Satou Matsuzaka is a beautiful high schooler who has a reputation for being permissive with men. However, a chance encounter with a young girl named Shio Koube makes Satou realize that this is her first and only true feeling of love.
Telling others that she lives with her aunt, Satou secretly shares an apartment with Shio. Despite her innocent appearance, Satou is willing to do anything to protect her beloved, resorting to desperate measures to ensure that their "happy sugar life" remains intact.
For as long as I’ve been watching anime, there has always been a considerable amount of the community who can find so much entertainment in shows that are “so bad, they’re good.” Whether it be the pandering fan service of shows like Eromanga Sensei, the comically overdone plot of shows like In Another World With My Smartphone, or the laughably edgy situations in shows like Magical Girl Site, the community always seems to find something to enjoy in shows that are simply, undeniably, and blatantly trash. But as the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, and it looks like I’ve found my
treasure in the trash that is Happy Sugar Life.
Let me be clear this exact brand of trash was thrown aside just so a degenerate like myself could come fish it out of the gutter. If you’re not messed up in the same exact ways I am then you should stay away from this train wreck, so I’ll cut to the chase. If you don’t like yuri romance, age-gap romance, or cute girls and lolis, then take your leave. This show is abjectly terrible, so just save yourself while you still can. If you do like that kind of thing, then let’s get into this.
Happy Sugar Life is in the “horror comedy” genre of anime which are technically horror thrillers, if not for the fact they're so bad they just become funny. Everyone and everything is comically over the top edgy for no reason. There’s murder, rape, extramarital affairs, any overused bullet point on the edge checklist gets checked. Everything looks like garbage, the animation is god awful, the character designs are beyond basic, the OST is either boring or actively unfitting, the cinematography is almost exclusively flat-panning shots with 70% of every episode being still frames, and I could honestly keep going because this is a bottom of the barrel production from a nobody studio and staff that looks and runs terrifically bad.
That said, the main character is a cute yandere girl with pink hair, buns, and is somehow voiced by Kana Hanazawa, who is in love with a literal elementary school loli with whom she shares a home, bath, and bed. I am fucking sold. This show may as well be perfect. Watching this week by week was hysterical. The show is worst of the worst, but I got to be reminded there is a real show, actually being made in real life, which features a yuri age-gap romance about a psychotic sex-craved schoolgirl who murders and blackmails anyone who threatens to interrupt her life living with a loli she literally kidnaped and locked in her apartment. I don’t need to elaborate on the concept because only one single thing of note happened throughout the entire show, and I don’t think just because there’s a decent five minute scene at the end of episode nine you should go and watch the whole show, because the remaining two hundred and fifty nine minutes were pure garbage. Any mature person who happens to come across this review can see that this show is nothing but mindless self indulgence, so if it sounds like something you can indulge in like I did, give it a watch.
That’s it. Done. Ten out of ten, would watch again.
Thank you for reading. (I know my other reviews are more serious than this, but this show was just far too much for me to handle with a straight face.)
Nowadays, the shows I fight to defend are highly misunderstood because their appeal is too specific, causing the general audience to flaunt their standards around like they’re supposed to mean anything. Past examples include Mahou Shoujo Site, Jashin-chan Dropkick and Hand Shakers. Yet, Happy Sugar Life is a different sort of… thing, whose plot setup is about as logically sound as riding a lawnmower during a hurricane, seemingly leaving not but a select, niche appeal for the sickos like me.
A high school girl is basically holding a little girl hostage in a populated apartment complex; she hides
this among her normal daily life of going to school and working part-time jobs. You know, like all teenagers do. If this is your first time reading the synopsis, then you’re probably asking a lot of questions like “Huh?” or “What?” because the basic rules and structure of society suggest that this shouldn’t even be possible. And for me, knowing that much is what made this story interesting--HOW these characters are living such lives, and what will happen when it inevitably shatters. Because there’s just no way it won’t--and the very first scene of the anime suggests that it very much will.
Happy Sugar Life makes use of its own flaws. The sugar-coated scenes of the main characters in their unnatural habitat are not just for show; they’re presented as a true illusion from reality. The conflict is all the outsiders learning more about their lives and trying to tear it down, a plot that snowballs as the situation becomes more and more complicated. A situation known as “reality”.
