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Feb 09 2015

Red String of Fate

The St. Valentine’s Day is coming up, so I take this opportunity to explain to you a myth originated from a Chinese legend and also widely understood in Japan. I have talked about this before, but some might not have heard of it. 😉

Anyway, according to the Chinese legend, the deity in charge of marriages is called “the old man under the moon” (月下老 or simply 月老), who is actually the old lunar matchmaker god. He uses an invisible thread that is red (Chinese: 姻緣紅線, Japanese: 赤い糸) to connect two people who are destined to be lovers, regardless of time, place or circumstances.

In China, this magical thread is said to be tied around the ankles of the destined lovers, but in Japan, they believe the thread is tied around the little fingers of the two people who are destined to meet the other in some way. In any case, this thread is invisible to people but will never break even after stretching or being tangled.

In western civilization, the equivalent of the old man under the moon is Cupid. 😉 There’s even a mean joke about why there were more broken relationships in the non-Asian culture. People blamed it on Cupid being merely a child while the old man under the moon was way more experienced and wise. Sigh…

Anyway, although there is no such thing as “red thread” in the western world, people who understand this Asian legend simply call this magical cord the red string of fate or the red string of destiny. However, in English there is the well known phrase “tie the knot“, which means “get married”. In fact, the word ‘knot’ has been associated with marriage since the 13th century. At any rate, the idea is the same, that the people getting married are tied together.

As mentioned above, this red thread myth is extremely popular in East Asian culture, and it appears in many Japanese manga or anime. See this Wikipedia page for examples and details. As a matter of fact, red thread tattoos on little fingers or ankles have become fashionable among best friends or lovers these days.

Back to Candy Candy Final Story (CCFS), what do you think Candy meant when she talked about the invisible thread that tied her and Albert together? The original words in Japanese from the passage mentioned in the previous post are:

今ならその見えない糸につながれた絆の意味がわかる。

The Candy Candy fan who gave us the spoilers translated this to Now I can understand the meaning of the bond that tied us with invisible threads.

In the original Japanese text, Candy said 今なら, not just 今 (now), which conveys “now I can finally…” or this implies Candy didn’t realize before but with hindsight she can see/understand something now.

Also, there is only a single, invisible (見えない) thread. The word for thread (糸) is the same word used in the red string/thread legend explained above, but the thread doesn’t directly tie around the fingers or ankles. Rather, it seems to suggest that the invisible thread forms a bond between her and Albert.

When the verb につながれた is used with the object “lock”, it means something or someone is bound in chains, and this same verb is typically used when they say a boat is tethered/moored to the dock. Please click this link for more examples of how this verb can be used.

In any case, the tie is not supposed to be easily broken, so the words ‘fastened’, ‘attached’, or ‘bound’ are probably better than the words ‘connected’ or ‘tied’.

Moreover, the word Candy used, , means bond or tie or connection. In fact, this particular word makes the word for 2011 in Japan (read this article for your interest why this word was so important to Japanese people in 2011).

Hence, based on my own interpretation, Candy was saying

Now I can finally understand the meaning of the bond fastened by(to) that invisible thread.

Candy alluded to the bond between Albert and her, so in other words, Candy didn’t understand what had brought Albert and her together before, but now she can finally grasp the meaning of their bond as adults, bound by that invisible thread. What do you think? If any of you think my interpretation is wrong, please let me know.

But really, what is ‘that invisible thread’? Could it be the invisible red string of fate? 🙂 😛

キャンディキャンディ第07巻106

Do you remember this famous manga scene, in which Candy was begging Albert to stay with her so that she could continue to take care of him until his recovery?

She disclosed to him the fact that she was an orphan, but she regarded him as her real brother (repeated twice). With tears gushing out of her eyes, she thought inwardly, If I’m by his side, I’ll feel relieved… why do I miss him so…

I think she couldn’t let him go because she would be terribly worried about him, so she wanted to be around him until he regained his memory so that she would have peace of mind. Yet, at the same time, she also wondered why she didn’t want him to leave her. The adjective she used can also mean ‘nostalgic’ or ‘bringing back fond memories’.

Thanks to some of you for writing your comments to my previous post, and I’d like to quote Reeka and Agnès here. First, Reeka’s comment explained Albert’s roles in Candy’s life very well:

We know that to Candy, Albert had 3 roles in her life. And these 3 roles had protected Candy in their own way. Albert as vagabond, we know he saved her life twice ( from drowning and Tongo the lion) and he had been with her when she lost Anthony and Terry. Albert as Uncle William, he gave her protection with his powerful name. And Albert as POTH, he somehow gave her protection and strength through his lost badge that Candy had been keeping all the time. Remember that she hold the badge and miss pony’s cross tightly when she lost after running away from Neil.? And Candy herself told Albert that it was her amulet to keep her safe? 

