「砂糖少女は気づかない」 (Satou Shoujo wa Kidzukanai)
“The Sugar Girl Does Not Notice”
In the first episode of Happy Sugar Life I spent some time talking about tragedy. Since Happy Sugar Life ostensibly frames itself as a tragedy we might as well talk about it a bit more. I’ve fussed about the general nature of tragedy elsewhere, but very basically they are stories about great heroes who inevitably fall because they have some fatal flaw. And these stories are usually named after that guy. For example, Oedipus, Hamlet, and Othello. Instead of a show named ‘Matsuzaka Satou‘, though, we have one named ‘Happy Sugar Life‘.
The focus on heroes and their flaws is because tragedies are, in a broad sense, about mortality. They portray these towering figures who, despite their ability and status, are not gods. They are human, and come with human failings, and so they fall. Now, Satou is not really your conventional hero. Sure, she is capable, sometimes frighteningly so. She is, in her own way, admired by her peers (sometimes, it seems, perhaps too much). But is she… heroic? Classical heroes are not necessarily bastions of morality (with ‘goodness’ and ‘virtue’ being two different things), but Satou goes beyond that. Satou, from all observations, is amoral, and her thinking does not conform to human notions of right and wrong. Satou is a monster. An argument can be made, perhaps, that just as heroes are still fundamentally mortal so is this monster, and indeed Satou discovers pieces of her humanity for the first time in her interactions with Shio. Humanity is not exactly portrayed in a positive light. We could wish for a flip of the classical tragedy, where humanity redeems a monster instead of bringing down a hero, but I fear that down is the only way to go.
In my opinion, what actually plays the role of the perfunctory ‘hero’ in this tragedy is something more abstract. If the story is titled ‘Happy Sugar Life’ then that’s what it’s about. Specifically, Satou’s and Shio’s idealised love is, even from conception, too good for sinful earth. I’ve discussed before that Satou is ‘pure’. She has nothing but her single-minded, laser-focused devotion to Shio. In turn, because Satou is pure, she cannot fall in love with mere mortals. We are, on the whole, flawed and broken. So Satou fall in love with essentially an idea, a symbol of purity: Shio. Shio is just a little girl. There is not an ounce of guile in her. She appear to love Satou singularly without distinction of complication. As a child she is completely dependent on Satou, which is how Satou likes it. But, in the end, Shio is still human. She is still flawed. She will not prove to be the purity that Satou demands. This is not even factoring in Shio eventually growing older. As is the way of Happy Sugar Life, not even the little girl is exempt from being terribly broken.
Thus the ‘Happy Sugar Life’ is doomed to collapse. The only question is how. The real test of Satou’s humanity, if she truly has some within her, is how she comes to term with Shio’s impurity. If Shio is burdened with a past, will Satou accept it? Or will she seek to bury it?