Anime OVA Review: Itsudatte My Santa!

Itsudatte My Santa! is a two-episode OVA based on a manga by Ken Akamatsu. The OVA was directed by Noriyoshi Nakamura and was produced by TNK. Both parts of the OVA were released in Japan on December 8, 2005. FUNimation Entertainment had the distribution rights for Itsudatte My Santa! in the United States, but as of this writing it appears that no one holds the distribution license for this country.

The main character of Itsudatte My Santa! is a lonely boy who hates Christmas. It turns out he was born on Christmas Eve, and his parents named him Santa. As a child, he never had any festivities, such as birthday parties.

The story opens on Christmas Eve, where Santa is suddenly approached by a girl named Mai, who claims that she is Santa Claus. She is a student at the Santa Claus Academy, and she has problems using her magic. She can only conjure up things that start with “san” in the Japanese language. Mai was sent to Santa with a mission to cheer him up, but she ends up falling in love with him.

When Mai first comes to Santa, she appears in the form of a junior high student.  However, when Santa starts to believe in Santa Claus, Mai has enough Christmas powers to change into her adult form. In the anime, this is done in the “typical magical girl” style. When Mai transforms, she becomes completely nude, and has sudden growth spurts in certain regions. The first episode had the perfect ending, so it was surprising to see that there was a second episode.

From what I’ve read, only the first episode comes from Ken Akamatsu’s manga. The second episode was created specifically for the OVA. After watching the second episode, I can say this second episode feels tacked on and unnecessary. Two new characters are introduced: Sharry (Mai’s best friend who is a tsundere and an elite at the Santa Claus Academy) and MaiMai (Mai’s little sister). They suddenly appear while Mai and Santa are lounging on the beach, and Mai learns that she is supposed to return to the academy on Christmas Day. She has a hard time telling Santa what’s going to happen, and it doesn’t help that MaiMai keeps tagging along with the two of them so they never truly have alone time together. But everything comes together in the end, in true Christmas special style.

My biggest complaint with the second episode of Itsudatte My Santa! has to do with how often gags from the first episode were recycled. For example, in the first episode, Santa knocks over a Christmas cake being held by a yakuza boss and an altercation takes place. In the second episode, Sharry runs into this same yakuza boss, but knocks a watermelon out of his hand. Another altercation takes place, which is similar to what we see Mai do to the yakuza boss in the first episode. You also have Santa have a character moment where he realizes what he needs to do and running down the street to find Mai. In the second episode, Mai has a similar character moment, and we see her run down the exact same street in the exact same way in order to find Santa. They location they find the other at is the exact same one between the two episodes.

The first time I saw the recycling of ideas, I thought it was mildly amusing. But as it became clear how much recycling was going on, I found myself being annoyed by it. The writer (or writers) thought they were being clever with the recycling (especially the gags), but I thought it came across as lazy.

In the end, I really didn’t think that either Sharry or MaiMai truly added anything of worth to the story. The second episode just didn’t have the same kind of magic that the first episode did.

Itsudatte My Santa! is one of the rare Christmas anime that exist. While it’s over-the-top, the first episode still evokes the feelings and atmosphere viewers expect from Christmas fare. The second episode, not so much. If you’re looking for a Christmas anime to watch during the holiday season, I would recommend Itsudatte My Santa!… but only the first episode. You can skip the second episode and really miss anything. I would recommend watching the second episode if you’re a stickler for seeing every episode of an anime that you’re watching.

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