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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