Halloween is just around the corner, but anime fans will find that Halloween episodes and specials are shockingly rare within the medium. One could argue that this is because Halloween is a western holiday, but so is Christmas — and there are plenty of anime episodes in which Christmas takes the spotlight.
While the lack of Halloween related content may be disheartening, and perhaps a little frustrating for those who want to see their favorite characters get dressed up in costume — there’s actually a reason that these episodes aren’t produced very often, if at all.
Halloween Isn’t As Popular In Japan
Halloween isn’t a holiday that’s commonly celebrated in Japan, though that has been steadily changing over the years. That isn’t to say that it isn’t celebrated at all, it’s just not a holiday that’s reached a national level of awareness. The holiday is typically celebrated in major cities through big costume parties instead of trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. There are events for it in popular tourist attractions like amusement parks and shopping centers, but that’s usually it.
Of course, the holiday still gets referenced in anime. Longer-running shows, especially those aimed at children, do feature some Halloween-themed episodes. But most anime will skip over the spooky holiday favor of other more popular calendar holidays like Christmas or New Year celebrations. Most manga will also only acknowledge the holiday with official artwork on magazine covers or the artist’s official twitter and just leave it at that.
What Makes Christmas More Popular
In the west, Christmas is a season to be celebrated with close friends and family. It’s the time of year when kids eagerly wait for Santa Claus to slide through their chimney and choirs sing through the biting cold. In Japan, Christmas is known more as a season for couples than a family or religious season, making it the perfect setup for most romance anime.
Christmas brings with it the promise of gift-giving, Christmas dates, and good, wholesome fun. This makes it a very easy subject to integrate into most genres of anime. Its wholesome tone fits well with slice-of-life shows and comedies, it can act as a breather episode for more serious dramas, and of course, its reputation as a couples’ holiday makes it incredibly popular with romance anime and is often used as a setup for upgrading relationships. Halloween doesn’t have as much flexibility, by comparison, being known more as a scary holiday and not much else.
Halloween Is Much More Popular In Gacha Games
There is one particular piece of Japanese media that never ignores Halloween, and that’s mobile games, especially gacha games; but this is more because gacha games will let no opportunity to cash in on a popular holiday go by rather than anything to do with story progression. In fact, Halloween events are almost always featured exclusively as side stories rather than as part of the main storyline. Still, fans will likely get a kick out of seeing their favorite characters dressed in cute, Halloween-themed outfits, and gaming companies are banking on that — literally.
Halloween was never as much of a celebrated holiday as Christmas, even in the west. So if there are any anime fans are hoping to watch something for Halloween, then they’re better off sticking to straight horror shows rather than something specifically Halloween-themed.