Princess Knight

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Princess Knight
Princess Knight-1.jpg
The cover for Princess Knight volume 1 from the Osamu Tezuka Manga Complete Works edition.
(Ribon no Kishi)
Written by Osamu Tezuka
Published by Kodansha
Demographic Shōjo
Magazine Shōjo Club
Original run January 1953January 1956
Volumes 3
The Twin Knights
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
Kodansha (Bilingual)
Demographic Shōjo
Magazine Nakayoshi
Original run January 1963October 1966
Volumes 5
Written by Osamu Tezuka
Published by Kodansha
Demographic Shōjo
Magazine Shōjo Friend
Original run April 1967April 1968
Volumes 1
Anime television series
Directed by
Produced by
  • Tadayoshi Watanabe
  • Kazuyuki Hirokawa
Music by Isao Tomita
Studio Mushi Production
Licensed by
Hanabee Entertainment
Movie Makers
Tasley Leisures
Starlite Group
Original network Fuji Television
English network
Original run April 2, 1967April 7, 1968
Episodes 52 (List of episodes)
Anime film
Directed by Masayoshi Nishida
Produced by
  • Minoru Kubota
  • Sumio Udagawa
Written by Mayumi Morita
Music by Tomoki Hasegawa
Studio Media Vision
Released 1999
Runtime 8 minutes
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and Manga portal

Princess Knight, also known as Ribbon no Kishi (Japanese: リボンの騎士, Hepburn: Ribon no Kishi, literally "Knight of Ribbons"), is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Osamu Tezuka. This manga follows the adventures of Princess Sapphire, a girl who pretends to be a male prince to prevent the evil Duke Duralumin from inheriting the throne of Silverland.

It was originally serialized in Kodansha's Shōjo Club from 1953 to 1956, later collected and released into two tankōbon volumes. A television series was produced by Mushi Production, which aired on Japan's Fuji Television from 1967 to 1968. Princess Knight also ran through three other serializations between 1958 and 1968, and has spawned many types of related merchandise.

The television series was dubbed into English by Joe Oriolo in the 1970s, renamed Choppy and the Princess. It was released to American, Australian, and British television audiences, with home video releases to follow. The manga was first published in English by Kodansha International in 2001, with a newer version by Vertical in 2011.


For the most part, the story of the various serializations is the same, with only the fourth serialization being significantly different. The second serialization, The Twin Knights, is a sequel to the first.

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 Duralumin (ジュラルミン大公, Jurarumin Taikō) (in the Right Stuf release, the character was named "Duralumon";[1][2] he is also known as "Jeralmin"[3][4] and "Duke of Duralumin"),[5][6] 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 Tink (チンク, Chinku) (in Joe Oriolo's first translation and the Right Stuf release, this character was named "Choppy"[1][3]), a young angel-in-training out to earn his wings. When she was born, Tink 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. Tink is stuck inside a rather weak mortal shell, and cannot go back to heaven until he has fixed things. Sapphire would not let Tink remove her boy's heart, however. As a result, Tink later realizes how much Sapphire needs her boy heart to vanquish the evil in her land.

Sapphire and Tink 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 Duralumin'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, Duralumin stages a coup d'état to help Mr. X conquer Silverland. The King and Queen are captured, but help Sapphire to flee. Duralumin 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, Tink 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. Tink 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 Tink dies.

Sapphire and Frank end up getting married. Tink's spirit returns to heaven where he has finally earned his wings.


Sapphire / Phantom Knight

Sapphire is a young heir apparent Prince of Silverland. Sapphire is stated as being born with a "boy heart" and a "girl heart". Her personality is more refined than tomboyish: she is good-hearted, has a strong sense of justice, competent, and level-headed. Due to cultural norms and politics, Sapphire must pretend to be "Prince" Sapphire in order to both inherit the throne and prevent the evil Duke Duralumin from taking power. She is good on swordsmanship and equestrianship. At night she fights crime in the persona of the masked Phantom Knight. 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 Franz Charming. Princess Sapphire is based on Chikage Awashima. She owns a white horse named Opal.


At the beginning of the story, Tink—still up in heaven—gave Sapphire a boy's heart while God gave her a girl's heart since she was destined to be born a girl. When God discovers this, he sends Tink 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, Tink became Princess Sapphire's sidekick. He is often brave to the point of being foolhardy, and tends to charge into situations head-first (literally). Tink 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 Franz Charming

Prince Franz Charming 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 Franz Charming while adding more depth and improving his abilities.

