A Little Snow Fairy Sugar (ちっちゃな雪使いシュガー Chitchana Yukitsukai Shugā?) is a Japanese anime series developed by J.C.Staff. It premiered in Japan on TBS on October 2, 2001 and ran for 24 episodes until its conclusion March 26, 2002. A two-episode OVA was also released for the series. The series was licensed for North America by Geneon Entertainment, but after the closure of Geneon, its DVD releases went out of print. In 2009, Sentai Filmworks had acquired the license.
A related manga series written and illustrated by Botan Hanayashiki under the name "BH Snow+Clinic" was also released. Originally serialized in Dragon Junior, the individual chapters were published in three tankōbon volumes by Kadokawa Shoten.
The story is based around 11-year-old Saga Bergman, a young girl in a small German town called Muhlenberg (based on real town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber). Saga lives with her grandmother Regina and works in a coffee shop when not in school. Saga is extremely structured and plans her life down to the minute. One day, she notices a tiny creature in a fluffy outfit that appears to be starving. She offers it a waffle, which helps revive the tiny creature. Saga learns that this tiny creature is Sugar, an apprentice season fairy. Sugar explains that season fairies alter the weather by playing a magical musical instrument, and her specialty is snow, which she creates by playing the piccolo. Sugar is joined by two more apprentice season fairies, Salt, an outgoing male fairy who plays the trumpet to make the sun shine more brightly, and Pepper, a quiet and caring female fairy who plays the harp to make the wind blow.
All three apprentices are shocked at the realization that Saga can see them, since humans are not supposed to be able to see season fairies. Pepper speculates that exceptional humans might be able to see them, which is the best possible explanation. Sugar tells Saga that the three have been sent to Earth to train as full-fledged season fairies, and to do that, they must find 'Twinkles'.
Sugar moves into Saga's bedroom and sets up residence, much to the consternation of the super-structured Saga. Saga is a well-meaning, intelligent and highly-organized girl who feels compelled to look after the childish, loud and irresponsible Sugar, who is incapable of looking after herself. The story is complicated further with the arrival of three adult season fairies—Turmeric, a cloud fairy; Ginger, a rain fairy; and the Elder, the leader of the season fairies—and two more apprentices—Cinnamon, a hail fairy, and Basil, a thunder fairy.
With the highly disruptive presence of Sugar, Saga's life goes haywire. Her friends Norma and Anne think that she is losing her mind, and her teacher, Miss Hanna, is worried that her best student is acting strangely. Not at all concerned with her strange behavior is Greta, an egotistical rich girl who considers Saga to be her rival, and Phil, a goofy inventor who keeps trying to persuade Saga to help him with his experiments, if he is not already busy building and trying out his latest device.
- Saga Bergman Age: 11, is the series protagonist. Her mother died in an accident, so she lives with her grandmother. Saga is somewhat obsessed with planning, scheduling her day nearly to the minute and is frustrated when her plans go off schedule. She can be quick to lose her temper when she deals with Sugar, however, she is actually very kind and quite mature for her age. Saga works in a coffee shop and regularly stops at the local music store to play her mother's piano. Voiced by: Masumi Asano (Japanese), Michelle Ruff (English)
- Sugar Age: About 9. She is a female snow fairy apprentice working to learn how to be a full fledged fairy. She comes to the human world for the final part of her training which requires her to find a so called "Twinkle". Sugar acts much like a toddler with a clumsy nature who often tries her best at things but messes up because she doesn't always think things through. She loves to kiss anyone she is fond of when happy. After Saga first feeds her a waffle, she comes to love treats, though she mispronounces their name as "waffo". In the manga adaptation, she was familiar with the word before eating one. Voiced by: Tomoko Kawakami (Japanese), Rebecca Forstadt (English)
- Pepper Age: About 9. She is a female apprentice wind fairy and one of Sugar's friends who also comes to the human world to find a "Twinkle". She lives in the house of a veterinarian who has a newborn baby, who she tries to care for and plays lullabies to on her harp. Calm, gentle, and polite, she is humble about her abilities and is capable of talking to animals. Voiced by: Kaori Mizuhashi (Japanese), Lara Cody (English)
- Salt Age: About 9. He is a male apprentice sun fairy and another of Sugar's friends who come to the human world with her to find a "Twinkle". Salt initially wishes to be a sun fairy like his father but after meeting Tumeric he decides he wants to be a cloud fairy. Voiced by: Tomo Saeki (Japanese), Brianne Siddall (English)
