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> Candy Candy pitfalls, From a writer's perspective
eleanna
post Sep 16 2018, 09:25 PM
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Since the forum has gotten a bit of life back into it, and the whole Albert saga reared its head once again, I was thinking about Nagita's writing.

Despite admiring her style, it does show that she isn't a prose writer. I was thinking of the manga. And Albert's role. And I realised that while the manga was progressing, Nagita was writing each episode as it came, without having a clear picture of what the ending would be. Hold on to untangle my thoughts.

A novel writer starts with an idea which transforms into a roughly sketched plot. At least that how I go about it. And from my discussion with other writers, this is one of the most common ways to start writing a novel. You don't want a detailed plot in your mind, because then the story loses spontaneity but also you don't set out completely in the dark because at some point you'll run out of steam and ideas, unless you are writing in an absurdist style and everything goes (like the last Raiders of the Lost ark where UFOs appeared at the end of the movie and it was one of the most profound WTF moments in film history which ruined ROTLA for me completely).

So you have the idea - Coming of age story of an orphan girl.

And a vague plot - She had a lot of trials and tribulations, loving "mothers", gets adopted by a mysterious tycoon, and meets boys while she is growing up that will change the course of her life, change herself and mark her life for ever.

This is the skeleton. And you can start building from then on. Perhaps you also have an ending, and a lot of writers do have a hazy ending, which can be fluid or set, but it doesn't matter because the ending can always change.

The good thing about writing a novel is that the story will be written a lot of times in multiple drafts which will iron out imperfections, parts that don't work, superfluous characters, stilted dialogue, and a lot of other things. The story will be trimmed down to an inch of its life, and it will be a hundred times better story for it.

The manga writers don't have this luxury as they are writing in a serialised way and don't have too much time to write the plot for the next episode. Which means a lot of bad things which everyone can spot in Candy Candy. Plot holes, undeveloped arcs, and so on. The worst of all is that they set up writing this manga, without having an end in mind.

As I said in a previous discussion, this is a weakness of many Japanese mangas. Time and again, mangas stop and leave the story unfinished. Perhaps because of not having thought of it thoroughly so they reach a point where they run out of ideas/options, or it can't go any further and they try in a very amateurish way to tie up lose ends giving a very awkward ending (see Candy Candy).

Nagita in an interview said that she wanted to give Candy three loves. Now, this statement falls into the category of "Story ideas". So Candy Candy was a coming-of-age story of an orphan girl who experiences three types of love.
Romantic love, passionate love and gentle love. And that would have been fine if we were taken by the hand and Nagita wrote the life of Candy from the time she was small to the time she neared sixty years old.

That way, the story is believable. Because she can have the first romantic love in her early teens, her passionate love in her twenties and her gentle love in the sixties. However, since we are trying to squeeze Nagita's "story idea" of three loves inside a manga, it makes Candy look like a girl who has premature menopause.

She has her first love while she's like 10, her passionate love when she's 15, and if we follow the Alfan obsession, she ends up in a gentle love with Albert by the time she's 19. Just when the hormones are raging, Candy settles in a tea-and-biscuits type of love with someone who started as a prince, then was a mysterious friend, and ended up as a guardian/stepfather/prince amalgamation so much so you think he is the Father, the Son and Holly Spirit all rolled up nicely inside a hot mini kilt (In the anime, lol).

You can see the non-clarity of the whole situation. No vision of how the story ends. It would have been much more satisfactory for me, if in the last episode, Candy was packing up her bags, said a teary goodbye to Pony's home and rode the train into the sunset, full of hope for her future. At least, I would have dreamt all the adventures she would have had, in her life, with other men, with her job, with perhaps starting a family or even becoming a great scientist or something that young girls can look up to. Instead we are supposed to believe according to the Alfan dogma, that Nagita's message was the secret to happiness if to find a stable, older guy with lots of cash who preferably knows you from when you were a child, so to have those fate strings pulling you together, and if by the time you hit your early twenties he starts writing you flirty letters, you go for it. In the meantime, hide yourself from the world, serving all others, apart from your self.

It's the cultural difference someone will say. They are fans of gentle love so quiet, it becomes a whisper you'll be hard to hear if you are reaching a certain age and your ears are playing you games. However, and here's another pitfall of Candy Candy. We are supposed to believe the Japanese nuances where Albert and Candy are concerned, to read between the lines, and believe in mirages (things that aren't there) because Nagita writes with the Japanese writing kimono on (not the Western writing hat) but as far as I can recall, Terry is as Western as they come. He is loud, and obnoxious, and damaged, and passionate, and obviously sex-on-legs in a way he makes mine tremble so what happened there Mrs. Nagita? Did you forget your Japanese sentimentality in the drawer of your writing desk?

Why everything else to make sense to our Western perceptions? The evil siblings, the funny brothers, the young noble gardener and wait a minute, the only Japanese person in the whole story is Albert who happens to be a British expat living in Chicago, under an alter ego persona, incognito...Well Mrs. Nagita, you certainly hid this Japanese influenced character rather well...

To conclude, because it looks like I'm going to write a PhD thesis, once again...I once was famed in this forum for my very long posts.

I don't buy the gentle love with Albert. It doesn't fit with everything else. It is forced and unnatural. And certainly it is not hidden under obscure nuances and Japanese sensitivity. While leads me to either one of two things:

First - Nagita because of the nature of the manga, got lost in the story. She had to come up with the goods fast and in the meantime, Igarashi who was much more ambitious compared to Nagita, wanted part of this artistic licence and started making her own "adjustments" to the story. Same goes for the publishers who had their own ideas. Too many cooks and the broth is to throw down the sink. I put the anime aside, because as much as I love it, it is the worst CC version of them all.
The books are the closest to Nagita, but unfortunately the manga bears down like handcuffs. She doesn't have much space for manoeuvre.