What’s more, is that the aforementioned little girl doesn’t even seem to be a real character. Shio Koube lives and breathes, but her actual personality is baffling. She’s constantly happy and cheery and trying to do the best she can to help her caretaker. She doesn’t question the life she lives or the outside world she’s prevented from seeing. She is simply “a daughteru”: the ideal child anyone would want to have--no, scratch that. Megumin and Chtholly are daughterus to me, but that’s because they actually seem like real characters, because real characters have flaws. Shio Koube does not. Shio Koube is not a real character, nor a daughteru--she is a pet. A Shia pet, if you will. She exists to be cute and fluffy; you feed her and play with her a bit, and if you can do those two things, then she’s not gonna be a bother to you outside of the occasional natural fuck-up. That’s cool and all, but that’s not how a human child actually acts.
But what’s smart about the anime is that it actually addresses this. Shio’s personality is the result of past trauma that’s she’s forgotten; and as she learns more and more about herself, it starts to crack a little. By the end of the series, Shio outright states that she’s meant to be more than a living object used to draw mental security from, practically breaking the fourth wall by stating she’s a real character who has a functional and realistic train of thought that accurately feeds into her personality.
In other words, Happy Sugar Life was only pretending to be retarded.
Because, with the way it handles its plot by addressing its flaws and nailing its appeal with few problems, I can’t help but think that Happy Sugar Life is actually pretty clever. As dumb and over-the-top it may seem, it was in full control of itself and did what it set out to do.
Suffering, violence, trauma and psychosis. Of course an anime called “Happy Sugar Life” would be about anything but. Characters have very specific, intricately detailed mental issues, so much so that I can’t guarantee the anime doesn’t take place in some sort of high-tech asylum that simulates society as therapy for its patients. The way they’re presented are interesting on their own for what they are, but the main character herself acts in a surprisingly grounded manner.
In the first episode, she verbally beats down her employer over a payroll cut, explaining how she was fully aware of the manager’s schemes but played along for the sake of being nice, only to still be punished. She completely dismantles this person mentally and challenges her, but her tone of voice is what sells the scene. She doesn’t scream or shout, the soundtrack is dark but sparse with details, and the visual direction is simple but effective. It’s not dynamic, over-acted, or over-the-top. This scene could’ve easily been a screaming match between two idiots, but… that would just be silly and unnecessary. Quiet words speak louder than loud words. That’s totally how the saying goes.
Satou Matsuzaka, aka “Holy Shit Is That A Motherfucking Mirai Nikki Reference???” is fully in control of herself, able to function like a normal person in most circumstances. And by “control”, I mean she seems to be keeping a deeper anger pent up within her, choosing not to do any more than what’s necessary. It’s a contrast from the manager in episode one, who fights back with shouting and more body language, among other characters that I’ll get into later. The stability of Definitely Not Yuno’s mental condition is part of the snowballing conflict--as her Title of The Anime becomes harder and harder to keep, her psyche decays, and as her psyche decays, she becomes more and more dangerous.
Basically, if you know what the fuck a yandere is, you know what’s up.
Watching Pink Yandere fall further into despair as the story progressed, as well as her drastic shifts in attitude, are a blast to watch. Hana Kanazawa delivers one of the best performances in her incredibly prolific career, at times sounding completely unrecognizable to me. She’s not just using her Akane Tsunemori serious drama voice, she’s speaking in a tone FAR lower than almost every anime she’s been cast in. And, as a huge fan of Mirai Nikki, you bet your ass I loved episode 11 when she tied her hair back to look exactly like Yuno. Praise be.
The other characters in the series are in various stages of sanity, for better or for worse. The most notable is Satou’s Aunt, who hoardes trash and lets weirdos beat the shit out of her for pleasure. You know, like all loving aunts do. But, like Satou, she’s fully in control of her actions. Rather, this is a matter of one being so deluded of themselves that they believe their behavior to be healthy. AILF (aunt i’d like to fuck) even convinces herself to have a fulfilling role within society, accepting hostility and fucking it out of them. She is indeed quite over-the-top, but the long dialogues she provides make her believable enough to be enjoyable.
