Recently, I was in the mood to watch something Christmasy, something with the spirit of the season. I happened to remember seeing Itsudatte My Santa mentioned in a now-defunct anime magazine once, and I thought, “Perfect! What could be better than an anime Christmas special?” Thus, I gave it a watch. The result: well, I certainly wasn’t feeling very jolly, to say the least…
The premise of the first OVA is that Mai, a girl who claims to be Santa Claus, tries to help a young man believe in her so she can regain her powers and deliver toys to children when the clock strikes twelve on Christmas Day. The young man in question happens to be named Santa and was born on Christmas Eve. Are his parents jerks for naming him that? Perhaps. In any case, after bothering him enough, he lets her spend Christmas Eve with him.
The premise itself is okay enough. It might be a little silly, but that could also mean it has the potential to be an amusing comedy. The execution, however, just left me frustrated. Santa doesn’t like Christmas because his parents never come home for the holiday/his birthday. They have also only ever sent him one gift, apparently: a photo of them with numerous children. Thus, he’s been living with his grandmother (though she only appears in flashback scenes, and we’re never given any indication of whether she’s still alive). The way this is handled doesn’t come off all that well. At first, it seems justified that he’d be angry: it seems like his parents nor anyone else care, since he spends every year alone apart from being with his grandma. However, later scenes completely changed my perspective of the character. The first scene shows him going to a friend’s house, and there’s a party going on. All of his friends are there, and they invite him to join them. It also turns out that they celebrate both Christmas and his birthday every year, and they’ve been doing this since he was in grade school, thanks to his grandma and his teacher at the time. He’s been invited before, but because he never came, his friends thought he liked being alone. Did Santa completely forget about all of this? Why did he stop going to these parties, especially since he feels so lonely on his birthday and around Christmas? The OVA never explores any of those questions.
With regards to his parents, we see their situation later on. Santa is given the opportunity to see them where they work, which is in a foreign country helping poor children. It’s difficult for them to leave, and they give him a call. When I finished watching this scene, I was left with the impression that Santa was a pretty ungrateful character. He’s known what his parents do the entire time. You could say that seeing the situation in person makes him realize how important their work is, but he doesn’t really apologize for not being more understanding. Both of these situations not only show a lack of interest in developing a compelling story, but also a lack of interest in character development.
As for Mai, I found I didn’t like her all that much, either. Before we even really get to any meaty part of the story, there are quite a few quick panty shots. While we aren’t given her age, an earlier scene associates the two as junior high students, and she’s described as having a “toddler figure.” We are also given scenes that show her derriere and her nipples. Why are we shown this if she has a “toddler figure”? Clearly, she doesn’t. That’s okay, though. Once she’s fully-powered up, she develops curves and her hair turns blonde, so she doesn’t have to worry about it for too long. Santa’s even nice enough to compliment her on it. Finally, she confesses to Santa that she’s in love with him. Why she’s in love with him is beyond me. She’s only just met him, and he’s not only insulted how she looks, but he wasn’t all that nice to her when they first met. She’s just kind of a silly character mixed with the “spirit of Christmas.”
Despite my gripes with the characters and story, there were a couple of decent moments in the first OVA. I liked the fact that Mai mentions that the purpose of the holiday was to commemorate the birth of Jesus. Very few holiday specials tackle that, I suppose because it’s controversial for some reason. Even though it’s only mentioned for a moment, it was nice to see that the original point of the holiday got a shout out. I also enjoyed when they were delivering presents to the children. Mai’s character was more tranquil, and it was nice that she knew each child’s situation and gave them a personal message as she delivered their presents. While those two things aren’t enough for me to like the first OVA, at least I was able to find some positives.
As for the second OVA, I thought it was worse. The premise of this one is that Mai has to return to school because she hasn’t been properly training. She has until Christmas to say good-bye to Santa. For starters, Christmas is barely featured in the second one. The OVA mostly takes place at the beach during summer. Only the end takes place during Christmas. With such a long gap, one would think this would allow for quite a bit of character development for Santa and Mai. You’d be wrong. In this one, Mai’s friend Shally and Mai’s sister Maimai join the cast, and months are passed by so there can be comedic moments between the two (including one sort of disturbing moment of Maimai, a preschool girl, biting Shally’s behind). In all fairness, we do get a glimpse of Shally and Mai when they’re younger and the story behind their friendship. However, after that heartfelt moment between Shally and Mai, we see Mai running to tell Santa how she feels, and the audience is given a panty shot. Is this supposed to be funny? Sexy? I honestly have no idea. It just feels like a “why not?” type of thing. In any case, aside from the history of Shally and Mai’s friendship, the only thing of note about this one is that there are a number of logic problems.
- Mai already told Santa she was in love with him. Why does she need to confess her feelings again? I understand she has to say good-bye, but there’s no need to mention something that’s already happened.
- Shally says Mai isn’t allowed to deliver presents because she hasn’t done training and reached a certain authorization to do so. However, she delivers presents at the end of the first OVA, so…huh?
- Shally and Maimai help with a date for Mai and Santa by freezing time. We are shown people frozen in place, and even the snow stops falling. How can they go to a restaurant? Wouldn’t everyone there be frozen? How can they go to an amusement park? Nothing would work because time has stopped.
- Finally, there’s a scene after the credits that reveals a major blunder by Shally. However, it doesn’t make sense because of an earlier scene between Mai and her teacher.
With a lackluster story and characters, how’s everything else? Well…not that great. The animation is okay, though the snowfall effect looks kind of cheap, and there are a few inconsistencies, such as a shirt appearing and disappearing and watermelon continuously being eaten while the number of slices present never decreases. The interior spaces are pretty bare, like the apartment Mai, Shally, and Maimai live in. The soundtrack didn’t impress me too much, either, and the ending theme songs were decent enough. The voice acting is okay, though it’s nothing to write home about.
Itsudatte My Santa wound up putting me in a bit of a sour mood. Instead of feeling excited for Christmas, I wound up feeling annoyed. A preview after the second OVA indicated there was supposed to be a third one, but I’m pretty happy it never got made. I’m not sure I could have sat through another one of these. The OVA is based off of a manga by Ken Akamatsu, so if you enjoy Love Hina and other such works, you may like this, though I can’t guarantee it. For a story that has a girl who’s all about the spirit of Christmas, it sure seemed to lack the heart of the holiday.
Want to watch it for yourself and leave your opinion in the comment section below? You can watch Itsudatte My Santa on Hulu for free.
- The voice acting is decent
- Props for mentioning the original purpose of Christmas
- The story ends up contradicting itself a number of times, from plot points to characters not always making sense
- There are pretty much no likable characters
- Confusing use of fanservice
- Animation isn't that great, with a few inconsistencies
- Soundtrack is pretty forgettable
Big thank you to our supporters
From their continous support, we are able to pay our team for their time and hard work on the site.
We have a Thank-You page dedicated to those who help us continue the work that we’ve been doing.See our thank you page