There’s no doubt he’s the main male protagonist in Candy Candy, and no one can convince me otherwise.
When we read the manga, we (and almost all the characters in the manga, except for George and Aunt Elroy) mostly know him as Albert. It’s only at the end of the story we learn his full identity, that he’s in fact, the mysterious and powerful patriarch: William Albert Andrew.
The image above shows his appearance in chronological order as depicted by Mizuki/Igarashi in the manga (from right to left):
Prince on the Hill (I’ve referred to him as Prince of the Hill in my writings, but the literal translation from Japanese is the Prince on the Hill), Albert the vagabond, Albert the caring friend, Albert the amnesiac man, Albert, and finally he’s full identity as William Albert Andrew the Patriarch of the Andrews.
I believe each phase of his character’s exposition represents/relates to six major developments in the story, all of which have direct impact on the main female protagonist, Candy.
His character’s exposition in the manga parallels nicely with how his role in Candy’s life evolves: from a mere childhood dream, to stranger/savior, to protector/brother-like friend/mentor, to friend and best friend, and finally to life partner and lover.
Prince on the Hill (POTH) – This is his first appearance. Not much is revealed here. We only know him as a handsome teenage boy in a Scottish Kilt who wanders off and chances upon Candy in Pony Hill. But it’s the beginning of everything, the basis of the entire story. He becomes Candy’s childhood prince (and childhood crush?), her dream, and his image appears in Candy’s mind throughout the story (from early chapters to the final scene)
Albert the Vagabond – There’s nothing about his outer appearance that hints he’s POTH–he’s in disguise when he appears many years after their first meeting in Pony Hill. But his encounter with Candy in Lakewood carries a huge weight in the story: he saves her life. This clearly highlights he’s a major character. Without him, Candy will not survive. The story ends. It’s also interesting how his attractiveness is completely obscured (he doesn’t look appealing at all and in a way he actually looks rather scary), yet that doesn’t deter Candy from befriending him and trusting him. This is the beginning of their friendship, and this phase lasts until she is adopted, although at this point I think he still treats her very much like a younger sister, someone he wants to dote on and protect–and this compels him to adopt her into the family.
Albert the Caring Friend – With the facial hair and sunglasses gone, we see that he actually looks quite decent as a man, maybe a bit older. His appearance, once again, relates to another major event in Candy’s life, this time a tragedy (Anthony’s death) and its aftermath. He lends his shoulder to Candy, and it’s clear how she finds solace in him, which is a major development in their relationship, friendship. Yet at this time, I think he treats her more like his sister, and in a similar fashion, Candy looks up to him as someone she can rely on, a brotherly figure? He continues to protect her and support her until she slowly finds her bearing back, making new friends and meeting Terry. He supports her relationship with Terry wholeheartedly. Then when he sees she’s finally happy with Terry, he feels he can leave her to Terry, as he travels to faraway places. However, even when Candy seems to focus her attention on Terry, Albert still has a great influence on her, for he indirectly becomes a source of aspiration for her–it’s his letter that sort of convinces her to start pursuing a career in nursing.
Albert the Amnesiac Man – This is a major twist in the story. The disguise is gone now, and he appears as how he should appear, a handsome man in his twenties. Aside from the drastic change in his looks, this is the start of the shift of the nature of their relationship. Their feelings for each other begin to evolve, more prevalent in him than Candy though, as he’s at his most vulnerable state. He doesn’t remember a thing about himself nor Candy and has to completely rely on her, which brings him to inevitably fall for her. He just can’t help it. To an extent, she becomes his everything, although I don’t think Candy sees him as more than friend yet (friend is already an improvement from the brother figure she considers him as before). But then we know this is also where her relationship with Terry ends. When that happens, Albert is there again by her side to comfort her, as he has always been, and she doesn’t hesitate to run to his arms. I’m sure that Candy’s feelings for Albert by this time begin to change. The change is subtle, as she seems comfortable living with him that she takes that for granted. As for Albert, I’m positive that he’s near the point of no return. He’s deeply in love with her as an amnesiac man.
Albert – Albert regains his memory, and the fact that he retains his memory as an amnesiac man is very important. It implies one thing: his feelings for Candy are real and don’t disappear when he regains his memory. The manga is clear that he’s still very much in love with her. He wants to continue living with her despite everything and vows to make her happy. They grow closer and consider each other as best friend. He does seem guarded at times, and this is perhaps because he feels guilty of the fact that he has deliberately deceived her. He’s conflicted but he doesn’t want to leave her. Whether he realizes or not, he is drawn closer and closer to her, that he becomes bolder expressing his affection to her physically. This is also the part when most readers begin to suspect that his role is much bigger and more important than the one they are led to believe, that he is more than just the vagabond who saves Candy. On the other hand, we haven’t seen much evidence of Candy’s feelings for him so far, but that changes the moment Albert leaves. It is then Candy’s true feeling for Albert is revealed plainly, that it’s much deeper and stronger than just a mere friendship. And the fact that she keeps looking for Albert after seeing Terry (in his pitiful state) proves she has indeed moved on from Terry, and Albert is the one who holds a special place in her heart.
William Albert Andrew – In the end we finally learn that he’s also Candy’s everything, as she has been his everything. There are no more secrets between them. Free from guilt, he can do anything he wants without hesitation. All his persona merged into one, he’s shown as one charming man who oozes with confidence and power, and Candy is naturally smitten by this side of him. Despite her move to Pony Hill, he has no intention of letting her go, and he demonstrates this by revealing to her that he is POTH. He knows POTH is Candy’s first love, and by revealing that part to her, he sort of confesses to her, that he wants her in his life as his love.
So there you go. William Albert Andrew. He’s Candy’s everything, from childhood prince, savior, protector and provider, brother figure and mentor, friend and best friend, and finally life partner and love.
I just thought of something interesting (don’t take it too seriously though). Not sure if it’s only a coincidence or deliberately done. In Japanese, prince (Ouji-sama) and great uncle (O-Oji-sama), sound very similar. Is that a hint from Mizuki as to the real identity of POTH? Makes you wonder, eh? 😉