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TFP’s Anime List Project #14: Favorite New Year’s Episodes

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Every week, the Fandom Post community suggests and votes on a new Top 5 list about something in anime, most often from the current season. It’s our way of highlighting something fun or interesting or strange—or even meaningful—about what’s airing now, or about anime in general.

A week from Christmas Eve is always New Year’s Eve, and just like a week ago the ALPro has a timely list to share: Favorite New Year’s Episodes! While Christmas is popular in Japan, the New Year holiday, spanning several days in Japan, is perhaps closer to what Christmas is in the Western world. Time with family, traditions and gifts are more common and celebrated. Western anime fans may have a natural bias to Christmas episodes are popular (as we saw in our special double list a week ago), but there are certainly no fewer episodes on or around the new year. Kadomatsu, characters returning home, lazying around a kotatsu, eating oranges, interpreting dreams, or making the first shrine visit of the year are all familiar sights.

Our group selected five of their favorite New Year’s stories, marked most by their relatively recent vintage—in this era of the past couple decades where character-based shows encourage more intimate and quirky looks at year and life-changing events.

Happy New Year’s Eve and Day! Enjoy!

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#5: My Love Story!!, ep. 18: “My Birthday”

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Takeo’s birthday is New Year’s Day. Rinko wants to take the opportunity to take things to the next level–for this couple, anyway–by kissing him. Problem is her image in Takeo’s mind is too chaste for that, so when she does when his eyes were closed he doesn’t notice. (“A bug landed on my lips,” he tells his best friend, Suna.) But he realizes and chases after her to get it right. And they do, to kick off the year right.

#4: Pet Girl of Sakurasou, ep. 15: “Where is My Usual Self”

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Mashiro, Misaki, and Nanami follow Sorata home for New Year’s break because they can’t stay in the dorm. (Their supervisor, Chihiro, is going to Australia.) Sorata comes to the change of year unsure how comitted he wants to be with his video game work; Nanami isn’t sure where she stands with Sorata vis-a-vis Mashiro; and Misaki has lost her usual energetic nature after she feels like Jin may not love her. Also, Sorata’s family is a little nuts. Relaxation and a re-focus gets Sorata and Nanami on the right track, and Mashiro’s cold logic gets Misaki going again. The last literally getting the glow back in her cheeks at the group’s first sunrise of the year viewing is a great highlight.

#3: Non Non Biyori, ep. 10: “We Watched the First Sunrise of the Year”

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Renge and her older sisters, Mikage and Kazuho, with close friend Kaede, who runs the sweets shop in town, are hiking up to watch the first sunrise of the year. Expected adorable reaction from Renge, of course, but the heart is the flashback to Kaede banysitting Renge for the first time five years earlier. This is the first inkling of one of the most endearing arcs in Non Non Biyori, about Renge growing up with Kaede as a reluctant but sincere guide. (Bonus scenes of Kazuho and younger Natsumi being lazy around the kotatsu.)

#2: Azumanga Daioh, ep. 8: “Osaka’s New Year’s Dream / In Tomo-chan’s Case / In Sakaki’s Case / Welcome / In Kaorin’s Case”

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The New Year’s episode of AzuDai is full of mamy of the most memorable and surreal images and scenes in the whole series. Four of the girls–Osaka, Sakaki, Tomo, Kaorin–have the traditional new year dreams. From Osaka’s repetitive vision of Chiyo flying around, to Tomo’s major delusions about being the ‘smart’ one, to Sakaki’s very strange meeting with Chiyo-Dad, to, of course, Kaorin dreaming of being mugged by Chiyo, Tomo, and Yomi before Sakaki–on a white horse–rescues her. Then they meet at a shrine visit, to Kaorin’s great discomfort. Happy New Year, Kaorin.

#1: Aria the Animation, ep. 13: “That White Morning”

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Akari’s penpal, Ai, has finally come for a visit to Neo-Venezia. But when she meets all of Akari’s friends on New Year’s Eve, President Aria runs off. When Akari and Ai chase after him they run into Neo-Venezia of the past, as Akari is wont to do on occasion. The vision is clear, however, in welcoming Ai to the city, and this world. This is the fitting and most memorable finale of the first season of Aria, evocative of all the mystery and charm and positive vision of life that it excels at.

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And that’s Favorite New Year’s Episodes. Join us next week for Best Adult Character of 2015. To have a say in what makes it on that list, and the next list after that, check out the forum thread, read up on the rules, and join the Fandom Post Anime List Project today!

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