Sugar Sugar Rune is one of the girliest series that I’ve watched in a while. I get forced to watch plenty of shoujo series, and occasionally watch one of my own volition, but this is on a whole different level. Boys, stealing boys’ (plural!) hearts, accessories, lip gloss, gigantic eyes, threatening-but-in-a-non-threatening-way bishies, sumptuous art-nouveau-meets-goth-loli art, queens (although no princesses), witches, contrasting between being tough or demure, and of course, being best friends 4-EVA! even if we need to be rivals right now.
This series is a good example of how it can be hard to figure out how good or bad an adaptation is as one can interpret “success” in a variety of different ways. It can be seen as a decent adaptation in that it maintains the spirit and style of the source pretty well. I believe that this anime started after there were only a few volumes of the manga, so there was only so much manga content that could be included. This meant that they needed to create their own ending since the manga was still ongoing, necessitating the creation of new material that would still work alongside the original. This part was handled fairly well. The show takes the part in the manga where Vanilla thinks that she’s an ogre rather than a witch and tries to extrapolate an ending from there. That’s a much smoother way to end a manga adaptation than the frequent choice to animate as much material as is currently available, and then either cut off or create a nonsensical ending out of whole cloth.
On the other hand, the anime can be seen as a not particularly good adaptation because it’s 51 episodes long for a manga that topped out at 8 volumes and only had about 3 volumes when it came out. As you can guess, it’s completely loaded with monster of the week filler. On a related note, it’s also has about a minute or so of transformation scene and magic stock footage, which doesn’t exist in the manga as the manga doesn’t really treat Chocolat and Vanilla as anime/manga-specific magical girls.
The premise of the series is your standard gotta catch ‘em all setup that you see endlessly repeated. This time, the characters are witches from the magic world that need to capture the hearts of humans from the human world. However, the manga really only uses this as a springboard for the series, rather than making every week about which heart(s) they are going to catch. This makes the series lag pretty hard at times, and makes it so that the times when they really do need to catch some more hearts end up feeling like they’re filler even though these times they actually are part of the story. Ultimately, I’d say that about 13 or so episodes of the show are true story.
Or, I could just call it one of those occasions where there’s not really much that’s bad about the anime itself, but rather that the manga is just a lot better. In this case, the real reason is that past those few volumes that the anime draws material from, the characters and story become more developed and exciting (such as the way that Choclat and Pierre’s relationship becomes less Twilight-y and more nuanced and egalitarian.) And of course, it handles everything in a way that’s still kid-friendly. This is a Nakayoshi series after all, not Shoujo Comic.
Would I watch it even if I weren’t forced? I would’ve just read our (Japanese) copies of the manga.