A Little Snow Fairy Sugar

October 22, 2005 on 4:34 pm | In Sugar | Comments Off on A Little Snow Fairy Sugar

“Sugar Baby Love
On my lips
The rouge of tears”

A Little Snow Fairy Sugar is possibly the best anime about a fairy training to control snow by playing the flute in Germany that I’ve ever seen. This is the sort of thing that I expect from good shoujo anime. It’s not quite mahou shoujo, although it does bear many of the hallmarks of the genre. Like many of this sort of program, it has charm enough for all audiences.

Saga Bergman is an 11 year old girl who lives in the fictional German town of Muhlenberg. Saga lives with her grandmother and makes strict plans that she follows on a daily basis. When a little snow fairy by the name of Sugar turns up in Muhlenberg and moves into Saga’s house, these plans are all thrown into disarray!
Saga is reluctant at first, but in time comes to value Sugar and assist her in her studies.

Sugar is evidence that anime directors are wildly inconsistent in the works that they take on, unless they are an “auteur” along the lines of Miyazaki, Oshii or … I was going to say Kon, but Kon’s stamp is that all of his projects are wildly different.
Sugar is the work of Kimura Shinichiro, a man who has made his mark in harem comedies of varying degrees of execrableness: from the fairly entertaining police comedy Burn Up Excess to the spottily okay Hand Maid May to the not-very-good-at-all Cosplay Complex.
Kimura’s work here is strong and plays just the right amount of sentiment, keeping to the sort of schedule favoured by childrens’ shows without feeling too much like routine: almost every episode features Saga and Sugar bathing together, another vague genre hallmark made famous by Ryo-Ohki and Kero-chan the loofah sailor.

The characters sell Sugar: Sugar and Saga are a well-matched team, with Saga being something of a mother to her resident fairy. Sugar’s friends Salt and Pepper, who respectively control sun and wind, have their own little stories that are allowed to be fleshed out just as well as the major growth of the leads.
The real highlight is Greta, the traditional spoiled child who turns out to have a heart of gold. That’s not really anything to be surprised by, but it certainly was welcome to see a character shed her superficiality and reveal her true nature.

Character designs are from the incomparable Koge-Donbo, the woman behind Di-Gi Charat and some excellent Harry Potter fan art. Sugar is cute, but not insufferably so. Apparently some people have issues with Koge-Donbo’s stamp, but this is exactly my style so I can’t exactly be objective on it … although that’s not exactly my job … but I love it.

The town of Muhlenberg is based on the real town of Rothenberg, and one can really get the feel of a large, classically designed European village. The city looks slightly watercoloured, yet always in focus. The animation is all digital and works well with the situations. The production notes say that the fairies are actually drawn full size and then scaled down, and this works very well. Sugar was not exactly the first anime to be done digitally, but it is plainly one of the best from J.C. Staff’s early days in the field (with works such as Excel Saga and Geobreeders Breakthrough looking slightly dodgy).

The OP is a Japanese remake of the fifties classic “Sugar Baby Love” which, at first seems unbearable but becomes a real mainstay of the series. This is one of those series wherein the score is composed of variations on the OP and ED, but that is nothing to complain about. The scenes that vary “Sugar Baby Love” tend to flow with sentiment and the song helps unleash this aspect of the series marvellously.
There is really nothing to complain about in this series: Kawakami Tomoko turns in one of her traditional shoujo performances as Sugar, and Mitsuishi Kotono even turns up along the way to play the Rain fairy Ginger. What this means, essentially, is a comfy-warm, puffy-fluffy feeling is forged inside the hearts of those who watch Sugar.

A Little Snow Fairy Sugar is excellent anime with a streak of sentiment, a minimum of annoyance, and an episode dedicated to a romance between a tortoise and a dove. There’s really nothing more you can ask for.

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