And then there’s the lolicon guy… oh boy. This fuckin’ guy. As a result of things happening that cause him to distrust adults, he becomes so fully attached to Shio that he takes passionate inhalations of her missing poster flyers. THIS is the over-the-top character that you’d expect to see from a full edgelord show, and really, your opinion of him just depends on how much you’re into that kinda stuff. To me, this character is no more than a punchline--more like a punching bag, actually, given all the shit he goes through. A full display of maximum disparity and lack of self-control, his actions are so cartoonish and ridiculous that all he ends up doing in the series is suffering. A lot. He’s just a dumping ground for all the negative consequences brought on by the other characters. Overall, not a character to be taken seriously; he stands at the border between Happy Sugar Life being a completely serious drama and a goofy, edgy comedy. I like the mixture of both worlds.
But the crowning jewel of this anime are some of the more psychologically-based scenes. For as weird and silly as the anime can be, there are scenes of actual genius scattered throughout--most notably, the first half of episode eight. It explores the backstory of Satou’s and Shio’s apartment through the eyes of its former resident. All of it is in first-person view with no music, and the resident never speaks. Instead, their moments of “dialogue” are replaced with a glitchy audio clip over a fluctuating black line. The pauses before these clips make noise and their varying intensity fill in the blanks of Satou’s conversations perfectly. It’s a tremendously well-done scene that I would recommend to anyone, even if you haven't seen the rest of the anime.
Sound manipulation is a motif in this series; characters’ voices will become static-y and distorted in key moments to intensify their dark expressions. Several different visual tricks are used for similar reasons--glowing eyes, static, reflections, scratchy lines, lighting, shadows, tactful shot compositions and other things are all deployed for the show’s depraved, depressing and dark moods without overdoing any of them. Meanwhile, happier moments are shown with sparkles, bubbles, clouds and bright, poppy colors; so corny that they’re almost vomit-inducing, and I mean that in the best way possible. Happy Sugar Life doesn’t necessarily excel with animation, set pieces or character designs, but the various tricks it uses to communicate its feelings are excellent.
Similarly, the soundtrack doesn’t particularly stand out, but the sound design is quite good, I’ll say again. Rising violins, static, vocal manipulation and prestigious voice acting get the job more than done. The OP is one of my favorites of the entire year, using a song perfectly toned to this anime with its siren-like guitar riffs and optimistic, upbeat tone, shifting in and out of muttered, paranoid passages. Bizarre, photographed objects float about in the background; a Shio-like angel flies over shadowy figures of the characters, and various trappings by glass jars and thorns lay over Satou as the video glitches with inconsistent timing. It’s easy to see what’s going on in the OP based on a few episodes of the show itself, but it’s communicated in so many incredible ways that the OP never got skipped. The ED is good… for an ED, that is, which is to say not much, but the animation of Satou and Shio is cute, and the song itself is quite touching.
If you’ve read my reviews before, you know that I’m completely and 100% serious in all of my reviews, and I never make any jokes whatsoever, so when I say this is a 9/10 anime, I mean that it should be watched by all eyes, no matter what.
Now, if you’ve ACTUALLY read my reviews before, you’d know I like to play around, that I don’t really care about ratings, that I’m not all that interested in seeing a fully-serious, masterfully-crafted story. But with its combination of surprise turnarounds, smart directing and just the right amount of silliness, I’d truly say that Happy Sugar Life is a quality anime; not just by my standards, but for drama and psychological anime as a whole. Indeed, it is not perfect--some people will be unhappy with some of the characters or not be willing to see how the anime fixes itself down the line. In fact, I myself have room to complain about the teacher not having any real exploration to his character, as well as some scenes that simply would not happen in the real world, such as Satou's Aunt seducing the police officer, as good as it was. A lot of it is conveniently written. The characters aren’t particularly deep and more idealized than realized. But, overall, Happy Sugar Life is FUN. It is an exciting series that takes little time to light its first match, and once it gets going it doesn’t let up until it has burned everything down.
I dearly recommend this anime to anyone who’s into not just edgy comedies, but anyone who’s interested in a kinda wacky psychological drama that even manages to unnerve you a little bit. Perhaps it is not the most effective at what it is, but it is, nonetheless, effective.
