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Sugar Apple Fairy Tale
Episodes 1-3

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Sugar Apple Fairy Tale ?
Community score: 4.0

How would you rate episode 2 of
Sugar Apple Fairy Tale ?
Community score: 4.0

How would you rate episode 3 of
Sugar Apple Fairy Tale ?
Community score: 4.2

sugar-apple-ep-1-3
© 2023 Miri Mikawa, Aki/KADOKAWA/'Sugar Apple Fairy Tale' Partners

We need to get this out of the way before we start discussing the content of these three episodes. Yes, slavery exists within the story's world, and yes, the female lead purchases the male lead. While it isn't nearly as distasteful as it could be - Anne buys the warrior fairy Challe Fenn Challe to have some protection on her road trip, possibly because it made more financial sense than attempting to hire human mercenaries or guards. This risks painting her as a hypocrite since moments before she enters the slave market, she frees another fairy from his abusive master. Still, at least she isn't buying him because she wants to have complete control over his actions or to “level him up” or whatever other slim justifications have been trotted out over the years. I generally try to keep my source material knowledge out of these episode reviews, but I will say that her apparent hypocrisy ceases to be an issue as the story unfolds and that it is perhaps best to look at Sugar Apple Fairy Tale as being the light novel equivalent of well-meaning antebellum abolitionist novels, such as India by Mrs. E.D.E.N. Southworth: it tries very hard to make a point that many other similar books glide right over, but it stumbles a bit in its efforts. (While I'm mentioning light novels, it looks as if this series will adapt the first three books, which comprise the first story arc in its entirety.)

All of that aside, the show is excellently capturing the story's tension. Fifteen-year-old Anne Halford has been recently orphaned, and she aspires to be a Silver Sugar Master like her late mother. Silver sugar in the story's world is refined from sugar apples, the highest quality sugar available. Silver Sugar Masters are those candy artisans who have been recognized as the top of their craft, and one, the Silver Sugar Viscount, is an artisan ennobled by his skill who works solely for the monarchy. Anne doesn't aspire to be the Silver Sugar Viscountess, but she wants to be a Master, which is why she is headed to Lewiston, the capital city, to participate in a competition for those seeking out that title. Unfortunately for her, someone has fairly grave objections to her plans: Jonas, a young man about her age who claims to have fallen in love with her during her mother's final illness.

If you're getting icky vibes from Jonas from the beginning, congratulations: you have seen through his act. There's just something about Jonas' protestations of love that rings false from the very beginning. When you compare him with Challe, who is never less than aggressively honest about anything that crosses his mind, he comes off as someone who would call themselves “a nice guy” while saying all the things they think they should to make someone like them. Although Jonas' true colors don't come out until episode three, the writing is definitely on the wall. Something about his insistent renewals of his proposed marriage and after Anne repeatedly turned them down crosses the line into creepy.

Arguably, when Challe, who embodies some of shoujo romance's hoariest tropes about bad boys, looks like the best option for romance in the story, you know that there's a sad lack of likable male characters. Episode three also introduces the character of Hugh, a slightly older man Anne meets at an inn along the road to Lewiston. Despite Hugh's protestations of being just a regular guy, it's clear that there's something more going on with him regarding silver sugar candy, and the way that he crushes Anne's and Jonas' offerings make it seem like he has instructed aspiring confectioners before. That doesn't mean it doesn't feel like a jerk move, but it's still clearly done with their best interest in mind and may be the impetus for someone to steal Anne's remaining silver sugar. Although the blame is shunted onto Mithril Lid Pod, the fairy Anne freed from his abusive master and who decided to tag along with her, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that Mithril's probably been framed. There are two much more likely suspects close at hand.

So far, Sugar Apple Fairy Tale is doing an excellent job of balancing the world-building, character development, and romance blocks. Anne is a fairly young 15, at least emotionally, while Challe either doesn't know or care how his actions may be taken. That Anne is well-intentioned and that Challe is willing to take her at her word and takes his job very seriously does come across - the final scenes of episode three where Challe ignores her direct order so that he can protect her from the wolves Cathy and Jonas have lured towards her does a good job of driving that home. It's moving at a good pace, but it doesn't feel rushed because each volume of the source novels is roughly 150 pages long, which feels much more likely to fit neatly into four-episode packages. If you can get past the slavery angle, this is shaping up to be a solid shoujo adventure.

Rating:

Sugar Apple Fairy Tale is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.


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