The cover for Ribon no Kishi volume 1 from the Osamu Tezuka Manga Complete Works edition.
(Ribon no Kishi)
|Genre||Adventure, Fantasy, Magical girl|
|Written by||Osamu Tezuka|
|Original run||January 1953 – January 1956|
|The Twin Knights|
|Written by||Osamu Tezuka|
|Original run||January 1958 – June 1958|
|Written by||Osamu Tezuka|
|Original run||January 1963 – October 1966|
|Written by||Osamu Tezuka|
|Original run||April 1967 – April 1968|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Osamu Tezuka
|Produced by||Tadayoshi Watanabe
|Music by||Isao Tomita|
|English network||Seven Network|
|Original run||April 2, 1967 – April 7, 1968|
|Directed by||Masayoshi Nishida|
|Produced by||Minoru Kubota
|Written by||Mayumi Morita|
|Music by||Tomoki Hasegawa|
Princess Knight, released in Japan as Ribon no Kishi (Japanese: リボンの騎士?, lit. "A Knight in Ribbons"), is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka. This manga follows the adventures of Princess Sapphire, a girl who pretend to be a male prince to prevent the criminal Duke Duralumon to inherit the throne of the reign of Silverland.
It was originally serialized in Kodansha's Shōjo Club from 1953 to 1956, with chapters collected and release into two tankōbon volumes. A Japanese animated television series was adapted produced by Mushi Production, which aired on Japan's Fuji Television from 1967 to 1968. Princess Knight also ran through other three serializations between 1958 and 1968, and has spawned many types of related merchandise.
It was dubbed into English and first brought over to the American audiences by Joe Oriolo in the 1970s, where it was called Choppy and the Princess. Later, it was also broadcast in Australian television, and brought to British and American home media market. The manga was first published in English by Kodansha International in 2001, and Vertical licensed it in 2011.
For the most part the story of both the manga and the serializations is the same, with only the second serialization (known as The Twin Knights) and to some extent the fourth serialization being significantly different.
Taking place in a medieval European-like fairy-tale setting, Princess Knight is the story of young Princess Sapphire who must pretend to be a male prince so she can inherit the throne as women are not eligible to do so. As she is born her father, the King, announces his baby is a boy instead of a girl. The reason for this is that the next-in-line to the throne, Duke Duralumon, is an evil man who would repress the people if his son were to become king.
Princess Sapphire has a pint-sized sidekick in the form of Choppy, a young angel-in-training out to earn his wings. When she was born, Choppy gave Sapphire the blue heart of a boy as well as the pink heart of a girl, and so God sent him down to Earth to retrieve Sapphire's extra heart. Choppy is stuck inside a rather weak mortal shell, and cannot go back to heaven until he has fixed things. Sapphire would not let Choppy remove her boy's heart, however. As a result, Choppy later realizes how much Sapphire needs her boy heart to vanquish the evil in her land.
Sapphire and Choppy experience a variety of fairy tale and political adventures, including encounters with ice witches and anti-Royal revolutionaries. Sapphire also dons a Zorro-style mask at night and fights crime as the Phantom Knight, as well as foiling Duke Duralumon's schemes to take over the kingdom and his attempts to prove that Sapphire is really a girl (and thus discredit her as the heir to the throne).
In the final episodes, Duralumon stages a coup d'état to help Mr. X conquer Silverland. The King and Queen are captured, but help Sapphire to flee. Duralumon is about to proclaim his son as king and himself as regent when he is assassinated by Nylon, who has been driven near-insane by the Duke's constant abuse. The mentally deranged Nylon proclaims himself and welcomes Mr. X and his armies in Silverland. Mr. X, though, soon makes it clear that he has no intention of letting Nylon rule, even as a puppet monarch, and merely keeps him around as a churlish buffoon.
