The Anime Aesthetic – Portraying Winter

Remember back when I did my article on sexy tan girls and said that I would make this into a series of sorts? Well even if you didn’t I’m back to share with you more of the breathtaking visuals that we find in Anime. This time on the Anime Aesthetic I’ll be covering a topic that is quite in season, literally. I’m going to be talking about winter and what shows I think excel at utilizing it creatively and why I think it’s the most diverse season to portray in general. Don’t get me wrong winter isn’t my favorite season but I do see a lot of thematic merit in it. And of course like the last article most of this article will seem like self-indulging on eye candy. Yet again I’m going to express that this isn’t a bad thing and the more we recognize strengths in things such as visuals the more we will get out of our Anime as a whole. Also from here on out there won’t be any more Game of Thrones jokes, the cover photo will be the only one.

A Mirror of Character

There are a lot of series that either begin in a season and transition throughout to symbolize how the changing of seasons represent the characters emotions, which I’ll get into later. However there is a rather distinct reason that the story will linger around a certain season. That reason is stagnation, or being frozen in time.


As seen in the 2006 series Kanon there is a distinct reason that our main character finds himself back at his cousin’s house in the dead of winter. He’s lingering in a place that he can’t move on from given that he doesn’t remember spending time in this city. This has caused, in a sense, the city to be frozen in time as well as a lot of the characters. Thus our main character has to use his dick, for lack of a better word, to thaw out the emotions that have frozen himself and the other girls he finds himself around.

This is also apparent in the 2013 series Beyond the Boundary where out main character Mirai literally traps herself in a world of winter to keep someone she cares about out of harms way. Since this choice is intentional by the character, it reveals her resolve to keep things the same and accepts the burden of eternal combat in an icy prison with only a shell of the person she loves to keep her warm. Which of course shells aren’t that warm, are they? Couple that with some sweet action choreography and style from Kyoto Animation and you don’t even need to listen to Mirai express her emotions because it’s reflected in the mirror world of winter.

Beyond the Boundary


The World is Cold and Bleak

Now there are a lot of instances where this isn’t only true for the characters but a reflection of the world as a whole. In the 2007 film Sword of the Stranger, the transitioning out of winter is more representing on how an era is on the verge of ending. The era that Japan finds itself in is cold and merciless where death leaves its mark not only on the people, but the land as well, as seen by blood soaking into the snow. Another great thing about winter is the fact that every time someone breathes their breath can be seen. This is great for showing instead of telling. Breath gives away subtle expression that could be expressed in words but draws our attention to the persons face and how intense their feeling is. Also the expression they make can be so subtle because you will see the cold air regardless. Its like expressing emotion through air, which is something you only can see in winter. It also presents some awesome combat choreography with all the slipping, sliding and snow being swelled up with every swing of the sword.

Sword of the Stranger

 The Beginning and End Of An Arc

Now while I only found one instance where I’ve seen winter open and close a story arc. In the 2007 film 5cm Per SecondGiven the magnificent lighting that Makoto Shinkai uses in all his works, it lends itself best against the snowy back drop that appears in this movies beginning and end, in turn speaking volumes about the main character. In the beginning the winter serves as an obstacle itself that is preventing the main characters from meeting up for a romantic rendezvous. It truly tests both of their determination to meet each other and gives us a true look at how deeply they care for each other. Which amplifies the events to follow and their emotional significance, but if you haven’t seen it I won’t spoil anything.

5cm Per Second

Or course in the beginning of the movie this overcoming of adversity is endearing and gets you to care about what the characters have gone through to be together. An obstacle that makes you engage with the situation just using the weather, and in the first 10 minutes no doubt. This turns brutal however near the end where on of our main characters is walking through the winter city and remembering the earlier scene, symbolizing his inability to move on and how he’s still living in that moment. Much like in Kanon this represents a stagnation, but a much more brutal and real representation. In 5cm Per Second our main character still lives through his life with the seasons passing during the film, but once it returns to winter he finds himself still attached to the past. It represents him wasting his life away while the world still continues to go on. The world is sort of mocking him with how he can never go back to those days but has to be reminded about it ever winter. He either has to cope with the past and see it as just that, of be forever frozen.

Winter Means Christmas/New Years

Of course this thematic relation explains itself so I don’t really have to explain it. But for the sake of this article I’m going to explain how the Japanese interpret Christmas. Mostly it’s used as a romantic holiday. And with New Years right after a clear parallel can be interpreted as new love blooming. For further examples of this look to shows like Toradora, Kimi Ni Todoke, Amagami SS, and Pet Girl of Sakurasou. All love stories in their own right but follow a certain realization arc around christmas, which is no coincidence.

Time To “let it go”, This Article That Is

For all the seasons there are I believe that Winter expresses the most diverse emotions in both character and setting. It also has the added bonus of not being seen that much in Anime so it’s a treat overtime it does show up. For some reason Anime loves its spring, which I’ll talk about in a later article when spring comes. I just wish that winter got some more love. If I had to give Winter a personality trait I’d say it’s a TsunDere. It may seem cold and harsh but that’s only on the surface. Okay I think giving a season character traits is where I should end it, just to save myself some embarrassment. Join me next time on the Anime Aesthetic, which necessarily does have a topic yet, but it’ll be sure to be awesome.

Logan Peterson
Logan Peterson
My names Logan and I love writing about Anime. Other art is guchi too. When I'm not writing gonzo reviews I'm writing books. *If interested look up The Dream Sequence on Amazon.* I usually write more editorial stuff than just plain reviews. I like my writing to be more big picture. I feel consumer reviews are a thing of the past and more personal reviews are the most valuable nowadays.