A Little Snow Fairy Sugar–Anime Review

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4 stars
I’m getting a little tired of constantly typing “this series is not suitable for young children”, or words to that effect. So here is one that won’t require me to write that.

This is basically a charming children’s show, but one that can also be entertaining for adults, provided that the adults have a high degree of tolerance for cute characters and sentimental story lines. If mainstream America ever starts to take anime seriously this may come to be considered a children’s classic.

  • Original Title
    Chicchana Yukitsukai SHUGAA
  • Genres
    Fantasy, Comedy, Coming of Age
  • Contents
    24 Episodes on 6 DVDs (1 boxed set) plus a two-part “Special” on another DVD
  • Languages
    Japanese with subtitles, English
  • Director
    Shinichiro Kimura
  • Animation Studio
    J. C. Staff
  • Broadcast
    TBS, 2001-2002
  • Region 1 Publisher


You can forget anything that you may have heard about El Niño, cold fronts, temperature inversions, etc. All meteorological phenomena are actually caused by tiny invisible people called Season Fairies.

There are a few people who can see the Season Fairies, which is nice because they are awfully cute. A little girl named Saga discovers that she can see them. She isn’t actually too pleased by this at first, but eventually she becomes attached to one of them.

Cultural Notes

This story is set in Germany, and the writers make a point of showing us the many cultural differences between Japan and Europe. For example, Europeans are less formal than Japanese people; Europeans wash themselves off in the bathtub; etc.

Nevertheless it seems to me that the characters are more Japanese than European. I don’t count this against the show; in fact I think it adds to the charm.

One thing bothers me a bit though. I’m pretty sure that major typhoons are not nearly as common in central Europe as the writers seem to think. The dialog mentions “Typhoon #13” which suggests that the typhoon season in Germany that year must have been extraordinarily busy. However I guess there is a perfectly logical explanation if you stop to think about it.

DVD Notes

DVD #3 includes a video tour of the real German city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which the artists used as the model for the fictional city of Mühlenburg.

Regrettably the DVD boxed set includes only the 24 episodes of the regular television series and not the double-length “special” which is sold on a separate DVD. Most viewers would consider the “special” to be necessary to provide a completely satisfactory ending.

Parental Advisory

This program is not recommended for diabetics. ;-)

Seriously, I can recommend this without hesitation for anyone seven years old or older, and I have only one minor caveat regarding younger viewers. Near the end of DVD #5 there is a short flashback to the death of Saga’s mother. Younger children often have great difficulty dealing with stories involving the death of a parent. They tend to watch in silence, say they liked the movie, then go to bed and wake up crying.

In this case the treatment is much less disturbing than in Bambi or The Lion King. The flashback is wordless and the images are sufficiently oblique that those young enough to be upset probably won’t understand what they are seeing (unless a “helpful” older sibling insists on explaining it to them.) Nevertheless this might be a good moment for a parent to introduce a distraction.

Characters and Premise

Saga BergmannSaga Bergman (Bergmann?) is an eleven-year-old girl. She is cheerful and popular, but somewhat rigid, obsessed with making plans and following schedules. She loves to play the piano and shows great promise.
Grandma ReginaSaga lives with her Grandma Regina, a sweet old lady who is not easily perturbed. She is an excellent cook.
Sugar making snowSnow Fairy Apprentice Sugar can create snow (or at least a few flakes) by playing a magic piccolo. She has come to the human world hoping to qualify as a full-fledged Season Fairy. To do this she must find “Twinkles” (kirameki) but she has no idea what these are.
Hungry SugarSince Sugar has the personality and common sense of a human five-year-old, I have to wonder about the fairy authorities who would send her to Earth to fend for herself. Saga finds her half-starved and shivering in the rain.
Sugar Eating WaffleShe gives her a waffle, which turns out to be a mistake.
Saga with SugarThe little thing starts to follow her around everywhere. She chatters incessantly, doesn’t listen, and gets into everything. It’s like being followed around by a bratty little sister that no one else can see or hear.
Norma and AnneNorma (L) and Anne (R) are Saga’s best friends. Anne is sensible; Norma is a bit flaky.
GretaGreta is a spoiled rich girl who is Saga’s chief rival. Or at least that’s what Greta thinks. Saga and the other children seem to think that she’s nuts.
PhilPhil is a budding engineer, always working on some new invention. Most of them have some fatal flaw.
Jan and AlanJan (L) and Alan (R) usually help Phil with his inventions.
Miss HannaMiss Hanna is their teacher.
PepperWind Fairy Apprentice Pepper can summon a gentle breeze by playing her harp. She is sweet and gentle, and her speech is rather formal and old-fashioned. (I keep thinking that she must somehow be related to Fuu Hououji, but I guess that’s impossible.)
SaltSun Fairy Apprentice Salt can make the sun shine brighter by blowing on a trumpet. Both Salt and Pepper are looking for “Twinkles” just like Sugar, but they have no more idea than she does what these are.
GingerRain Fairy Ginger can make it rain by playing the violin. She is too busy to waste time with the young fairies. She knows what “Twinkles” are but she tells them that they will have to figure it out for themselves.
TurmericCloud Fairy Turmeric is a true artist. He seems to think of nothing but creating ever more perfect clouds with his cello. This is a source of great frustration for Ginger.
The ElderThe Elder is the greatest of the Season Fairies, able to create any kind of weather with his conductor’s baton. He is also something of a buffoon and makes a great fool of himself pursuing Ginger, who seems to have no idea what he is getting at.
Cinnamon and BasilIce Fairy Apprentice Cinnamon (L) and Thunder Fairy Apprentice Basil (R) are a couple of delinquents. Cinnamon creates ice by playing the cymbals, while Basil beats a drum to summon thunder and lightning.
LuchinoMr Luchino owns a coffee shop where Saga works after school. He is a jolly fellow who loves cookies.
PaulMr Paul works in a music store which features a beautiful grand piano that once belonged to Saga’s mother. Paul lets Saga play it when the manager isn’t around.
HenryMr Henry works in the clock tower. Saga brings him coffee every day and tries out new blends on him.

(As everyone knows, Germans are very informal and are usually addressed by their first names–even by children.)

Hammond Theater TroupeThe Hammond Theater Troupe is a company of itinerant actors who come to town to put on a play.
VincentVincent is a member of the company, an actor and a very talented pianist.
JoeJoe the Crow likes shiny things and doesn’t like fairies.


Anime News Network.
Wikipedia entry (Spoilers!).
Steven Den Beste has written extensively about this series, including a non-spoiler review here, and two detailed spoiler-laden analyses of What It All Means here and here.