Sugar High

By Shamus
on Mar 29, 2006
Filed under:
Anime

I’m still watching Sugar, A Little Snow Fairy, although I can only take the show in limited doses. Any more and I’ll become a diabetic…



And that’s just the opening credits. It can be even more syrupy once the show gets rolling.

Having said that, the show is quite enjoyable. In fact, this show has brought into sharp relief all the reasons I love Anime. Here we have a show that isn’t really my thing and which isn’t really aimed at me. It’s too cute and a bit too silly at times, but it’s still better than 99% of American animated shows out there . While the characters are very kawaii, the subject matter is interesting enough to appeal to adults.

If this were an American production, the lead character would be a dreamer. She would try to convince other people she could see fairies, but because she’s so flighty, people would assume she just has a vivid imagination. (This would be a running “joke”.) The story would have a one-episode setup where they meet. The characters would then remain in stasis for as long as the show ran. Episodes would feature mild problems for the protagonist that could be resolved in the last few minutes with some help from her fairy friends. Shows would be wall-to-wall with kinetic action and shouting. Every show would end with a un-funny joke that leaves the characters laughing on fadeout. There would be no end to the story, only cancellation.

Oh, and the art would suck.

But this isn’t an American production. The lead character Saga (above) is smart, articulate, and well-grounded. She’s always on time and always does her homework. She knows better than to run around telling everyone she can see fairies. Each episode moves the overall plot forward. New characters enter the story, and you can see them grow as they overcome challenges. Instead of harmless, uninteresting plots (the other girls are making fun of me!) we have an ongoing story where Saga is dealing with the death of her mother three years ago. It isn’t manipulative, it isn’t tear-jerker, and it isn’t overly sappy, but it is sometimes serious. Some episodes end on a low note. There is an overall plot arc that I expect will lead to a satisfying conclusion at the end of the series.

By anime standards the art is good, but by American standards the art is incredible. If the hacks who draw Spongebob or Rug Rats ever saw this, they would have to commit seppuku to cover their shame.

Despite the more sophisticated subject matter and complex relationships the show tackles, my kids don’t have any problem following it. It just shows how much American animators have been underestimating what sorts of stories kids can follow, or (if you want to be cynical) what sort of stoires they are willing to take the time to write.

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1313 comments. That's a baker's dozen.

From the Archives:

  1. MOM says:

    Soooo THAT is what the show is about. When I was using my camcorder for the first time, Esther called me in to the living room and gave me her own “run down ” of this show. she gave it a very good review which I have on dvd. You would enjoy it I am sure.

    Love
    mom

  2. Shamus says:

    I’m just about to watch the last ep of disc 2. Ice and lightning (Cinnamon and ?) were just introduced and it looks like Saga and Sugar have made up.

    This series is a lot of fun.

  3. Shamus says:

    Done with disc 2. So Salt gave Phil’s experiment a push at the end and made the aurora. But does this mean salt has found the “twinkle”?

    I’ve been assuming that “twinkle” means “inspiration”, and this episode seemed to back that up. Hmmm.

  4. No, that’s not the right answer, and no, Salt hasn’t found it.

    The third DVD is my favorite part of the series; the next five episodes are the best. But you’ve got a lot of surprises in store for you, and you’re going to find that this series is a lot deeper than it seems right now.

  5. JD says:

    I cannot agree with Shamus more. I am an animator, working in the UK. I am incredibly frustrated with this industry’s narrow-mindedness. It’s not that we don’t want to make these shows (every animator I’ve met wants to be making shows aimed at adults – dramas, thrillers, horrors, action and epic adventure stories that don’t keep shouting everything at it’s audience), it’s that the suits won’t let us. They don’t believe that there is a market, despite the popularity of anime, and thus there is no investment. I don’t know the solution to this problem, but I’ll be fighting for my ambitions until I achieve it or I’m too old to keep trying (that will be the day I keel over and die).

  6. Errol says:

    unless you go indie. and make kaboodles of money. then the suits will call you first thing the next morning :)

  7. icee says:

    Hi! you know i am also a big fun of Sugar and Saga. I watched the episode in the tv and everyday i watched them before going to school. I really love the story and thinking that are fairies like them really exist?

  8. Kyte says:

    If this were an American production, the lead character would be a dreamer. She would try to convince other people she could see fairies, but because she’s so flighty, people would assume she just has a vivid imagination. (This would be a running “joke”.) The story would have a one-episode setup where they meet. The characters would then remain in stasis for as long as the show ran. Episodes would feature mild problems for the protagonist that could be resolved in the last few minutes with some help from her fairy friends. Shows would be wall-to-wall with kinetic action and shouting. Every show would end with a un-funny joke that leaves the characters laughing on fadeout. There would be no end to the story, only cancellation.

    Oh, and the art would suck.

    Save for the first part, this really reminds me of Fairly Oddparents. Which is actually better than it sounds, at least the first seasons.

    Regarding the artwork: They’ve all got their own style… ;)

  9. Judebert says:

    I’ve got three daughters, and we all love Snow Fairy Sugar. I agree it’s sickly sweet, but there’s actual character development and an evolving storyline!

    I wish there were a lot more of this and a lot less fighting giant robots.

  10. Lionday says:

    Gosh Sponge bob and Rugrats are awesome. Instead of defending them I’ll try to point to another “American” anime show that i thought was great Avatar the last airbender (Yes the movie did suck). It had great characters who started out like most shows episodic day to day plot but it evolved into something else. The characters grew into old friends they could make you laugh when needed but where able to show real growth at the end. Plus i count 3 starting characters and at the end of the final season we have 5 main and at least that many important secondary characters.
    This might have been brought up already but I feel it needs to be stated again.

    • Kaliam says:

      You’re right. The last airbender was awesome (although the movie was shameful) and I loved it. I watched every episode and the ending was pretty good. But here’s the thing, the show was made by a japanese guy in his thirties that grew up in America. So, its not the culture that creates crappy shows, its the people. Just a small tid bit of interesting information.

  11. Kaliam says:

    YEAH SUGAR!!! Lamest. Anime. Ever. I mean, by normal standards, an anime is AMAZING. All animes are amazingly awesome. This anime is about a fairy, and a depressed girl. In american standards, it would whipe the floor with sponge bob, then play basketball with squidwards head. But in manga and anime terms, this isn’t very good. And I’ve seen/read a lot of anime. My favorite? M.A.R. That was probably the best anime I’ve ever seen. Of course, the beginning was a bit clique and you were probably yelling at the main character because he didn’t even notice that the hottest chick in anime history loved him, but otherwise it was pretty good. The fantasy story line kept your mind on the edge and the plot was fantastic. The characters that enter the story are serious and charming, and at times unexpected the jokes are hilarious. The ending is decent, but kind of making you crave for more. The ending also had a bit too many plot twists thrown in there, but otherwise I loved it. Now I’m high on full metal alchemist, waiting for another new series to poke its hide out of the shadows that we call television.

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