The time to find the Twinkle is upon the season fairies but not everyone is progressing at the same speed.
What They Say
Sugar's found a true friend, but will she ever find her "twinkle"? What began as a single fairy encounter of the close kind has now become a veritable colony. But after a bumpy introduction, young Saga is finally learning how to handle the unexpected burden of being the only human who can see the tiny season fairies.
More importantly, she's formed a close bond with the tiny fairy Sugar and is determined to help her discover what a "twinkle" is. But once Sugar finds her twinkle, will she have to leave forever? Runaway pianos and unidentified flying turtles are only the beginning of the surprises in store as the two youngsters set out to learn the most important lesson of all!
Contains episodes 14-26. (Episodes 25-26 were originally released as the Sugar: A Little Snow Fairy Summer Special).
As this show was previously released by Geneon, Sentai provides a bilingual presentation for this series with a pair of stereo tracks encoded at 224kbps. Sugar has a fairly mild mix to it as it's all about the young girls talking about things and the fairies chiming in as well. The mixture of the dialogue and the ambient music is what defines the show and it all comes across well here, though it is fairly unexceptional in its own way. There isn't much in the way of depth or placement because of how the show is designed, but the whole thing on both tracks comes across very well with clearly defined voices and no technical problems such as dropouts or distortions. It's not an expansive stereo mix but it serves the material well in building the atmosphere and mood.
Originally airing in late 2001 and early 2002, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This set includes the second thirteen episodes spread over two discs in a seven/six format. Sugar has a very good clean look to it that translates well here with bright and bold colors that avoid significant noise. The backgrounds tend to be more detailed and done in a soft manner for the colors chosen. The combination of the two results in a very pleasing show, though one where often times there isn't a huge amount of actual animation going on as it's dialogue with little movement. When it does swing into action it looks good and free of motion artifacts or any cross coloration. There's a touch of line noise in a few scenes but it's pretty mild overall and very minimal with the scope of the whole series itself.
Sugar's done up in a single sized black keepcase which holds the discs against the interior of each of the covers. The cover artwork is pretty nice with Saga in her usual outfit with her backpack on walking along while Sugar is flying next to her with a big smile on her face. There's a simplicity to it here that works well and has a certain charm to it. The colors are soft and cool with pinks and blues in the background as well as some nice greens. The logo is retained from the previous releases and it has a very charming and surprisingly calm feeling to all of it. The back cover carries over the background design while adding in a lo of bubbles containing different things. There are a bunch of small shots from the show that push the cute factor more and there's three bubbles worth of summary which almost feels like too much information. Saga and Sugar have a nice pose together as the main artwork piece for the back while the remainder is given over to the production credits. The technical grid is solid with a very clean and accurate breakdown of what to expect from the discs. The disc and episode count is mentioned a few times on this release overall which helps. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for Sugar are certainly cute as they take the background colors and designs and adds the character artwork to the right side of it with some of the music playing along. There's a lot of white space along the menu which is given a bit more to it by having the individual episode selection throughout it done in matching shades of the colors used elsewhere. It's a very pleasing looking menu as it's cute but not too sugary cute. It's also functional with a good couple of quick loading submenus and a language selection menu that read our players' language presets and played them accordingly.
More extras from the original release make their way onto here, again much to my delight. The music video's second version is included which runs for several minutes and there's a few of the original Japanese TV spots which include logos for shows airing in the same block, such as Mahoromatic. The big extra is on the second disc with a nearly twenty-minute piece that interviews the original Japanese creators, which is amusing because you have all these men talking about such a cute and adorable show.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second half of the Sugar series fills out this set as we get episodes fourteen through twenty-four of the broadcast series and the two DVD-only episodes that fit into the show within this set as they're not epilogues for the most part. Sugar doesn't deviate all that much from what we've seen before as we get a handful of small stories that involve the gang running around and getting into things while trying to discover who it is they are and finding the Twinkle they need to become full fairies. They're still watched by the same adult fairies that haven't changed much and Saga and her friends as moving along much as we've seen.
As time goes on though, the bonds between all of them are getting stronger. Saga is becoming more involved in the various activities that Sugar gets caught up in, such as the mildly amusing opening episode that has the snow fairy trying to figure out a way to help a turtle named Lancelot fly so he can spend time with a dove that he admires and sees every day. This is the kind of story that often has me cringing and anxiously waiting for it to end, but because of the nature of this show and its very relaxed and almost fairytale like nature, it works pretty well and you can enjoy it more than other similar stories because it's so earnestly nice and simple.
Saga's had a somewhat adversarial relationship with Sugar since the start as they've fought often enough, largely because of the things that Sugar gets involved in. When Sugar and the other fairies head off for a week of training with Elder and the others though, Saga's excited to have her schedule back and some peace and quiet for a bit. It's no surprise that she ends up missing her, but it doesn't feel forced and there's a real honesty to the way Saga gets concerned about Sugar and the rest when a typhoon blows through the area where the fairies are training. She becomes so concerned that she's completely distracted from the chores and things she has scheduled.
The growth of the apprentice fairies has been pretty consistent throughout the series as we've seen their seedling continue to bloom. Changes occur after the week of training and it doesn't take long for them to progress even further and realize more of what they want out of their “career.” This takes on a lot more meaning in the last several episodes as the focus is given over to Sugar more than anyone else, but she's having a very difficult time in working towards her goal because her relationship with Saga is strained. And that's strained because Saga herself has become less herself in the days since Greta's birthday party.
Saga's story in this series is just as important as Sugar's because the two are so completely tied together. Saga's really handled her life well since her mother died as she's worked towards various things and has goals in mind, though mostly unstated. When she finds out that her mothers' piano has been sold though, she's beside herself at losing something so important that she wanted to get back. When she discovers that it was purchased by Greta's father as a present for his daughter for her birthday, it's like a huge stab right to the heart, one that even Greta realizes and really struggles with when she finds out what's really going on. These two girls have certainly been competitive to say the least, but this adds a whole new wrinkle to their relationship which serves as the impetus to bring the series to a very satisfying conclusion when you tie Sugar into it as well.
Sugar is a very light and simple series where you do know where things will be at the end of it. It's entirely predictable but it's the kind of show where it lives or dies by whether it can entertain thoroughly throughout it, to make the journey worth taking since you know the destination. And on that score, A Little Snow Fairy Sugar succeeds very well. It avoids being overly cute and too sugary sweet but does deal in it quite often. It's one of those rare series that really does keep you smiling throughout. The OVA two part story adds a little more to the world of Sugar after it ends, but in all honesty it's just another decent story in the larger patchwork. What makes it all the more worthwhile is the small epilogue at the end that takes us forward a few years so we see an older Saga and Greta who are closer to where they want to be in life. Years after my first viewing of it, Sugar still holds a special place for me and I find that it still has a lot of good replay value. I'm very glad to see it finding a new life in this collection from Sentai Filmworks.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Staff Interview
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.