Now with hindsight, Candy realized how significant Albert was to her. In addition, Agnès explained very thoroughly in her comment that Albert’s characters had many facets. Merci beaucoup! I hope you don’t mind me rephrasing your words here. Based on various meanings of the adjective, 不思議, as discussed in my previous post, Agnès summarized Albert’s relationship with Candy:

  • Wonderful: Albert was beautiful both externally and internally; he had always been wonderful, extraordinary, protective and kind to Candy
  • Mysterious: when he disappeared and reappeared in her life as a vagabond, but who was he exactly? Where did he come from? Especially when he had amnesia, there were too many questions unanswered.
  • Curious: he didn’t behave the way he should with respect to his family and his social class; he did not comply with the established principles, conventions, etc.
  • Bizarre: this is what Candy must have felt when she found out that he was Uncle William (her adoptive father)!
  • Strange: their bond was inexplicable, almost cosmic, as if the whole universe conspired to bring them together anyhow.

I agree with Agnès that it was a strange quirk of fate that had brought Albert to Candy again and again, starting from the day he ran away from home then ended up comforting the poor little girl’s afflicted soul. Remember, they lived far apart from each other (likely two to three hours of driving distance), and under normal circumstances, the chance that they would cross each other’s path was very low because they belonged to two completely different worlds (social classes).

No matter what, during Candy’s recollection of the days when Albert was in the hospital, she changed from using past tense to using present tense in the last sentence of this paragraph, so that means their bond is still intact, and it’s unbreakable because of a certain mysterious thread that is invisible.

Don’t you think this implies that Candy and Albert are together NOW? If that’s the case, isn’t it loud and clear who Anohito is? 🙄

6 comments

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  1. Antlay

    Dear Ms Puddle

    La légende dit : “Le fil peut s’étirer, s’emmêler, mais il ne cassera jamais”

    Le fil peut s’étirer, comme si la rencontre deux personnes destinés l’une à l’autre, prendrait du temps. Candy et Albert se sont rencontrés à plusieurs reprises, mais c’était des moments furtifs, il a fallu des années avant qu’ils se retrouvent à Chicago. Ce n’est qu’ à partir de ce moment là, qu’ils ont passé du temps ensemble, à vivre ensemble et à se découvrir dans cet appartement.

    Le fil peut s’emmêler, Candy est tombée amoureuse d’Anthony puis de Terry avant de tomber amoureuse d’Albert. Les fils se sont emmêlés, on ne trouve pas l’âme soeur du premier coup ! Ne croyez-vous pas ?

    Mais il ne cassera pas, persévérer, se relever des échecs, franchir les obstacles afin d’atteindre l’autre bout du fil…

    Alors on comprend mieux quand Candy dit “Maintenant je comprend mieux le sens du lien qui nous unissait avec des fils invisibles.”

    Maintenant Candy a atteint l’autre bout du fil !

    1. Ms Puddle

      Bonjour Antlay! Yes the invisible thread may be stretched, but I think it means it doesn’t matter how far the destined lovers are apart from each other. This also applies to Albert and Candy. However, your analogy is great too, that their feelings for each other didn’t grow until they began living together in Chicago.

      About the thread being tangled, indeed Candy didn’t find her true love on the first try, not until after Anthony’s accident and breaking up with Terry. She didn’t realize her soul mate had been with her all along!

      You’re right that this invisible thread can’t be broken; it perseveres until the end of time, so to speak. As you said, when Candy said she finally understood the meaning, it essentially means that she had finally reached the other end of the thread — her destined lover. 🙂

  2. Agnès

    Bonjour chère Ms Puddle,

    Tout d’abord, c’est un honneur d’être citée et traduite dans votre post. C’est à moi de vous remercier, je me sens rougir ! :). Très belle analyse aussi de Reeka, Albert le Prince de la Colline de son enfance, Albert le vagabond de son adolescence et Albert William Ardlay de l’age adulte! Les trois “Alberts” comme les trois stages de la vie!

