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Happy Sugar Life – 12 (END)

「ハッピーシュガーライフ」 (Happiishugaaraifu)
“Happy Sugar Life”

Something stupid happens here as well, as Satou going back for her ring causes everything to line up poorly. Perhaps Satou must be undone. On the one hand, Satou needs to pay for her crimes. There should be consequences for actions, and Satou’s were grave indeed. Indeed, a satisfied death, some would argue, is an end too good for her and she deserves harsh and karmic punishment. I can understand that. The need for vengeance runs deeps. On the other hand, I’m a complete pacifist and don’t particularly want high body counts in my anime. By that philosophy, I would like Satou and Shio to not plummet to their deaths and instead live. Besides, if Satou does find her utopian Happy Sugar Life and never bothers anyone ever again then that’s… fine? She doesn’t hurt anyone again, Shio’s happy, and everything is wrapped up neatly without further bloodshed. Satou’s still nominally our protagonist after all, and has only ever wanted one thing, and if giving her that one thing means that she no longer has to be a monster then that’s a narrative bargain I’m willing to accept. I’m an optimist (which I am, deep down, buried under the grouch).

There are moral debates to be had here, and Happy Sugar Life could have chosen to swing either way. But in the end, it doesn’t really commit either, and decides to split the difference. Satou dies. Shio survives (but deeply affected by her experience). And I wonder why. I wouldn’t have thought that Happy Sugar Life would kill off a child at this point. And Shio’s is not innocent either; she chose to be complicit in Satou’s crimes. And we can’t at once say that Shio is independent enough to have pushed her family and choose her ‘happy sugar life’, yet not so independent that she is spared while Satou dies. And with that, let’s jump right into the final impressions.

Final Impressions ~ High blood sugar

Conclusions first: Happy Sugar Life was interesting. I don’t regret blogging it. It’s blend of romance of horror is not something we see often in anime. Usually, the yandere girl descends into madness, eventually turns on her own love, and becomes a black widow character. But, not our Satou. Her love remains pure the entire way through. Satou ended no less sane than when she started; Happy Sugar Life was not so much interesting in plunging Satou into the abyss as methodically testing how deep she was willing to dive herself. As such, it was above all else a character study, peeling back the layers of Satou and revealing what she is truly capable of. Each layer is more chilling than the last, but they were all, fundamentally, part of who she was.

Characters outside of Satou were, unfortunately, generally less interesting. Mostly, they were terrible people, or other deliberate extremes deliberately designed to play foil to Satou (which was what made the relatively level Shouko so compelling). Not that Happy Sugar Life had ‘bad’ characters, per se, just that they were never as fully fleshed as Satou, making the world of Happy Sugar Life sometimes feel just a bit too cartoonishly awful. One character I really would have liked moer work on is Shio. Considering how critical she was to the story, a lot of her character was unexplored or backloaded. Consider that this is the last episode and there was still so much exposition about her dumped here. I feel like she had an interesting character arc, going from her dependence on her mother to her mutual dependence on Satou, but in our mere 12 episodes of anime we never got much time to plumb its depths.

So, in the end, I guess I should ask: was Satou evil? Or was she mad? Sure, she did objectively evil things, but madness precludes evil. Even in the rigid letters of the criminal law evil is a mental element, and thus we cannot fault those with mental disabilities. But that is only for the truly impaired, not just those with personality defects. Psychopathy, for example, is not recognised as a mental disability. It’s a personality disorder. So, how mad is Satou? Was she simply a psychopath, and thus deserved a punishment? Or was she mad, and should have been pitied? Or did she see clearer than anyone else, and her purity of vision put her beyond our judgment? Any anime that is able to provoke such questions, I think, must have been successful on some level, no?

September 29, 2018 at 12:09 pm
20 comments »
  • September 29, 2018 at 12:31 pmLyfe

    The show was a massive bomb at retail in Japan, with the first volume selling just 405 copies first week. I guess no one had any sort of interest in the show?

