her instead of the game world icon and they start practically dogpiling on her. From how they’re bunching up on her and making grabby hands, I was expecting some huge grope fest.

They escape from the crowd only to bump into some gang leader, causing him to drop his cake. Santa offers to buy him a new one, but the gang guy says it was such a special cake that you need to order it three months in advance (?!) so he just starts beating the crap out of him.

Girl Santa won’t stand for this and kicks him in the head. She then says she and Pedro will take him on for getting in the way of her cheering up Santa. The gang believes she’s talking about Pedro San Jose, some giant guy I can’t find information on. But she’s actually talking about a small plush-toy-like Reindeer that sits on her shoulder.

Pedro the reindeer. South Park was right.

Pedro whips up a Three-Sectional Staff, because staff begins with S. I’m annoyed that they keep bringing up that these things are popping up because they start with S. We know our letters, anime. Thanks.

Isn’t this also cheating? I know S for staff, but technically the correct name for her weapon starts with T right?

She also brings up a whole bunch of other stuff that starts with S for really no reason whatsoever like a set square, a salamander, a seafood gourmet set and a samba festival.

The gang leader is sick of girl Santa’s games and starts fighting her again while Santa leaves. However, through the power of sloppy editing, he decides to also join in the fight.

He knocks out the gang leader, but the gang wants revenge. Pedro’s now powered up by the fact that Santa helped them fight, so they dump a truckload of saury on the gang, showing that his power is 30% increased.

They make their escape and we cut back to Santa’s house where girl Santa, now introduced as Mai (get it? Mai and Santa…..My Santa?) is taking a shower. Oh thank god. I was worried we wouldn’t see anyone shower in this Christmas special.

Mai says she’s A Santa Claus, implying there are several, and that she’s currently in training.

Mai tells him not to peek at her, but he says he wouldn’t anyway because of her ‘baby-ish figure’ (IE Small boobs) and that he likes women who are more filled out.

She gets insulted and points out the fact that she is more buxom when she’s transforms, but she can’t transform due to lack of power since fewer and fewer people are believing. Why…why do so many Christmas specials use the ‘Santa’s running out of power because fewer people are believing in him’ plot line? It is the plot of a bulk of Christmas specials involving Santa. It’s ridiculous.

Santa picks up Pedro, which apparently is a big nono since this prompts Mai to open the door to the shower and warn him about it, even if nothing happens. Then she throws everything she can at him for looking at her naked body when he said he wouldn’t. Another thing that is not his fault.

If someone suddenly opened the door while in the shower, it’s kinda hard not to look. But nope, he deserves to get all sorts of crap thrown at him and somehow what I think is a fridge crushing him.

See, even he points out that it’s her fault. Bitch.

Later, Mai says that she was warning him not to pick up Pedro because he tends to bite strangers. Remember that, because it never matters. Mai points out that it’s dark and empty in his apartment, and he whines some more about his birthday and Christmas. He says his parents are always away on work related stuff and never come home all year round. Wow, really? They never even visit? These guys are total asswipes.

He also says he never has anyone to celebrate any holidays with because of this even though, again, his freakin’ Grandparents, at the very least his Grandma, seem to have taken care of him and were there for him on holidays.

Him saying that he’s always alone over and over prompts a flashback to his mother calling him on Christmas apologizing for not being able to make it but saying that she always thinks of him and loves him. I should mention that child-Santa is being held up by his loving grandmother as he’s on the phone and is even holding the phone for him because he’s having a massive attack of uber-drama.

Immediately after that shot we see him with his special Christmas cake while sitting next to his loving Grandmother.

He says a present he received this year was a photo of his parents happily standing with to a bunch of happy children……Are his parents Satan? Is that really why they named him Santa? So they have that big letter shifting plot twist where he discovers what his family really is? Because that is just…..wow. So horrible.

Mai asks if he has any friends to spend the holiday with. He says he has some, but they ask him to take pictures of them, yet no one asks to see his pictures. This is somehow grounds for saying they constantly take advantage of him. Ever think they may not ask to see your Christmas related photos because they know how upset you might get about it? Considering you really have none? Or do you mean photos in general? Maybe they’re not interested in photography.

Mai hugs him and says her Grandpa and others must’ve known about him for years yet never did anything about it….for no reason. Yeah, that’ll make him want to support Santas. However, she says she’ll stay with him through the holidays and even wants to make him a birthday party.

We get our commercial break eyecatch that even includes Ken Akamatsu’s name in the corner. Because he’s really proud of this for some reason.

