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Manga / Happy Sugar Life

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Sweetness and Bitterness are two sides of the same coin.
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High-schooler Satou Matsuzaka has a reputation for being easy, but one day her lifestyle of sleeping with one boy after another comes to an end. She comes upon a lost child named Shio Kobe, who awakens feelings in her that she has never felt before. Believing that this emotion must be true love, Satou is determined to hold Shio close and never let her go. No matter who or what stands in her way.

But from where did she acquire the girl, and how long can their "Happy Sugar Life" together last?

Happy Sugar Life is a manga written by Tomiyaki Kagisora. An anime adaptation by Ezo'la was released in July 2018.


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This manga provides examples of:

  • Abduction Is Love: Satou basically picks Shio up off the street and whisks her off home with her, then proceeds to isolate her in an apartment by telling her the outside world is dangerous and later physically locking her in. She knows full well that there are missing person posters everywhere for her, and knows who's looking for her. But she refuses to even consider letting her go.
    • Attempted by the manager of the Princess Imperal that Satou works at for a time, when she kidnaps Satou's coworker Mitsuboshi and molests him in an attempt to make him love only her. It doesn't go according to plan.
  • Abusive Parents: Asahi's dad. To put it into perspective, he once tore off his son's fingernails just to see how long he could endure it. And then made him get liquor afterwords. It's only fortunate that the asshole died of alcohol poisoning later, but it took five years after his sister and his mom left. It's later revealed he didn't die of alcohol poisoning, but that his sake was poisoned by Asahi's mother.
    • Satou's aunt might also be considered this. Although there's no indication that the aunt has ever harmed Satou in any way, she is very clearly not a good role model nor stable enough to be trusted with caring for a child. Satou growing up with her aunt likely damaged her to a far greater extent than losing her parents.
  • Adults Are Useless: A prevailing theme in the manga. Many of the young characters recognize the failures of the adults in their life, whether it be Taiyou getting molested by his former boss, the Kobe siblings' abusive household, Yuuna's parents consenting to her marriage with the boy who raped her, and Satou's upbringing with her aunt. To an extent, they all grow up hating them and wanting to rely on themselves.
  • Adult Fear:
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    • Your son seemingly vanishing for a week with you being none the wiser of him being held captive by his boss.
    • Imagine being an inattentive parent of an only child, and then said child gets brutally murdered by her own best friend, and you may not know of her fate until the news covers it.
    • While taking Shio outside for the first time, Yunna watches in abject horror as her daughter is nearly ran over by a bus.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Shio displays some potential signs of this. With symptoms ranging from dizzy spells and intense bouts of fear and anxiety that leave her curled up holding her head on the ground, to hallucinations of her mother with her face scribbled out speaking to her. It's uncertain at this point what her actual condition might be, though PTSD and such are potentially on the table.
  • Anti-Villain: Yes, Satou is a murderer (and possible pedophile) with practically zero morals, but she channels those into protecting Shio, and is rarely the instigator of conflict, with most of the people she targets being far worse then herself.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: Big time. While the look of the series has character designs that wouldn't be out of place in a fluffy Yuri-hime serial, their personalities are anything but.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Chapters 16 and 17 give us an incredible build up of tension. Satou's teacher called the police in order to get them to investigate her apartment, Shouko is with Satou intent on meeting her aunt, they're right in front of the apartment door and those around her look on in suspicion as Satou unlocks the tiny lock near the foot of the door that she installed on her and Shio's apartment door to keep Shio trapped inside and it looks as though Satou is about to be caught red-handed. Only for the person to greet them at the opened door be not Shio, but Satou's very much alive aunt, and all questionable smells from the apartment simply being the garbage that said aunt keeps there. And the apartment where Shio and Satou actually live is on a different floor.
  • Beauty = Goodness: Averted hard. Even downright villainous characters like Kitaumekawa, the two park thugs and Asahi's dad aren't stereotypically ugly.
  • Blind Obedience: Shio displays this time and time again to Satou, believing her entirely with no room for doubt in her mind that she has anything but her best interests at heart. Her age may have a lot to do with it.
