What’s the show? Happy Sugar Life, Episode 8.
So what happens in this episode? Well the opening half of the episode is probably one of the most creatively interesting and dynamic character flashbacks I’ve seen from an anime in a long time!
Care to elaborate? I was about to before you interrupted. So, we learn exactly whose apartment Sato and Shio are living in and the true identity of the body in the bin bags that the audience was led to believe was Sato’s aunt—something that was rectified with her appearance last week. Turn’s out the apartment belonged to a reclusive artist who was painting a portrait of Sato. And he seems innocent enough—of course we don’t actually see him in the flashback as a lot of it’s told from his point of view. And all his dialogue is either represent in black and white waveforms that we don’t actually hear—only Sato’s responses, which adds to the overall mystery. This entire flashback is almost like an artsy short-film and I really dug its creative use of silence and off-putting imagery.
Sounds pretentious if you ask me… Maybe it is, but I like that kind of thing so you’re not going to get any complaints from me.
So you said he “seems innocent enough”, what did you mean by that? Well he’s not interested in her sexually, despite her offering multiple times, so instead she just poses for his art. She makes it abundantly clear that something is missing in her life, she wants to know what love is—real love—it’s the thing making her incomplete as a person. And that’s the thing that makes her such an alluring art subject for our nameless artist; he wants to capture the tormented beauty of her “incompleteness”. So when one day Sato arrives at his apartment, frantic, rain-drenched and carrying the unconscious body of Shio—things have changed not only for Shio but for the artist as well.
How so? Well Sato has found the love she was looking for in Shio and the artist seeing that she’s now a complete person—he flies into a rage and attempts to strangle Shio for ruining his perfect little broken subject, but of course Sato’s going to protect the one thing that has suddenly brought meaning to her life and so she bashes him to death with his own art easel.
And that’s only half the episode you say? Yeah, not even half there’s so much more that happens in this episode back in the present day that it’s kind of hard to get it all down succinctly. But I’ll prioritise the main points, basically Taiyo the blonde boy who’s obsessed with Shio after their one brief encounter is roaming the streets not sure what to do with his life—that’s when he runs into the worst person he possibly could in his time of need—Sato. She knows he’s obsessed with Shio and she’s going to use that to her advantage and so another pawn is added to Sato’s game!
What’s he going to have her do? Sato needs Asahi (Shio’s brother who’s been searching for her) to “go away”. At first I assumed she was going to get him to murder the poor boy but she just wants him away from this prefecture and searching elsewhere to eliminate any ‘accidental encounters’ with him.
And how does she make the guy do what she says? Easy, she has what he wants more than anything—Shio. And so if Taiyo does what Sato says he’ll get to see the angel that has been occupying his thoughts.
That’s creepy. Absolutely, and I love it. I love how tangled this web of secrets and lies are getting. Another thing that I thought was truly fantastic and kind of summed up this show’s entire ethos both narratively and aesthetically was a small scene in a diner where Taiyo comments on how beautiful and smart and charismatic Sato is and why is she going to such lengths to have this “unusual” life when she could have a “normal” one. And Sato doesn’t really have an answer beyond what she felt in her heart the first time she saw Shio—that this is the love of her life and that being with her is all that matters, damned be the consequences.
So I take it another top quality episode? Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better than last week—well it’s not quite that quality but it’s damned close. If it can manage to keep up this sheer level of intensity and just all around excellent voice acting, writing, music and visual style then not only is this a contender for the best of the season but one of my favourite anime fullstop!
Previous Happy Sugar Life Reviews:
A Sweet Treat With A Dark Centre – Episode 1 Review
Contains Traces of Nuts – Episode 2 Review
Bitter Sweet Sympathy – Episode 3 Review
Closeted Secrets – Episode 4 Review
The Bitter Kiss – Episode 5 Review
Past, Present and Future Tension – Episode 6 Review
Blood Is Sicker Than Water – Episode 7 Review
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