Cut back to Santa and Mai where she’s actually created a really nice last minute party for him. It’s only the two of them, but it’s still well decorated. And look, she made him all sorts of food. I’m sure it’s delicious, because the whole ‘can’t cook worth a crap’ cliché is way too overdone for Mr. Akamatsu—oh look the food’s horrible.

To be fair, that is the funniest shot of the OVA, but you’d think he’d realize that it would be awful beforehand because the food certainly didn’t look appetizing.

I mean, come on, that plate to the left looks like raw sewage and it has an eyeball in it! Plus, I can’t imagine any of that smells pleasant. What is wrong with him?

I’m even more confused by this because can’t she just magically make food appear? At least food that begins with S? She made human beings appear from nothing, surely she can poof up some GOOD strawberry shortcake….steak….sausages….shellfish….squash. You get the idea.

He says he’ll eat the rest after nearly passing out from one bite and accidentally shoves the food in her mouth, causing a violent spicy reaction. So….what is actually wrong with the food? Is it disgusting, super spicy or both? And why did she say he tricked her into eating it? He didn’t trick her; he accidentally shoved it in her mouth while trying to sit up.

He laughs and seems like he’s having fun. He even says that, despite the fact that Mai has no boobs, at least he’s with a girl. Mai gets understandably mad. She made you a nice party and then you turn around and call her flatchested? Jerk.

Then she starts blathering that she spends all her time training to be a Santa and has no time to even find a boyfriend.

Prompted by absolutely nothing, Mai demands that he show her his sweetheart and snatches his wallet from…his shirt? First off, this is the first mention that he has a sweetheart. I have no clue why she even thought he had one considering he keeps going on about how alone he is. Second, what guy keeps their wallet in their shirt?

He does indeed have a sweetheart, but it’s just a crush on his senpai. He then laments that she probably has a date right now, being Christmas eve. Will you cheer up, there, Charlie Brown?

Mai then asks if he knows what Christmas really is. He says it’s the birthday of Jesus Christ. She says he’s right. Even though others are preoccupied with dates and gifts, they’re celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ….It really bothers me when Christmas specials just flippantly mix Jesus and Santa versions of Christmas. I guess there’s nothing inherently wrong with it…unless you’re that BC special I reviewed last year, but it’s just so weird.

It’s been nothing but Santa talk this whole special and now all of a sudden we’re talkin’ Jesus. It’s even weirder because her power runs on people believing in Santa, yet many Christian/Catholic families don’t like to spread the Santa story to their children because they feel it takes away from the recognition of Jesus’ birthday.

She tells Santa to look out at the lights of the city and realize that someone under those lights cares about him and is thinking of him that very moment. Santa instantly agrees because one pep talk reverses 16-ish years of emotional trauma, and Santa says Mai must be some kind of holy person. She says she is, of course, a holy person since she’s Santa Claus….Santa’s a holy person now? Well, he is based on a saint, I suppose.

Santa basically rolls his eyes and nods along with her while Mai vehemently states that she is a Santa Claus. Dude, how much magic has she done in front of you? Is it really that hard to believe that she’s actually Santa?

She pesters him about believing that she’s Santa Claus. Whether it be to get her off his back or because he actually does believe, he agrees that she’s Santa. Once that’s settled, she tells him to close his eyes and kisses him. She tells him that Santa Clauses are able to transfer happiness to another person through kissing, so he’ll be super happy now….Why didn’t you just do that before then?

Just then, Santa’s crush, Minako, calls him up inviting him to a party. He’s super excited about the invitation and graciously accepts, but Mai hangs up the phone in the middle of his conversation. He’s angered by her actions, but she says that it’s her magic and only his dream….Yeah, his dream….of being happy on Christmas….with his crush….that you just hung up on.

Santa scoffs at the concept of magic and says she’s old enough to distinguish reality from fantasy. Santa’s magic doesn’t exist in this world, and he’ll never believe that it does unless Santa himself stands before him…Dude. She has done tons of magic in front of you. What is your deal? Are you blind? Some of the stuff she did could be magic tricks, but she made fish rain from the sky! What evidence do you need?…..Granted, none of what she’s done so far could really be called ‘Santa magic’ but still.

Mai is incredibly upset at this and says she did everything she’s done for him tonight because she fell in love with him….You’ve known him for no less than two maybe three hours. And all he’s done is yell and mope about his dickhead parents the entire time. You had that one laugh at the party, that’s it. Are you really that hard up for a boyfriend?

She runs off and Santa also runs off saying he’ll never believe in Santa or magic (*sigh*) He runs to the party that his crush is attending, and she reveals that she didn’t call him. Santa realizes it was Mai’s ‘magic’ that…I dunno, fabricated the phone call and conversation to invite Santa down to the party because she knew they really wanted him there? Oh so that’s proof she has magic, but not the other stuff. Yeah okay, Santa.

