This is what I mean when I say that simplicity doesn’t necessarily have to be a defect. There are works that despite their linearity, their total lack of deep themes or profound character development, or even exciting action or whatever, you can’t help but like. Maybe because it shows a simple but relatable setting, maybe because the characters are a bit flat but still charming, maybe simply because we’re freaking perverts, whatever the reason, it just works.
Kanade and Yukino are fraternal twin sisters who have always been very close and are now living together in dormitory in Tōkyō while attending high school. Stuff happens to them.
And that’s about it. There is no actual plot, not much drama or conflict, just a look into the lives of these two girls. It’s a slice of life anime (or as I just decided I like to call them after I made a typo, “slife”); or better, a yuri twincest slice of life. Yes, because it’s heavily implied that the two have some sort of romantic feelings for each other, especially Kanade towards Yukino. So if you’re an homophobic bigot, just abandon the review now. If you’d be watching it just for hot girl on girl action, please follow the bigot to the door, because the fanservice is basically absent, very soft and always played for laughs, and nothing is ever said directly; despite all the hand-holding, sleeping together (not THAT way. Kids these days…) and such, it’s something virtually indistinguishable from a typical Japanese romantic two-girl friendship, or a very close sister-sister relationship. Sakuya, a kōhai with a stalker-level crush on Kanade, is the only one more directly said to be a lesbian, but she’s the comedy relief character so she doesn’t have much prominence.
So anyway, why does it work? Well, firstly, what little conflict or drama there is, consists of little, somehow unimportant things, but things that are, simply enough, real life: it’s the twins wanting to spend time together and stay together, it’s the twins struggling to decide how to afford college and what to do with their future working and studying careers, it’s the little sister having a conflict of sorts with one of her big sisters and feeling left behind… something uncomplicated, but soft and sweet that many of us can relate to, and thus feel sympathetic with even without the heart-breaking pathos other works can provide. Secondly, the comedy elements are genuinely hilarious; never particularly clever, but always effective. Finally, the characters.
What’s the most important thing in a slife? I think most will agree, it’s charming and likeable characters. And this, even with only four of them, the anime does well. The two sisters have distinct personalities that complement each other and work really well together both in the comedy moments, often following a typical boke and tsukkomi routine (yes, I read TV tropes), and in their sweeter interaction, which manages to be very charming and heart-warmingly cute. Surprisingly, they also later show one deeper level of conflict and development that results in a certainly not original but still interesting reversal of their perceived personality, thus avoiding being completely bidimensional. Also interesting is a conflict of sorts between the twins and their little sister Shizuku, which, once again, is not something of particular depth of complexity, but like everything else it feels realistic enough to be likeable and even involving. I may be repeating myself here, but a girl wanting to spend more time with her big sisters and later helping one of them understand her selfishness is surely simple, but damn it, it’s real life, why does it have to be uninteresting? Finally, Sakuya is the only completely flat character (personality-wise, at least. If you know what I mean.), more over-the-top in appearance and behaviour, given that her only distinct characteristic is her crush on Kanade, but being the comedy relief character (I don’t think she was ever supposed to be anything more than that) it doesn’t matter much, if the comedy works as well as it does. In the end, these four characters are mostly plain, even if not devoid of interest, but feel realistic, charming and likeable enough to make the anime work.
I’d say that the art quality is above average for a slice of life. Of course, it’s a genre that hardly ever has scenes requiring particularly complex animation, and this one in particular, besides being really short, has a lot of still or slowly panning shots over dialogue scenes, so it’s not that surprising that the backgrounds and scenery are wonderfully detailed and that the movements are smooth and soft. The warm colours create a sweet and, again, warm atmosphere that does a lot to improve the anime’s impact. Besides, the facial expressions are really detailed and show hilarious art shifts during the comedy scenes; though I think that they did go a tad beyond the boundaries of what could be perceived as natural with the quivering eyes.
The soundtrack is pretty scarce, with the exception of the ending songs it consists in a bunch of generic background tracks setting a general mood. It mostly works, creating a sort of “visual novel-like” atmosphere that actually fits the anime, and the ending songs are not bad, but it’s not what I’d call a great soundtrack.
Unsurprisingly, given the names involved, the voice acting is really good and helps a lot in giving the characters their charm. Nabatame Hitomi, already voice of Shizuma and Eriko in the popular yuri Strawberry Panic and Maria-sama ga miteiru respectively, does a great job as Kanade most of the time, but I found her voice to be a bit too flat in a couple of scenes. Katō Emiri as the comedy relief character Sakuya…well, she’s the voice of Kagami in Lucky Star and Hachikuji in Bakemonogatari (and Fluttershy in My little pony: Friendship is magic!), I think her name is enough of a guarantee for an hilarious performance. Kobayashi Yu (Nice in Baccano! among many others) as Shizuku and Yuzuki Ryōka (Ino in Naruto among others) also do a solid job; in particular, a couple of emotional moments by Kobayashi I found really intense.
In the end, there’s not much to add: Candy Boy a simple, linear yuri/slife anime, kind of useless in some way, and still somehow charming, cute, sweet, funny and entertaining enough to give the viewers a warm fuzzy feeling, and thus to be not only surprisingly good, but also surprisingly memorable. If you’re into the yuri and/or slife genres, with this little gem you’ll be in for a treat. If you’re more into exciting stuff with suspenseful plots, it has nothing that would keep you interested, you’d probably even find it boring, so feel free to move along. If you’re somewhere in between or want to give a first soft try at the genre…well, we’re talking about seven 15-to-20-minutes-long episodes here, so the whole series, also counting the first “episode 00” ONA and the two DVD extras, plays like a three hours movie, something you could sit merrily through in one evening, so I’d say it’s pretty harmless to give it a try. I personally suggest watching it, even to non yuri enthustiasts.
Yay for me for not making any lesbian jokes in the whole review!