  • Book-Ends: The anime series begins with Satou in an Imagine Spot fondly thinking of her future life with Shio, and the twelfth episode concludes with Shio having one a few days after the events of the episode. Both end with the obligatory Title Drop.
  • Cast Full of Crazy: And how! Every single character connected to the main plot has a very twisted mind, went through a horribly traumatizing experience, or both. The only exception to the rule is Shouko.
  • Central Theme: "Children need to experience love while growing up, for they will crave it when they don't receive it". Pretty much every underage character in the series has a different problem, but they all have a common source: they want to love and be loved. Thanks to useless or flat-out abusive parental figures, most of the cast feels lonely and neglected, and plot mostly consists of their (usually unhealthy) attempts to cope with this clashing with each other. While some of them, including the Villain Protagonist, do pretty horrible things in their quest for love, the series still gives them some level of sympathy due to their Freudian Excuse, implying they could have lived better lives if the adults around them were actually capable of raising them right.
  • The Chain of Harm: A lot of the characters have a Freudian Excuse to explain their behavior, but their suffering abuse leads them to pass that abuse on, intentionally or no.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: More on Shio's side, but it's part of the daily ritual for her and Satou. She puts a blanket on Satou's head, says her marriage vows, and pinky promises with her. Eventually, she and Satou decide that they really want to get married, and the latter buys rings for them and plans to escape to a tropical area for their "honeymoon" and to escape suspicion.
  • Crapsack World: How Satou views the world outside of the apartment she and Shio reside in. She repeatedly describes the outside world as "filthy" and "dirty", and views the apartment as a "castle" or a gilded cage of sorts to keep themselves bundled up in away from all of that. Even going as far as to describe her leaving to go to work or school as expeditions where she's acquiring provisions for them to survive.
  • Deceptively Silly Title: This is a psychological horror series starring a Villain Protagonist who kidnaps a child out of "love", and it is called "Happy Sugar Life". It does have an In-Universe meaning, but that doesn’t change the fact that the title is seriously misleading.
  • Devoted to You: Shio, despite being a young child, has a positively uncanny ability to cause several people to become intensely devoted to finding, acquiring, or just being near her, doing anything possible to keep her close and make her happy.
  • Depraved Bisexual: It's...really hard to discern Satou's true orientation. She's had mindless sex with quite a few boys, but her obession/love for Shio is seemingly very romantic, although not necessarily sexual. Satou is also quite willing to seduce other girls as a mean to an end, as she does to her coworker.
  • Dies Wide Open: Poor Shouko.
  • Domestic Abuse: Asahi and Shio's father was shown to be incredibly abusive towards his family, being an alcoholic and incredibly ruthless in his treatment of his wife and young children. Especially after Shio and their mother ran away from him, when we see him physically abusing Asahi and forcing him to get him alcohol to feed his habit. It's really no wonder that Asahi is so overjoyed when he finally died.
    • In a more emotional abuse-based version of this, it is abundantly clear that Satou did NOT grow up in a good household while living with her aunt. Living in a disgustingly filthy apartment constantly filled with trash, and presumably people walking in and out to have sex and abuse her aunt. All while said aunt continuously neglected her and taught her a twisted version of love that is no better than abuse. All in all it's little wonder Satou grew up the way she did.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Actually averted. When Mitsuboshi is kidnapped and molested (and quite possibly more) by the female manager of the shop he and Satou worked at for a time, it's shown that the experience has greatly traumatized him. He spent a good deal of time at home after this, and has become terrified of older women to the point of feeling extremely ill whenever one so much as touches him (though girls the same age as him don't bother him as much). This eventually becomes a driving force for him after he becomes obsessed with and subsequently meets Shio, as he believes that she is the only one who can 'purify' him of his horrendous experience due to his trauma causing him to see younger girls as more "pure" than evil older women.
    • Repeated when Satou's aunt rapes Mitsuboshi after he tries to enter Satou's old apartment. Just like the last time, he's portrayed as unnerved and afraid when the aunt forces herself on him.
