Sugar Vol. #1 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98/34.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Sugar

Sugar Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     March 09, 2003
Release Date: April 08, 2003


Sugar Vol. #1 (also w/box)
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Art direction by Shichiro Kobayashi (Bezerk, Utena, Kimagure Orange Road, Panda! Go Panda!)

Did you know fairies make the snow fall? In a small European town, there was a hard-working, reliable girl named Saga. One day, she met a tiny little apprentice fairy that no one else could see named Sugar who was searching for a "Twinkle" to become a full-fledged Snow Fairy! Sugar was also very hungry, so when Saga decides to help her, Sugar followed Saga home!

Now Saga's life is full of fairies as Sugar's friends Wind Fairy Pepper and Sun Fairy Salt arrive to play and to help keep Sugar out of trouble. If only someone else could see what Saga was going though...

The Review!
Wai! Wai! Wai wai wai!

Audio:
With one of our favorite voice actresses taking up the character of Sugar, it was pretty much a given that we'd listen to this in Japanese. The show has a nice if fairly average stereo mix that doesn't use a whole lot of directionality. The music, which has quite a few soft moments to it, comes across beautifully and dialogue is nice and clear throughout, but mostly through the center channel. We didn't notice any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Presented in its original aspect ration of 1.78:1 and encoded for anamorphic displays, this transfer is nothing short of just gorgeous. The only area where we had even the slightest issue was during some slight panning when overlooking the European town from above in that some of the rows of houses shifted back and forth very, very slightly. Other than that, this transfer looks gorgeous with bright vivid colors, lots of depth and a complete lack of cross coloration. This was a real pleasure to watch.

Packaging:
In a white keepcase we get the nice soft background image of snowflakes falling against a misty blue/green white background with Saga and Sugar in the foreground with Sugar woofing down a waffle. With its subtitle of 'Sweet Mischief', you can get the cuteness overloaded started just by looking at this cover. The back cover features some nice collages of shots from the show. There's a nice intro summary paragraph and a good listing of the discs features and extras as well as listing the episode numbers and titles. This is nice and useful since volume numbering does not appear anywhere on the package. The insert has another shot of the front cover while the back has the episode chapter listings. The insert opens to provide the first part of a couple of interviews, with these ones tackling questions to Haruka Aoi, who wrote the original story, and Yasunori Yamada who dealt with the series structure.

Menu:
The main menu is a nice piece that plays part of the instrumental music from the show and has the static image of sugar and a waffle bouncing up and down while all the twinkling goes around the screen. The overdoes continues heavily here. Selections are quick and easy to make and access times are nice and fast.

Extras:
There's a small selection of extras to kick off the first volume. The original prologue to the show, as the opening sequence doesn't start till after the first couple of episodes, is presented here in both a textless and an original Japanese text version and both parts are anamorphic enhanced as well. The other extra is four character bios that are really just a couple of short sentences about the main characters so far.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sometimes the cute factor can be taken too far. Sugar is a show that rejoices in taking it beyond the limit and then still going.

It's a simple show, since it's aimed for children, but it's quite addictive. The storyline is simple. A young girl named Saga lives in a European town (apparently designed with the help of the folks from Rothenburg) that has her life planned out. With everything she does every day, she makes plans and sticks to them. She lives with her grandmother and works part time in a local coffee shop. The rest of her time is divided between school work and spending time with her best friends, Anna and Norma. Her life is nice and orderly and she's clearly a happy and stable child.

Her life is pretty much set, but something comes along to change it. On her way outside, she takes to the side of a building in the rain to avoid it. While standing there, she notices something odd sitting on a crate next to her, a small little creature that looks exhausted and then simply passes out. Cupped in her hands, she now finds herself holding a fairy. She brings her home and tries to figure out what she is, not believing she's a fairy, even after Sugar wakes and introduces herself as such. Saga's so unsure of what's going on, especially after she discovers that she's the only one who can see the pint sized fairy.

Suffice to say, Sugar does not fit into Saga's plans and they end up colliding nicely, as everything Sugar does seems to upset Saga or throw her off. When Saga goes to school, Sugar's right along and getting herself into trouble, be it causing her to be late or just doing things that cause Saga to blurt out at the wrong time. Then there's Sugar's new found love for the waffles that you can buy. It's just far too cute, seeing this small fairy eat such a huge waffle (or waffo as she calls it) and then to fall asleep against it since it's so huge.

Saga tries to deal with Sugar as best she can, but she finds herself in even more problems when two of her friends, Salt and Pepper, arrive. As it turns out, they're all on Earth as part of their training to be Seasonal Fairies, the mature graduated type that really handle the weather on the planet. To do so, they have to plant their special seed (as found in Sugar's ultra cute purse) and then find something called a "twinkle" to help make it grow. Once this happens, they can then graduate up. With Saga wanting Sugar out of her life, you can pretty much imagine where her seed ends up.

Sugar is a show that utilizes almost every cute trick it can. The only thing I didn't get here yet is a mascot for these cute little fairies, but I wouldn't put it past them. There's a lot of humor in the show and it kept a crowd of four adults laughing for most of it, and in a good way no less. It's cute, it has subtle and overt moments, it's manipulative with its music, but it's oh so very addictive. Having watched the four episodes here three times now, once in Japanese and twice in English, and one of those times in English with my three year old who wants to take it to her grandmothers now, I'm definitely in this one for the long haul. There's a definite story to be told here, and the set up here touches nicely upon it and gets the ball rolling.

This show is just far too cute for its own good. Those who fall in love with it will be running around with the key phrases from it for weeks on end as they end up as permanent additions to their vocabulary. I fear any show that does something like that. With it being as cute as this? The fear doubles, but it's still a high recommendation to balance out the testosterone shows out there.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,4-Page insert with interviews with the creators of the show, Textless prologue,Character profiles

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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