The Candy Candy Nightmare

by Jonathan Mays, Sep 13th 2003
Candy Candy, one of Japan's most popular franchises, originated in April of 1975 as a story by Kyoko Mizuki. Although Mizuki's original work was never published, a manga adaptation—the fruit of an informal partnership with illustrator Yumiko Igarashi—became one of the biggest hits among girls during its four-year serialization in the Nakayoshi magazine. By 1979, Candy Candy's widespread success had spawned a television series and movie from Toei Animation, the publication of three novels (Mizuki's rewrite of the original story) by Kodansha, and a variety of merchandise. For decades, Toei rebroadcast and distributed the series and movie with enough success to warrant another movie in early 1992.

The Lawsuit

Several years ago, the mutual working relationship between mangaka and original creator was disrupted by Igarashi's alleged decision to declare an exclusive copyright on the Candy Candy material. Using this claim to justify ownership, Igarashi began producing Candy Candy merchandise without the co-approval of Toei and Mizuki.

Claiming Igarashi had infringed upon her copyright, Kyoko Mizuki filed a lawsuit with a Tokyo district court in late 1998. During the court battle, Mizuki argued that she held equal rights on all Candy Candy property and derivative works, while Igarashi declared she did not need Mizuki's permission to sell merchandise based on her illustrations.

In February of 1999, the Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of Mizuki, establishing two precedents:

1. Both Ms. Kyoko Mizuki and Ms. Yumiko Igarashi possess the same copyright regarding Candy Candy.
2. Ms. Igarashi must obtain Ms. Mizuki's consent when using Candy Candy in business related matters (including merchandising).

After multiple appeals, both the Tokyo High Court (March 2000) and Supreme Court of Japan (October 2001) affirmed this ruling.

One year after the District Court's ruling, Igarashi sued Toei Animation, disputing Toei's claim to the "Candy Candy" trademark and television copyright. Hoping to avoid cultivating mistrust among other mangaka, as well as the continued circulation of now-"illegal" Candy Candy material, Toei enacted a broadcast freeze on the series.

As the conflict reached its final stages, original creator Kyoko Mizuki won another lawsuit against Yumiko Igarashi and five companies that distributed Candy Candy merchandise. On May 30th Presiding Judge Mimura Ryoichi of the Tokyo District Court awarded 29,500,000 yen compensation to Mizuki, fixing damages at 3% of total sales by the franchise.

Latest Developments

Recently a toy manufacturer in Misato City, Saitama Prefecture, sued two Tokyo companies that were managing Candy Candy's manga copyrights. The Saitama manufacturer claimed the two management companies had commissioned new Candy Candy jigsaw puzzles without informing the toy company of the danger that Mizuki could pull the plug on sales and production at any time. Arguing they were unable to sell the puzzles they manufactured, the Saitama company sued for eleven million yen to make up for their massive overstock and lost profit.

On September 10th, 2003, the Tokyo High Court ruled in favor of the toy company, forcing the two copyright managing companies to hand over 7.8 million yen. Meanwhile, Candy Candy jigsaw puzzles remain off the shelves in Japan, hitting consumers with yet another roadblock between themselves and new Candy Candy merchandise.

Outlook

It is generally feared that continued legal battles will prevent future reprints and rebroadcast of the original 1975-79 manga and anime. However, the recent Supreme Court decision also confirmed Ms. Mizuki Kyoto as the author of the original Candy Candy story she created in the seventies, suggesting that Mizuki may publish a novel of this story without Igarashi's cooperation. Additionally, Mizuki possesses the authority to to give an illustrator permission to draw new Candy Candy manga, and Toei is free to produce new Candy Candy anime.

Corporate interest in Candy Candy remains high: In 1992, Kodansha gave Mizuki a chance to remake the manga, and Toei commissioned her to write new Candy Candy scripts several years ago, but nothing tangible has come of these two offers. In June of 2002, one of Mizuki Kyoko's posts on her "Little Window BBS" gave new hope to those waiting for more Candy Candy.

"2002-06-05 (Wed) 23:36:04
I have a vague plan for the future...The foundation of the story is nearly complete, some editors have shows deep interest in the plan...The only anxiety was the course of this lawsuit, but now I've made up my mind to proceed without restraint..."


Sixteen months later, no visible progress has been made toward creating any more Candy Candy anime or manga. The toy lawsuit that concluded on September 10th once again reaffirms both Candy Candy's commercial value and the complexity of the issues that may prevent any new Candy Candy material from hitting store shelves in the near future.

Candy Candy is one of anime's most visible examples of the difficulty of keeping copyrights properly managed and protected in the 21st century. Despite the series' continuing mainstream popularity and numerous attempts to end the material drought, fans worldwide still find themselves with nothing new to satisfy their Candy Candy sweet tooths.

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