And the second - The three loves...Nagita said in an interview there are many loves in a human society...

That phrase stuck with me. Pay attention. She didn't say there are many types of romantic loves. She said there are many loves in a human society.

Which are: The mother's love (Candy experienced that with her "Mothers"), the siblings love (Her love of Annie, her "sister"), the love between friends (with the boys and Patty), the first love (Anthony), the love of your life or else the Mother of all loves (Terry). Which love is missing from here? The love for a guardian/mentor/father/brother. The love for an older male who is a rather important love for a girl growing up. This is Albert, the gentle love of your father, the teaching love or your mentor, the caring love for your brother, the teasings and the laughter, but also the looking after each other. And Candy is lucky that have experience all those loves.


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Gretzky
post Sep 17 2018, 03:41 AM
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Very thoughtful post Eleanna!!!

What you say about writers and writing is very true. Most importantly, your point about serialized manga is important. I'm a big fan of Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha. Ranma 1/2 ran amok the further the author went. The proliferation of characters made the story crazy to keep track. And for both Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha, the endings were abrupt, highly unsatisfying, and more or less just like the author and team ran out of steam. And it's not just manga. It's often the case with long running TV shows in US too. I'm still a fan of the TV show Supernatural, but for many seasons now the plots meander. Often very weak. I pretty much just watch because it feels like comfort food to see Sam, Dean, and Castiel. But with serials, the writers often don't know how to end the story or the show.

Very likely CC suffered the same. Also, it's been publicly documented that Igarashi was very pushy and practically insisted on her own "prince" ending. The manga ended up being the work of two people: the author and the manga illustrator. This was one huge reason why Nagita published CCFS, to take out the parts that wasn't by her but by Igarashi. I can't help but wonder if the Albert letter where he asked Candy to stop calling him Prince was in a way, Nagita's message to readers that she didn't want that ending.

But I digress. One more part I'd like to point out is that, again, this is publicly documented. The anime had nothing to do with Mizuki/Nagita. The publisher sold the rights to Toei. Toei had free reign to do whatever they wanted. Nagita had said she was not involved with that project in any capacity. Neither was Igarashi, although her assistants were hired to do the illustrations for more than the first half of the anime. This was why we saw the great anime art in those parts. The anime went on for years, with all the added filler stories not written by Mizuki and not in the manga. Half way through, the anime production changed team from top to bottom. A new team of Korean artists were hired at bargain basement cost to wrap it up. That's why the art deteriorated. In conclusion, the anime had nothing to do with the original author, and the anime ending was as far from Nagita's story as could be. (That said, I'm still a fan of the anime, and I'll never forget how much I loved watching it every Sunday morning when I was a kid.)


QUOTE
someone who started as a prince, then was a mysterious friend, and ended up as a guardian/stepfather/prince amalgamation so much so you think he is the Father, the Son and Holly Spirit all rolled up nicely inside a hot mini kilt (In the anime, lol).


QUOTE
it makes Candy look like a girl who has premature menopause.



bwahaharoll.gif crier.gif crier.gif crier.gif crier.gif


QUOTE
It would have been much more satisfactory for me, if in the last episode, Candy was packing up her bags, said a teary goodbye to Pony's home and rode the train into the sunset, full of hope for her future. At least, I would have dreamt all the adventures she would have had, in her life, with other men, with her job, with perhaps starting a family or even becoming a great scientist or something that young girls can look up to. Instead we are supposed to believe according to the Alfan dogma, that Nagita's message was the secret to happiness if to find a stable, older guy with lots of cash who preferably knows you from when you were a child, so to have those fate strings pulling you together, and if by the time you hit your early twenties he starts writing you flirty letters, you go for it. In the meantime, hide yourself from the world, serving all others, apart from your self.


appl.gif appl.gif appl.gif appl.gif

Right on! Candy really inspired me when I was a child. She was so independent, and so strong. The Alfans' version is IMO truly pathetic, that they take this strong girl who stood up to bullies and went through all these hard times, and made the story into this:






QUOTE
First - Nagita because of the nature of the manga, got lost in the story. She had to come up with the goods fast and in the meantime, Igarashi who was much more ambitious compared to Nagita, wanted part of this artistic licence and started making her own "adjustments" to the story. Same goes for the publishers who had their own ideas. Too many cooks and the broth is to throw down the sink. I put the anime aside, because as much as I love it, it is the worst CC version of them all.
The books are the closest to Nagita, but unfortunately the manga bears down like handcuffs. She doesn't have much space for manoeuvre.

And the second - The three loves...Nagita said in an interview there are many loves in a human society...

That phrase stuck with me. Pay attention. She didn't say there are many types of romantic loves. She said there are many loves in a human society.

Which are: The mother's love (Candy experienced that with her "Mothers"), the siblings love (Her love of Annie, her "sister"), the love between friends (with the boys and Patty), the first love (Anthony), the love of your life or else the Mother of all loves (Terry). Which love is missing from here? The love for a guardian/mentor/father/brother. The love for an older male who is a rather important love for a girl growing up. This is Albert, the gentle love of your father, the teaching love or your mentor, the caring love for your brother, the teasings and the laughter, but also the looking after each other. And Candy is lucky that have experience all those loves.



Insightful, well-observed conclusion. This, I believe, is the best summary of what happened in this story.


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