Happy Sugar Life
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Happy Sugar Life ?
The question I asked back in the review for episode 6 has now been answered, and sadly, the answer was “yes.” The morbid answer adds a further gut-punch to that Point of No Return from episode 7. That moment where Shoko hesitated on accepting Satou has now fulfilled its purpose even more thoroughly than I originally imagined.
Up until those last few minutes, this episode was pretty ordinary. Mitsuboshi tries to bluff Asahi into leaving the area on a wild goose chase, but Asashi is clever enough to notice that Mitsuboshi was just a little too familiar with him, exposing the holes in his story. Shoko's later meeting with him finally (and unsurprisingly) reveals that Asahi is broken in his own way over Shio; he cannot see happiness anywhere else, grasping desperately for any kind of connection to his shattered family. Still, his pursuit is all about what he needs rather than Shio's well-being. The only pure motivations in this story lie with Shoko, who comforts Asahi with a kiss and – whether intentionally or not – tries to become Asahi's new ideal. We're then left to wonder what “actions” Satou took toward Asahi after seeing him at the train station first thing in the morning, although he's still around later in the episode, so it can't be anything too drastic yet.
The problem for Satou is that Shoko not only discovers her with Shio after following her home, but also gets a picture of them together. She had been seriously thinking about the future with Shio for the first time and just got careless. While the series has had flashpoints before, this huge scene was a make-or-break point for the series. The approach taken is unlike anything that has happened in the story before, as we see the argument and Satou's ruminations but don't hear what's happening, instead being treated to a poignant insert song and some narration about a bird that is clearly meant to represent Shoko. The credits roll against the backdrop of Shoko's final attempt to convince Satou to let Shio go, but that hesitation costs her everything. In what is easily one of the most harrowing scenes yet, Satou kills Shoko.
I don't think I can overstate how beautifully horrible this scene is. It is unequivocally murderous – Satou can't justify this as self-defense to protect Shio – and it pulls few punches, beyond an alternate color scheme for the blood that complements the background color shift as the act is carried out. This is an ugly killing, from the way Shoko claws at Satou's restraining hand to her muffled final gasp, and the final scene of the blood-spattered Satou going to Shio suggests that, for all her ruthlessness in the moment, she may be feeling significant pain over having lost Shoko. This is going to have an impact beyond just the need to dispose of Shoko's body, and it's also symbolic of Satou eliminating her last chance for any kind of redemption.
There are a couple of other interesting details here, such as Shoko managing to send the picture she took to Asahi before Satou takes her phone away. Was Satou's mention of getting rid of “that thing” referring to the artist or someone else? Still, all these lingering threads get washed out by a truly unforgettable death scene.
Happy Sugar Life is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
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