Okay, so WordPress is being strange and refuses to load on any of my browsers, so I’m forced to draft today’s post in my Google Docs. Which is and all, but I’m a tad confused as to why WordPress is boycotting me today. Maybe if I restart my router? Restart my computer? Restart something, that always works, right?! Well, regardless of technical difficulties, in the wises words of Queen: “The show must go on!” (I love the rendition of that song in Moulin Rouge. Ugh, so good. Queen is my favorite.)
Growing up, specifically early middle school–so basically when I was 12–Chicken Soup for the Soul was really big. It became a pretty big social phenomenon. I remember there being a waitlist for all of its variants in my school’s library, like Chicken Soup for the Teenager’s Soul and its many sequels. If you’ve never read any of these books (there are over 200 titles as of late 2013), the series is a collection of inspirational, true stories.
Now, the manga I’m going to discuss today isn’t necessarily true, but it’s got that Chicken Soup feeling. You know, that warm, fuzzy, heartbreakingly familiar feeling. Whether you’re experiencing the same things right now, or they’re days long past, there’s just something so attractive to an anthology manga like this.
If you read shoujo manga, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ve seen Yamamori Mika’s work. She’s incredibly popular right now with her series Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet as well as Hirunaka no Ryuusei. She has a distinct art style as well as a strong sense of visual storytelling.
Sugars is one of her older works–over ten years old–and is a split narrative of sorts, compromising six volumes that follows a long chain of people and the relationships that spawn between them. Each volume makes up six tales of six separate people. As each volume progresses, so do the relationships within the tales. While some of the short stories have a solid conclusion for the lead character, others left open at the end, only to be continued through the view of another party in another tale.
The original intent of the series was each narrative to have a sugary focused center. For example, one story utilizes a made-up candy bar which a boy continuously buys just to talk to a certain girl. Author Yamamori admits that towards the end of the series there was sort of a stretch each chapter to include a sugar-inspired theme of sorts, but it’s a cute continuity nonetheless.
It’s a very entertaining and warming concept, but the cast of Sugars can sometimes feel so expansive who forget who’s who, and how everyone is connected. Seriously, look at this character relationships map that Bato.to user micefy created. Don’t read too closely if you don’t want any spoilers, but just glancing over it you get the gist: Sugars has quite the extensive cast.
Any confusions aside, Sugars is a great read. There’s a wide array of characters, in age, gender, and relationship status. While some characters successful find love and are loved in return, others lie in wait with unrequited feelings, and even others move on and find new love. There are the classic manga romances–the teacher and the student (which Yamamori seems found of, for whatever reason), the delinquent and the nerd, and the why-haven’t-they-got-together-already. But there’s also some lesser seen romances, which meld in well with the classic tropes.
If you know Yamamori, you know her art style. It’s beautiful, and although expressively manga-ish, it’s unique and all its own. She builds gorgeous settings, using tones like a boss, and builds a world filled with romance, heartbreak, and crushing. I love her style, and I love the stories she tells in Sugars.
Sugars is fun because it’s smaller tales build within a larger framework of people and story. I like that everyone connects, it’s fun to go from one story to the next, recognizing characters as they are all sewn together. Again, it can be confusing, but it’s so fun and cozy to read that I don’t think that it gets in the way of enjoying Sugars.
Yamamori is as much of a romantic as ever. Cheesy? Oh yes. But worth it? Absolutely. Some lines I’m sure were kind of embarrassing to translate and edit in, but I think that Yamamori makes the cheesiness work, not shoving it down your throat, but definitely making her characters say things that you couldn’t necessarily see anyone saying in real life. But hey, it’s fun to read it!
Regardless of cheesiness, Sugars is made up of distinct and lovable characters. They all feel like people you know, or could be friends with, or are related to, and it’s fun to read manga with such down-to-earth characters like that.
Is Sugars groundbreaking manga? No. Is it everything comfortable and homey about shoujo manga? Yes, absolutely. The relationships aren’t perfect. People break up, people move on. And then there’s the miracle loves that surpass everything. I like that Yamamori puts in just enough stress and yearning alongside touches of heartbreak and loss that you can feel the feels without losing the positivism of the series.
You can see Sugars on Bato.to.