Sugar Sugar Rune, vol. 3

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Chocolat continues to grow as a character in this volume! I think I’m starting to really like this, as it’s improved a lot over the last two volumes.

Pierre confronts Vanilla towards the beginning of this volume, telling her that she’s an ogre, and that’s why people don’t want her to win the throne. Vanilla, knowing that she recently went to the magical world, demands to read Cinnamon’s diary, as she feels Chocolat’s mother would know the secrets behind her birth. Chocolat doesn’t budge, but she knows for a fact that her mom didn’t mention anything about Vanilla’s lineage. It’s kept sort of ambiguous in the text as to what her background is; there are cuts to Queen Candy saying she will reunite the different factions in the magical world, but it’s not clear if she is an ogre or what.

This spat grows more serious as Chocolat and Vanilla start living in different spaces, to avoid greater tension. Robin alleviates this by enacting a second living quarters for Chocolat, but still.. it’s not an ideal situation, especially when they grew up so close to one another.

In between these two events, Chocolat and Vanilla continue to compete for hearts, in time for a spring examination. There, we learn that while Vanilla has maintained a lead, Chocolat is gaining on her, as the hearts she collects are deeper in color and thus worth more ecure. The implication is that Chocolat has grown able to make deeper, more lasting bonds with the people around her.

The examination comes along, and it’s akin to a fetch quest of sorts. Chocolat and Vanilla have to capture a mandragora. Both do this with relative ease, though they fight out of jealousy all the way through. It’s a bit of a bummer to see them fight, since they were pretty close before now.

Lastly, two of Chocolat’s friends from the magical world have been enlisted to serve as her knights, now that Pierre has posed himself as a credible threat.

I liked seeing Chocolat grow more confident over the course of these chapters. It does feel like an abrupt jump – there aren’t many anecdotes in these chapters to demonstrate where this newfound confidence comes from. She does seem to trust her human world friends more, so maybe that’s where it comes from? Either way, it works in practice, as Vanilla’s insecurities about her ambiguous background have created an opening for Chocolat to flex her muscles.

I thought the remark about Chocolat’s hearts was important. The implication to me is that Chocolat has created more meaningful, lasting relationships with her surroundings, and that’s an important distinction. We don’t see Vanilla hang out or interact with many people in this volume. She mainly works with Pierre’s lackeys, and that connection doesn’t seem rooted in mutual trust or anything resembling actual friendship. By contrast, Chocolat is usually in the company of someone else, and she has great chemistry with them. The scenes towards the end, where she’s contemplating sleeping on a bench and runs into Akira, was pretty charming.

Sugar Sugar Rune started out pretty clumsily, but with promise. It built on that promise last time around and has built even further on it here. I’m excited to see where it goes. Maybe we’ll see it change into something spectacular by the end!

Sugar Sugar Rune was written and illustrated by Anno Moyoco. It was serialized in Kodansha’s Nakayoshi magazine from 2004 to 2007, and its chapters were later collected in eight bound volumes. Del Rey Manga released all eight volumes in North America from 2005 to 2008 before they ceased operations in 2010. This review is based on that edition, which is out-of-print. The North American rights were reacquired by Udon Entertainment in 2015, though their release of the series is still forthcoming as of 2018.

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