「しおの箱庭」 (Shio no Hakoniwa)
“Shio’s Miniature Garden”

So we’re only at the second episode and, look, here’s another rapist. You may remember that we’ve already had one last week, but as one rapist falls another rises to take her place.

…What did I just type? Anime, folks.

Point is, this revolving door of terrible people goes a way to demonstrate exactly what kind of story Happy Sugar Life is. Obviously, it intends to plumb the dark heart of humanity and has darkness to spare. But to what end? This is not a story where there is good and there is evil, where one triumphs and one is defeated, where a point is made about human nature is made depending on whether Jekyll or Hyde proves dominant. Sure, the score thus far is Satou: 2, rapists: 0 but Satou is not exactly a good person either. Even if she holds the higher ground purely on moral relativism (and we can debate that), while is quick to denounce evil it still, in the end, remains unpunished. Satou is no less egoistic, having separated the world into bitter and sweet and decided to indulge only on the latter. What she has above the others is a clarity of vision, a madness that is persuasive simply in its confidence. Evil is a sort of taint, a moral smear, but Satou’s philosophy, rather than tainted, is completely pure. And perhaps, even when it comes to love, it is possible to be too pure.

It’s a fascinating study, to be sure. Often does anime feature characters who will proclaim to be willing to do anything for love, but rarely is that taken to its logical extreme. And often does anime feature rather crazy characters, but rarely does it dwell too long on the exact nature of madness. There’s potential in crossing those two themes, but the danger is always that it will come across too heavy-handed. For psychological horror like Happy Sugar Life, to goal is always for the characters and their insanity to be twisted mirrors, so that the audience to see ourselves reflected in that mirror and be unnerved by the potential for darkness within our own hearts. If done artlessly then we don’t become fully engaged with the characters, and horror never sinks in, and the effect is lost. Execution is tricky and pacing is key, and for Happy Sugar Life we are perhaps moving a bit fast. I don’t really feel a clear passage of time (e.g. how long was she at her ‘old job’ and how long has it been since she quit?) and perhaps we don’t have enough time to digest events as they come. And perhaps it’s a bit too convenient that Satou apparently attracts all the most broken people. Such is the difficulty of adaptations though; we have limited time a lot to get through. The only problem is that horror, more so than any genre, suffers from being rushed.

Well, I’m just telegraphing my fears so far, and considering that Happy Sugar Life has been willing to deviate from the source manga we can’t really predict how the anime will turn out in the end. I’m still not sure if it’s something I would like to pick up full-time on RandomC; if you have any strong feelings on that matter, let me know in the comments.

 

Preview

15 Comments

  1. Oh wow….this show leaves me at a loss for words. I can’t stand yandere, so I tried to avoid this, but…..this show (and the source material) is creeping me out.

    Anonymous
  2. Evil is a sort of taint, a moral smear, but Satou’s philosophy, rather than tainted, is completely pure.

    And her belief that it’s completely pure is exactly what makes it so evil (depending of course on your current state of moral relativism and your take on ethics).

    And perhaps, even when it comes to love, it is possible to be too pure.

    Tell me about it. A pure love can be one of the most corrosive things.

    Angelus
    1. I read quite a bit of the manga when researching the preview, so that’s my natural metric. The anime is shuffling things around and telling the story in its own way, though, so we’ll have to see how that works out.

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