- Cinnamon is a male apprentice and an ice or hail fairy who is best friends with Basil. He is the calmer of the two until he uses his cymbals which make him go crazy. He also loves to cause mischief and plays pranks on humans that cannot see him. Voiced by: Akiko Hiramatsu (Japanese), Kari Wahlgren (English)
- Basil is a male apprentice and a lightning or *thunder storm fairy who is best friends with Cinnamon. He is the louder one of the two and his instrument is the drum. He loves to cause mischief to make people think that strange natural disasters are occurring. Voiced by: Yumiko Kobayashi (Japanese), Ethan Murray (English)
- Grandmother Regina is Saga's grandmother who like many others cannot see the season fairies. She is very caring towards Saga and thinks there is something wrong with her because she sees her talking to nothing, i.e. *the season fairies. Voiced by: Chikako Akimoto (Japanese), Darcy Fitzwater (English)
- Greta is Saga's self-proclaimed rival. The spoiled daughter of a rich family, she can be arrogant and boastful, though at times shows that she does have a good heart. She often sets up impromptu contests between herself and Saga. Voiced by: Chinami Nishimura (Japanese), Jennifer Sekiguchi (English)
- Anne and Norma are Saga's best friends. Anne is taller, quiet, and more intelligent while Norma is shorter, bubble-headed, and obsessed with odd fashions. They are often concerned about Saga and are supportive of her actions. She liked one of the people in the play *The Bear Pianist, even though who Anne thought was a male, was a woman. Norma - Voiced by: Sawa Ishige (Japanese), Stevie Bloch (English); Anne - Voiced by: Akiko Nakagawa (Japanese), Mari Devon (English)
- Phil and his two friends, Jan and Lan, are inventors who often try to enlist Saga, Anne, and Norma's help with their latest project. Voiced by: Asami Sanada (Japanese), Steve Staley (English)
- Ginger is an adult rain fairy who is dedicated to her job. She can be brutally honest at times but means well and keeps an eye on the apprentice fairies. It is hinted that she has romantic feelings for Turmeric, though never explicitly stated. Voiced by: Kotono Mitsuishi (Japanese), Hope Grandflower (English)
- Turmeric is an adult cloud fairy who plays the cello. Turmeric is a kind, thoughtful, and subdued fairy who Ginger regularly hangs out with and who becomes Salt's role model. He constantly strives to perfect his clouds. Voiced by: Kenji Nojima (Japanese), Ezra Weisz (English)
- The Elder is the leader of the season fairies and capable of creating any kind of weather. Though extremely wise, he often appears foolish, particularly in his dedicated pursuit of Ginger. Voiced by: Fumihiko Tachiki (Japanese), Steve Kramer (actor) (English)
The initial concept for A Little Snow Fairy Sugar began with the producers at TBS deciding that they wanted to have a series about a little fairy. Haruka Aoi took this idea and came up with the concept of a fantasy town where Season Faeries lived and traveled the world to control the weather. Together Aoi, Yasunori Yamada who was responsible for the series structure, a representative from Kadokawa Shoten, and series director Shinichiro Kimura the final framework for the series was hammered out. Kimura focused on telling a story that focuses on the relationship between Sugar and Saga, while not fully explaining some things to viewers. In particular, he notes that the series never really explains what the "Twinkles" are that they faeries are searching for because he felt viewers should draw their own conclusions and that the show's purpose to show how friendships are formed and how they result in people growing as human beings.
The character of Sugar started as with the basic idea that the main character of the series would be a snow fairy. When trying to think of a name, Yamada associated snow with white, which he said reminded him of "sugar", giving the snow fairy its name. With that name decided, he decided that all of the other fairies would also have the names of condiments. Initially, the story was going to be set in the fairy world, with no humans at all, however, as they worked on fleshing out the story, the character of Saga was introduced. Aoi originally envisioned her as a quiet and calm girl, but she was eventually changed into the more assertive and organization obsessed character seen in the final version. Yamada notes that Kimura was responsible for turning the story into a more positive and cheerful one than the original concept might have resulted in. Yamada felt the character of Greta was a key character, particularly towards the series. He notes that he and other staff members adored her as they felt she was a "good girl and a lovable character". Aoi was initially surprised to find that Sugar ended up being more tomboyish than he had originally planned, but after watching the completed series, he decided that it made her cute. He felt the completed series was a "great mixture of scenario, characters, music, background and voice acting."
