The anime based on the popular psychological thriller manga series seems innocent enough at a glance, but after watching just two episodes I’m starting to second guess my decision.
It’s been awhile since I’ve really immersed myself into some quality anime so I figured it was about time I gave it another shot. Unfortunately, my options are limited to what’s available on Amazon Prime so I just picked a series at random. Did I make a mistake? Well, I kind of feel wrong after watching Happy Sugar Life.
As a young teenage girl I absolutely loved anime. I owned DVD box collection of classics like Cowboy Bepop, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and even — please don’t judge me — Sailor Moon.
It was my friend who first introduced my to the world of Japanese animation (anime). He made me binge watch Akira, Ninja Scrolls and Perfect Blue. After that it I became a bit of an addict; not only of anime but of Japanese cinema in general. Let’s face it, Hollywood steal a lot from Japan.
But as I grew up and moved around I had to get rid off my DVD collections as I didn’t really have time for television anymore. Thankfully, I still got my fix from playing games like Persona 4 in the interim.
I feel wrong after watching Happy Sugar Life on Amazon Prime.
But now I am kind settling down into my place and not moving around as much as I used to so I am looking for good anime to get me hooked again. Even though I have Netflix, Stan, and Amazon Prime there isn’t a heck of a lot to choose from, but I thought I made as well check out one or two series from there before I commit to getting an anime dedicated streaming service like AnimeLab.
Happy Sugar Life is on Amazon Prime in Australia
The series is advertised as a mature deep psychological thriller, and it hits of the nodes. The series is centred on high school girl Satō Matsuzaka who befriends a mysterious little girl named Shio, and immediately falls in love with her. She kidnaps Shio and keeps her in her apartment. She vows to protect that feeling of love, even if it means committing crimes or even killing people.
That’s pretty dark and serial killer-ish, right? I was pretty fast to click and, at first, I had no regrets.
The series is absolutely beautifully drawn and animated and it has that magical anime whimsy in abundance. It ticked most the boxes right off the get go… but then I realised that the love between two of the series main characters is not platonic — this ain’t no sisterly love — it’s passionate and sexual love. What’s wrong with that, though?
Shio Kōbe is 8 years old
The protagonists love interest is super young and way below the age of consent, even in Japan. The series never explicitly shows any kind of sexual contact or relations between Shio and Satō but is definitely there in context.
Satō Matsuzaka herself is only 15-years-old at max, but still the fact that she abducted an 8-year-old girl and locks her in apartment.. is kind of messed up.
Stockholm syndrome at its finest, I guess
I cannot knock Happy Sugar Life for the way they depict the relationship between the two main characters. It is clear that the love that the two characters have for each other is not mutual.
Shio is only 8 years old and looks up at Satō kind of like a big sister or guardian. Her love for Satō is innocent and platonic and she trusts her unconditionally. She has no idea that she is being basically kept a as an emotional tourniquet of sorts and is merely locked up because of Satō’s unbridled jealousy.
Too scared to continue…
The series has a lot of promise but it’s treading a super fine line between being genius to being just plain wrong. Let’s face it, Satō, despite her love for Shio, is not a protagonist… she’s an antagonist; she abducted an 8 year old girl for her own twisted reasons. If the show slowly reveals just how messed up this is and do a M. Night Shyamalan like twist and reveal her to be the big bad in the end… then I will feel much better about watching the series.
I guess, though, that’s the pay off; the series catch-22, if you will. Well, that’s where I need your help. Should I stick with the series or watch something else entirely? If so, what anime would you recommend? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.