"How They Changed Our Candy"

    -Translated by Kiara-

This article is an old interview with Kyoko Mizuki and Yumiko Igarashi that was published in an Italian magazine many years ago. We can’t see the date of this article, but since it is said that Mizuki and Igarashi were both in their early 30's, we can infer that it's around 1982.

We meet in Milan, Kyoko Mizuki and Yumiko Igarashi, two young Japanese women who created the blonde young girl with round blue eyes that met with huge success on television.

The identity of Candy Candy is a girl with long, blond hair parted in pig tails with colored ribbons, big, wide-open, blue eyes, usually glittering. She’s a young orphan, a beloved little girl that faithfully followed her adventures in a cartoon lasting 115 episodes. Her fans range from aged 6 years and a little more, but there are also 18-year-old girls affected by her misfortunes and excited by her unlucky love for the young Terence. Their mothers watched TV as well, and their brothers too, after they got intoxicated with robots like Goldrake, Mazinga, Jeeg, Captain Harlock and so on. And even if they did not want to admit it, they were fascinated by the adventures of this girl with the sugary name.

Although the story has ended, Candy has not. She is still on local TV stations, on the magazines entitled with her name, on books and handbooks where she teaches little girls sewing and bricolage. She tells how to look nicer and how to choose the right school.

So in Italy, the myth of Candy Candy still lasts, while in Japan, the little girls who gave her success four years ago have grown up and have stopped a long time ago to feel any interest for the girl with the sad eyes. But two 32-year-old women from Tokyo have not forgotten her: Candy had given them bags of money. They are Kyoko Mizuki and Yumiko Igarashi, writer and illustrator respectively of the story. Six years ago they got in touch with the agents of a publisher and were asked to create something new and different from Mazinga and other robots.

Kyoko was a writer of romantic novels and Yumiko was a successful comic-strip drawer. They had never worked together, but immediately got along. They wanted to tell the story of a “human” girl, not a princess from space or a robot with rotating arms and explosive hair. The excessively big eyes (to contrast with the almond-shaped ones) and the blond hair were successful ideas.

“The western look of Candy and the western setting excited the curiosity of Japanese girls who made Candy’s success,” the two authors said today in Milan on a business trip. “You western people feel an understandable curiosity for our lifestyle. So do Japanese children. They always feel attracted by what European of their same age do.”

“The studios left us free to create the character the way we wanted,” Mizuki and Igarashi also said, "But we lost this freedom when Candy became an anime, an area of the kingdom of sponsors. They added all sorts of thing to our Candy: bags, bicycles, even a little pet, in order to attract the youngest viewers too. We made our complaints and tried to make them see Candy on TV as we had drawn her, but unfortunately we couldn’t do anything.”

The additions of sponsors, anyway, were not the only differences between the comics and the cartoon, which is not a masterpiece from a technical point of view. You don’t need to see movies like
Snow White or Fantasy – where in a single scene dozens of characters can move at the same time. Seeing just a clip of a Walt Disney job is enough to make you feel disappointed by the fixed backgrounds and the stereotyped looks of faces in the Japanese production.

“The fact is," Mizuki and Igarashi said, "that the mechanism of Japanese production was a race against time. The producers wanted to release five episodes every week. They had to rush to satisfy the sponsors, and in these conditions they couldn’t take enough care of the quality. Despite that, little girls from all over the world became fond of Candy as if she was a girl in the flesh, and became protective towards her.”

Unfortunately in certain cases, the little viewers got anguished at the misfortunes of their beloved one. In Rome, someone made a survey and asked some schoolchildren how they thought Candy’s story was going to end. Most of them thought she was going to die sooner or later. The authors admit that sadness is an essential feature of their heroine.

Kyoko Mizuki said, “Our Candy is a real little girl. She has life’s ups and downs; she knows joy and sadness. When we were studying Candy we thought about everything, but anything fantastic or different from everyday girls.”

But about this point Kyoko and Yumiko (two young successful women, valued at millions) were wrong.

Renata Maderna (author)