What’s the important information? Happy Sugar Life is a Summer 2018 psychological horror anime that ran 12 episodes from July to September. It is based on a manga series written by Tomiyaki Kagisora.
What’s it about? On the outside Sato is a bright, beautiful and very popular girl but inside she is deeply troubled and scarred—the only thing in life that brings her joy is her ‘relationship’ with a little girl named Shio who she’s kidnapped and keeps in her apartment. The two live a blissful life together that Sato would do anything to maintain, even if it means committing murder.
Why did you watch it? Believe it or not I actually like ‘dark’ things, despite my preoccupation with CGDCT and slice of life shows seemingly dictating my choices in anime watching. So when there’s a series that combines both—at the least the latter of which aesthetically if not literally—then you better believe I’m going to watch it!
Did you enjoy the show? As of the writing of this rundown ‘Happy Sugar Life’ is my second favourite anime of all time. Does that answer that question? I adored pretty much everything about this series to the point where I struggle to find fault with anything.
What was your favourite episode? Episode 9 “Dissolving Rain” had the single most dramatic moment I’ve seen in an anime in a very long time—the fact the build up to it was so masterfully and artfully done is just a small factor in why it was such a sublime episode. Plus the way it turns from honestly loving and beautiful to knuckle clenching tension to absolute horror within the space of minutes is something to behold.
What were your most favourite things about the show? While this probably won’t be the same for most people, the fact that I could sympathise and even gravitate and dare I say sit in awed wonder of a character is morally ambiguous and downright sadistic as Sato says a lot about the quality of her characterisation and the writing. Not since the ‘Hannibal’ TV series have I been so enraptured and captivated and even siding with the actions of “the bad guy”. Artistically too, this shows pastel aesthetics are absolutely gorgeous and work as a visual contrast to the dark themes throughout.
What were your least favourite things about the show? For a show to have made its way to Number 2 on my favourites list you’ll be hard-pressed to find me saying anything negative about it. Truly the only thing this show is weaker for is the fact that it’s only 12 episodes. I could have easily spent twice as long with these characters.
Who was your favourite character? Sato commands presence whenever she’s on-screen and even when she’s not on-screen the reverberations of her very existence permeate every characters respective lives, she is the burning sun at the centre of this universe, the tyrant at which all obey, all fear and many seek to bring down.
Thoughts on the OP (opening) and ED (ending) and the soundtrack in general? As if it’s any surprise but both the OP, “One Room Sugar Life” by Nanawo Akari and the ED “Sweet Hurt” by Reona are both absolutely gorgeous. The OP is a tense but still exciting and catchy prelude to each episode and sets the mood perfectly, while the ED serves as a sweet and reflective palette cleanser from the darkness that came before.
What’s something unique about this show? Rather than mention something specific about the series as I find everything about this show uniquely brilliant. A fact that still staggers me is the fact that something as beautiful and artistic as this was made by a first-time anime studio. There’s not much information about it that I could find but kudos to ‘Ezo’la’ for coming out this strong and confident with a series like this. I await any of their future series with interest and anticipation!
What other anime are most like it for the sake of comparison? The contrast of cute to dark content is of course reminiscent of such classic series’ as ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’ and more recently ‘Magical Girl Raising Project’ but as I discussed in my episodic reviews the US series ‘Hannibal’ feels like the most accurate and appropriate comparison as the darkness in this show comes from nothing more than human desires and there’s nothing ~magical~ about what transpires between these characters.
Who would you recommend it to? I think there’s a certain level of arrogance that comes in recommending a series you love so much to everyone just because it is your favourite. But in that arrogance is an enthusiasm and hope that ~someone~ out there will find as much joy in it that you found in it. I don’t doubt there will be—even among my readers—people who can’t stand this show, but if I can even convince one person to like this show and they find even an ~ounce~ of enjoyment out of this show than that makes me happy.
Sum up the season in one sentence: ‘With the ‘Happy’ comes tragedy, with the ‘Sugar’ comes the sour and with ‘Life’ come death.’
Final score? 97 out of 100.
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
Filling In The Canvas – Episode 8 Review
Til Death Do Us Part – Episode 9 Review
People With Glass Hearts Shouldn’t Be Alone – Episode 10 Review
When The Vow Breaks – Episode 11 Review
In Memoriam – Episode 12 Review
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