Sapphire and Frank try to prevent the King and Queen from being executed, but they are too late and the King and Queen are dropped in the sea. This culminates in the final battle, as Sapphire heads off to Silverland castle to confront Mr. X with the aid of three magic balls. Given to Sapphire by her parents, the balls represent the three kingdoms and are supposed to save Silverland: they are used at first to ring the kingdom's bells, magically giving to the people the will to fight the invaders.
Sapphire has the balls melted to form a magic axe which she uses to rout Mr. X's troops, break up the castle's walls, and confront X himself. Sapphire ends up dueling Mr. X., with the help of Frank, and manages to wound him. Just as the enraged Mr. X is about to chop Sapphire and Frank in half, Choppy calls on God for help, and a lightning bolt strikes X. As Sapphire seems to triumph, Mr. X rises from his apparent death and begins smashing the castle with his bare hands, eventually causing it to collapse onto himself. Nylon, who was swaying through the halls like a raving madman, is also crushed to death. Sapphire escapes the collapsing castle and stands triumphant in the sunlight. Choppy has been mortally wounded by the castle's breakdown and tells God that he is ready to sacrifice his life should Sapphire's parents be brought back from the dead. God then accepts to bring back the King and Queen to life, as Choppy dies.
Sapphire and Frank end up getting married. Choppy's spirit returns to heaven where he has finally earned his wings.
- Princess Sapphire
The young Prince of Silverland, Sapphire, is actually a girl, but must pretend to be a boy in order to inherit the throne and prevent the evil Duke Duralumon from taking power. Her personality is more refined than tomboyish, but she is good on swordsmanship. At night she fights crime in the persona of the masked Phantom Knight. She is good-hearted, has a strong sense of justice, and is competent and level-headed. Although most of her time is spent as Prince Sapphire, later in the series she is able to go about as a girl (wearing a blonde wig) in the persona of the Princess, Prince Sapphire's sister. In this way she is able to court Prince Frank. Princess Sapphire is based on Chikage Awashima. She owns a white horse named Opal.
- Tink (aka Choppy or Ching or Chinky)
At the beginning of the story, Choppy—still up in heaven—gave Sapphire a boy's heart while God gave her a girl's heart since she was destined to born a girl. When God discovers this, he sends Choppy down to Earth to retrieve the boy heart from Sapphire. When Sapphire refuses to give up her boy heart and he realizes how much she needs it, Choppy became Princess Sapphire's sidekick. He is often brave to the point of being foolhardy, and tends to charge into situations head-first (literally). Choppy is stuck inside a mortal body and has no real divine powers other than the ability to blow the trumpet extremely loudly. Because of this, he often gets beaten up by the villains. Satan is deeply afraid of him, however.
- Prince Frank (aka Prince Franz Charm)
Prince Frank is the young prince of neighboring Goldland and Sapphire's love interest. Their relationship is complicated; Frank is familiar with Sapphire as three entirely different people, and has different feelings toward each. He is good friends with Prince Sapphire, in love with the unnamed princess, and despises the Phantom Knight, whom he believes is a rival for the Princess's affection. Because of their similar upbringings, Frank has many of the same skills as Sapphire, although Sapphire is usually a bit better. Tezuka, who was unsatisfied with the original manga series, added some improvements in story and characters to the TV series. He cast the recurrent character Rock as Prince Frank while adding more depth and improving his abilities.
- Duke Duralumon (aka Duke Jeralmin)
Duke Duralumon is next in line to the throne after Sapphire. He is constantly trying to discredit Sapphire in order to inherit the throne. He is a fairly hands-off villain; he makes speeches to try to turn the people against Sapphire, but leaves the actual physical work of kidnapping and thuggery to his blackguard enforcer, Baron Nylon, and a gang of thugish highwaymen known as the "Black Hats". Duralumon is corrupt and cruel and does pose a genuine threat to Silverland. Still, he is more of a bumbling, comedic villain than a sinister one. Later in the series he is shown to be a quisling in the employ of more seriously evil characters, such as Satan or Mr. X. Duralumon has a son named Plastic, whose primary function is to provide the series' comic relief on the villains' side.