  • Downer Ending: In the anime, Satou and Shio are caught in the fire Satou's aunt set and decide to commit lover's suicide, but while falling Satou realizes true love and shields Shio's body with her own, sacrificing her life in the process. Asahi is finally reunited with Shio, but Shio rejects him in favor of Satou and decides to live for herself, keeping Satou's love and their "Happy Sugar Life" in her heart forever. While this ensures she will never experience a normal life, it's the closest thing to a Happy Ending anyone gets in the anime, if only because Shio is satisfied with the disturbing and unhealty life she had with Satou. Meanwhile, Shouko is dead, Mitsuboshi is left a broken mess after being raped a second time, Kitaumekawa and Satou's aunt are arrested, Yunna is left a broken mess and is likely going to be arrested for murdering her husband, and Asahi has lost everyone he cares about in a way or another.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Satou, the resident Villain Protagonist, often has to deal with people whose minds are just as twisted as her own, if not more.
  • Eye Scream: Satou gouges out the eyes of two thugs who saw Shio and were discussing bringing her to the police or using her as bait for Asahi.
  • Family of Choice: No matter how questionably the circumstances were that drew them together, ultimately Satou and Shio's relationship falls into this. Together, they'd never had as much genuine unconditional affection as they did with their blood relatives.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "I don't care! Even if you're the Devil, I still love you! I'll bring you back to the light! Satou!" - Shouko.
    • "I didn't know...what warmth felt like. What kindness was. And more than anything else...I couldn't understand what love was. It's all thanks to Shio-chan. It's because Shio-chan took my hand that one time. Shio-chan led me. I learned what happiness meant for the first time in my life. I never understood love before. But Shio-chan is the one who taught me what love means. I see! This is an even deeper feeling for Shio-chan....I...finally....Shio-chan, I hope you still love me when we're reborn. I'm sorry...and thanks." Satou.
  • Fauxshadow: The reader spends the first several chapters of the manga believing that Satou had murdered her aunt before bringing Shio to live with her in her apartment. However, come chapter 16 we learn that her aunt is perfectly alive (if very mentally unwell) and continues living in their apartment to her heart's content.
  • First-Episode Spoiler: After seeing Satou talk so much about how she's found her beloved, and how she's working so hard for them to give them a good life together, she returns home and greets her beloved waiting for her. Then we see that her 'beloved' is a small girl.
    • Then, after the reveal that Satou's 'beloved' is Shio, a child, we see her walking by a lamp post. With a missing person flyer posted on it with Shio's face.
  • For Want of a Nail: As Satou and Shio prepare to leave for the airport, Satou notices she left her ring behind in her old apartment, and they go back to retrieve it. This leads to them being caught by Asahi and culminates in Satou giving her life for Shio. For want of a ring, they gave up a clean getaway.
  • Gilded Cage: This imagery appears a lot in regards to Shio and Satou's apartment. Satou does her best to earn money so that they have the ability to live in her dead neighbor's old apartment, with plenty of food, running water, and even television, along with other treats. And Shio has no problems living there aside from occasional boredom. Though this is likely because she's too innocent to understand Satou's true intentions for always keeping her inside.
  • Hate Sink: In a series full of psychotic characters, these two make even Psycho Lesbian Satou look like a saint in comparison.
  • Hope Spot: When Shouko confronted Satou, there was still a chance Satou would trust her and let her live. The manga intentionally frames the encounter to make it look like she could really reach the little humanity Satou still had.And then came the knife...
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Often how Shio is portrayed, and how she is viewed by other characters.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: When Satou murders Shouko for catching her with Shio and snapping a photo of her, since she doesn't trust her not to go to the cops or Shio's brother. Averted, though, as Satou admits in Shouko's final moments that she cares as little about her as she does any random stranger on the street. Zigzagged as the death seems to have caused her greater emotional upset than that.
  • The Kindnapper: Satou gives this excuse to Mitsuboshi, claiming that she feels that only she can make Shio happy, as there's no telling if being with her family would actually be good for her. Though it's unknown how much she actually believes this as opposed to her justifying her kidnapping of Shio. Later revelations have it played straight after all; since Yuuna had abandoned Shio just prior to Satou finding her, Satou has some justification in taking her off the streets and caring for her.