    • September 29, 2018 at 1:42 pmqwert

      For me at least it’s more a case of the manga doing a better job of delivering the material.

    • September 29, 2018 at 2:09 pmMeganedek

      By massive bomb you meant its sales were very bad? Where do you find this information?

      • September 29, 2018 at 2:16 pmLyfe

        There’s quite a few websites that list sales data for shows. Animenewsnetwork is an English one that posts them weekly, sourcing from Oricon. There’s also Someanithing. And yes, 405 copies sold on Blu Ray is a massive failure commercially for the series. I know of a few other places but these are probably the most well known ones and Japanese ones won’t mean much to some.

  • September 29, 2018 at 12:40 pmHalfDemonInuyasha

    This was definitely a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. I went in thinking that it was going to be another dark, edgy series ala Mahou Shoujo Site and the likes, but it actually does make you think about quite a bit below the surface as it progresses.

    Ultimately, I’d probably see Satou, had she lived, being pitied once people saw the Aunt she had to live with ever since she was Shio’s age or so, and clearly had influenced quite a bit of her views. It makes me wonder HOW Satou was allowed to be placed with someone so unfit to begin with…

  • September 29, 2018 at 12:53 pmPuffles

    Fuck this ending. I expected better than this contrived mess as a conclusion. I will say I enjoyed the crazy Aunt going pyromaniac and at least Satou got pancaked, so it’s not all bad.

    I have to say I don’t think there’s much pure about Satou’s love, I saw it as selfish and possessive. She was searching for years for something that wasn’t “bitter” and she found what she wanted in Shio. Imagine if, say, Shio had tried to run away or said she wanted to go back to her mother – would Satou have accepted that, or would she have forced Shio to stay? I’m pretty sure it’s the latter. Crazy Aunt was the opposite, her love was about giving to others indiscriminately (apparently whether they like it or not, in Taiyou’s case) even at the cost of her own well-being. With Taiyou you had love as salvation, and in a form that was maybe even more selfish than Satou. None of these were pure to me, they were all messed up and pathological. The only ones who’s love approached some kind of purity was Shio’s brother and Shouko as far as I’m concerned.

    I don’t think Satou actually represents a real person as such, she’s more of an abstraction. She’s a personification of that selfish love and the willingness to go to any lengths to maintain it, framed around a calculating personality. I don’t think real sociopaths or psychopaths are like that, their emotions are shallow, they lack empathy and their actions are often impulsive. They’re nearly always narcissists too, which Satou was not.

    • September 29, 2018 at 1:32 pmBROOKLYN otaku

      Lol!! “Pancaked”

  • September 29, 2018 at 1:51 pmqwert

    I’m pretty sure the manga is still ongoing, at least for a couple more chapters. I’m really hoping they try to pull a twist ending so things end up differently, otherwise it seems odd to have the adaptation spoil the ending for the source material.

    • September 29, 2018 at 3:01 pmRislan

      Ancient Magus Bride’s anime adaptation spoiled the manga when it finished slightly ahead. There was some slight differences but it was largely the same. It wouldn’t surprise if the manga ending for this has similar elements.

      • September 29, 2018 at 4:52 pmqwert

        Magus Bride is still ongoing though, so while they did get the jump on wrapping up that particular arc it’s not quite the same as getting to conclude the entire story.

  • September 29, 2018 at 2:54 pmArche

    All-in-all not disappointed by the finale. I had been predicting an ending where everyone gets screwed since the start of the manga so expectations were met

  • September 29, 2018 at 6:03 pmMockman

    All I could think of when Satou took off her ring was the tale of Butch’s watch and Captain Koons in Pulp Fiction.