- Baron Nylon
A tall, thin man in foppish green clothes with a large nose, Nylon is Duke Duralumon's bumbling sidekick. He is a rougish ruffian responsible for doing Duralumon's dirty work. Due to his oafish incompetence, however, he usually manages to fumble things and ends up as the recipient of verbal and physical abuse from Duralumon. He is not very bright but is relatively skilled with a sword, although he never actually stabs anybody until the last couple of episodes.
- The King
The King of Silverland. He deceives his people into believing his daughter is really a son in order to prevent Duralumon from inheriting the throne. In the anime, when he tries to change the law that decrees women cannot inherit the throne, Duke Duralumon's men kidnap and imprison him, then fake his death, leaving the kingdom believe he fell of a cliff and drowned. Sapphire later on discovers her father is still alive and frees in him from his prison. Later on in the series, when the Royal Family is locked in an air tight room due the X-Union invasion of Silverland, The King tells Sapphire to escape through a passage for only she can fit through thus leaving he and the Queen to die. The King and Queen are both brought back to life in the last episode. In the manga, he is killed by poison on the sword Prince Frank wields in a fencing duel, placed there by Baron Nylon in attempt to kill Princess Sapphire and lay the blame on Prince Frank and is never revived. Afters his death, the Queen of Silverland supports Sapphire and oversees the Kingdom.
- Satan (aka Mephisto)
The Devil, in the format of a warlock; he is portrayed as a tall, thin human with chalk-white skin and a pointy nose, wearing a skin-tight red suit with a black cape. Satan has various evil desires, including stealing Sapphire's special two-hearted soul and taking over the kingdom. Satan has supernatural powers and is impervious to physical harm, but he also has an overpowering fear of angels. When Sapphire is confronted by Satan, Choppy often comes to the rescue. Satan cowers in fear from Choppy and flees screaming when Choppy starts blowing his horn.
Satan's daughter, who is a witch. Heckett appears as a young human-looking woman around Sapphire's age who dresses quite provocatively. At first she appears to be evil like her father, but she later reveals to Sapphire that she is secretly good. She often covertly helps Sapphire foil her father's plans. Heckett's name was inspirated by Hekate, the Greek goddess of witchcraft and sorcery.
- Mr. X
A large, imposing character clad entirely in boxy red armor, Mr. X is the ruler of the X-Union, a neighboring, proto-fascist federation of nations that wants to conquer the three kingdoms (Silverland, Goldland, and Charcoal-land). Mr. X is portrayed as an indestructible. In the show's final battle between Sapphire and Mr. X, he brings down Silverland castle by smashing the walls using his bare hands. He is the only character in the show with no comedic aspect whatsoever, as even Satan inspires laughs when he cowers with fear when seeing Choppy.
Princess Knight's art style, as well as early Osamu Tezuka works, was strongly influenced by early Disney films' animation technique. Another major influence was the all-female musical theater group Takarazuka Revue, whose performances Tezuka often watched during his childhood and youthood. Disney films influenced Tezuka way of drawing eyes, while Takarazuka's "aesthetic is on full display in Princess Knight. Sapphire is based on the dansō no reijin ("beauty in male dress") of Takarazuka, and Franz is modeled after one of the main actors. Its imagery and lyrics, as well as its gender representation and sexual politics were used by Tezuka. Some aspects of this work is also reminiscent of his previous shōjo manga, Kiseki no Mori no Monogatari. A feathered hat and men in white maillots as well as its the concept of an adventure were derived from it.