  • Kiss of Death: One of the last things we see Shouko doing before going to confront Satou and finding the truth about Shio with deadly consequences is giving Asahi a goodbye kiss as he leaves to continue his search for Shio.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Satou can be seen as this, as her violent tendencies emerged after encountering Shio and falling in "love" with her.
  • Love Redeems: Averted. Satou operates under the impression that as long as it's for her love for Shio, anything that she does is perfectly fine. Including threats, assault, and outright murder.
  • Lunacy: Shio is explicitly compared to the moon by Asahi, and a later spread shows a picture of her while also describing lunacy as people being driven mad by the moon's light. Shio drives a number of characters, namely Satou, Mitsuboshi and Asahi, to commit deranged or desperate acts, the most twisted of which almost always happen at night. Night is also when Satou always comes home to Shio...
  • Meaningful Name: Certain characters' names have contrasting meanings when paired with another:
    • Satou's given name means "sugar", while Shio's given name means "salt".
    • Taiyou's given name means "sun", whereas Asahi means "morning sun".
  • Minor Living Alone: Satou (and clearly Shio) is a minor, yet lives in an apartment all on her own, which she apparently pays for all on her own, along with the groceries and water and such.
  • Missed Him by That Much: The Kobe siblings in episode 3. At one point they are both walking in the same street, but in different directions and not looking around, so they don't see each other.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: The characters from this series operate on many different levels of morality and sanity. The main character is a Villain Protagonist Yandere, but also an Anti-Villain with a sympathetic past. The other major character is a child that is portrayed as the epitome of innocence, but suffers from an Ambiguous Disorder that may be the reason why she is still innocent. Other characters include antagonists who are just as depraved as the Villain Protagonist but much less sympathetic; a boy who becomes just as mentally unstable as those guys but remains self-aware enough to try (and fail) to change; another boy that is fundamentally a Nice Guy but is seriously traumatized; and a Nice Girl that serves as the Only Sane Man of the series.
  • No-Dialogue Episode: The majority of Chapter 23 (the final part of Episode 9 in the anime) while Shouko confronts Satou about Shio. Though subverted in the last few pages when they do exchange a few on panel words, and all of their dialogue is squished in together on a single page after the whole of the conversation took place.
  • Parental Abandonment: Both of Satou's parents are stated to have died when she was very young, and she was left to live with her aunt who turns out to be extremely unhinged herself. The aunt is a manic masochist obsessed with allowing men and women to abuse her physically and degrade her sexually, which she claims is the utmost expression of love, and has a filth-strewn room ("for trash") in her apartment where she indulges in her habits. It goes without saying that this wouldn't be a healthy environment for Satou to grow up in.
    • Later chapters and hints indicate that Shio may have actually been abandoned in the street by her mother, where she was subsequently found by Satou.
  • Perverted Sniffing:
    • Done by Daichi when he was alone sniffing Satou's jacket.
    • Suu does the same at the end of Episode 4.
    • Satou bribes Mitsuboshi into becoming her henchman by giving him one of Shio's socks for this purpose.
  • Pilot: The one-shot that this series is based on, titled White Sugar Garden, Black Salt Cage, carries a few differences:
    • Satou had a stalker ex-boyfriend, who she kills in his own apartment in a face-to-face encounter, and chops his body to pieces (albeit he first had his lips bitten by her in a kiss and got scared stiff as a result); whose design later became Mitsuboshi.
    • Satou herself was more willing to kill here without turning to it as a last resort.
    • Satou is also much more emotionally manipulative toward Shio, shown when Shio tries to leave the house and Satou begins to guilt-trip her until Shio starts crying. In the full story, while Satou is a master manipulator she never consciously manipulates Shio.
  • Police are Useless: To society as a whole, not just to the main characters. The male policeman who almost got seduced by Satou's aunt never reported Shio or the things he found in her apartment, and going by a chapter cover with her sitting beside the cop's hat, he's implied to make regular visits to her.
