Halloween is right around the corner, but anime fans will find Halloween episodes and specials surprisingly 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 where Christmas is in the spotlight.
While the lack of Halloween-related content can be daunting, and perhaps a bit frustrating for those who want to see their favorite characters in costume, there’s actually a reason these episodes don’t come around very often, if at all. are produced.
Halloween is not that popular in Japan
Halloween is not a commonly celebrated holiday in Japan, although that has been constantly changing over the years. That’s not to say it’s not celebrated at all, it’s just not a holiday that has reached a level of national awareness. The holiday is usually celebrated in major cities through large costume parties rather than neighborhood trick-or-treating. There are events for it at popular tourist attractions like amusement parks and shopping malls, but that’s usually about it.
Of course, the holiday is still referenced in the anime. Longer-running shows, especially those geared toward children, feature some Halloween-themed episodes. But most anime will skip the spooky holiday favor of other more popular holidays like Christmas or New Year celebrations. Most manga will only acknowledge the holiday with official artwork on magazine covers or the artist’s official twitter and leave it at that.
What makes Christmas more popular?
In the West, Christmas is a season to celebrate with close friends and family. It’s the time of year when children eagerly await Santa Claus to slide down the 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, which makes it the perfect setting for most romance anime.
Christmas brings with it the promise of gift-giving, holiday dates, and good, wholesome fun. This makes it a very easy theme to integrate into most anime genres. Its wholesome tone fits well with scene-of-life shows and comedies, it can act as a break episode for more serious dramas, and of course its reputation as a vacation for couples makes it incredibly popular with romance anime and is often used as a setup to improve 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 is mobile games, especially gacha games; but this is more because gacha games will jump at the chance to cash in on a popular holiday rather than anything to do with story progression. In fact, the events of Halloween are almost always presented exclusively as side stories rather than as part of the main story. Still, fans will likely be amused to see their favorite characters dressed in cute Halloween-themed outfits, and game companies are banking on that, literally.
Halloween was never as celebrated a holiday as Christmas, even in the West. So if there are any anime fans hoping to see something for Halloween, they’re better off sticking with straight-up horror shows rather than something specifically Halloween-themed.