Sugar Apple Fairy Tale ##HOT##
Anne knows slavery is wrong. She was raised to believe that fairies, as sentient beings, are just as deserving of dignity and respect as humans. She respects them as the progenitors of her art form, sugar art, and wants to end their enslavement and heal the rift between the two races so that they can be friends. She even performs some direct action, freeing a fairy who is being abused by his master while everyone else just watches! But when push comes to shove, she still goes out and buys a warrior fairy for protection on the road, and is very confused when he is not impressed by the modicum of decency she shows him and refuses to be her friend.
Sugar Apple Fairy Tale
It's quite challenging to discuss this episode without digging into the whole slavery issue because that is the focus here. Yes, we get the back story that Anne's mother was a confectioner specializing in sugar sculptures made from something called silver sugar, which comes from the eponymous sugar apples. She recently died, and Anne is determined to carry on her mother's work and earn the title of silver sugar master herself. To this end, she is set on entering a specific competition in faraway Lewiston, which is why she needs the protection of a warrior of some kind: the road to Lewiston is fraught with peril. Why she decides to buy a warrior fairy instead of hiring a mercenary is unclear and feels a bit orchestrated so that the story can tackle the issue of fairy enslavement head-on. Anne does try to do what she believes is right; we see her rescue a tiny fairy who is being abused by his owner and help him to run away. This is undercut by the fact that she then asks the way to the fairy markets and purchases Shall, and it is presumably meant to show that her heart is in the right place, even if her actions seem to contradict that at times.
When this anime was announced, I wondered why these were the novels by Miri Mikawa that were chosen to be adapted rather than her Chinese court drama Culinary Chronicles of the Court Flower. This episode hasn't done much to alleviate my concerns on that front. Still, if Anne does emancipate Shall when they reach Lewiston and works both towards becoming a silver sugar master and helping to end the scourge of fairy slavery, this could have a solid through line. At the very least, it doesn't treat slavery like a convenient plot device, and there's much room for Anne to grow as a character and grow up in general.
15-year-old girl Ann Halford, wanting to follow in her mother's footsteps by becoming a Silver Sugar Master, must go to Lewiston to attend a sugar sculpture festival to receive a medal from the royal family. However, the journey would be reckless, so this forces Ann to buy a fairy slave to act as her bodyguard. As such, she purchases a mysterious warrior fairy named Shalle Fen Shalle, but it comes at the cost of her being torn over whether to free him or use him as protection.
Sugar Apple Fairy Tale is a Light Novel series written by Miri Mikawa and illustrated by aki, which was published under the Kadokawa Beans Bunko imprint from 2010 to 2015 for 17 volumes. The light novels are licensed in English by Yen Press. It has two manga adaptations; one that was serialized in Hana to Yume Online from 2012 to 2014, and another that began serialization in Young Ace in 2021. An anime adaptation began airing in the Winter 2023 anime season.The light novels provide examples of: Abhorrent Admirer: Bridget Paige, heiress of the Paige school of sugar crafters, is utterly obsessed with Shalle, offering to buy him from Anne at first sight. Shalle rejects her advances until he has no choice but to give her his wing to protect Anne.
And the Adventure Continues: The first arc of the story regards Anne and Shalle traveling with Jonas to get to a competition for Anne to become a Silver Sugar Master. She fails, but in the process, has her skills recognized by the very high-ranking members of the nobility that are the judges, including a request of the queen to participate again next year. Shalle, saying he wants a pastry made by a Master, refuses her initial Sugar Confection gift, as a means to stick around with her for another year. This more or less sets a status quo for the next year in-story.
Bitch Slap: Jonas gets the mother of all slaps from Anne for not only trying to take credit for her sugar sculptures, but also sabotaging her and nearly getting her killed after taking advantage of her vulnerable situation. The slap knocks him flat on his butt and leaves a nasty mark.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Jonas at first appears to be following Ann out of the belief he was in love with her. However in the third episode. he steals her entry to the silver sugar festival and smears blood on her clothes so she would be too preoccupied with the wolves.
Bittersweet Ending: For the Season 1: Anne finally earns the title of Silvar Sugar Master and the medal to prove it, completing her goal of proving her mother's skill, the chauvinist school that mistreated has now been publicly defamed in front of the king due to Sammy's actions against her; but for the sake of it, Shalle has to be Made a Slave, giving his wing to Bridget for her testimony in Anne's favor. The final shot of the season is Anne crying out for Shalle to return while he leaves in Bridget's carriage.
