Merry Christmas! Well, almost. Nonetheless, welcome to our second review of the holiday season. Today we will be covering the anime movie Santa Company, which interestingly was funded by a Kickstarter campaign. As always, beware of minor SPOILERS!
Now without further ado, let us begin the review!
Summary: As a trainee of Santa Company, Noel White prepares for her test to become an official Tonttu, her assignment being “To find the most important thing for a Santa Claus.” The deadline nears with an answer yet to be found, when a single letter from a child arrives late at the company. As the letter is about to be handled as a defect, Noel and friends set out on an adventure for the present – but will Noel find the answer to her assignment?
As far as Christmas stories go, this one is not really anything unique. It is fairly cheesy and straightforward, and easy to follow. The plot does move at a fairly brisk pace, as is common place for a one-shot anime, but it is honestly not too bad. Besides this, one main issue is the overuse of melodramatic situations, to the point where some scenes randomly happen to add in melodrama. The other big issue is that there are various subplots implied and/or only partially developed that creates a lot of holes in the series, especially in regards to character relationships. It is worth noting that the Santa Company anime is a continuation from a novel, which probably fills in some of the holes.
Given the short run time, the characters are pretty weak and only partially developed. Their histories are never really expounded on either, tying back to the issue with incomplete subplots. The side characters are somewhat just randomly added as well, carrying little relevance and mostly just there as filler. Given all that, the show does do a decent job of having the characters interact with each other, and attempt to make the most of the short run time.
The animation for the series is really solid and visually beautiful, setting up the winter wonderland that the story takes place in extremely well. All the characters have intricate and attractive designs as well. This helps makes up for the shows weaknesses to a slight degree.
The soundtrack does a fairly good job, maintaining a winter atmosphere and pleasant to listen to. The soundtrack does stray occasionally from the overall tone of the show where it turns a bit too eerie or serious, but it fits well overall.
Santa Company differentiates itself from most Christmas anime with the focus on its themes. Most anime portray Christmas as a heavily commercial and romantic holiday, which is what it mostly is in Japan. Santa Company definitely comes at it from a Western standpoint with the exploration of the “true meaning” of Christmas. The show mostly points to Christmas as a time of peace and giving, alongside being more about family and friends. While this is definitely a repetitive theme in most Western holiday specials, it seems fresh when put in an anime perspective. The show still fails to explore the full breadth of its themes, due again to the short run time.
Final Score: 7.6/10
Final Grade: C
Santa Company was another mess of a Christmas anime. Unlike last week’s anime, you could tell this was a Christmas anime. That is about the only thing this anime had going for it. This anime had weak characters, some of which were left with statements like “I wonder who he was.” They did not even explain some of the subplots behind some of the characters and just left it at that, they will not be seen in the rest of the anime. Not to mention they tried to throw in way to many obstacles for the characters to cross in such a short amount of time. They even made up some kind of monster to throw in a fight scene with laser guns and hover boards. It was all over the place as far as plot which really took away from it. When they finally bring it back to Christmas it got very corny and predictable, so much so that it pretty much took away any enjoyment I had left for the anime. Over all I would give this anime a 6 out of 10. I recommend that you watch this anime if you want to see a Christmas anime, it is only thirty minutes and is worth a try. – B-Ro
Santa Company ended up being an enjoyable watch for me. It wasn’t amazing, but for a holiday special, it did an awesome job. First off, I liked their take on Santa Claus. It kept the spirit of the original, but put a different spin on it. It should be noted that Ittsudate My Santa did a similar thing, but it’s much more detailed and better executed here. The animation style was also something I really enjoyed, with some very beautiful winter landscapes. Between the visual winter wonderland, and the pretty great wintery soundtrack, it all around felt like Christmas in the best way. The characters all had their charm, though they sometimes were a little too over dramatic for me. It also could have benefitted from being an hour long rather than a half hour, as more could have been explained and fleshed out. I realize that this was a Kickstarter project, so I won’t fault the show for that too much. The story is the kind of semi-predictable yet heartwarming stuff that one would expect from a Christmas show (which is not a bad thing by any stretch). It also managed to bring a warm smile to someone who is still feeling somewhat cynical due to the final exams he recently took. I would say that’s a pretty good test of quality for something like this, and Santa Company certainly passes it. If you’re looking for an anime Christmas special, then seriously go for Santa Company. It captures that holiday spirit really well, and I’m glad that its Kickstarter was eventually successful.
Final Comments: Despite the numerous weak points in its plot and characters, Santa Company still stands out as a high point in anime Christmas specials in a heartwarming and thematic way.
Thank you for reading our review! Be sure to check out some of other reviews, found in the Anime Review Archive. Join us later this week, where we look at Kanon (2006) as our final Christmas anime review!