Happy Sugar Life
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Happy Sugar Life ?
When will characters in thrillers learn that when you're about to leave a location for good, going back for something you've forgotten – even if it's important, even if it's precious – is a really bad idea? That's the fundamental mistake that Satou makes, which leads from where last episode ended to where the series began. Her scheme might have worked at least for a while if not for that crucial mistake.
This episode does what it needs to do in filling in the remaining holes in the story. The fire that seemed to be trapping Satou and Shio on the roof in the opening scene was deliberately set to cover up Shoko's death, but by Satou's aunt, who's perfectly happy to help Satou in her scheme because she appreciates Satou's love for Shio. They should have been gone from the building by then, but came back to get the ring that Satou left behind when she took it off to prepare Shoko's body. That causes her and Shio to run into both Asahi and Matsuzaka at different points. Of those two encounters, Matsuzaka is by far the less important of the two, as he's basically just become a victim and there's not much he can do with his hands once again tied behind his back.
The encounter with Asahi is critical, however. It explains how his demonic father finally got taken out of the picture and the reasoning of Shio's mother for abandoning Shio. While understandable (the mother was afraid of becoming like the father), it's still not excusable, something that she seems fully aware of at the very end, and Asahi's pleading isn't going to change anything. He's wholly underestimated that Shio is no longer a victim but an empowered partner in what's going on. Shio's statement that she now regards her mother abandoning her as freeing her up for a happier life decisively puts the nail in the coffin of her relationship with her family, even though it's ultimately leading to her death.
Or at least it should have, as in a minor surprise Shio doesn't die in the suicide jump; Satou somehow protected her enough in the fall that Shio's merely left hospitalized, though Satou isn't so fortunate. That whole sequence at the end with Shio in the hospital is fairly potent, both with her mother only looking at her room from a distance and Asahi's disconcerting vision of Satou overlaying Shio. The real question is whether or not Shio's experiences are going to leave her stronger or weaker, but I think it's implied to be a bit of both.
Overall, the execution at the end is solid but mostly unexceptional. One part that does stand out is the series of cinematic shots we get as Satou and Shio plummet to their expected deaths. They show all the scenarios that the two had wished for, traveling together and living their lives in a bliss that can now never be. Not exactly poignant under the circumstances, and it's hard to call it heartbreaking given what Satou had to do to get to that point, but it was a good finishing touch. The other part was the scene where Satou dressed Shoko's body. Seeing her still shaken by what she'd done in the name of love is an additional reaffirmation that Satou wasn't purely psychotic, just a girl who made some difficult and regrettable choices. I also have to wonder how the teacher got nailed by police in the aftermath, since he wasn't directly involved in this incident.
Overall, the one thing I probably liked most about this series was that it never tried to justify Satou's actions. It never settled into the comfort zone of claiming that anything is permissible for love; some things are purely wrong, regardless of the reasons for them. If anything, the series most emphasized how love can both healing and harmful, saving people from despair in some cases while driving people to insane or dangerous extremes in others. While I'm not sure that it was intended that way, it strikes me at least as much as a cautionary tale as a love story.
Happy Sugar Life is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
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