December is right around the corner, and you know what that means: Time to curl up under a thick blanket, pour yourself some hot cocoa, and watch whole seasons of anime while hibernating inside. Aside from the avalanche of new series that pour onto television and streaming services every season — as well as the best anime the year has to offer — there’s a plethora of fantastic anime to watch that are appropriate for every month and mood, including winter. We’ve handpicked a couple of our favorite anime to watch when days grow darker and the weather starts to turn colder.
Here are some of the best anime to get you in the mood for the winter season!
A Place Further Than the Universe
Directed by Atsuko Ishikuza (Goodbye, Don Glees!, No Game No Life), this coming-of-age comedy adventure anime follows Mari Tamaki, a second-year high school girl who dreams of doing something bold and exciting with her youth. That is, if she could only get over her timidity and debilitating fear of failure. After meeting Shirase, a girl saving up money to travel to Antarctica to reunite with her lost mother, Mari joins her and two other girls on a scheme to embark on an expedition to Antarctica.
A Place Further Than the Universe is many things: a moving coming-of-age story about following through on your dreams and treating every challenge as an opportunity, a hilarious comedy, a gripping drama, and overall, a unique story told beautifully through brilliant animation and music. If you haven’t yet taken the leap and watched the series yet, now is absolutely the best time to do so. —Toussaint Egan
A Place Further than the Universe is available to stream on Crunchyroll.
Komi Can’t Communicate (Ep. 16)
As with most episodes of Komi Can’t Communicate, the Christmas episode focuses on Komi overcoming her social anxiety and stepping out of her comfort zone. This time around the stakes are a little higher: It’s not just a Christmas party, but also her birthday party. But like every episode of this soft slice-of-life anime, Komi’s anxiety is treated gently and with compassion. Her friends are understanding and really do want to celebrate with her. They all pool in to get her a fantastic gift, and Komi has her first ever birthday celebration with friends. It’s just SO DANG CUTE! —Petrana Radulovic
Komi Can’t Communicate is available to stream on Netflix.
Watching Laid-Back Camp will fill you with the warm feeling of drinking hot tea on a cold winter’s day. The series follows a high school girl named Rin Shima. Usually she camps by herself, but one day meets a classmate named Nadeshiko Kagamihara, who encourages her to join the high school camping club. As the story progresses, we see the group of girls travel around Japan as they figure out the logistics of camping.
It’s a go-to watch for me, largely because it provides comfort, but also because we get to see these young women navigate the challenges of outdoor camping and the empowerment and friendship that can come from that process. It’s a truly nurturing show, and while it’s not exactly fully a winter show, it perfectly captures the cozy vibes of being out and in cold weather with friends. —Ana Diaz
Laid-Back Camp is available to stream on Crunchyroll.
The 2005 anime adaptation of Yuki Urushibara’s award-winning supernatural manga sits comfortably alongside Ryūtarō Nakamura’s 2003 adaption of Kino’s Journey as one of my all-time favorite anime. Written and directed by Hiroshi Nagahama, the series centers on the adventures of Ginko, a mysterious white-haired man who works as a spiritual mediator between the humans of Edo-period Japan and a race of primitive, supernatural lifeforms known as the Mushi. The anime as a whole is an episodic anthology, following Ginko from one village to the next as he investigates the strange ailments of his patients and devises clever ways to exorcise wayward Mushi in order to cleanse them of corruption.
Where it may lack in dazzling fight scenes and flashy martial arts action, it more than makes up for in its evocative ambiance, rich storytelling, and intriguing characters. The settings and color palette are beautiful, flushed with soft watercolor blues and deep, verdant greens. Mushi-Shi is an anime with an overall mood that feels at once cold and comforting, making it an ideal series to watch during the winter. With it being an anthology, there’s a plethora of stories to choose from, but in terms of the best episodes to watch as a newcomer, I would recommend “Tender Horns,” “One-Eyed Fish,” and “Depths of Winter.” —TE
Mushi-Shi is available to stream on Crunchyroll.
Created and written by the late, great anime screenwriter Keiko Nobumoto (Cowboy Bebop) and directed by Tensai Okamura (Darker Than Black), Wolf’s Rain follows the story of Kiba, a wolf with the power to assume the appearance of a human, living in a postapocalyptic world where wolves are thought to have been extinct for hundreds of years. Crossing several others of his kind, the wolves form an impromptu pack in their dogged search for a fabled “paradise” on Earth, a search which eventually sees the group trading blows with a fanatical sect of technologically advanced aristocrats who wish to corrupt paradise for their own nefarious (and tragic) ends.
With contributions from several other Cowboy Bebop alumni, including character designer Toshihiro Kawamoto and composer Yoko Kanno, not to mention a belting theme song performed by Steve Conte (“Rain,” “Call Me Call Me”), Wolf’s Rain is a beautiful, melancholic anime about the search for hope, family, and a future in the face of desolation and apparent hopelessness. It also doesn’t hurt that the anime is gorgeous to look at, with abstract brutalist cityscapes set against barren, snow-covered plains littered with the remnants of a dead civilization. It is, in a word, a vibe. Fair warning — the ending is very dour and open to interpretation, but as with most things in life, it’s more about the journey than it is the destination. —TE
Wolf’s Rain is available to stream on Crunchyroll.
Yuri on Ice
Is there anything that says winter more than ice skating? Now, not all of Yuri on Ice takes place during winter months, but the whole concept of ice skating is more than enough for this show to smoothly slide onto this list. Yuri Katsuki is a professional ice skater who feels like he missed his big chance after choking at the Grand Prix final. But after a video of him skating to figure skating legend Viktor Nikiforov’s famous routine goes viral, Viktor shows up at Yuri’s hot spring resort and offers to be his coach. Cue the ice skating training! Yuri overcomes his anxieties and he and Viktor eventually fall in love. There’s also a wonderful supporting cast of colorful characters, all competing for a chance at the title of Grand Prix champion. Yuri on Ice is both an exciting sports anime and a soft romantic one. And it might just make you hungry for a pork cutlet bowl. —PR
Yuri on Ice is available to stream on Crunchyroll.