    Ensuite, j’adore cette légende de “Akai Ito” et du « vieil homme sous la Lune » ça me fait penser à la dimension cosmique dont je parlais. Je préfère cette image à celle de Cupidon ! Cela a d’autant plus de sens que Mizuki est elle-même de culture asiatique, elle a donc forcément dû penser à cette légende lorsqu’elle a parlé de ce lien invisible entre Albert et Candy, ça me semble évident ! D’ailleurs, ce lien a peut-être été matérialisé une fois par la chaine de fleurs que Candy a faite pendant qu’Albert faisait la sieste, d’autant plus que c’était juste après la révélation de la véritable identité d’Albert et la rétrospective de tous leurs souvenirs ! Ne croyez-vous pas ? 😉

    Je suis complétement d’accord avec vous Ms Puddle, l’emploi du présent et du mot maintenant signifient que ces liens existent toujours, cette phrase me semble très importante !

    Quant à cette scène du Manga vraiment très touchante d’ailleurs, je pense que l’insistance de Candy pour qu’Albert reste avec elle va au-delà de la simple reconnaissance de ce qu’il a fait pour elle dans le passé. Il lui a beaucoup manqué et s’inquiète sincèrement pour lui. Cette scène magnifique m’a beaucoup émue et ce ciel étoilé… des liens cosmiques ? ;D

    1. Ms Puddle

      Bonjour chère Agnès! No need to feel embarrassed or ashamed at all, my friend! Thank you so much for your insights indeed! 🙂 Both your comment and Reeka’s added more colors to my post, which is excellent! I should really thank you both!

      While Cupid is cute, the old man under the moon is wise. I don’t know. They both carry similar ideas that some people are destined to be together, I guess? Like you, I think although Mizuki didn’t use the color red, she must have been heavily influenced by this red thread legend because the thread was invisible and brought Candy and Albert together again and again. His letter to Candy implied that exactly. Also, you have pointed out earlier that the change from past tense to present tense speaks volume, which means that Candy is with Albert now. I strongly believe that too. 🙂

      Like you, I also think this manga scene is beautiful and touching, and Igarashi drew the starry sky more than once. Cosmic links, as you said… LOL. When I first read this scene in the manga, I couldn’t quite understand why Candy insisted to take care of Albert, and the funny thing is that even Candy herself didn’t understand why she cried so much; she just had to keep him with her to feel relieved. She told him she wanted to pay back half of his kindness, and he was more than a casual friend. She explained to Dr. Leonard that Albert was her OnJin (a Japanese term borrowed from the Chinese language, literally meaning he was a person who had bestowed grace on her), but I think there’s more to that. In fact, Candy re-used this term again in her letter to Miss Baker, telling Terry’s mother why she had gone to Rockstown in the first place (to find her OnJin).

  3. Reeka

    Thanks, Ma Puddle! It’s my honor to be quoted by you 🙂

    I agree with Agnes! Albert was all of wonderful yet intricate person. Especially at that time of the story.

    Your last paragraph reminded me about something. On CCFS, in her recollection, do you think it’s weird that we don’t know how Albert was at the present time ( or recently)? If Anohito was not Albert, his updated news must be appeared somewhere in Candy’s thought. The last updated we know about Albert was him doing Pony’s home reconstruction ( or going to Miami X opening?). And whenever we’re told about Albert doing, there’s always Candy there. 🙂

    If Anohito was not Albert, opposite as Terry’s case, Albert was still someone significant to Candy. I strongly doubted their relationship loosen or broken along the years. Why we’ve never been told about how Albert’s business, how Albert now dealing with post-great depression period?

    It’s like when you, Ms Puddle, said : it explained why both Albert and Candy’s letters were on Candy’s hand. 🙂

    1. Ms Puddle

      No, dear Reeka, I must thank you for that brilliant comment! 🙂

      Hmmm… It’s true that Candy didn’t mention anything about what had happened to Albert in recent years, but she didn’t talk about Terry either… except Susanna’s obituary, but still that seemed long time ago?

      But you’re absolutely right that whenever Albert was mentioned, either as granduncle or Albert himself, he was always with Candy. To me, their trip to Lakewood was the last event, and it ended with a beautiful note.

      I agree with you, Reeka. What Candy said about the bond or the invisible thread implies that she and Albert have remained close at the present time. If Albert has married someone else, she would have mentioned it? Like she now has a ‘step-mother’ or something?

      Yes, I’ve always thought that the fact that Candy’s got the letters of Albert’s and hers speak volumes. 🙂

  1. Le fil rouge du destin. Avant propos - True Romantica

    […] vous voulez en savoir plus vous pouvez visiter son blog (en anglais) : Ou en apprendre davantage sur cette légende sur ce site (en […]

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