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CANDY BOY: Sisterhood is Sweet

By alicebg, Nov 7 2017 08:41PM

The gloriously mis-titled Candy boy is the second of my 'pirate' animes, and like Shoujo Sect (q.v.) is one I seriously considered ordering direct from Japan, before expense and lack of subtitles dissuaded me. It almost goes without saying that there is no "Candy Boy" - in fact the series has no male characters whatsoever. Neither does candy feature to any significant degree. What you do get is a remarkable 'slice-of-life' comedy-drama-romance with a central yuri relationship that has a significant twist: it's between sisters.

Sister-sister love affairs are, in fact, nothing particularly unusual in anime and manga - two overtly sexual relationships were major sub-plots of both Shoujo Sect and Simoun (q.v.), while another (not-yet-sexual, but we're getting there) is the entire plot of Citrus (q.v.). However, Candy boy was something of a pioneer in this slightly kinky sub-genre, and its mature and nuanced take on such a relationship is a wonder to behold.

The sisters in question are Kanade and Yukino, who room together at a boarding school. In a neat play against expectations, the dark-haired, seemingly mature Kanade is the younger of the two, and often actually requires bailing out by the older, seemingly ditzy blonde Yukino. Adding to the complications of Kanade's life is the fact she's being obsessively stalked by the manic Sakuya, whose inability to understand that her love is unrequited is one of the show's key running gags. Adding a more serious note is a third sister, Shizuku, who desperately wants to bond with her older siblings to the same degree they bond with each other.

As with the best anime, Candy boy shifts effortlessly and seamlessly between comic and serious. One challenge for the western viewer is that much of the humour depends on quick-fire, overlapping dialogue and the misunderstandings arising from it - not easy to follow in subtitles. The show's more intense emotional moments - and there are plenty - are only enhanced by the sumptuous, highly realistic art.

Candy boy has no significant plot developments (unless you count Kanade's quest to get into art school), but it is completely spellbinding nonetheless. Perhaps most impressive is its matter-of-fact approach to the off-kilter relationship at its core - it is taken for granted by all and sundry that the sisters are a couple (even if they don't fully acknowledge it themselves); just as the sisters tolerate Sakuya's obsessive behaviour as just another of life's quirks. Funny and gentle, Candy boy is a window into an alternate world where everything and everyone is a little bit nicer than the one we live in - I'd kinda like to visit there one day.

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