Gonzo takes the Christmas honor this week, with Vandread. White Love is a fun episode partly because of the approach it takes toward Christmas as a whole, and customs shown around the holidays.

The episode begins on the Nirvana, where the ladies are eagerly decking the halls, fixing the feast, and getting ready for Christmas. Even the captain is eagerly preparing for her role as Santa for the ship’s good girls and uh… girls! The men, on the other hand, can’t seem to grasp the spirit of the holiday. On their home planet of Tarak, festivals and holidays were a time for military displays and tests of strength, not goofing off and being jolly.

While Hibiki seems reluctant at first, he’s won over by the holiday and agrees to help once the promise of delicious food and sweets are put on the table. In the middle of their search for Christmas lights (which no doubt includes that one damn bulb that NEVER lights!), Dita and the guys stumble into a room that was hidden away for what appears to be ages. In the room, they find a video cassette of holiday memories, from some particularly unique guests – a man, a woman, and their child. This obviously goes over like a fart in church with everyone on board. Some, okay all of the crew are thoroughly disturbed by the sight, save the ever-cheerful Dita, who rushes off to prepare a Christmas present for Hibiki.

Christmas day begins to close in upon the crew of the Nirvana, and the guys still don’t have gifts for their lucky ladies. At the same time, ship engineer Parfet seems to be having trouble getting the snow machines that would guarantee a white Christmas to work. Each rushes out to fix that, though Hibiki seems to get the most dangerous idea as he ventures toward a passing comet to fetch ice for the festivities. Inside, he encounters Meia, and an antagonistic alien beast that would threaten the holiday cheer… and the lives of the crew.

As the midnight hour looms closer and closer, it grows more and more certain that Hibiki will miss the chance to share the holiday with her beloved “Mr. Alien” (Hibiki). At the same time, the other men fight the clock and try to ensure that they share a merry Christmas with the girls they like.

This episode stands out as a wonderful example of Christmas anime, for both its light-hearted tone and sweet ending. The culture clash over the holiday provides a number of amusing moments, as the guys try to wrap their heads around Christmas, then scramble to do things right. The build-up and the sweet ending are both perfect for the season, and don’t betray the character roles or the culture clash that has been front and center through the rest of the series.