Multiple critics have provide many possible interpretations on Princess Knight. Patrick Drazen, author of the book Anime Explosion!, stated the androgyny in the series is "deceptive" as it addresses with gender instead of sex, "specifically, gender-role expectations." Rebecca Silverman of Anime News Network (ANN), however, affirmed it shows gender stereotypes and "some of the more misogynist ideals of 1960s Japan," as exemplified by the fact his boy heart gives her physical strength. Chris Mautner of The Comics Journal also found "some" sexism in the work, given the fact he loses her swordmaship ability when she loses her boy heart as an example. Drazen, as well as Mautner stressed that it broke with those expecations but does not abandonned them as Sapphire marries Franz in the end. Also, Natsu Onoda Power, in her book God of Comics, stated that by this attitude Sapphire shows "her true happines comes from being in a traditional female role."
On other hand, critics stressed that sometimes Tezuka also exhibited contrary views to what he seemed to state. Silverman wrote that Tezuka put feminist positionings on it, as when Sapphire's nurse says "You, sir, are a terrible misogynist! The law stating a woman can't rule is ridiculous. I can't believe a learned man such as yourself would hold such prejudices." Mautner highlighted the presence of Friebe, "a swashbuckling noblewoman", as "a confounding counterbalance" of the sexism he found in the manga. Power stated, "The image of Sapphire must have sent complex, if not conflicting, messages" to readers. Ed Sizemore of Manga Worth Reading agreed that initially Tezuka seems to acquiesce with gender roles but in fact he "is critiquing the false dichotomy that society creates among male and female."
Snow Wildsmith of ICv2 described the series as having "younger characters [who] do not want to stick to the roles their parents proscribed for them and most of the women are tired of being told that they are the lesser sex." Mautner wrote that "if there's a central theme in Princess Knight, however, it's not that of sex roles but of parental expectations and filial duty". Drazen also exposed that the series deals with "another classically Japanese pair of opposites: duty and desire." Drazen said "she doesn't resent her duty" of faking to be a boy, and that "only in private does she live out her feminine desires." Mautner affirmed "she nonetheless feels at war with herself, and possesses a strong desire to indulge her female side."
There have been four manga serializations of Princess Knight in Japan. The first serialization ran from January 1953 to January 1956 in Kodansha's magazine Shōjo Club, and was followed by a three tankōbon volumes release between December 30, 1954 and and June 25, 1958. It was followed by several reissues; two volumes were published on October 11, and November 13, 1979 under the Osamu Tezuka Manga Complete Works line; on April 17, 1995 under KC Grand Collection line, and on November 12, 1999 under Manga Bunko line. In 2004, Geneon Universal Entertainment released a kanzenban edition of the manga that was republished by Fukkan.com in 2012. It was also released in a three-volume Kanzen Fukkoku-ban (完全復刻版?, lit. "Full reprint") edition on January 13, 2009, followed by a "Special Box" on January 14, 2009, and in a Osamu Tezuka Bunko Complete Works edition on February 10, 2011.
The second serialization, a follow-up to the Shōjo Club version, ran in Nakayoshi from January 1958 to June 1958. The title was changed to The Twin Knights (双子の騎士 Futago no Kishi?) for publication in book form, but the serialization's name was still Princess Knight. It was first compilled by Suzuka Shuppan and released in a single tankōbon on May 15, 1960, which was republished by Mushi Pro Shōji on July 15, 1971. Kodansha published it in different lines and formats; on July 28, 1978 under the Osamu Tezuka Manga Complete Works line; on June 4, 1995 under the KC Grand Colection line; on November 12, 1999 under the Manga Bunko line; and on May 12, 2010 under the Osamu Tezuka Bunko Complete Works line.
The third serialization was a rewriting of the Shōjo Club version and ran from January 1963 to October 1966 in Nakayoshi, and was originally published into five tankōbon volumes by Kodansha between August 15, 1964 and June 15, 1966. It was followed by several rereleases and reissues; three volumes were published by Shogakukan in pocketbook format between March 10, and May 10, 1969; three volumes were published between June 13, 1977 and January 11, 1978 under the Osamu Tezuka Manga Complete Works line by Kodansha; in June 1982 it was published by Holp Shuppan; on December 14, 1994 it was released under KC Grand Collection line; on October 9, 1999 under Manga Bunko Line; and on October 9, 2009 under the Osamu Tezuka Bunko Complete Works line. A Kanzen Fukkoku-ban edition, along with a "Special Box", was published on May 29, 2009.
