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"Into unreliable guns with little force, Mokuzu loaded sugar candy bullets, I loaded live rounds, and we kept shooting, yet it didn't look like we could take anything down".
Satou Kashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai (砂糖菓子の弾丸は撃ちぬけない, Sugar Candy Bullets Can't Pierce Anything or A Lollipop or a Bullet) is a manga series based on a novel by Kazuki Sakuraba. The manga is illustrated by Iqura Sugimoto and it has 13 chapters, gathered in two volumes.
Nagisa Yamada is an aloof and anti-social middle school girl who lives in a nondescript rural town in Tottori. After the death of her father caused her mother to struggle to make ends meet and her brother to withdraw from the world around him, Nagisa decided that things like high school and friendship meant little to her. Thus, she wants nothing more than to graduate middle school and enroll in the Self Defense Force, where she hopes to be able to shape her own destiny.
When a strange new girl by the name of Mokuzu Umino transfers in from Tokyo and declares that she is a "Mermaid", she quickly becomes the center of attention. Noticing that Nagisa is the only classmate that seems to have no interest in her, Mokuzu quickly decides that they should become "precious friends". Despite Nagisa's objections, Mokuzu begins to follow her wherever she goes.
How will Nagisa, who cares for nothing that is "not a bullet", deal with this eccentric girl who claims to need her friendship in order to survive? And what will she do if Mokuzu's wild stories turn out to be true? Or, if Mokuzu actually is lying about being a mermaid, then why would she make up such tales, and what's up with her and her father...?
This series contains examples of:
- Abusive Parents -- Mokuzu's rockstar father, Masachika Umino, is shown to be aloof towards her at best and emotionally abusive at worst, once leaving her behind in a grocery store parking lot simply because a defective shopping cart made him angry. And that's only the tip of the iceberg.
- Adults Are Useless -- Nagisa comes to this conclusion after talking with her teacher.
Nagisa: "Adults act like heroes but all they really want is to control us children."
- Aloof Big Brother -- Rather than resent Tomohiko for giving up his promising future and spending what little money the family has left on his Otaku interests, Nagisa and their mother think of him as modern-day Nobility.
- Big Brother Mentor -- Though he is often withdrawn and oblivious, Tomohiko displays moments of stunning insight when he gives Nagisa advice that cuts right to the heart of her problems. In fact, he's the first one to believe Nagisa's claims that Mokuzu has been killed and dismembered.
- Big Fancy House: Mokuzu's house in the city's upscale district is shown, and it's fabulous. In a subversion, it's luxurious bath room is featured as Nagisa finds more and more evidence of Mokuzu's murder...
- Cassandra Truth -- Nagisa doesn't believe Mokuzu when she tells her that her father killed her dog. Turns out she's not making this up for a change.
- Chekhov's Gun -- The bottle that Mokuzu throws away in the first chapter makes another appearance in the very end.
- Cloudcuckoolander -- Mokuzu.
- Cut Himself Shaving -- Mokuzu tells Nagisa that the bruises on her legs are because mermaid skin is very sensitive to pollution. She actually got them from her father.
- Disappeared Dad -- The cause of most of the Yamada family's troubles. Nagisa's father was swallowed up by the sea during a freak storm that occurred 10 years ago... the same kind of storm that Umino says will herald the return of the mermaids in just one month's time.
- Electra Complex -- Mokuzu says that she loves her father the most and that she fought over him with her mother. And won.
- Full-Name Basis -- Umino always refers to Nagisa as "Nagisa Yamada", even in the most mundane of conversations.
- Girls Love -- Heavily implied between Nagisa and Umino in the covers and splash pages of the earlier Manga issues, though it remains to be seen if they will end up Schoolgirl Lesbians or just Romantic Two-Girl Friendship. Unless, of course, Umino's claims of being a genderless Mermaid are true.
