Happy Sugar Life: The Masterful Art of Mental Manipulation

(WARNING: If you are not watching Happy Sugar Life this season or have not seen episode 7 I HIGHLY suggest skipping this post. There will be minor spoilers discussed today. Also I am NOT an expert in psychology! Today’s post will just be my initial thoughts after viewing this particular episode.)

There is one scene that has stood out to me from the rest in Happy Sugar Life. It has been on my mind since viewing episode 7. We are now currently waiting for episode 11 since episode 10 was just released yesterday. The specific scene I am going to discuss in today’s post is when we (the audience) find out that Satou’s Aunt is in fact very much alive and well…she just happens to live on a different floor from Satou and Shio in the same apartment complex. Satou’s Aunt took full custody of her when her parents died many years ago. She is also the person responsible for making Satou into the psychopath we see displayed throughout the show…and this is confirmed in episode 7.

Satou’s Aunt is only seen briefly before episode 7, in flashbacks of Satou’s memories. This hints that Satou might have killed her or that she might be missing, but as we make our way to episode 7 we know that she is alive. Satou’s Aunt is pretty much the antagonist of the story, filling Satou with harmful, bitter, and neurotic notions/ideals of love that are distorted beyond belief. This is why Satou has no true meaning of love and seeks to find it amongst a multitude of men. Hence why Satou’s Aunt deems her “easy to catch.”

When Satou’s Aunt makes her appearance in episode 7 she seems cheerful yet insanely crazed at the same time. Satou’s Aunt has a seductive manner about her as well which gives her a slight advantage when it comes to talking with other people. Specifically the male police officer that comes to look through her apartment when suspicions are raised against Satou. This type of demeanor is known to attract violence and sexual interactions. It is the masterful art of mental manipulation…and Satou’s Aunt knows how to use it.

Satous Aunt 2

See, the thing that Satou’s Aunt is doing isn’t just psychological manipulation…it’s also intellectual bullying/intimidation. While it is made clear that Satou’s Aunt at some point or another was a victim to physical abuse, as well as mental/emotional abuse, she then projected that onto Satou when she was a child. Psychological manipulation is influenced through mental distortion and emotional exploitation, in which the person inflicting such act is trying to seize power, control, and privileges all at the victims expense.  In more simple terms you can think of it as a power play; someone who wants to control another person in any way they see fit by any means necessary.

The person exploiting that power will deliberately create an imbalance in the relationship in order to have control and exploit the victim to serve his/her agenda. Someone at some point must have done this to Satou’s Aunt and you can even see it done with Shio’s Mother as well. Although Shio’s Mother faced more physical abuse more so than mental abuse. I think Shio’s Mother was so distraught and overcome with her own grief/guilt that it ultimately lead her to abandoning Shio. Some “tricks” you might see manipulative people use are distorting facts (aka lying), overwhelm you with facts/statistics, give you little/no time to decide/come up with an answer, criticize you to make you feel inadequate, and negative humor designed to show your weaknesses and disempower you. Pretend ignorance, guilt-baiting and victim-hood are other resources manipulators will go to in order to manipulate you further.

The scene where Satou’s Aunt calls out the male police officer is the perfect presentation of mental manipulation. She starts off the convo cheery and yet oddly insults the male officer (while the female officer is off to the side watching this whole thing go down). Satou’s Aunt then decides to dig a little deeper into the male officers childhood, getting him riled up to the point where he raises his hand to her.

But this is exactly what she wants. Satou’s Aunt then pulls out the sexual manipulation card…knowing full well that sexual desire/interaction will dig at the officer even further.

This is Satou’s Aunt using psychological harassment to discredit the officer into thinking this is exactly what he wants. You can also call this intellectual bullying or intimidation. Humiliation is a key stimuli that activates the areas of the brain related to pain. This trigger can produce intense and more lasting responses than joy, and a much much more negative one than something like anger or fear. This is why the audience then sees a brief moment from Satou’s childhood:

Humiliating another person is one of the cruelest and yet most effective behavior to exist.  It is a driving force behind many cases of physical and emotional abuse. Tearing someone down and bending them to your will is addictive, powerful and one of the scariest things to face if you are a victim. These so called “intellectual bullies” are far more intelligent than the average person. This superior way of thinking leads them to use humiliation, contempt, and negative sarcasm towards other people, but if you peel back the layers you will realize that this behavior is done because that person is trying to hide an insecurity of their own. Satou’s Aunt even tries to make a pass at the female officer but she isn’t having any of it:

