Anime Spotlight: Candy Candy

Candy Candy is considered to be a classic shojo anime title from the 1970s, and it is a series I actually had some exposure to as a child when my family lived in Japan during the mid-to-late 1970s.

The series started out as a prose novel that was written by Kyoko Mizuki that was written in April 1975. Mizuki formed a partnership with a manga artist named Yumiko Igarashi, and a manga version of the story was serialized in Nakayoshi for four years; in 1977, Candy Candy won the first Kodansha Manga Award for shojo.

Toei Animation acquired the rights to adapt Candy Candy into an anime series and an animated feature film. Due to the series’ popularity in Japan, a second anime film was produced in 1992. There were a total of 115 episodes produced for the anime series.

The main character of Candy Candy is Candice “Candy” White (later Candice “Candy” White Ardlay). At the beginning of the story, Candy is a six-year-old girl living in an orphanage called Pony’s Home, which is located near Lake Michigan. The story follows Candy as she deals with drama and heartache while growing up; at the end of the story, she is in Chicago gaining experience as a nurse around the time of the World War I era.

When Candy was young, she met a man on Pony’s Hill who she called the “Prince of the Hill.” As she gets older, Candy has two love interests, who both have a physical resemblance to the “Prince of the Hill”: Anthony Brown and Terrence “Terry” Graham Grandchester. Anthony dies, and circumstances end up keeping Terry and Candy separated. At the end of the series, Candy learns who the “Prince of the Hill” is.

While Candy Candy may not have achieved the same level of success outside of Japan, it still garnered some success among children in various places during the early-to-mid 1980s. Outside of Japan, Candy Candy was popular in Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The series was popular enough in these locations that Candy Candy toys were also sold to capitalize on the series’ popularity.

Unfortunately, the 1990s saw the Candy Candy brand come to a halt, due to copyright disputes. Mangaka Yumiko Igarashi tried to claim complete ownership of Candy Candy in order to collect the royalties; Igarashi also began producing new material for the franchise without the consent of either Kyoko Mizuki or Toei.

Mizuki filed a lawsuit in 1998; while she didn’t ask for full copyright ownership in her suit, she did ask to have it recognized that Mizuki and Igarashi have the same rights of ownership to the Candy Candy property. In 1999, the case was ruled in favor of Mizuki, and this ruling was upheld in other lawsuits in 2000 and 2001.

Mizuki also won another lawsuit against Igarashi and five companies that distributed Candy Candy merchandise. Mizuki was awarded 29,500,000 yen in compensation.

In 2002, Igarashi then sued Toei Animation, in an attempt to dispute the company’s claim to the Candy Candy trademark and television copyright. In response, Toei enacted a broadcast freeze on the series, in order to stop the circulation of illegal Candy Candy material and to avoid the cultivation of mistrust among other mangaka.

Unfortunately, the only DVDs available for Candy Candy are all illegal and unlicensed. Illegal and unlicensed DVD releases have been reported in France, Korea, Chile and Taiwan.

In 2005, there was an attempt to re-establish the Candy Candy brand in the United States, but due to all the court cases, it seems very unlikely that the series will see the light of day. I wish there was a way to resolve these copyright conflicts like Leiji Matsumoto and Yoshinobu Nishizaki did in regards to the Space Battleship Yamato franchise before Nishizaki passed away in 2010.

It’s very unfortunate that these copyright disputes are keeping this classic shojo title from being seen by the public in any form, whether it’s on television, on legal home video releases, on streaming sites such as Crunchyroll or Hulu, or as a manga. I hope that in some point in the future, all the parties involved can find a way to work through their differences in order to bring Candy Candy back out into the anime and manga marketplace.

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