Recently I stumbled across a rather quaint and well-crafted anime series called Candy Boy, which is the story about two young women living together while taking classes in a Tokyo high school, and of their relationship. The anime has some fairly strong yuri (lesbian) context without being too blatant… which is one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. Combined with some truly spectacular animation and mostly-realistic characters, Candy Boy soon managed to be a hit with me, and one that I gradually watched in-between periodic pauses to cope with my embarrassment issues.
I actually came across Candy Boy while searching for anime music videos (I’m rather fond of well-crafted AMVs and have been for years), and watched a bizarre sequence with Kanada and Yukino sitting together under an umbrella while it snowed around them, and the bizarre transformation of Yukino into a short little fox-girl. Finally Kanada woke and I realized this wasn’t a story of two girls with reality-shifting powers, but rather a rather inventive dream sequence. It also worked quite well as a stand-alone story segment. I was able to understand the fundamental character dynamics, with Kanada and Yukino having an intimate relationship and Kamiyama Sakuya (a short platinum-blonde haired girl) being the annoying squeaky third wheel and tagalong with a huge crush on Kanada.
Naturally I detested Sakuya fairly quickly, even though she’s portrayed as fairly nice (if extremely stalkerish). Given the intimacy of the relationship between Kanada and Yukino, Sakuya’s antics annoyed me not only because of my innate tendency to detest embarrassing situations, but also because it interfered with the quiet intimacy between our two protagonists. It would not be until I read the Wikipedia article on Candy Boy that I learned that our couple? They’re twin sisters.
This admittedly freaked me out a tad. Now, I don’t know any twins myself, but the relationship between Kanada and Yukino felt more like two girls who were dating than siblings. Hell, at the 12 minute 40 second part of Candy Boy 2, Yukino describes herself and Kanada as lovers, bringing the anime from sweet to squick in five seconds flat. Of course, when you consider the term “lover” has multiple meanings, most of which are non-sexual, and the fact that this is a translation and thus we may have Yukino’s exact meaning distorted in translation, it’s probable that Yukino’s comments are far more innocent than they seem.
Then again, in episode 1 Yukino told Kanada she should have woken her with a kiss. So maybe I’m not imagining things.
Innuendo aside, the relationship between Kanada and Yukino is fascinating to watch. There is a yin/yang element to the story, as these two are very different and yet at their core are similar. Kanada acts more mature, but tends to procrastinate with her class work and occasionally splurge when she shouldn’t. Yukino acts more like a ditz (though far more realistically than most female ditzes in animes) and yet is the one who keeps up with her class work and urges Kanada to study more. And while Kanada acts older and more responsible, it’s Yukino who is the eldest (though with twins, I’m not sure if that short amount of time matters much).
While Episode 5 is perhaps my favorite (with its bizarre dream and the Valentine’s parfait), Episodes 3 and 4 are also truly touching with the introduction of Kanada and Yukino’s younger sister, Shizuku. While Shizuku starts out seeming to be the bratty kid sister, her story slowly unfolds and we learn how desperately she misses both her sisters and longs for the deep intimacy these two have for each other. And in the telling of this tale, we even learn a little about Sakuya and her massive crush on Kanada. She made a suggestion to the younger girl that Sakuya thought sounded cheesy at first, but which meant a lot to her parents. Which I suppose says something about Sakuya as well… for all she’s a ditz and keeps bribing Yukino with snacks for pictures of Kanada and being a pest, she’s actually a fairly nice person outside of that.
It is this combination of incredibly human characters, characters who live and breathe in the anime, and some truly spectacular artwork (to the point that in some scenes I wasn’t sure if the backgrounds were a drawing or if it was an actual photograph) that dragged me into this series. For a while, I’d been drifting away from anime; the tendency toward idiot plots and embarrassing situations kept me from watching many series. I’ve hours of anime sitting unwatched and unopened because I couldn’t get past the first couple of episodes. But with Candy Boy, I found myself forcing through that block… and once again enjoying anime.