「永遠の一瞬を、貴方と。」 (Eien no Isshun o, Anata to.)
“An Eternal Life With You”
Happy Sugar Life did not have to happen. The entire story, with all its death and tragedy, could have been avoided if its characters just acted like normal, balanced people. Just imagine how a perfectly sane Satou would have acted. Upon finding an abandoned Shio, she wouldn’t have tried to find her parents or taken her to the police instead of kidnapping her. Even if Satou took Shio home, she wouldn’t have developed an inexplicable and obsessive love for her. And no matter the affection the two have for each other, there’s no reason for them to lock themselves away to the exclusion of all others. This is how the sane scenario would go: Asahi goes looking for his sister, Satou gladly helps Shio reunite with her brother, Shio happily tells Asahi about the new friend she’s made, everybody has a good laugh over the whole thing. Happily ever after, no need to murder anybody. Instead, at every step Satou chose to play the craziest move possible, and now she has to smuggle a child out of the country. Even before we see the ending, I think we can agree that things have snowballed out of control.
Everything is bonkers. But although I often refer to Satou as ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’, it’s not that she’s lost her grip on reality. She’s not schizophrenic. She’s not hallucinating or anything. She just has a completely different value system than you and I. And so here, at episode 11, the penultimate episode, Satou has to make some attempt to justify herself and what she has done. In the same way that villains always feel the need to monologue their plans to James Bond, Satou also needs an opportunity to explain herself. Sometimes, it’s the villain wanting to be understood. Sometimes, he’s trying to impress upon the hero the superiority of his philosophy. But, of course, there are no heroes in Happy Sugar Life (even if you try to make an argument about Asahi, this is what he is), so Satou’s foil has to be… her aunt. Broken vs broken. And perhaps this is not entirely intellectually honest of Happy Sugar Life. Is it trying to justify all that Satou did because she’s not on the same level as her aunt? If that is the case, I am unconvinced. Sure, I find Satou’s aunt more wretched than she is. My values and cultural background makes me predisposed towards Satou’s monogamy rather than… whatever her aunt’s thing is. But that just makes Satou’s aunt, at best, a strawman for Satou to beat up. Her relative moral superiority does not make her actually moral. The only real moral foil Satou has had was Shouko — and she murdered her. Now that it’s Satou against her aunt, no matter their philosophical differences it still feels like weighing two evils against each other, and I can’t really, in good conscience, wish for Satou to succeed.
That’s likely the point of Happy Sugar Life, to deconstruct the those sappy romances where the power of love is the greatest positive force in the universe and conquers all. In Happy Sugar Life we see that love is very powerful indeed, but nothing good seems to come out of it. In fact, almost everything we’ve seen done in the name of love in this show has been at least creepy and at most horrific. Even Shio’s innocent love of Satou does her no favours, only offering Satou refuge from her own guilt instead of allowing for atonement. And Asahi’s love of his sister has turned him into the same cruel beast as their father.
Next week, though, all of that will be over, for better or worse. Perhaps a story like Happy Sugar Life cannot have a satisfying ending, but it will be an ending regardless. I’m not sure what I actually want to see, though.