  • P.O.V. Cam: During the chapter/episode where we learn where Satou got her apartment, we spend the majority of the chapter looking through the point of view of her neighbor who she murdered to get it.
  • Rape Discretion Shot:
    • Played straight in the manga (Chapter 28), - when Yuuna is raped by her future husband, resulting in her getting pregnant with Asahi, the act itself is never shown; only him grabbing her hand, followed by panels of her narration, and the aftermath in the next chapter.
    • Zigzagged in the anime: Mitsuboshi’s rape by his female manager – as remembered by him - is shown twice in brief trauma-induced flashbacks; whereby his rapist is depicted as a shadowy, eyeless figure forcing herself on him, in one instance from his own POV.
    • Done again in chapters 39 and 40, when Mitsuboshi is molested by Satou's aunt after she traps him in the apartment.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Though the act itself is never openly portrayed onscreen or on panel, the aftermath for the victim is often shown openly and brutally.
    • Mitsuboshi, after being found by Satou after what is assumed to be a full week of molestation and rape, is shown stuffed in a closet, naked, bound and gagged, and with a dead/terrified look in his eyes. Even Satou displays some disgust over all of this, and from then on Mitsuboshi's reactions to the event are seen in a negative light. From his fear of older women, to his temporarily becoming a shut-in, and his later obsession with Shio, nothing he does to cope with the event is portrayed as healthy. To say nothing of his second bout of rape at the hands of Satou's aunt, all throughout which he flashed back to his previous kidnapper/rapist.
    • Shio and Asahi's mother, Yuuna, was raped by her future husband, which is how Asahi was conceived (the same can be assumed of Shio). Though it's at least one in a series of atrocious acts that Mr. Kobe commits, it is that first rape that causes Yuuna's life to start spiraling out of control, to the point where she lives a miserable existence at present.
  • Reality Ensues: So, Mitsuboshi's psyche suffered a huge hit after he got raped in the first chapter, but he eventually realized that his newfound obsession with Shio is damaging his life, so he decided to give up on her and go back to being a normal person. A happy ending for him, right? Nope, a trauma isn't something that disappears so easily, and neither is an obsession. A little push from Satou is all it needs for his resolve to crumble into dust.
  • Really Gets Around: Satou used to sleep around with lots of different boys before she met Shio, earning her a reputation for it to the point they say that she changes partners every three days. By her own admission, Satou even says that she's been with millions of boys before. Her best friend Shouko indicates that they used to go out and hunt down different guys together, though it's never hinted if Shouko has the same type of reputation as her friend.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In contrast to her bubblegum pink hair, Satou's eyes are an ominous blood red. Hinting at her true, more dangerous nature.
  • Red Herring: Given the giant bloodstains in one of the rooms of the apartment, her spending the majority of early chapters getting rid of bags with questionable contents at best, and the fact that not one of her friends or teachers has ever met or even seen her aunt who's supposed to be her guardian, the reader might have presumed that Satou murdered her aunt in order to keep Shio in her apartment. However, come later chapters, we learn that her aunt is alive. Their neighbor whose apartment Satou and Shio currently live in isn't, though.
  • Sailor Fuku: What Shio can be seen wearing most often.