The fourth serialization was a science fiction story originally written by Tezuka Osamu, with the drawings done by Kitano Hideaki. It was serialized in the magazine Shōjo Friend in 1967, concurrently with its broadcast on television as animation. Kodansha encapsulated its chapters into two volumes released on May 3, 1967 and June 3, 1967.
Six volumes of Nakayoshi's 1963 Princess Knight were released between May 18, and July 27, 2001 in the United States in a bilingual (English/Japanese) edition by Kodansha International. A preview of the 1953 manga was released in the July 2007 issue of Viz Media's shōjo magazine, Shojo Beat. At the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International, Vertical announced that it had licensed the 1963 version for an English-language translation in North America. Vertical published it in two parts; the first on November 1, 2011 and the second on December 6, 2011. In the following year, Vertical licensed The Twin Knights, which was released on July 30, 2013.
Natsuko Takahashi wrote the story while Pink Hanamori drew a remake of the original Princess Knight manga called Sapphire: Princess Knight. Serialized from the May 2008 issue to the July 2009 issue in Nakayoshi, it was compiled into four tankōbon between September 5, 2008 and September 4, 2009. To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the series, a reboot version of Princess Knight started to be published on the online manga magazine Puratto Home by Home-sha in July 2013. Called Re:Born: Kamen no Otoko to Ribon no Kishi (RE:BORN 仮面の男とリボンの騎士?), it is a collaboration with Tezuka Productions and is illustrated by Shōko Fukaki with scenarios by Atsushi Kagurazaka. A drama CD based on it is set to be released on July 25, 2014.
The Princess Knight anime series was produced by Mushi Production and had Osamu Tezuka as general director, and Chikao Katsui and Kanji Akabori as chief directors. The series of 52 episodes was originally broadcast in Japan on Fuji Television from April 2, 1967 to April 7, 1968. In addition to the anime series, there is also 28-minute pilot film that was produced in November 1966 but was not broadcast on television. It was released as an extra when the series was released on LaserDisc in Japan. All episodes were released on LaserDisc by Pioneer on March 28, 1997. The episodes were also distributed in DVD format; Nippon Columbia released two box sets on December 21, 2001 and June 1, 2002. A single box set was released by Columbia on July 23, 2008, and another was released by Takarashijima on October 29, 2010. A "Best Selection" DVD series was first released by Columbia on September 25, 2003, and rereleased on July 23, 2008.
Mushi Production submitted the anime adaptation to NBC Enterprises that was declined because its executives felt the series theme could be interpreted as "sex switch." Animator Joe Oriolo, however, purchased the anime's distribution rights, and along with Burt Hecht dubbed its episodes into English. In 1972, they edited three episodes and made it into a film titled Choppy and the Princess that was licensed to independent television in the United States and was syndicated in the 1970s and 1980s. In October 2012, Nozomi Entertainment, a Right Stuf's publishing division, acquired its distribution's rights for North America. Featuring an English-language and a Spanish-language dub, it used the edited and cut version broadcast in the 1970s and 1980s. The first part was released on August 20, 2013 while the second one was publisehd on October 22, 2013.
The show also aired in Australia, and was released on home media in the United Kingdom. Movie Makers released seven episodes under the title The Adventures of Choppy and the Princess and three individual episodes without the title. The distributor Tasley Leisures released six episodes under the title Choppy and the Princess, Adventures 1-6. The Starlite Group released seven The Adventures of Choppy and the Princess DVDs in the United Kingdom in 2006, with the film also being available from the same company.
