Satougashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai - Reviews

Alt title: A Lollipop or a Bullet

Satougashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai
coldspaghetti's avatar
Mar 16, 2021

Lollypop or a Bullet. The manga that poetically ripped my heart out, stomped on it, and then gracefully spit on it. I went into this certain manga blindly and after finishing this short gem I am left in a puddle of melancholy. Lollypop or a Bullet tells the story of an eccentric exchange student named Mokuzu wanting to become our main character Yamada's friend. Mokuzu is known for being strange, constantly spouting lies about her being a mermaid or rambling on about nonsensical things. Yamada at first is taken aback by her strange and idealistic behavior, Yamada being a firm realist. Or one that believes in real bullets not ones made of sugar. But she soon finds herself attracted to Mokuzu's whimsical nature, even after all the odd unexplainable occurences that happen from and around her. As you can tell in the tags this particular manga is a tragedy. One tragedy that is a heart wrenchingly beautiful allegory for the harsh reality of life and the confection covered paradise of escapism. The sweet lies in a form of a candy bullet, usesless, innocent, and as so harmless. Only real bullets can pierce flesh. And that's what essentially encaspulates this manga. The crossfire of candy and silver bullets. Since this is quite a short manga, only being thirteen chapters long, I didn't expect much of it's characters or plot. To restate what I said earlier I went in blind with no high hopes. My expectations were blew away. I enjoyed reading this manga so much, the whole thirty minutes it took me to finish it. Every chapter was crafted with a sense of mystique and uncanny-ness from the contrast of the cryptic dialgoue and the cute children. There was always a underlying sense of doom that compelled me to turn each page. I can truly say this manga captivated me, for better or for worse because of how sad it is. The two main characters Mokuzu and Yamada are crafted with complexity despite the length of this manga. After skimming over it to write this review I picked up so many things I missed- or should I say warning signs I missed when reading it the first time around. I realized the subtle tell tale hints that were made to build up the characters. When they felt fustrated, sad, angry, or hopeless I could practically feel it oozing out of the page. This is with the help of the wonderfully gorgeous and hyper delicate looking art. The characters have big eyes, small features, lanky appendages, pure faces, and most of all, an aura of despair. Despite the very beautiful and surface level design there exists a formulated tone to these innocent looking drawings. One that can be bended at will during certain scenes. The still panels with no dialogue plastered on them were the most heavy hitting ones. You could quite honestly feel what that panel was trying to convey to you. I haven't cried over a manga in a little bit so for this manga to make me ugly cry was an achievement. I found myself stuck. I love this manga but hate it for it's gut wrenching subject matter. Though this is what makes this short manga what it is. Lollypop or a Bullet excels at drawing you in from this subject matter and keeping you in. The pacing was perfect and the buildups were even better. As the mysteries around infamous Mokuzu unravel the more shocking and heartbreaking it is. I'm not going to spoil it for you even though it's mildly predictable because of the synopsis and tags, but once you realize why she did some of the things she did it blows your mind. The themes intertwine seamlessly with events and tone making me even more sad. But even through my sadness I have to appreciate the creativity and genius behind the metaphorical candy bullet and real bullet. I extremely recommend this manga. It's tragically beautiful. 

8.6/10 story
8.6/10 art
8.6/10 characters
8.6/10 overall
ChineseWick's avatar
Feb 15, 2024

"Satougashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai" (A Lollipop or a Bullet), based on the novel by Kazuki Sakuraba and illustrated by Iqura Sugimoto, is a poignant and beautifully tragic tale that explores themes of friendship, reality versus escapism, and the harshness of rural life. The story focuses on Nagisa Yamada, a young girl from a seaside village who dreams of joining the military to escape her mundane life, and the enigmatic Mokuzu Umino, who claims to be a mermaid. Their friendship and the unfolding drama reveal the depths of human despair, resilience, and the bittersweet taste of growing up.

Sweet Surprises

  • Emotional Depth: The manga excels in its exploration of deep emotional themes and the complexities of its characters. The narrative delves into the psyche of its protagonists, offering a raw and unfiltered look at their struggles, dreams, and the crushing weight of their realities.

  • Artistic Sensitivity: Sugimoto's art style complements the story's mood perfectly. The delicate lines and expressive characters enhance the narrative's emotional impact, drawing readers deeper into the world of Nagisa and Mokuzu.

  • Narrative Nuance: The storytelling in "Satougashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai" is subtle yet powerful, with the manga adeptly navigating between the innocence of childhood and the harsh truths of adulthood. The juxtaposition of Nagisa's pragmatic cynicism and Mokuzu's fantastical escapism serves as a compelling narrative device that enriches the story.

Bitter Pills

  • Pacing Ponderings: The pacing of the manga, while deliberate, may not resonate with all readers. Its slow build-up is essential for character development and thematic depth but can sometimes feel dragging, especially for those expecting more immediate developments or a faster-moving plot.

  • Emotional Weight: The heavy emotional themes and the stark portrayal of the characters' realities might be overwhelming for some readers. The manga doesn't shy away from presenting the harshness of life, which, while powerful, can also be a lot to bear.

Distinctive Drops

  • Realism and Fantasy: The blend of harsh realism with elements of fantasy through Mokuzu's claims of being a mermaid creates a unique narrative contrast. This duality not only adds intrigue but also serves as a metaphor for the characters' coping mechanisms and the escapism from their troubled lives.

  • Cultural Canvas: Set in a rural Japanese seaside village, the manga offers a glimpse into a setting that's both specific and universal. The depiction of rural life, with its beauty and its limitations, adds a rich backdrop to the personal stories of the characters, highlighting the impact of environment on personal growth and dreams.


"Satougashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai" is a nuanced and emotionally resonant tale that masterfully blends the bitter with the sweet. Its exploration of friendship, reality, and the pains of growing up is both heartrending and beautifully executed. While its deliberate pacing and heavy emotional themes may not be for everyone, the manga's depth, character development, and stunning art make it a worthwhile read. It stands as a testament to the power of storytelling to explore the complexities of human emotions and the realities of life, wrapped in a narrative that's both delicate and impactful.

6/10 story
7/10 art
7/10 characters
7/10 overall
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