  • The Shut-In: Shio is often left alone for most of the day because of Satou having to go out of the apartment to attend school and go to work so she can earn money to support them. She is perfectly capable of leaving the apartment, but does not do so due to Satou telling her that the outside world is dangerous. Even to the point where she's asked not to open the balcony door and step outside, likely due to Satou wanting to prevent Shio from being seen by anyone, since she knows someone is looking for Shio. Though Shio later loses the ability to leave the apartment due to Satou installing a lock on the outside of the door to prevent her from leaving under her own power.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Satou gives one to Suu to get peace of mind from her proclaiming her twisted love for her.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: There's never any indication that Satou experiences any sort of sexual feelings for Shio, but she is clearly obsessed with her and believes she is completely in love with Shio and only Shio.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist/There Are No Therapists:Clearly, they do not. Satou was allowed to live with her aunt since presumably early childhood after the deaths of her parents. With said aunt displaying signs of being neglectful, keeping a positively filthy house, and exposing her from a young age to her sexual deviancy in the form of her insane masochism, among other things. Satou's exposure to this state of affairs for years on end growing up severly warped her view of love, causing her to mindlessly sleep around since she saw love and sex as one in the same. Mitsuboshi's trauma was not dealt with, as he simply holed himself up in his house, and later became obssessed with a little girl who he believed could "purify" him with her touch. Asahi and Shio were forced to suffer a home life of abuse by their father, and both suffer from repressed memories long after said father's death. Even the police who eventually come to visit are just there because they received a complaint of a bad smell from the apartment, and just told her to clean out her room full of garbage. Doing nothing about the wellbeing of the teenage girl who lives there with her.
  • The Sociopath:
    • Satou Matsuzaka shares several of the characteristics of a textbook sociopath such as her cleverness, manipulation tactics, and an artificial charisma to mask her true self. However, what prevents her from truly falling into this is her genuine love for Shio.
    • The Manager of the Princess Imperial has a bloated sense of importance, so much so, when Mitsuboshi asked Satou out on a date, she responded by kidnapping and raping him for a week as a way of rectifying that.
    • Asahi's father is a low functioning example of a sociopath who wastes no time with wasting the money he received from his inheritance to spend it on his hedonism. He lacks empathy for anyone he hurts, having raped his wife when they first met after she accidentally bumped into him.
    • The two thugs that nearly beat Asahi to death for no other reason than For the Evulz. After beating Mitsuboshi up, they decide to use Shio as bait to lure Asahi to the park so that they could resume beating him up.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Even before the start of series, Satou has been mentioned to have dealt with several of these already, many due to her spurning the affections of many of the boys that she has slept with. The most current of her stalkers being one of her teachers, and a fellow coworker.
  • Title Drop: Satou calls her life with Shio a "Happy Sugar Life", because she feels like her body is filled with sweetness when she is with Shio. It is also the name of the final episode of the anime.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Two particular characters stand out here:
    • Satou's aunt openly invites a police officer to slap and abuse her without care, because she simply sees such things as part of her twisted version of "love".
    • Satou's teacher, Daichi Kitaumekawa, openly gets aroused when Satou corners him, stamps on his crotch, and threatens to expose his true perverted nature - though he is seemingly more of a sadomasochist - as is later shown when he is brought to the point of climax by the thought of having exposing Satou's concealed murder in her apartment.
  • Villain Protagonist: The "heroine" of this story is holding a child captive in her apartment, and is willing to resort to threats, bribery and even murder to keep her there. Though to be fair, many other characters who oppose her are even more twisted in morality. It also doesn't hurt Satou's case that despite her madness, she's the only character introduced thus far who has demonstrated they can adequately care for Shio, even including Asahi.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Despite Satou being a small teenage girl, with no fighting experience or training, she is able to defeat bigger people in physical confrontations: such as her grabbing an adult woman by the collar, repelling two thugs in a park at night using her swiftness and weapons, and killing an adult man by bashing his head in with an easel.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 23, where Shouko is killed by Satou for discovering she kidnaped Shio. With this, Satou not only killed a major character for the first time, but she also personally destroyed the last and perhaps only real link she still had with her previous, normal life.
  • Yandere: And HOW. Not only is Satou perfectly willing to murder people in order to keep Shio to herself, including the neighbor whose apartment she and Shio currently live in (though it should be mentioned that said neighbor tried to strangle Shio over his own obsession with Satou, and Satou only killed him because of that). No to mention that there are several other characters who exhibit obsessive or excessively controlling behavior.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Satou's teacher Kitaumekawa, who apparently tries to hit on his students a lot, despite having a wife and young daughter. Satou uses this fact against him, as she knows that despite his cheating, he doesn't want to lose his family or take the blow to the reputation that would come if he were found out.
  • Yuri Genre: An undoubtedly dark, and highly twisted take on the genre though.
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