- Hikikomori -- Tomohiko Yamada is described by his younger sister as "Beautiful, gentle natured, and shockingly intelligent... but at the same time, he's just as surprisingly useless." Once his father died, Tomohiko dropped out of school and hasn't set foot outside of his house in the three years since.
- How We Got Here -- The manga starts on the 4th of October with Nagisa saying that she's searching for something in the mountains. Then the story takes the reader back to the 2nd of September. It's not until very late that everyone learns that what Nagisa is looking for is... Mokuzu's corpse.
- Idol Singer -- Most of her classmates think Mokuzu Umino is the daughter of a famous actor/musician of the same surname, Masachika Umino. She claims that she, of course, can't have a father due to being a genderless Mermaid born of sea foam. It turns out she really IS his daughter... and his murder victim.
- Ill Girl -- In what Mokuzu says are side effects of the witch's spell that made her human, she cannot walk without a painful limp, and must drink copious amounts of water before speaking or exerting herself. As it turns out her limping is actually the result of physical abuse by her own father. She's also deaf on one ear for the same reason, but since nobody knows about this everyone thinks she ignores them out of arrogance.
- Kuudere -- Nagisa puts forth an image of one who cares little for the people around her, however she is surprisingly gentle with her aloof older brother and the rabbits she tends to after school.
- Love Triangle -- Between Nagisa, Kanajima and Mokuzu. It's never really resolved.
- Meaningful Name -- Umino Mokuzu means "Scraps of seaweed from the sea". Mokuzu is also a metaphor for death at sea.
- Missing Mom -- Mokuzu's parents are divorced, and her mother's nowhere to be seen.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast -- Umino Mokuzu aka "Scraps of seaweed from the sea" aka death at sea.
- Not a Date -- When Nagisa's friend Kanajima gets the nerve to ask Mokuzu if she would like to go to the movies with them, she accepts... but only because she thinks of it as another opportunity to spend time with Nagisa.
Nagisa: "Is Kanajima invisible or something?"
- Odd Friendship -- Between the serious and aloof Nagisa and the fanciful Cloudcuckoolander Mokuzu.
- The Ojou -- Mokuzu is a rather eccentric version of the Spoiled Brat kind, since her father Masachika is a former rock star who has invested his earnings VERY well.
- Our Mermaids Are Different -- According to Mokuzu, mermaids can be transformed into humans by witches, in exchange for walking with an imperfect pair of legs and with the risk that they will turn into sea-foam and fade away if they don't find a "true friend" in one months time.
- Scenery Porn
- Small Town Boredom -- Nagisa's primary motivation for wanting to join the JSDF.
- The Snark Knight - Nagisa seems to fit this; most of her snark is kept to her inner monologue.
Nagisa: "Aren't they amazing? They can go on forever talking about pointless subjects. Even I'm beginning to admire them for it."
- Title Drop -- The very last words in the manga.
- Tsundere -- Transfer student Mokuzu shows type B Tsundere tendencies, by throwing half-full water bottles and shouting "Go to hell!" at Nagisa... the one girl in school that Umino wants to become friends with.
- Unsound Effect -- A non-humorous in-universe example occurs when newly-arrived Strange Girl Umino Mokuzu introduces herself to the class:
Mokuzu: "Then please treat me well."
Mokuzu: (while bowing to the class) "Bow."
Nonplussed Student: She actually said "Bow"!
- Zettai Ryouiki -- Most of the female students in Nagisa's school sport Type C, but Mokuzu doesn't seem to settle for less than Type B.
The following tropes are inherent spoilers, read at your own risk!
- Adults Are Useless: It seems that the rumors about Masachika's abuse of Mokuzu had spread around and her neighbors were planning to send the police after him and rescue her. However, Mokuzu refused their help and defended her dad out of Stockholm Syndrome, so the plan fell through, and since there were no countermeasures she was soon beaten to death. Nagisa and Mokuzu's teacher lampshades the trope when he blames himself for not having done enough to save her.
- Bittersweet Ending: Nagisa decides to go to high school after all and her brother Tomohiko overcomes his Hikikomori tendences... but only after Mokuzu's gruesome death.