The abuse Satou’s Aunt had endured bled into her teaching Satou that this type of behavior was okay. This type of bullying is known to have devastating long-terms effects and will cause deep long-lasting emotional and psychological trauma. These effects become more prevalent as the episodes progress and can be seen when Satou has a mental breakdown in episode 10. But this type of bullying isn’t without merit to the bully themselves. In the long run, the bully will end up becoming a victim to their own game. Eventually their insecurity will lead them down a path where they will prevent themselves from fully developing and taking advantage of their adequate potential. It’s a lose lose type of situation.

Satous Aunt 1

In the end this mental manipulation/bullying happens because people lack compassion. When the perpetrator hurts their victim, they do so knowingly. If they had any sense of compassion, or even empathy, they wouldn’t have harassed/bullied their victim in the first place. I would like to end this article with a quote from Dan Pearce: “People who love themselves, do not hurt other people. The more we hate ourselves, the more we want others to suffer.” 

Thank you guys so much for being patient with me on this! I know this blog post is well overdue. With my new job I seem to be more tired these days. Probably due to the fact that this delivery job is a bit more psychical and taxing on my body than my previous one…but it is worth it in the end when I get my paychecks 😉 I hope you guys enjoyed reading this post! It was something I knew I wanted to write about right away when I finished episode 7 a few weeks ago. If you like these more “in-depth” or “thought out” post let me know in the comments below! Maybe I can make them into a blog series? Any name/title suggestions? I would love to write more of these blogs if given the opportunity (and I’m not too tired XD). I hope everyone is having a great weekend. I’ll see you guys in my next post. Muah! XOXO


Disclaimer: All imagery and photos come from searching for them on the internet. I have no claim or right to them. If I find any links I will always post them (this usually entails fan art or any other work affiliated with an artist).

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10 Comments

  1. What a terrific post, thanks so much for writing this! From the moment her character appear I thought Sato’s aunt was such an amazing and different character and I loved every second we spent with her. I’d love to get to see more of her in this show but somehow I doubt it since this is more Shio and Sato’s story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I feel like Satou’s Aunt is such a beast of a character. They could even make an anime of her upbringing and I would watch it. You know there is some twisted ideology on how she became the way she is. I would LOVE to see more of her as well, but as you stated I don’t think we will since the story revolves around Satou and Shio.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What an incredible analytical post that really dives into what makes Happy Sugar Life such an amazing show.

    A lengthy post, but it was well worth the read and made me appreciate the show even more than I did already.

    Thanks for sharing the love for this one. Good job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! I am so glad you liked it. I wanted the post to be informative and conclusive, I think that’s why it took me so long to write it. I needed it to go into a specific direction before I posted it. I like doing more in-depth post rather than reviews because I feel like the reader can take something away from the material without my opinion being shoved in their face.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I completely agree with you there and as a reader that’s the kind of posts I always tend to prefer myself.

        It’s why I tend to avoid writing reviews for the most part on my own blog 😛

        As a reader who enjoys your work, I’d like to see more like this! Keep up the good work!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That is an incredible post with such insight! I am watching HSL myself and it gives me the creeps.

    The most frightening shows are not the ones with villains and ghosts and vampires. They are the shows that are not merely possible but you know for certain it is happening to somebody… somewhere… right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah yes. Episode 7, aka “that episode where we met the one person more powerful than Satou”. Auntie was deliciously terrifying, meaning she sent shivers down my spine but was also very sexy.

    I don’t have much to add about Auntie’s character study as it’s a case of putting the available puzzle pieces together like you did here. To me she’s a human succubus who definitely had a very rough childhood and was most likely in several abusive relationships before becoming the devilish seductress we saw.

    Glad more people are giving this show the respect it deserves. Most “Moepocalypse” series that have got anime adaptations should be respected in my opinion as most of them, like Yuuki Yuuna, Daybreak Illusion and Gakkou Gurashi were really good.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A bit late to get around to reading this.

    Great post though, you did a good job breaking down this scene and explaining why it was worth talking about. Auntie is truly a terrifying and sexy character, but she’s definitely one that’s worth talking about. After this ep I kinda do wish we saw more of her as she really stole the spotlight in ep 7.

    Liked by 1 person

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