Happy Sugar Life. Vol. 1

Yen. May 2019. 208p. ISBN 9781975303303. pap. $13; ebk. ISBN 9781975359799. Rated: Mature.
High school freshman Satou Matsuzaka doesn’t understand what love is; she’s tried to find it through multiple relationships but has failed and earned a bad reputation in the process. All of that changes, however, when she meets Shio Kobe, a little girl who fills Satou’s heart with sweetness and joy. But nothing is as it seems, and soon it’s unclear whether Satou has kidnapped Shio, who is not allowed to leave the apartment. Young, innocent, and completely infatuated with Satou, Shio is blissfully ignorant of the seriousness of her situation. And Satou will do anything to keep her relationship with Shio, including but not limited to committing murder. Kagisora (Kami Yome) delivers an extremely dark story contrasted with adorably, well-drawn characters and art that feels more upbeat shojo than twisted horror.
VERDICT Labeled a psychological thriller, this sadistic, eerie tale is anything but sugary or happy, dealing with difficult issues such as rape, stalking, Stockholm syndrome, and murder. Geared toward mature audiences, this certainly isn’t for everyone, but it will likely still appeal to fans of the genre.

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