Have you ever seen Big O? Once part of Toonami’s animation block, I feel like it’s a series that’s largely become forgotten. In fact, I’ve even forgotten much of it, but I do remember the Christmas episode. It’s a unique one in anime, not only because it features tentacled Christmas trees (oh, Japan) and an evil scientist Santa, but also because it largely gets the meaning of Christmas right.
In episode 11 of Big O, the citizens of Paradigm City of readying for December 25th, when they celebrate Heaven’s Day, which they think is in commemoration of the founding of their domed city. However, the evil Santa I mentioned has something different in mind, and he uses a desperate musician named Oliver to help carry out his plan in which a Christmas tree creates massive havoc as it grows out of control and destroys everything around it.
This particular Christmas episode is interesting because it continually points to the significance of the holiday, even as Roger insists that “Heaven’s Day” has no real meaning. It remains in the fuzzy memories of the people, as reflected in a group of citizens who sing praises at a church because it’s part of what they remember. There’s also a lot of Christian symbolism – the mention of bread and wine, discussion of the Book of Revelation, and even the saxophonist’s jewelry – he wears a cross.
We also see the sly theme of the commercialization of Christmas sneaking in. Roger abhors all the “Heaven’s Day” ads that surround him. Later on, more importantly, Oliver accepts a gift he shouldn’t because of his desire for monetary goods, even as his girlfriend insists that his focused is misplaced. The gift, of course, ends up being the seed that spawns a disaster.
The ultimate message is clear – love is far more important than money or gifts. The episode ends with Oliver reunited with his girlfriend, and with Roger and Dorothy exchanging gifts, with the latter trying to better understand what it means to be human, and perhaps, what it means to love.
Ultimately, Christmas is about love – not so much the romantic kind, though there’s certainly room for that! But it’s about the divine kind of love, the kind in which an almighty God would come in the humblest of ways, to serve us and to die for us.
And that we must remember, as even in a city of forgotten memories, this is much is remarked in the episode – December 25th is significant, because of this: it is the day “God’s son was born.”