Story - 8/10
Art - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Characters - 7/10
Enjoyment - 9/10
Yandere - 10/10
Overall - 9/10
Favorite episode - 8
Favorite character - Satou. Or her Aunt. Depends on how I’m feeling or how horny I am I guess. Pretend I didn’t type that out.
Recommendation level - Medium-high
Once upon a time, there was a girl who didn’t know what love really is. She seemingly had no goals in life with a rootless understanding about love. Sleeping with guys and not truly knowing what her life is about, she didn’t know if there was a place to belong. Wondering around the end of abyss of life and not knowing who she can really be with. Then, a child appeared. An innocent child with a face full of life and sugar. Is this a chance to truly discover love? Is it a chance to live a happy sugar life?
As a show that combines elements
of psychological horror, suspense, and thriller, Happy Sugar Life looked deceptive at first glance. Now I admit, I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to shows where we have an anti-hero protagonist. I mean, the first episode speak for itself once you realize Matsuzaka Satou’s personality. She is essentially living a double life – one that is of a normal girl and other being overly obsessive of Shio Kobe. This devotion to Shio is so strong that she is willing to kill others to “protect” her from harm. In Satou's mind, being with Shio equates to happiness.
Despite the complex nature of the plot, the setup of the story is actually very simple. We got Satou who pretty much takes Shio as a partner and isolates her in a place where she feels is safe. It’s an apartment that looks normal on the inside and outside until you realize there may be something much darker going on behind the scenes. The first few episodes is rather cryptic about Satou’s actions including parts where she takes questionable content in and out of the house. Meanwhile, there’s definitely character chemistry going on between Satou and Shio. The duo shares an innocent love chemistry and ritual-like marriage ceremonies on a frequent basis. On most parts, the show seems fluffy during those segments while masking the suspenseful thriller storytelling. Throughout the series, we discover just how far from normal Satou actually is. The show also makes it clear that she will go to any length to protect Shio even if it means murder. Anyone who is familiar with the term ‘yandere’ will easily dedicate her character as such. In essence, Satou is a complex character who sees her idea of love in a twisted way. Regardless of consequences, she will do anything to protect that love. This puts Shio on the opposite end of the spectrum as she is an innocent child. Despite that, she seems to adore Satou and always values their relationship. It’s the sort of child behavior you’d expect from this show.
The more I watched Happy Sugar Life, the more I realized how this show depicts human behavior in some of the worst ways possible. Characters such as Taiyou displays borderline pedophile behavior towards Shio. Others such as Daichi and Satou’s aunt also demonstrate their psychological tendencies in several episodes. With the exception of Shio, only one other character came to my mind who I can say is normal. Her name would be Shouko Hida but I wouldn’t get attached to her easily. In fact, try to refrain from getting attached to most of the characters in this series because their real personalities are incredibly disturbing. Another reason is that some characters will not make it alive. I’m not going to mention it as it’s spoiler but let’s just say that death isn’t uncommon in the story.
As the majority of the series adheres to psychological horror, it’s hard to really root for any single character. The characters Satou deals with are often evil as she is with some being even more twisted. However, I think some of her past can be sympathetic. Satou wasn’t born with evil intentions but events shaped her to become what she is now. The past explores her character in depth and there’s even one episode that explains how Satou ends up where she is now. Narratives in this series is incredibly important as it fishes out a character’s personality to the fullest. Satou is the primary example of this as we see a journey to understanding love in her words. There’s also a character named Asahi Koube in the show with a deep desire to reunite with Shio as a family. But unlike Satou, he doesn’t go to measures such as killing to achieve his happiness. It’s a bit sugarcoated but he is more of a hero than Satou will ever be.
By the time you reach the conclusion of the first episode, I think it’ll become obvious whether or not it’s worth following this anime. Are you the type that love suspenseful horror? Do you favor a story with twisted inhumane characters? Do you want to see if characters such as Satou or Shio really find love in each other in the end? If these are some of the questions in mind, then definitely give this anime a shot. Otherwise, it’s going to be a sluggish ride as every episode builds more and more into the suspense. I personally find this anime unique in the sense that it isn’t truly deceptive yet always makes me anticipate on what to expect next. The character cast wants you to hate them and they succeed without jeopardizing the plot. And to me, that’s a feat that I admire.
