Sugar Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A-

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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: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Sugar

Sugar Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     May 30, 2003
Release Date: June 10, 2003


Sugar Vol. #2
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Did you know fairies make the wind blow? Season Fairy apprentices Sugar, Pepper and Salt are busy everyday searching for the “Twinkles” they need to become a full-fledge, but no matter how hard they try, the “Twinkles” are nowhere to be found. Far from that, they have no idea what the “Twinkles” look like. One day, the honorable Elder of the fairy world appears. The troubled three happily ask him for help but he scolds at them that they have to find it by themselves. What would bring him to the human world if not to help them? On the other hand, Sugar spends all her time practicing her magic day and night wherever she goes. At last, it annoys Saga so much and she gets in a fight with Sugar. Will they be friends again…?

The Review!
After a fun introductory set of episodes, Sugar gets down to business about that gosh darned twinkle.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its English language dub. 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 looks fantastic for the most part. For the bulk of this release, transfer looks gorgeous with bright vivid colors, lots of depth and a complete lack of cross coloration. This was a real pleasure to watch. The main problem we had during some of the episodes, and these sequences were pretty short altogether, is during some of the camera pannings there’s some sharp noticeable jagging going on that’s distracting.

Packaging:
In a white keepcase we get the nice soft background image of snowflakes falling against a misty blue/green white background with Sugar in the middle of a fairy sandwich of Salt and Pepper. 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 second part of a couple of interviews, with this one asking questions of the character designer Keiko Kawashima. Also included is a nice solid little postcard with the artwork from the front cover as well as a smaller card of cute Sugar artwork that’s really an advertisement for Animegamers and all their Sugar merchandise. I might normally ignore such a thing, but these folks came through for me in a real hard pinch last year WITH Sugar related goods that I couldn’t help but smile at the advert.

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

Extras:
A couple of good extras are included here. We get the textless opening here at last, since it didn’t make it onto the first volume. We also get the original Japanese version with the original credits throughout it, something I’m liking to see more and more of as an extra if the episodes themselves are redone. And to round things out, there’s four brief pieces in the character gallery covering some of the secondary cast members.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After falling for the ever cute Sugar in the first volume, the series has now become something of a family event with the arrival of a new volume. While normally my daughter doesn’t really pay attention to what comes in until something actually goes in the player, seeing the Sugar disc at the top of the pile created a surge of “waffo”’s that gave clue that it was important to put this on tonight.

And, so that she could enjoy it even more, we listened to it in English. Her initial experience was with it in Japanese, but since she’s watched it at my parents in English, we thought it worthwhile to continue to solidify her interest in the show, even though my wife balked at first about it. I’ve been listening to so many dubs lately that they don’t grate on me like they used to. And this is a good dub for the most part, outside of some seemingly poor mixing issues, particularly with Pepper’s actress.

The second installment of Sugar keeps the fun going nicely without making the search for the twinkles an every-episode adventure. That alone saved the show from becoming monotonous and unbearable to the older set of viewers. They do open with an amusing couple of sequences where the fairy trio searches hard for various items they think are twinkles, but the search itself takes on less importance as the episodes progress here, instead focusing on the characters abilities and interactions with others.

One of the more amusing additions to the cast is the arrival of the Elder fairy, a wizened old man of a fairy who has come to the human world in search of Ginger. He’s apparently head over heels about this attractive young fairy and, in his own bumbling way, tries to do everything he can to gain her attentions. Throughout the episodes, he comes up with different ways of doing it, but often fails but stumbling and then she leaves before he can pick it up again. It’s an amusing attempt at a relationship that provides some good chuckles along the way.

The Elder also provides some guidance for the young ones, bringing them a bit of authority that they need to keep mind of in their daily pursuits of waffles and twinkles. The Elder also provides some basic magic training lessons, which is where the focus of a lot of these episodes really lie outside of the actual character interactions. Each of the fairies have to work hard to master their magic, through their musical instruments, in order to create bigger and more elaborate effects. We see this through Sugar finally practicing on her flute, where she brings some well placed snowballs into the world, to Salt and his attempts to create an aurora during an episode where he’s competing with Phil about who really has the right to do so.

Of course, things don’t always go well for Sugar and she ends up in a number of sticky situations (and if that sentence just brought the image of a Sugar/South Park crossover, I’m sorry). A lot of focus is given over to mothers during these episodes, with Sugar talking on and on about her mother and how great she is. This causes Saga to think more of her own departed mother, which provides some nice flashback sequences. When Sugar messes up nicely and ruins something important to Saga, she gets kicked out and ends up falling in with a couple of “bad” seasonal fairies in training, both of whom are just hilarious to watch, especially the ice one when he starts making his magic with how his mouth is shaped.

I was concerned early on from the first volume that we’d be subjected to the continual search for the twinkle, and while that does continue to be a background plot, it’s thankfully not the main focus. This batch of episodes was a lot of fun to watch, especially with my daughter. While this may be “too cute” for some folks, it’s something that I find really fills a niche in my viewing habits.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Original Japanese Opening,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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