Also, doesn’t this just raise the question of, if Mai’s the one who made the phone call…why did she hang up?

Anyway, the group proclaims that they’ve invited him to Christmas parties numerous times and he just prefers to be alone so they were surprised he arrived. See? It’s not the other people who are the problem, it’s Santa. He’s so hellbent on wanting his jackass parents around for Christmas that he denies everyone around him who actually want to celebrate with him. He complains about not having anyone to celebrate with when he turns down all offers. He’s not content being a Grinch – he actively pursues it.

And why was he so excited to be invited to the party if Makino and the others invited him to parties several times yet turned them down?

They decide that since he finally decided to join them for a change that they’ll take this opportunity to celebrate Santa’s birthday alongside Christmas eve. Then we get a flashback telling us that Santa has indeed had big parties for his birthday and Christmas every year with huge crowds of kids and his grandmother.

…………………..YOU FRIGGIN’ LIAR! You spent the last 20 minutes telling us how you were all alone for Christmas and your birthday every year and yet we get a flashback to this

and one of his friends saying this happened every year when they were younger.

Oh but Mai’s narration is like ‘You have people who want to want to be with you. You just never noticed.’ Oh yeah he sure looks like he doesn’t notice the huge room of people singing to him and dancing with him celebrating his birthday and Christmas with him. I can see how that’d be hard to miss. I never even had a birthday party like that. What a massive steaming load.

Santa suddenly feels guilty for telling Mai off and excuses himself from the party to apologize to her. As he’s leaving, his friends keep saying they’ll be waiting for him. Yeah, they sure sound like they take advantage of you, you ass.

Back with Mai at the town Christmas tree where they first met, Mai is lamenting over her night….and seriously, they really couldn’t have known each other for more than a few hours considering it’s still the same night and the same people are on the street. She says she gave all of her power to Santa and hopes he’s finally found a little happiness.

Santa arrives on the scene and apologizes to her. He says he’s not deserving of her happiness power and gives it back by giving her a kiss at the strike of midnight. This prompts her magical girl transformation sequence, and it’s probably one of the dumbest I’ve seen.

She’s becoming a true Santa, I guess, and in order to be that, I guess, she needs a bigger ass, bigger boobs (both of which grow before our eyes) and a sexy Santa outfit from Party City. She also seems to grow taller, get blue eyes, blond hair and a deeper voice. Because those are definite staples of every Santa….???

Pedro also transforms into an actual reindeer and a sleigh comes out of nowhere.

Santa apologizes again, even for calling her flatchested….the only reason you’re apologizing for that is because she’s got a huge rack now. Mai takes him out on the sleigh to deliver presents. She kisses all the kids on the head as she leaves their rooms….which just makes this creepier than the actual Santa myth.

♪ He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he breaks into your house and kisses you in your bed. ♪

Mai asks if there’s anything Santa wants for Christmas, and that she can make it happen as long as it begins with S…..Gee I hope all those kids wished for toys that began with S….and if they did, that’s insanely convenient.

He says no……wha—wish to be with your parents you dumb sack of reindeer crap. It should be pretty easy to tag an S onto that. Mai takes him to some…it’s not an orphanage because the kids have parents…Schoo–No, they’re living there……dayca….someplace with a lot of kids from poor families and explains how, despite the fact that they can’t get an education to become their dreams, like doctors, they have *gasp* Santa’s parents there for them to teach them.

They’re….news photographers? How will that help that kid be a doctor? They traveled the world and realized the kids needed their help, so they decided to sacrifice their desire to be with their son because they have to stay in whatever country this is to help the kids.

……But honestly, they can’t visit? Not even once? It’s a nice sentiment but still a major dick move. They basically sacrificed their son’s childhood and every moment they could’ve had with him growing up, just to…do something never adequately explained for these kids.

These kids have parents, they have housing, they have food, what’s keeping Santa’s parents from just visiting their son once in his entire life? Why wouldn’t they ever think to save up for a plane ticket and invite him there to spend the holidays with all the kids?

And I would say ‘don’t tell me that Santa never knew about this’, but either way it’s stupid. If he did never know about this, then that makes his parents out to look even worse because they never bothered to explain how important whatever they’re doing is for these kids, and they just sent him a random Christmas picture of them with happy kids to their unhappy kid back home.

If he did know about it, then he’s incredibly selfish and immature. Sure, it sucks to never see your parents, especially on your birthday or Christmas, but if you know that they’re doing it for the sake of some poor kids, if you know that they still love you and miss you deeply and still try to contact you whenever they can, then eventually you mature and understand.