- Cassandra Truth: When Nagisa realizes that Umino has been killed by her father snf tries to tell others... neither Nagisa's mom or her visiting teacher believe her, thinking Umino is just an eccentric liar who is playing a trick on her; in the novel she even visits the police but they don't believe her either. No one believes her until she and Tomohiko (the only one who does believe her from the start) go to the police after finding Umino's body in the mountains.
- Cooldown Hug: Tomohiko tries to give this to Nagisa to keep her from seeing Mokuzu's dismembered remains. It fails: Nagisa releases herself and soon gets an eyeful of her best friend's corpse.
- Dead Man's Chest: Masachika Umino hides his daughter's body in a trolley case.
- Expository Hairstyle Change - Important Haircut:
- Tomohiko cuts his hair short in the very end when he enrolls in the Self Defense Force.
- Nagisa lets her hair loose after losing Mokuzu and deciding to stay in school.
- Heroic BSOD:
- Nagisa slides fast into this state when she deduces that Mokuzu was killed by her dad, then fully falls into it when she sees Mokuzu's dismembered body. She's still bluescreening the next morning, as she and Tomohiko reveal everything to the police.
- Tomohiko also suffers one for the same reason, crying and shivering as he and Nagisa tell the police what happened to poor Mokuzu.
- Nagisa's teacher is also seen in a blue-screen state because he didn't believe Nagisa when she told him about Mokuzu's murder. He even gives a rather heartbreaking speech to himself, since he was thinking of talking to Mokuzu about her situation and yet couldn't do anything...
- Get Out!: Masachika doesn't harm Nagisa when he finds her in his home after having taken Mokuzu's body to the nearby hills, but he does kick her out when she confronts him.
- Go Out with a Smile -- Subverted. The last time Mokuzu is seen alive she's smiling serenely (her first real smile, according to Nagisa) but when her corpse is shown later her face looks timid and resigned, very much like when Kanajima was beating her up.
- That Liar Lies -- When Masachika Umino tells Nagisa that Mokuzu became sea foam.
- Offing the Offspring:
- The series ends with Nagisa's best friend Mokuzu Umino, who had been abused by her father Masachika since infancy, being beaten to death by him. When Masachika realizes that he's murdered Mokuzu, he dismembers her corpse and hides the parts; Nagisa and her older brother Tomohiko find them and alter the police, and Masachika is apprehended sometime later. It's implied that the victim had been so damaged by such experiences that she came to believe this would be her ultimate fate, and completely resigned herself to it.
- As Nagisa falls into an Heroic BSOD upon realizing that Mokuzu has been killed, she begins to babble in front of Mokuzu's murderous father about a quiz that Tomohiko once told her about, which is about the trope. It features a woman whose husband died suddenly, then met one of said hubby's workmates in the funeral, and then killed her son. The quiz finishes with a question: "why did she kill her son?", and the reply is "Because she missed him" - the widow thought that since the man came into her life during the husband's funeral, killing her son would make him come again.
- The Runaway -- When they realize that Adults Are Useless, Nagisa and Mokuzu plan this. It might have worked, had Mokuzu not returned home to get her stuff and run into her abusive dad...
- Shower of Angst - Nagisa has some baths of angst, especially when her mom tells her about Mokuzu's injuries coming from her dad's abuse.
- Stepford Smiler -- Mokuzu turns out to be this, as she's near always happy and loud but hides the huge physical and emotional damage coming from her loneliness and her father's ultimately lethal abuse.
- Stockholm Syndrome -- Referrenced by Nagisa's brother Tomohiko when trying to explain Mokuzu's incredibly broken relationship to her father.
- Tears of Remorse -- Mokuzu's father, after killing her. When he was imprisoned for the murder some time later, he was crying too.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Tomohiko vomits out of stress when he leaves the Yamada household for the first time in three years, so he and Nagisa can go check on the hills and find Mokuzu's corpse.