Princess Knight

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Princess Knight
Princess Knight-1.jpg
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
Published by Kodansha
Demographic Shōjo
Magazine Shōjo Club
Original run January 1953January 1956
Volumes 2
Twin Knight
Written by Osamu Tezuka
Published by Kodansha
English publisher
Demographic Shōjo
Magazine Nakayoshi
Original run January 1958June 1958
Volumes 1
Written by Osamu Tezuka
Published by Kodansha
English publisher
Demographic Shōjo
Magazine Nakayoshi
Original run January 1963October 1966
Volumes 3
Anime television series
Directed by Osamu Tezuka
Chikao Katsui
Kanji Akabori
Studio Mushi Production
Licensed by
Network Fuji Television
English network Seven Network
Original run April 2, 1967April 7, 1968
Episodes 52
Anime film
Directed by Masayoshi Nishida
Studio Media Vision
Released 1994
Portal icon Anime and Manga portal

Princess Knight, released in Japan as Ribon no Kishi (リボンの騎士?), is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka. It ran through four serializations from 1953 to 1968, and was adapted into a Japanese animated series. It was dubbed into English and brought over to Western audiences by Joe Oriolo in 1970, where it was called Choppy and the Princess. However, due to several disputes by the syndicators over broadcast rights, it was rarely seen in the United States.

Nakayoshi's 1963 Princess Knight was released in 2001 in the United States in a bilingual (English/Japanese) edition by Kodansha International, now out of print.[1] A preview of the 1953 manga was released in the July 2007 issue of Viz Media's shōjo magazine, Shojo Beat.[2] In 2011, the 1963 version has been licensed by Vertical Inc.[3] In the following year, Vertical licensed Twin Knight.[4]

A manga revival of the story, titled Sapphire: Ribon no Kishi, by Natsuko Takahashi and Pink Hanamori, was launched in the May 2008 issue of Nakayoshi. In 1973, a film version of Princess Knight was released in theaters in the United States entitled Choppy and The Princess, based mainly on the television series. It was later broadcast on syndicated television.


For the most part the story of both the manga and the serializations is the same, with only the second serialization (known as Twin Knight) 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). This deception begins as soon as she is born, as 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, and because of this the King will go to any length to prevent him from taking over.

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 accidentally gave Sapphire the blue heart of a rambunctious boy as well as the pink heart of a prim and proper girl, and so God (in a fit of anger) sent him down to Earth to sort out the mess and retrieve Sapphire's extra heart. Choppy is stuck inside a rather weak mortal shell, and cannot go back to Heaven until he's fixed things. Sapphire won't let Choppy remove her blue 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).


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's good with a sword. At night she fights crime in the persona of the masked Phantom Knight. She's 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 boys heart while God gave her a girls 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 dresses in a green Peter Pan like outfit. He's 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. Obviously, their relationship is complicated. Prince 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 mistakenly 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)

The show's main antagonist, Duke Duralumon is next in line to the throne after Sapphire. He is constantly trying to discredit Sapphire in order to inherit the throne. Duralumon is short, fat and balding. He's 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's shown to be a quisling in the employ of much more seriously evil characters, such as Satan or Mr. X. His name comes from the alloy duralumin. 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's 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 can't 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 a 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.

The Doctor

Sapphire's doctor is one of the few people who knows that she is a girl. He is in charge of teaching her masculine skills such as swordsmanship and history. The Doctor is also a bit of an inventor and occasionally comes up with post-medieval gadgets, such as a hot-air balloon to combat a kite-riding thief.

The Nurse

Sapphire's nurse is also among the few people privy to her secret. She's in charge of teaching her feminine skills such as sewing and cooking.

Satan (aka Mephisto)

The Devil, in the format of a warlock, and also one of the most powerful villains in the series. 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. Duralumon and Nylon are secretly Satanists who are in his service.


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

The show's ultimate villain, 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). As the series progresses, we learn that Duralumon and Nylon secretly work for him. 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.


There have been four manga serializations of Princess Knight in Japan.

Shōjo Club version[edit]

The first serialization ran from January 1953 to January 1956 in Kodansha's Shōjo Club. This work has had a great influence on subsequent manga for girls. One hallmark of Tezuka's style notable in this series is his technique he used for drawing the eyes, placing a glittering star in each pupil. The stories consisted of three pages in three colors, and four pages in two colors. This kind of coloring and layout was greatly influenced by a movie entitled The Tales of Hoffmann which was released in Japan in 1952. Princess Knight was remade three times after the first release. This version also had a one-time appearance in the Shōjo Club Summer Vacation Special Issue in 1954. The story in this issue, is roughly translated into English as "Tink (Choppy) and the Golden Egg".

Twin Knight[edit]

The second serialization was a follow-up to the Shōjo Club version, and it was run in the magazine Nakayoshi. The title was changed to Twin Knight for publication in book form, but the serialization's name was still Princess Knight. This serialization ran from January 1958 to June 1959 in Nakayoshi. This is a continuation of the original Shōjo Club storyline. The children of Sapphire, the fraternal twins Prince Daisy and Princess Violetta, are the main characters. After becoming the princess of Silver Land, Sapphire marries Frantz/Frank, her love interest in the first series, and gives birth to the twins Prince Daisy and Princess Violetta. But because of the wicked designs of the Duchess Daria, Prince Daisy is abandoned in the forest. In the castle, Princess Violetta decides to play two parts: being herself and disguising herself as the Prince every other day to keep secret the knowledge of his disappearance. Duke Daria discovers this, which leads to the King, Queen Sapphire and Princess Violetta being confined in the northern tower. Princess Violetta escapes by disguising herself as a boy and with the help of a swan from the northern tower, so that she can look for her brother.