Like the title suggests, Happy Sugar Life has a sugary and sweet coloring to its animation style. Studio Ezo’la (one that I never heard of before until this series) bought out its ideas to fullest. It’s vibrant and full of life during moments when we see happiness. Then, there are those dark eerie scenes that brings out the horror of the story. It’s often moody especially in Satou’s apartment where questionable content lies in the dark. As you should expect, this show contains violence that includes murder. The TV version seems to have tone it down a bit as some of the graphic content is done behind the scenes rather than shown directly on screen. Satou is the main culprit of this but there are some other characters that commit sinful deeds. Oh and be prepared for some uncomfortable scenes from the main cast. Taiyou is a guy that I deeply regret watching for his pedophilic tendencies. Good God, erase him from the show. Other character expressions in the series are disturbing to watch such as with Satou’s red predatory eyes or her aunt’s mentally unstable behavior. The light in the dark tunnel is Shio as she brings in sugar, spice, and everything nice.
If you want psychology in this series, you need the characters to be convincing. Thanks to the modern talent of Kana Hanazawa, that is achieved. She’s known for a variety of heroine roles and to play a yandere in this series truly bought out her talent to full. Misaki Kuno is also able to step into the shoes of a child to portray her character’s innocence. The theme songs contain an upbeat mood that contrasts with the tone of the show. It’s very playful and bubbly while the ED theme contains a more melodramatic feeling.
Happy Sugar Life tells the tale of love that isn’t the typical romantic story you’re familiar with. Instead, it crafts psychological horror with a cast of degenerate characters. There are some that you’ll find to be abominations of our society. Yet, this series is far from an abomination. It’s a psychological horror done right with a clear set of intentions at its heart and soul.
Happy Sugar Life is a psychological horror starring Satou Matsuzaka as our main heroine. It is revealed early in the first episode that she lives with Shio Koube, who Satou considers to be her "special someone". Satou did horrible things to live with Shio, and as you might have read already on MAL's synopsis, Satou will do everything in her capabilities to protect her life with Shio, her Happy Sugar Life. Of course, Satou and Shio are not the only characters here. This anime is one to watch if you want to see a lot of psychologically scarred characters.
A theme going on in the anime
is about 'love' and the characters' different 'love'. The story is centered on Satou and Shio's relationship with what Satou believes is pure love. The atmosphere usually changes back and forth between Satou's sugar life and all the bitterness of the outside world. Scenes showing the sugar part of Satou's life will mostly be when she is alongside Shio. The bitterness is from characters that threaten Satou's status quo. Satou prefers to not interact with anyone else, but that is not possible. She has to work to support her life, keeping facades in school and her workplace. This leads to her feeling bitter when other characters are intrusive with their 'love'. Examples of this are when Satou started getting trouble from the likes of her manager and her teacher early in the show.
Happy Sugar Life handles their characters very well. Most of the important characters are introduced early in the show, leaving time to explore them and for character development. There are only a few characters who feels like 'disposable characters'. Most characters are also screwed up in the head, almost everyone has some trauma or psychological disorder. This leads to interesting interactions between the characters, or rather psychos. With each characters comes different interactions, with Satou taking different approaches to keep them away from her relationship with Shio. Furthermore, every character does get their own bit of spotlight, showing their motives, their past, or how they got traumatized.
The story relies heavily on mystery and suspense. Feelings of unease can be felt during the calmer parts of the show. Satou's expressions are not always clear, leaving you wondering on what she might do. You are left not knowing most of the truth, and it keeps making you curious about what will happen next. When you thought you know what was going on, the anime revealed a different answer, and you are back in the mystery. Even during the 'sugar' scenes, just not knowing what is brewing without you knowing is enough to keep the suspense going. The music (or lack of) supports the atmosphere really well. All that said, some situations are so weird and absurd, you might feel disgust or get a chuckle out of it.
Overall, Happy Sugar Life is an anime filled with mentally scarred characters, with Satou and Shio in the middle bringing these characters inevitably bumping with each other. Happy Sugar Life uses its characters well without freely disposing them. It also does a good job delivering suspense. Scenes switch around 'sugar' and 'bitter' parts, with the suspense still intact. On the bad side, at times, it feels like the anime is just dragging out the mystery, and the situations might seem too unrealistic.