Sugar Sugar Rune is a magical girl series released in August of 2004, written by Moyoco Anno. Within three years of the issues being released and one year of the anime being aired, what was it about this series that made its mark on the magical girl genre?
Sugar Sugar Rune takes a whimsical and youthful twist to the idea of witchcraft. Two young girls, Chocolat and Vanilla, best friends who come from the Magic World, are competing to become the next queen of the Magic Kingdom. The present queen, Queen Candy, sends the young candidates to the Human World to put their magic to the test. Who would have guessed that this would be done by capturing the hearts of young boys?
Chocolat is a very energetic, short-tempered girl who’s very abrasive and never hesitates to speak her mind. Vanilla is very soft spoken, well-mannered, responsible and compassionate. The young witches often find themselves in comical scenarios, but the story becomes much deeper than comic relief and childish antics.
This is a rite of passage journey about two girls, not just honing their spell-casting, but gaining emotional intelligence. Their competition on collecting hearts constantly puts them in predicaments where they’re forced to learn how people respond with their feelings in both healthy and unhealthy ways. As the show progresses, they learn how to show proper respect to the feelings of their peers. During their journey, they learn to not only show emotional support to their peers, but also to support each other. Since they both have very different personalities, they don’t always see eye to eye. They may argue from time to time because of their insecurities, but they gradually learn to see things from the other’s perspective, allowing their bond to strengthen because of it.
While the competition may seem like fun and games, there is a reason why Queen Candy is having them compete to catch the hearts of boys. Don’t worry, they’re not training to become future heart-breakers. When people experience feelings directed towards different individuals, the emotions manifest in the physical form of a crystal heart that can be seen only by those from the magic world. They then cast a spell to retrieve the crystal hearts; which are collected because they are used in the magic world as both a form of energy and currency known as ecuré. The monetary worth of the hearts are determined by the color, which represents intensity, complexity, and rarity of the emotion. After the crystal heart is retrieved, the feeling that the person is experiencing usually lessens and occasionally they may be feel fatigued. If it’s a very intense emotion, it will be replaced with a new crystal heart.
At first, the gimmick of capturing the feelings of others for livelihood felt like a very superficial relationship. However, as the series continues, it’s the opposite. The system can be compared to a symbiotic relationship. Vanilla and Chocolat both help others grow emotionally, find closure for the emotionally wounded, and encourage others to build emotional bonds. In exchange, they receive ecuré; the source of livelihood in the Magic World, and emotional intelligence. The lives of both humans and magic users are enhanced through this experience.
Sugar Sugar Rune has unique attributes that break down and simplify the complex relationships between people. The series provides Chocolat and Vanilla good character development through emotional growth gained from their experiences. Nevertheless, the show still manages to find a way to keep an uplifting and lighthearted tone throughout the majority of the series, and that’s part of its charm. That’s why Sugar Sugar Rune deserves a time to shine.