At various times in his career, Tezuka worked on short original animation films, or "theater anime", which included some of the Princess Knight story. Samples of this work were shown in the "300 Inch Theater", which was held at Tezuka Osamu World in the Kyoto Station Building from July 1999. In this film, the Phoenix (from the eponymous Tezuka manga) plays the role of storyteller, and introduces two pictures. The first part tells the story of Princess Knight, and the second part talks about Minamoto Yoshitsune, who made his mark in the history of Kyoto as a person who became entangled in a struggle by another's wicked design in spite of his desire for peace — just like Sapphire.
In 2006, Princess Knight was adapted as a musical Ribon no Kishi: The Musical (リボンの騎士 ザ・ミュージカル Ribon no Kishi Za Myūjikaru?) and performed in Japan by members of the popular idol groups Morning Musume and v-u-den with Takahashi Ai in the lead role. Directed by Shinji Ueda, with screenplay by Shinji Kimura and music by Masato Kai, it played at Shinjuku Koma Theater from August 1 to 27. The Up-Front Works record label Zetima released a music collection and a DVD of the musical on July 26, and November 29, 2006 respectively. Later, on December 25, its television broadcast was done by BS Japan.
|This section requires expansion with: Sources. (April 2014)|
Widely considered a classic, Princess Knight was very popular with girls in Japan by the time of its original release. One of the author's most popular works in Japan, it has been labeled as "a fascinating piece of anime history ... that's withstood the test of time" by Bamboo Dong of ANN. In 2005, Japanese television network TV Asahi conducted a "Top 100" online web poll and nationwide survey; Princess Knight placed 74th in the online poll and 71th in the survey. In 2006, TV Asahi conducted another online poll for the top one hundred anime, and Princess Knight do not made the general list, but ranked 77th in the "Celebrity List".
After Vertical's statement that it would publish Princess Knight, critics Chris Butcher and Deb Aoki deemed it as one of the most anticipated manga announced at the Comic-Con. In the following year, it was considered one of the best new "kids/teen" manga by critics Carlo Santos and Shaenon Garrity at the Comic-Con. Aoki, for About.com, selected it as the second best new shōjo released in 2011 after Sailor Moon, stating it "can seem a little dated and quaint compared to its contemporary counterparts, but it's no less charming and fun to read."
Its art has been well received by critics, including Sizemore, Joseph Luster of Otaku USA, Wildsmith, Chris Kirby of The Fandom Post, and by Mautner, who stated, "Visually, Knight is a stunning achievement." On other hand, Carlo Santos and Silverman of ANN said it may not appeal to modern readers, with Silverman deeming it a great "deterrent". While Wildsmith considered the episodic nature of the series "chaotic and unfocused", Sizemore praised it as it "constantly delivering thrills at each turn." Although also commended this formula, Santos stated overall the story "has its weaknesses" and "allows itself ... logical loopholes." Luster asserted initially it focused too much in gags which "could easily become a tiresome formula", but the action in late chapters overcomes it. Sizemore called it "fun" byt "deeply flawed in its storytelling." Kirby wrote that Princess Knight is "a pleasure to look at, fun to read, and a piece of entertainment that excels at entertaining more than anything."
Princess Knight marks the first time Tezuka used his "story comic" format—which uses a narrative structure and cinematic techniques—in a shōjo manga. The series established elements that would be common in late works of the genre, including a idealized foreign (from a Japanese perspective) settings, a heroine with large eyes, and gender ambiguity with a certain amount of androgyny. It also changed the concept of shōjo from gag comics or strips teaching "good behavior" to narrative-focused works, and thus is considered the first modern work of the genre. Moreover, Princess Knight expanded the scope of Japanese popular culture, giving the possibility of explore a wider range of sexual orientations, which goes beyond clear homo- or heterosexuality. Featuring the first "gender-neutralized" heroine, it influenced many works, specially shōjo, such as The Rose of Versailles and Revolutionary Girl Utena.
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