You talk with them on the phone whenever you can, exchange photos and take the love of those around you as much as possible. You don’t basically become a big fat Shinji-Grinch and claim to hate Christmas and your birthday and then mope about how no one wants to spend those special holidays with you, especially when it’s shown that you do and have celebrated just fine in the past with huge groups of people, friends and family alike!

Just then, Santa’s mom calls him to tell him the same things she always does – she can’t be there for Christmas, she’s sorry but she loves him and misses him dearly. Santa interrupts and says he’s not a baby anymore. He now understands that their work is important and, while he misses them, he roots for them to achieve their goals with the kids.

The call is interrupted because more bad editing (also, how did Santa’s parents not see or hear them? They were right behind them and he was taking the call while he was ten feet away. Does her magic make them invisible and inaudible?) as we cut to the next scene.

Outside with Mai and Santa, she tells him that they sent pictures of them with the kids every year to let him know how much their work means to the kids. They sent him a camera so he could send them pictures of himself and his friends back……So, yeah….all of this is really Santa’s fault.

As a kid, it’s more understandable, even if that screenshot from before is pretty dramatized even for a kid, but he’s in college or something now. He’s held onto a dumb childish grudge just because he wanted to. He was unhappy because he kept purposely looking for reasons to be unhappy.

He thanks Mai for bringing him to the….homeless shelter? For kids? I still don’t know. And he wishes a merry Christmas to his Grandma, his parents and his friends back home…..who, by the way, are still waiting for him to return….and it’s probably been hours….Dick.

They then run into a whole slue of Santas….because….it makes for a cool shot?

Also, I guess multiple Santas at least helps the whole issue of it not being feasible that Santa could visit every single house in the world in one night, but it still raises a lot of other questions.

Santa puts his head in Mai’s lap—Whoa there, bro. She only LOOKS like a prostitute.

He asks if he’ll see her again, and she says she’ll visit next year and bring him a gift if he’s good. Then Santa restates word for word the opening narration about believing in Santa, but he follows it up by saying that people should just keep the faith, because Santa is indeed real. If Santa is real….why do parents pretend to be him? Why don’t parents question where the kids get random gifts on Christmas?

The end.

Our ending credits show still shots of Mai and the other female Santa who flew by them in a couple costumes.

After the credits, we get a short scene with Mai, now back to her regular form, at Santa’s door stating she can’t get back home because she used up all of her magic power the night before. So I guess she has to stay with Santa until she gets enough power again.

http://www.sadtrombone.com/

Here’s where things get….different. Apparently, only this episode was based on the manga. The other was specifically made for the anime. They basically forced continuation on the story for no reason. And…I don’t even see what this next episode has to do with Christmas from the preview because it looks like it takes place in summer and is a beach episode.

Art and Animation: The art is passable. The animation is poor in most spots, and the editing is flat out terrible. It was produced by Three Fat Samurai, who don’t seem to have many series under their belts, and the only other series from them that I recognize is Papa to Kiss in the Dark, another thing I need to tackle, but I don’t know if I’ll be in the mood for that squickiness.

Music: Nothing special.

Voice Acting: Japanese – It was somewhat flat, actually. It didn’t seem like they were really putting much effort into their roles except maybe Mai’s VA, but she was a little annoying.

Bottom Line: This is a stupid, nonsensical mess of a Christmas special. Santa is just a mopey sad sack, and, in the end, most of his so-called problems with Christmas are his own fault. Mai’s pushy and falls in love with Santa way too quickly, not to mention predictably and stupidly. She has a kind heart, but that’s about it. Everything about the story is insanely stupid and directly contradicts itself many times. Not to mention that they don’t even explain what these Santas really are.

Christmas specials have a certain right in being cheesy and even having an unbelievable story, but this doesn’t even seem to capture the feeling of Christmas, despite the fact that ‘Santa’ and ‘Christmas’ are said so many times you’d think it was produced in the North Pole.

It does no real damage in terms of message, it’s just a waste of time. You’d be much better off watching a Christmas special for basically any other anime, even if you’ve never seen the rest of the show. I’m pretty much wishing I had reviewed Tokyo Godfathers this Christmas instead.

Additional Information and Notes: Itsudatte My Santa! was directed by Noriyoshi Nakamura, who also directed numerous episodes of Mister Ajikko, and it was based on a manga by Ken Akamatsu. It was produced by TNK, and is currently licensed in the US by Funimation.

Episodes: 2

Year: 2005

Recommended Audience: A few shots of boobs, one or two bare ass shots, because nudity’s needed in Christmas specials right? Other than that, nothing. 14+


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