Here we are almost a month after my Year of Sentai announcement, and I’m barely getting the first show reviewed. This is going to be a hell of a challenge indeed. Still I made a commitment, and I’m stickin’ to it. Admittedly this was a tough one to get through, because I’m not the target audience for the show. Still I persevered and made it through all 24 episodes and 2 OVA’s of…
A Little Snow Fairy Sugar
Studio: J.C. Staff
Director: Yoshimasa Hiraike
Aired: 10/2/01 – 3/26/ 02
Episode Count: 24 + 2 OVAs
Languages: Japanese with English subtitles, English
Genre(s): Comedy, Fantasy, Slice of Life, Drama
Streaming: No Stream Available, On Sale HERE
If the title doesn’t give it away, this show is overwhelmingly targeted towards children. It’s a very sweet show that mixes comedy with drama in a way that is at times very rewarding, and at other times very frustrating. The animation style will make older anime fans nostalgic for 90’s anime, as the show’s aesthetic is very much in the vein of 90’s kids anime. I will admit that through most of the show I was simply waiting for it to finally be over. However, despite the somewhat bland beginning and middle of the show, the end payed off pretty well in my opinion.
Chicchana Yukitsukai Sugar begins in the vaguely European town of Muhlenberg, where Saga Bergman lives with her grandmother. Saga is a diligent 11-year-old girl who goes to school, works at a coffee shop, and dreams of being a pianist like her mother one day. Her mother died in an unfortunate accident, and in a twist that will NEVER be explained, her mother’s piano ends up in a music store for sale. On one day Saga comes face-to-face with Sugar, an apprentice “season fairy”, who is looking for a “twinkle” to complete her training. Saga seems to be the only one who can see season fairies, and Sugar decides to stay with Saga because her magic seed (that blooms when she’s completed her training) planted itself in Saga’s room. Thus begins the adventures of Saga and Sugar, along with a decently large cast of supporting characters.
The vast majority of the show can be broken down to two characters having a disagreement, and coming together by the end of the episode. There are some mini-arcs where it takes longer, but overall it’s about Saga and the apprentice fairies (Sugar, Salt, and Pepper) learning some moral or another. Towards the end I would wonder if I was getting into a Saga/Sugar fight episode or if one of the supporting cast was going to get the spotlight. Most of the show centered on the theme of a person’s dreams and aspirations. Saga and Sugar apsired to be like their (deceased/living) mothers, Phil aspired to be a scientist, Lancelot the turtle aspired to fly (seriously), and the elder fairy aspired to be a pedo- I mean be in a relationship with an adult fairy a good deal younger than himself. Due to this I was counting down the hours until I was done with the show. However, the ending was what somewhat saved the story for me.
[Spoiler Start] Within the last 4 episodes we get an arc where Saga’s dead mother’s piano is given to the local rich girl (Greta) for her birthday. Saga has a bit of a break down, and begins to overwork herself to earn money for the piano. This negatively affects Sugar because the “Twinkle” that she was looking for to become a season fairy wasn’t a physical object, but a relationship in which she learned the joy of bringing happiness to others. Since Saga was sad, Sugar began to show symptoms of sickness. All the while Greta has a crisis of conscience over what to do with the piano her father gave her, that belonged to Saga’s dead mom. The whole arc has a profound feeling that something deeper might actually happen, but this is a children’s anime so that wasn’t really the case.
The whole affair ends when Saga sees she is making Sugar sick, and plays a little piano song that fixes the whole situation. Greta decides to put the piano in Saga’s house, but those plans change after a ridiculous piano chasing episode. Sugar’s magical flower blooms, and she is forced to return to the fairy world. After that Saga is unable to see seasonal fairies, and she is able to return to her normal life. The two OVA episodes cover a school play that Saga and her classmates put on before the final episode, and the fairies help them make the play a success. At the end of the last OVA we get to see a much older Saga as she witnesses a boy talk to an apprentice seasonal fairy, and we get the sense that life is going well for Saga and her friends. While it wasn’t the best ending in the world it definitely provided a decent amount of closure, which is rare enough in anime as it is. [Spoilers End]
Anime meant for children never really have the most depth to their characters, and A Little Snow Fairy Sugar is really no exception. The human characters all have their own quirks that they never seem to break from. Phil’s inventions explode, Norma is always 5 minutes late, Greta always challenges Saga to competitions, and all of the adults talk to Saga when she’s feeling down. Saga makes up for the lack of character development in the other characters with some pretty intense emotional arcs for a kid’s show. Her development doesn’t greatly change her character type, but it does teach her to put others before herself and speak out when she’s feeling down.
The three main fairies (Sugar, Salt, and Pepper) seem to be completely clueless about the human world, which is kind of baffling since they were sent there alone at a seemingly young age. All three of them spend most of the show discovering new and interesting aspects of the human world, in an attempt to learn more about the world they will affect with their seasonal magic. The older fairies take an incredibly hands-off approach to teaching most off the time, which lead my to wonder how many fairies don’t make it out of training due to accidents. I feel it’s also important to point out that these characters eat an unhealthy amount of waffles… it’s like the only food in their diet. Waffo!
Visuals and Music
Visually the character designs took some getting used to. After a couple decades away from the anime eyes of the 90’s and early 2000’s, it was a tad rough to see them again in the middle of watching the summer 2016 anime season. Once I got over the art style I came to really appreciate the background art in this show. The visuals in this European inspired city and landscape are breathtaking for an older show, and the characters fit in the world nicely. Everything in this world feels rustic, and it shows in the amount of painstaking details that the artist put into the background.
In terms of soundtrack this anime is all about music. Each fairy has an instrument based on which aspect of the weather they control. For example, Sugar as an apprentice snow fairy uses a flute, Salt the apprentice Sun fairy uses a trumpet, and Pepper the apprentice wind fairy uses a leier. On top of this Saga and other humans are constantly playing the piano in the show as well. The music of this show is often soothing, and if I had to pick out a stand out part of the show this would be it. The only downside is that a lot of the music is reused throughout the show, but I didn’t mind listening to most of the tracks over again.
A Little Snow Fairy Sugar is not a show that everyone will enjoy. Fans of strong storylines will be disappointed throughout the show, and people who aren’t used to older anime might be thrown off by the character designs. Slice-of-life fans might get a kick out of this show, but with shows like Barakumon and Non Non Biyori to compete against it falls a little flat. Overall it seems like the people who will get the most enjoyment out of Chicchana Yukitsukai Sugar are children, which works out nicely since that seems to be the target demographic to begin with. It helps that it is dubbed too, for the little ones who aren’t advanced enough in reading to watch subbed anime. If you’ve got a little one of your own, you might want to consider buying A Little Snow Fairy Sugar for them to watch.
TL;DR: A Little Snow Fairy Sugar is an children’s comedic slice-of-life anime, with hints of drama. There is little story or character development until the end, but the soundtrack and visuals are outstanding (once you get past the character designs). I’d recommend it for your kids, but if you’re looking for a slice-of-life try Non Non Biyori (also a Sentai anime).
Recommended Audience: Children, age 7 to 12? I’m not good at gauging children’s interest, as I have none of my own at the moment. I feel like older audiences will need more substance than this show can offer, but kids will probably get a kick out of it. Especially since it has an ending unlike most kid’s programming.
A Little Snow Fairy Sugar stumbles in flight, but eats a waffle to regain 3/5 HP! WAFFO!