Body Horror: Standard practice for enslaving fairies is to rip one of their wings off and seal it in a bag for the owner's safe keeping. If this sounds painful, it is, especially since wings are essentially a fairy's heart.
Defrosting Ice King: Shalle is a stoic fairy who resents humans due to the death of a girl he considered family and his general treatment during enslavement. He slowly softens up over the course of the series due to witnessing Anne's kindness and spunky attitude.
Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Downplayed. Under Bridget, Shalle has essentially been made into a PG-13 Sex Slave, and is forced into being in an intimate relationship (her first order being that he kisses her) with her since she now holds his wing. While this is portrayed as a tragedy and despicable of her, it doesn't come with as dark a tone as it could have been.
Even Evil Has Standards: Jonas might be a petty jerk, but even he is uncomfortable with his fellow students trying to boil Ann's hands to destroy her career.
False Friend: Jonas manipulates his way into accompanying Anne and has his fairy slave steal Anne's silver sugar from under her nose.
Fantastic Racism: As the result of a long human/fairy war, fairies are currently enslaved by humans.
Foreshadowing: There are a few subtle signs that Jonas is not as benign as he let on: in his first appearance, he reminds Ann she was weak and constantly brings up his status.
Happiness in Slavery: Despite fairy slavery being a widespread practice, there are some fairies that seem to be content where they are. Kat's fairy Benjamin, for example, gets routinely bossed around, but he tells Mithril that he knows where his missing wing is and can take it any time he wants, implying that he stays with Kat by choice.
Hypocrite: In the first novel, Anne has a staunch rejection of fairy slavery, reprimands a man for trying to hurt Mithril, and is uncomfortable with their suffering. Despite all this, she goes and buys a fairy slave herself to accompany her on her trip to Lewiston. Shalle is all too happy to point this out up until the point where she frees him at the end of the book.
"Just So" Story: Both women in general and fairies are discriminated against, and like many cultures there's a folktale explaining why society is justified in doing so. In their own creation myth, the first human woman eventually betrays the first human man and falls in love with the first fairy man.
Interspecies Romance: Anne, a human girl, is set up to fall in love with Shalle, a fairy man. They are married come the end of the series. Other human/fairy pairs are teased throughout the story, such as Kathy who all but states she has a crush on her master Jonas, or Duke Alburn whose beloved Lady Christina was a free fairy.
A Lighter Shade of Black: Compared to Jonas, Duke Alburn is someone who's gone mad from his grief but isn't quite as despicable. However, he isn't a great or responsible guy either as he verbally abuses Anne, destroys her initial works, and eventually threatens her with death all the while neglecting affairs of the state. But whereas he does beat Jonas physically for his lack of results, he notably never lays hands on Anne and gives her the chance to finish her work while she treats him as someone who needs compassion and understanding.
Made a Slave: A common happening for fairies. Anne and her fairies have an unusual relationship in which they both have their own wings, but choose to travel together with her anyway and can leave when they feel like it. Shalle, however, has to go through it at the end of season 1, selling out his wing to Bridget for Anne's sake.
Our Fairies Are Different: Fairies are born from all sorts of things, but this can only be accomplished through the gaze of a living creature. Their wings are their hearts and if even one of them is destroyed, this kills the fairy. Fairies also vary wildly in size, with many being pixie sized but some able to grow to human or taller.
Properly Paranoid: When Anne's silver sugar gets stolen, she immediately suspects Mithril did it, since he was in the carriage with the barrels of sugar while she was out. Even though Jonas was sabotaging her, the very end of the arc shows a very full and very satisfied Mithril after having eaten his way through all the (stolen) sugar.
Sleepyhead: Benjamin, Kat's fairy, is always either asleep or about to sleep.
Showing Up Chauvinists: While Anne's mother was a talented and respected craftswoman, Anne herself eventually realizes that her chosen field of sugar sculpting is male dominated, and not many men take kindly to her. The students of the Radcliffe Workshop in particular are incredibly sexist to her, with them even accusing her of coasting off of Kat or Kieth's favor. She spends the third arc having to work twice as hard to prove she can do her job, and even then they still get mad and try to burn her hands in boiled sugar out of broken pride.
While Rome Burns: Duke Alburn's neglected his stately duties for so long and become so obsessed with Anne building the perfect sugar confection of Christina that he ignores everything else around him to focus on Anne's work, even as an army is at his gates, inside his castle, and coming to take him captive.
Word Salad Title: In any other story, "Sugar Apple Fairy Tale" would seem like a random mishmosh of cutesy words, but here it at least refers to two of the most important elements of the story (the sugar apples that produce silver sugar and the fairies).