I suppose it had to happen sometime – after a very faithful first novel adaptation, Sugar Apple Fairy Tale is speeding things up as it embarks upon the second book in the series. At least part of that seems to be due to a need to cut out two specific scenes to maintain the middle-grade feel of the anime, but it may also be because they want to get through this arc and onto the third. This is a quieter storyline than the saga of Anne trying to reach Lewiston with more of an emotional focus, so I can’t say that this was a terrible decision. However, things still feel like they’re progressing too quickly in this episode.
Of course, part of that is because the series has primarily resisted showing us the nitty-gritty of Anne’s work. We don’t have a firm idea of how long it takes to make a sugar sculpture, and that could make things feel rushed since the entire point here is that Anne (and Jonas) have to make sugar tributes to the fairy that the Duke of Philax has numerous portraits of in his castle. We don’t know what the deal is yet, but we can make an educated guess: Hugh mentions that the Pull Soul holiday is coming right up. That’s the in-world festival of the dead when people send their loved ones’ souls on with elaborate silver sugar confections, and you may recall that Anne wanted to be able to send her mother off as a credentialed Silver Sugar Master. Philax’s goal may be similar, given the proximity of the holiday and the rush he seems to be in to get an appropriate tribute to the mysterious fey woman. Factor in his gaunt, depressed look and the fact that he refuses to have any enslaved fairies working in his castle, and it looks a lot like he’s in mourning for a fairy he loved as a woman rather than as a pet or a slave.
It’s hard to argue that would make Anne the right person to make his sculpture. She applies with a piece based on Mithril Lid Pod, and even if she hadn’t called him her friend in her explanation, it’s clear that he’s not her slave from how she talks about him and gets his permission to offer the piece to Philax. Her traveling with two fairies, neither of whom she owns, also likely makes a favorable impression, something we can guess from the fact that Jonas keeps Cathy hidden. It wouldn’t be a good look to have an enslaved fairy working with him when the duke is so clearly against the practice, would it?
Not that Jonas is capable of putting on a good look. He’s just as whiny and abrasive as he ever was, especially since he’s taken off the (very thin) mask he was wearing previously. He’s also happily lying to everyone in his workshop about Anne and who stole from whom, and that’s utterly infuriating. Anne isn’t making things any easier on herself – turning down the Silver Sugar Viscount’s offer to join his workshop probably wasn’t a brilliant move and denies her his backing against Jonas, at least in the official sense. But she is trying to do what she thinks is best, and I daresay none of us made universally excellent decisions when we were fifteen. At least she’s got Challe and his magic sword to rely on.
This isn’t Sugar Apple Fairy Tale‘s best episode. The political chatter feels a little divorced from the rest of the story, the race metaphors are still clumsy, and I don’t think any of us ever wanted to see Jonas again. But it seems like there’s a point the adaptation really wants to get to, so I think it’s worth sticking around – especially since this arc should have some decent emotional payout even if they fumble it a bit.
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