Characters in Santa outfits. Check. Romantic gift-giving. Check. Vampire girl who injects people with joyous blood. Uh, check.
Karin (Chibi Vampire) was a series I’d almost completely forgotten before deciding to watch episode 19, the show’s Christmas episode. In fact, I don’t remember if I’ve even watched the series (I know that I’ve read the manga, and I enjoyed it very much). But I’m glad I viewed (or re-viewed) this episode – it was a nice one.
Karin and Usui continue to shyly try to progress their relationships with one another. To do so, and at the urging of her friend Maki, who is doing the same for her crush, Karin decides to knit Usui a Christmas gift. As she builds her courage, Karin unwittingly encourages Usui to ask his mom about his past, which was a topic he’d avoided at all costs up until now.
In anime, Christmas episodes offer an opportunity for animators to provide a little fanservice to the viewers – fun situations, wintry costume changes, and hints of romance. And it’s very usual for the romantic element to revolve around gifts. Karin wants to confess as she gives her gift, and so does Maki.
In the west, of course, gift-giving has a different feel. Christmas is a very different holiday here – a little less romantic and a little more family-centered (and sometimes more religious, too). When we think about the tradition of gift-giving, and the idea that God bestowed His gift to us on the first Christmas, it maybe has a more western-centric feel, of a parent to a child, loud and triumphant, proud and joyous.
But the Bible also describes God in terms of a lover – jealous for His beloved, faithful to us, and desperate for our love in return. And so, maybe Christ-less Christmas anime isn’t so off the mark after all. As we see Karin give her gift, and countless other anime boys and girls do the same with romance in mind, we can remember the kindness God has toward us, and the love with which He gave the greatest gift of all – Himself.