    Disappointed to see such sales figures for the show. Not that it’s exempt from criticism, but I think the show’s creators took some risks with the show and those kinds of sales results will just encourage more idol shows (and what have you) and fewer chances with other unusual stories. That said, while the numbers are obviously low, everybody’s are low for that week (number one TV show seller had all of 1749 BRD sales, and only three shows were over 1000 units sold and they were all from popular franchises). Not sure what that means. Maybe the episode that came out prior to the sale of the disc depressed potential buyers. Maybe it’s part of a trend that has nothing to do with this show. That said, I don’t know how you would conduct a business based on those sales volumes.

    While there were some aspects of the show that irked me, e.g. the constant “Shio-chan!”, “Satou-chan!” dialogue, or that many of the secondary characters became more shallow as the show advanced (e.g. Mitsuboshi did stuff in early episodes but mostly just drooled and slavered during the latter half of the show, or that Asahi seemed like a mouse for most of the show but then began hauling a baseball bat around when he didn’t seem to have much of an interest in the game), I still looked forward to watching each week, moreso than most of the shows this season.

    • September 29, 2018 at 6:38 pmzztop

      I’d say the sales figures are more a reflection of Japanese otaku’s commercial tastes, which gravitate towards things like idols, swimming-SOL, Titan-fighting etc.

      Not that Sugar’s bad (I’m sure some locals watch it) but it’s probably not the type of show which compels the otaku to go out and buy the Blurays. Unless someone were to make a “watershed”-type anime appealing to all otaku regardless of their subset preferences, like a “Crazy Rich Asians”-level movement.

    • September 29, 2018 at 7:14 pmLyfe

      “Maybe it’s part of a trend that has nothing to do with this show.”

      No, it’s most definitely the show. People just aren’t interested enough to buy it. It just so happens that the week this show was released, plenty of other flop shows like Caligula were released too. Hataraku Saibo reached 3,831 copies the week before for example

      • September 30, 2018 at 9:35 amAnonymous

        Thank the platelets!

      • September 30, 2018 at 3:06 pmLyfe

        Forgot to mention that those were the BD sales. Combined Hataraku Saibo stands at around 8k sold for the first volume on Blu Ray/DVD. There’s no problem at retail for anime other than shows that no ones interested in being released. The ones that have fans, an audience, sell well.

  • September 29, 2018 at 6:55 pmzztop

    The anime skipped some manga backstory chapters on how Shio’s family was formed. It’s pretty much a Series of Unfortunate Events in extreme.

    Show Spoiler ▼

  • September 30, 2018 at 9:02 amHenrietta Brix

    I am rather conflicted with the ending. The main cast of characters are morally ambiguous at best.

    Though at the end, was there a time skip of a few years? Shio looks older. Almost a reincarnation of Shouko.

    One question though, did Shio have Stolkholm Syndrome at the end of it or was she really taken in by Satou? Did she choose Satou over her real family because Satou gave her the “love and affection” that she so desires?

    And may Shouko rest in peace. She did not deserve the fate that befell on her.

  • September 30, 2018 at 9:37 amAnonymous

    All the pretty things are broken.

    I’ll be honest, still haven’t watched the anime, but I picked up the manga despite my dislike of yandere. It’s like…you know that nothing will turn out well, but you just can’t put it down. And reading the review of this final episode just confirms that. It’s like how people’s hopes got up when the SeeFood app worked, but then came crashing down immediately after. At least Satou’s aunt live…in the way that like how Harley Quinn always seems to come out smelling like roses.

    In a way, with mixed feelings, didn’t the show accomplish what it set out to do in the first place? Certainly things may have been over the top, but I don’t think that we expected anything less from a show clearly labeled as yandere. Maybe it’s just me.

    Also, did the aunt just cheerfully confess to the crime on TV? That seemed a little messed up.

  • September 30, 2018 at 10:49 amNamaewoinai

    https://randomc.net/image/Happy%20Sugar%20Life/Happy%20Sugar%20Life%20-%2012%20-%20Large%2013.jpg

    One Speculative Reason why is she acting like this…
    Show Spoiler ▼

    Show Spoiler ▼

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