「モノクロームの長い夜」 (Monokuroumu no Nagaiyo)
“A Long, Monochromatic Night”

We could talk about some other paedophile rearing his ugly head this episode, but that’s fairly par for the Happy Sugar Life course. Let’s instead divert to, again, a regular topic that comes up regarding anime: adaptations. When I wrote the preview the preview for Happy Sugar Life a read a fair bit of the manga in the name of research and so I naturally compare the anime with its source. With so much of anime being adaptations this exercise is one we inevitably do every season, and the question to be asked is what value an adaptation can add to a story. At least one thing that anime has over manga is voice work. And our protagonist Satou has not just one voice, she has two. Hanazawa Kana, Satou’s seiyuu, brings two distinct performances for Satou, one sweet and one bitter. This is, of course, very easy to distinguish in the anime and the different between the two is stark, but it’s not a contrast that one can appreciate in the manga. Of course, when reading manga every character has only one voice, the formless one in your head (unless you read it out loud as a form of performance theatre, but that’s probably not the intended mode of consumption).

The fact that Satou uses a different voice in her inner monologues makes her a markedly different character from her portrayal in the manga. Her actions and her lines are, from memory, largely the same; she still obssesses over ‘bitterness’, and she still struggles through her first experience with jealousy. But simply the performance is enough to shape her character (which is, perhaps, a credit to the performance). In the manga, without the vocal fluctuations she has in the anime, Satou felt relatively (relatively) more stable, more a creature of calculus, who stares into the abyss and does not blink because she knows what must be done. The anime puts more of an emphasis on an inner darkness, and questions whether Satou might be swallowed by it. A subtle distinction, perhaps, and subjective at best, but the point is that it’s only made possible by the extra dimension given to the character in the anime. It’s an inevitable part of adaptation; even a character in a script becomes a different creature when interpreted by an actor, and there’s no reason the transition from manga to anime would be exempt from issues translation.

None of this is a criticism, mostly just an observation. Even after all this time, I still see people say that making adaptations is a lesser craft, that it’s simply transliteration and how hard can it be? But when even just characterisation can be changed so easily with so simple a thing as voice-work — for better or worse — I would say that adaptation requires just as much care as any other anime. Consider how differently we might see Satou and her actions if she didn’t have the Evil!HaruKana voice, or if she didn’t make the crazy eyes. Would she be more sympathetic? Perhaps less interesting? The director can choose to show us these things or not, and even if Satou says and does exactly the same things our perspective will be different. Overall I do feel that the anime is aiming to do things slightly differently, to remix the source a tad, so to speak, and I find that effort interesting in itself. This makes Happy Sugar Life a contender to be blogged for the entire season on RandomC; tell me what you think.

Hmm, I really wanted to talk more about Shio, but I guess I got distracted. More on that next week, perhaps.




  1. I love “Happy Sugar Life” so much! At first I thought I would watch one episode just for the heck of it and then drop the show, as the yandere genre isn’t my thing… but by the end of episode one I was hopelessly hooked.

    This isn’t really ‘yandere’ as we know it. The usual ‘yandere’ is about meaningless over-the-top violence played for fun, so exaggerated it’s impossible to take it seriously. This show is *realistic* both in setting and story — and there is no gratuitousness: everything the MC does is done for a very good reason. Crazy? maybe… but the flip only happens when the situation demands it. There’s no “hurting people for fun and laughs” in this show.

    And then of course there’s the yuri. Onee x loli for the win!!! This anime is “Yuzumori-san” set in a world of darkness, and I’m enjoying every bit of it! <3

    (Btw, what do you think is in that duffel bag she takes before going out to look for Shio — or, more accurately, for the people she suspects have stolen Shio from her? My money is on a secret arsenal of really gruesome weapons, the sort you use when you *seriously* need to lay down the hurt.)

  2. The part about the voices I don’t agree with. It may be that different people read manga differently, but to me the different voices of Satou already existed in my mind.
    Actually, despite being quite a HanaKana fan myself, I couldn’t get into it at first, because the sweet Satou sounds too different from what I imagined. Her voice resembles Mayuri from Stein;Gate and I couldn’t get that out of my mind for the first episode, almost expecting Satou to say “tuturuuu~” when arriving home. Of course, it doesn’t help that both anime are airing at the same time.
    Shio-chan also sounds more childish than I imagined. It’s not so much about the high pitched voice. That was to be expected. Somehow, in the manga I felt that she could at least articulate words better.

    Sometimes the voice acting elevates my experience compared to when I read the manga, but in this case, it’s too different from my own interpretation when reading the manga.
    I still think this is a great adaptation and many more people will be introduced to this intriguing story with good animation, nice pacing and great voice acting.

    Also, to me Satou is no paedophile. Shio-chan and Satou work well together because they fill the holes in each other’s hearts. If Shio-chan had been Satou’s age, it would still have worked for her (not for Mitsuboshi though).

    1. Shio-chan also sounds more childish than I imagined

      That got me too. So much actually that it made Satou and Shio’s relationship seem different from the manga, but in a complicated way because it feels like it kind of swings between more innocent and more wicked now.

    2. It’s all very subjective, of course. Voices in our head are purely ideas, formless and fluid. They always fit. The anime has to give those ideas shape, and that which has shape will never be as perfect as an abstract idea.

      It’s arguable whether Satou is a paedophile per se (Mitsuboshi is set up as a contrast) but Mitsuboshi’s boss from e01 specifically preyed on minors.

  3. I do like Kana’s voice acting and most else about this adaptation, but I found it seriously distasteful that they made Mitsuboshi a complete pedo who even talks about “touching” Shio. I remembered in the manga that Mitsuboshi was a bait-and-switch – he seemed like a pedo at first but then he turns out to just want Shio to pat his head and nothing more, wanting to feel “pure” but not wanting to harm Shio or touch her inappropriately or doing anything further. This adaptation has unfortunate implications about rape victims and how they must turn crazy or into rapists themselves.


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