Sugar Vol. #5 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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

Sugar Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     December 11, 2003
Release Date: December 16, 2003


Sugar Vol. #5
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Did you know fairies make the clouds? Saga's friendship with Sugar grows stronger every day. When a storm makes Sugar late coming home from a field trip, Saga begins to realize how much Sugar actually means to her. Together, they enjoy the Muhlenburg festival as a chance to thank all of their friends and to remember all of their fun adventures. Later, Saga takes Sugar to the music store to play a remembrance song for her mother on her mother's piano, only to find a terrible surprise...

The Review!
Sugar takes an even more sweet turn as it strengthen’s the bonds between Sugar and Saga’s friendship.

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. With the episodes on this volume there is far less panning going on than earlier episodes, which have resulted in the aliasing problem being far less of a problem this time around.

Packaging:
Going with an almost day-glo yellow depending on the lighting its under, the front cover has a very cute image of Saga with Sugar on her hand giving her a kiss on the cheek while the snowflakes fall around them. The back cover features some nice collages of shots from the show. There’s a good intro summary paragraph and a listing of the discs features and extras as well as listing the episode numbers and titles. This is 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 fifth part of a series of interviews, with this one talking to Yota Tsuruoka, the gentleman in charge of the sound for the show.

Menu:
The main menu is a nice piece that plays part of the instrumental music from the show and has one of the seasonal faeries playing his violin. Selections are quick and easy to make and access times are nice and fast.

Extras:
Sugar continues to be a surprising series when it comes to the extras. While we get the usual in the art gallery, we get yet another creator interview piece. This one runs about sixteen minutes and has brief segments with most of the prominent folks behind the show. It is pretty much the usual piece where they’re all very positive about the experience and what they’re trying to accomplish, but with the way the show feels it just feels even more sugary with them talking about it. There’s not a lot in the way of revelations about the production, but it’s an interesting set of interviews.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Sugar gets closer to its conclusion, it sets out to accomplish a few things so that it can present itself a wrap-up to things. One of the most important ones is to really strengthen the relationship between Saga and Sugar as well as really showing the range of friends that Saga has, so that it doesn’t seem like everything revolves around just the two of them.

This is very nicely accomplished in the first episode here where Sugar has gone away for a few days with the other faeries to work on a typhoon project elsewhere in the country. The project actually gets bigger than any of them expected and the master faerie behind the storm works up such a beast of a typhoon that the others aren’t able to return to Saga’s town as quickly as they had expected, resulting in some delays. The delays become something Saga starts to worry about when Sugar doesn’t come back when she was due to come back.

While some people would just shrug it off and expect them to return whenever they do, Saga slowly works herself up over it and eventually makes herself sick with worry. The time both of them spend apart from each other and the concern that they have for each other is obviously blunt here, but it works well and it works within the way the show is structured. While the belief is that this is a cute show made for adults, the creators have still made enough of it accessible to kids, so continuing to watch this in English with my daughters has been interesting. With the slight sense of danger about things in this episode, it’s enough to get the young ones all worked up and worried themselves.

The central batch of episodes on this release go towards re-affirming friendships with the people around Saga as well as having a spot of fun. The opening episode deals with the latest festival to come running through this quaint little town, with Saga bringing cookies to all of her friends and getting sidetracked by various things, including Phil’s “Robotchi” robot. There’s a lot of really nice quiet moments with different people throughout the episodes as Saga ends up spending time with all the people that are important in her life and connecting with them in a simple and fun way.

But it’s the last episode on this disc that really struck me the most. With the promise between Sugar and Saga to play Saga’s mothers song together as they both continue to improve their skills, they head down by the music store only to find that the piano has actually been sold. Saga’s thrown into shock and disbelief that it’s been sold. The one thing that she had that let her feel like her mother hadn’t left her is now gone, and part of her daily routine has been ripped away since she can’t play it anymore. Without even asking what happened in the store, she tries to shrug it off and get on with her life by putting it behind her, but the pains are still there on her face and the way she acts.

Sugar and her friends decide to search high and low for who bought the piano so that they can come up with some kind of solution. While the initial result of the discovery is comical, the way it plays out when Saga discovers it is some of the best emotion I’ve seen in some time and it just felt very honest and ‘right’ for someone of that age and dealing with that situation. With the flashbacks to Saga’s mother coming back and actually seeing what happened to her and how Saga found out, the “mythos” of this show is fleshed out more and done quite well.

In Summary:
This has been one of the more interesting shows to watch with my daughters since it’s straightforward enough for them to understand the majority of the concepts and only get lost in a few places. This volume did quite a lot on the value of friendships and family, so watching their reactions provides an added bonus for me. Family anime shows are few and far between, so with shows like Sugar, we continue to value them even more than a lot of other ones. This volume was a lot of fun with the comedy in the middle areas and the more serious bookend episodes. It’s just hard to believe there’s only a few more episodes left…

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Creators Interview

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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