The visual designs for the characters began with conceptual designs by Koge-Donbo. As the series was an original work and not based on a manga, she was unsure on what the final appearances for the characters would be like. Character designer Keiko Kawashima notes that this made it confusing for him to follow the designs at first. He initially designed Saga with a more youthful appearance, but in discussing the character with Kimura, it was decided that she should have a more mature appearance that would be clearly distinctive from the appearances of the fairies. In animating the series, full-digital animation is used. Because of the fairies smaller size and movements, they would initially be drawn the same size as humans, then shrunk down when needed for scenes with humans. This allowed the animators to give the characters more detailed and realistic movements.
In designing the setting for the series, art director Shichiro Kobayashi was sent to Germany to search for locations. Though initially reluctant to go, as he felt reference materials would be enough, Kobayashi notes that it ended up being a valuable experience as he was able to better capture the Europeans' aesthetic sense and the "tastefulness" that permeates the towns and houses. Returning to Japan, he attempted to capture the "atmosphere" of the region, using pastel colors and aiming to make the art feel "comfortable."
The series music began with Pioneer requesting that it be romantic feeling, using piano and strings, which pleased music director Nobuyoshi Mitsumune, who had been working with the medium in his previous project. Wanting to also do something different, Mitsumune initially considered using elements from the rock and dance genres, but after seeing the conceptual art and reading the series scripts, he revisited his vision and decided to go with something more orthodox that better matched the inspiration he felt from the series. For the vocal tracks, sound director Yota Tsuruoka notes that the most difficult issue was dealing with the scenes where the faeries and humans would be having separate, unrelated conversations at the same time. He decided not to just have the tracks recorded separately for combining in the editing stage, but instead had the voice actors actually perform the scenes as written, with each group doing their conversations at the same time just as it occurs on screen.
Created by "Project Sugar"—a collaboration between TBS, J.C.Staff, and Kadokawa Shoten—the A Little Snow Fairy Sugar series premiered in Japan on TBS on October 2, 2001. Directed by Shinichiro Kimura, the series ran for 24 episodes until its conclusion on March 26, 2002.
It was licensed and released in North America by Geneon Entertainment. After the company folded in the United States, its DVD releases of the series went out of print. In July 2009, Sentai Filmworks announced that they had relicense the anime and will be distributed by Section23 Films in October 2009.
The anime series uses three pieces of theme music. "Sugar Baby Love" by Yoko Ishida is used for the opening theme for all of the episodes except the first and the last, which use no opening. It is also used for the ending theme for the last episode. Maria Yamamoto's performance of the song "Snow Flower" is used for the ending theme for the first 23 episodes.
A two-episode original video animation was released for the series. Set four years after the conclusion of the series, Saga tells Kanon about a school play in which she played the princess and struggled with stage fright, while Sugar and other fairies decide to make a play of their own.
The ending theme for the OVA is "Kokoro no Piano" ("Piano's Heart") by Masumi Asano.
Written and illustrated by Botan Hanayashiki, the A Little Snow Fairy Sugar manga series based on the anime series was originally serialized in Dragon Junior. The individual chapters were published in three tankōbon volumes by Kadokawa Shoten.
The manga series is licensed for an English language release in North America by ADV Manga.
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- A Little Snow Fairy Sugar: Sweet Mischief, (2001), Shinichiro Kimura, notes from: liner. Geneon Entertainment, (2003).
- A Little Snow Fairy Sugar: Sugar Baby Love, (2002), Shinichiro Kimura, notes from: liner. Geneon Entertainment, (2004).
- A Little Snow Fairy Sugar: Friends and Dreams, (2001), Shinichiro Kimura, notes from: liner. Geneon Entertainment, (2003).
- A Little Snow Fairy Sugar: The Bear Pianist, (2001), Shinichiro Kimura, notes from: liner. Geneon Entertainment, (2003).
- A Little Snow Fairy Sugar: Magical Sparkling Days, (2002), Shinichiro Kimura, notes from: liner. Geneon Entertainment, (2003).
- A Little Snow Fairy Sugar: Home Sweet Home, (2002), Shinichiro Kimura, notes from: liner. Geneon Entertainment, (2003).
- "Sentai Filmworks Adds Clannad After Story, Ghost Hound, He Is My Master". Anime News Network. July 28, 2009. Retrieved July 28, 2009.
- Official TBS A Little Snow Fairy Sugar anime website (Japanese)
- Official JC Staff A Little Snow Fairy Sugar anime website (Japanese)
- A Little Snow Fairy Sugar (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia