I’m beginning to think that the shojo manga Candy Candy is just an urban manga legend that I made up in one of my more fevered states. If it’s such an important, classic, well-beloved, and influential title, where is it? Where can I find Candy Candy?
Candy Candy is a manga series (1975-1979) written by Mizuki Kyoko and illustrated by Igarashi Yumiko which tells the story of the blonde, emerald-eyed American orphan Candace “Candy” White (subtle) Ardley and her life at the start of the 20th century. She has three great loves (when she gets older, of course) – Anthony, Terius/Terry, and Albert – and these three have become almost shojo archetypes. Like all other cheerful heroines, she goes through trials and tribulations, remaining ever optimistic. In addition to the award-winning manga, there has been an anime series, as well as some movies that never saw release outside of Japan.
I wouldn’t be so eager to read this vintage series were it not for the constant shoutouts it receives in k-dramas. “Candy-rella” has even entered the drama lexicon as a popular type of heroine – the poor but kind girl who remains stupidly cheerful no matter what awful things happen to her and who eventually marries up. Many dramas both poke fun and pay homage to this series, such as Dream High. But I think the best use of Candy was in Dal Ja’s Spring when the straight-laced Mr. Eom becomes obsessed with the manga and begins acting out his favorite scenes. That entire drama is superb, but worth watching on the strength of those scenes alone.
I haven’t read much classic manga or seen much classic anime (I think it’s really only been Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha books) but there are many titles I’m interested in – Cat’s Eye, The Rose of Versailles, or anything from Nippon Animation. But Candy has become semi-mythic to me, so it’s at the top of my list, though I doubt I’ll ever see it since the title is still so wrapped up in legal problems. What will happen to Candy Candy?