Nakayoshi version[edit]

The third serialization was a rewriting of the Shōjo Club version. This version ran from January 1963 to October 1966. In this version, Mrs. Hell takes over the role of Mephisto, a pirate named Brad is added as a new character, and the story takes a different course of development halfway through. This version follows the same pattern, in which the Duke of Darulium and Sir Nylon want to discover the truth about the circumstances of Princess Sapphire. In this version her secret is revealed on the day of Sapphire's enthronement, because the Queen reveals it while under the influence of a toxic liquor drink.

Shōjo Friend version[edit]

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. It lasted from April 1967 to April 1968.



The anime, like the Shōjo Friend serialization, lasted from April 1967 to April 1968, for a total of 52 episodes. Like the manga, it was amongst the first shōjo anime, aimed at a young female audience. The only known shōjo anime to precede it was Sally the Witch which began in 1966. The show originally ran from April 2, 1967 to April 7, 1968 on Fuji TV. The manga closest in its style and plot to the anime is the third serialization, but they differed significantly at times.


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.

English language adaptation[edit]

Although all 52 episodes of the series were translated and dubbed into English in 1970 by Joe Oriolo, serious legal disputes arose within the show's production company before it could air in the United States. As a result, the company ultimately scrapped the show before it could be broadcast. Copies of the finished product still managed to be leaked out, however, and the series had a limited run on American and European television in from the late 1960s through the early 1980s, usually as part of obscure morning children's television programs. The series was never available on home video in North America until Nozomi Entertainment picked up the DVD license, and plans on releasing the English and Spanish versions to Region 1 DVD.

For a number of years it was thought that all of the English-language dubs of the series had been either lost or destroyed, as was also the case with The Amazing 3. However, the English-language masters of the series were found in the Netherlands in 1996 (though missing their opening and closing credits).

In the English translation the most significant change is the name of characters. In the original, the majority of good characters were named after precious gems and metals (e.g. Sapphire), while the villains were named after synthetic fibers and plastics (e.g. Plastic and Nylon).

In 1973, three episodes were edited together and released as a movie titled Choppy and the Princess. Although it was syndicated throughout the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, it wasn't until 1985 that it achieved some popularity through its appearances on the Showtime cable network.

Despite not having the airtime as intended in the United States (other than Hawaii), the show still managed to make it to other English language markets. In Australia the show was aired, but it had two different titles (depending on which network showed it), one being Princess Knight and the other being Choppy and the Princess (as the name of the entire series). The show was also aired in Britain where it was released on VHS. The distributor Movie Makers (UK) released seven episodes under the title The Adventures of Choppy and the Princess and three individual episodes without the title. The distributor Tasley Leisures (UK) released six episodes under the title Choppy and the Princess, Adventures 1-6. The Starlite Group released seven Choppy and the Princess DVDs in the UK in mid-2006, with the movie also being available from the same company.

In addition, Nozomi Entertainment is currently planning a North American DVD release.[5]

Pilot film[edit]

In addition to the 52 anime episodes, there was also an episode-long pilot film that was not broadcast on television. This film was released as an extra when in early 1991 the series was released on laser disc in Japan. It is often quoted as being the 53rd episode.

Other media[edit]


At various times in his career, Tesuka worked on short original animation films, or "theater anime", which among other material included some of the Princess Knight story. Samples of this work are shown in the "300-Inch Theater" at Tezuka Osamu World in the Kyoto Station Building. The two-picture show is composed of pieces from among Tezuka's major manga and an animated film featuring historic episodes of Kyoto. In this theater production, the Phoenix (from the eponymous Tezuka manga) plays the role of a storyteller, and introduces the two pictures.

The first part has the Phoenix tell the story of Princess Knight, and how despite the malicious plan of Duke Duralumon she believes in a "tomorrow" that is a peaceful and quiet world. By illustrating her attitude, the Phoenix tries to convey the message that "the world will never lose the light of the future unless you lose hope".

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. This is the story of the extraordinary Benkei, who after having met his enemy Yoshitsune in his childhood (then named Ushiwaka) came to guard him as a lifetime partner in later years. The Phoenix narrates this well-known episode by referring to characters that appear in Tezuka's manga, Benkei.

Sapphire: Princess Knight[edit]

A shōjo manga written by Natsuko Takahashi and drawn by Pink Hanamori called Sapphire: Princess Knight is a remake/sequel of the original princess knight manga by Tezuka as it takes place in modern times of the original series where it focuses on Sapphire The descendant of princess 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) and performed in Japan by members of the popular idol groups Morning Musume and v-u-den with Takahashi Ai in the lead role. The story was slightly modified in order to accommodate a stage performance.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Princess Knight: 1 (Kodansha bilingual comics) (English and Japanese Edition)". Retrieved September 15, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Viz's Princess Knight is First Translation of Original Run". Anime News Network. May 17, 2005. Retrieved April 21, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Vertical Adds Princess Knight, Drops of God Manga (Updated) - News". Anime News Network. September 11, 2013. Retrieved September 15, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Vertical Adds Tezuka's Twin Knight, Kyoko Okazaki's Helter Skelter Manga". Anime News Network. October 12, 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Right Stuf Licenses Princess Knight TV Anime - News". Anime News Network. 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 

External links[edit]