[Content warning: fictional suicide]
[This post will assume that the reader has watched Happy Sugar Life. Also, I’m too sick this week to write a proper introduction or proofread… maybe I’ll clean it up later… … And two months later , I have!]
If you watched a certain yandere psychological horror anime during the summer 2018 season, you might recognize the general plot structure of the Japanese “shinjuu” (love suicide) genre. Shinjuu stories usually go something like this:
Step 1) Two fate-bound souls fall in love. This is true love. It is eternal, even beyond the duration of the lovers’ human lives, and cannot be replaced by anyone else.
Step 2) Some social contrivance makes it impossible for the lovers to be together if they elope. For example, one lover could already be married, or belong to the wrong social class, or lack the money to live independently, or be a prostitute in debt-bondage.
Step 3) The lovers elope anyway and society persecutes them.
Step 4) The lovers reassert their commitment to each other but realize that they cannot evade their pursuers forever.
Step 5) The lovers kill themselves, on the promise that they will unite in paradise or otherwise meet again when their fate-bound souls reincarnate in the mundane world (shinjuu stories often show significant influence from Pure Land Buddhism).
Happy Sugar Life is at its core a shinjuu story. The first minute of the first episode teases as much when it opens to two girls embracing with matching rings at the edge of a burning roof. Of course, Happy Sugar Life twists the shinjuu template with the addition of some fun anime tropes like moe and yandere (yes, yandere are fun! remember the mantra: n-o-t-h-i-n-g-w-r-o-n-g). And how well does it twist! The first nine episodes made for some of the best psychological horror anime I have seen, even better than many of the shinjuu classics from film, short stories, and Japanese theater (I exaggerate).
Unfortunately though, Happy Sugar Life’s conclusion sucked all of the momentum out of its excellent shinjuu narrative. This post will explore how Happy Sugar Life fits the shinjuu template, and by way of analysis of the frustrating conclusion, give something akin to a series review.Continue reading “When Happy Sugar Life sours: the spoiled shinjuu ending”