Duke Duralumin

Duke Duralumin 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 thuggish highwaymen known as the "Black Hats". Duralumin 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. Duralumin 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 Duralumin's bumbling sidekick. He is a roguish ruffian responsible for doing Duralumin'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 Duralumin. 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 Duralumin from inheriting the throne. In the anime, when he tries to change the law that decrees women cannot inherit the throne, Duke Duralumin's men kidnap and imprison him, then fake his death, leaving the kingdom believe he fell off 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 airtight 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 Franz wields in a fencing duel, placed there by Baron Nylon in attempt to kill Princess Sapphire and lay the blame on Prince Franz and is never revived. After his death, the Queen of Silverland supports Sapphire and oversees the Kingdom.


The Devil, in the form 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, Tink often comes to the rescue. Satan cowers in fear from Tink and flees screaming when Tink starts blowing his horn. Originally known as Mephisto the Devil (魔王メフィスト, Maō Mefisuto),[5][6] the name "Satan" or "King Satan" have been used for both the manga and the anime in English.[2][7][8]


Satan's daughter, who is a witch. Hecate (ヘケート, Hekēto) (originally known as "Hekate")[5][6] 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. Hecate's name was inspired 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 Tink.

Production and style[edit]

Takarazuka Revue's performances was Tezuka's main influence to create Princess Knight

During the 1950s, Osamu Tezuka was already popular having written Kimba the White Lion (1950) and Astro Boy (1952).[citation needed] In late 1952, Shōjo Club's editor asked Tezuka if he would be able to create a work similar to his previous ones but aimed toward girls.[9] Tezuka agreed and his first idea was to transpose the all-female musical theater group Takarazuka Revue into manga.[9][10] Takarazuka's "aesthetic is on full display in Princess Knight", argued Natsu Onoda Power, in her book God of Comics.[10]

Having grown in Takarazuka City and with a mother who was fan of the group, Tezuka often watched its performances during his childhood and youthhood.[11] Takarazuka's costumes, sets, and lyrics,[12] as well as its gender representation and sexual politics were used by Tezuka on creating Princess Knight.[13] Sapphire is based on the dansō no reijin ("beauty in male dress") of Takarazuka, and Franz is modeled after one of the main actresses, Yachiyo Kasugano.[11] Nobuko Otowa as Puck in Takarazuka's version of A Midsummer Night's Dream influenced Tink's character.[11]

Also reminiscent of Takarazuka's performances are the characters' very large eyes.[14] Some aspects of this work are also reminiscent of his previous shōjo manga, Kiseki no Mori no Monogatari, which featured a feathered hat and men in white maillots as well as adventure-driven storylines.[12] Also influential on Princess Knight, as well as early Tezuka works, was early Disney films' animation technique.[15] It influenced Tezuka's art style, especially his way of drawing eyes and childlike features.[15] Aside from Disney, it is also influenced by Western literature,[16] Christianity, Greek mythology, and European fairy tales[17]—because of this it has been described as a "trippy pop culture pastiche".[18] Reviewers have perceived influences from Cinderella,[16][19] Fantasia's "Pastoral",[16][17] Pinocchio,[16] Sleeping Beauty,[19][20] Snow White,[16][20] Betty Boop,[20] Captain Blood,[16] Dracula, "Eros and Psyche",[17] Hamlet,[16][17] "The Sorcerer's Apprentice",[21] Swan Lake,[16][22] The Scarlet Pimpernel,[18] and William Tell.[16]


Multiple critics have provide many possible interpretations on the presence of gender ambiguity and androgyny on Princess Knight. Patrick Drazen, author of the book Anime Explosion!, stated the androgyny in the series is "deceptive" as it addresses gender instead of sex, and more "specifically, gender-role expectations."[23] Manga: An Anthology of Global and Cultural Perspectives's Toni Johnson-Woods summed up it as: "With its visualization of masculinity and femininity within one body it was able to depict conflicting selves within one sexed body under pressure for social conformity, hence literally emboding the quest for identity and subjective agency".[24] Ed Sizemore of Manga Worth Reading says Tezuka's central idea critiques "the false dichotomy that society creates among male and female."[16] Rebecca Silverman of Anime News Network (ANN) wrote that Tezuka put feminist positionings on it[a] and Chris Mautner of The Comics Journal highlighted the presence of Friebe, "a swashbuckling" swordswoman, as another depiction of women in a non-subservient position (in contrast to the usual depiction).[19]

On the other hand, Silverman affirmed it shows gender stereotypes and "some of the more misogynist ideals of 1960s Japan," as exemplified by the fact her boy heart gives her physical strength.[20] Mautner also found "some" sexism in the work, given as an example the fact she loses her swordsmanship ability when she is without her boy heart.[19] Drazen and Mautner stressed that the manga had broken with some gender expectations but did not abandon them, as Sapphire marries Franz in the end.[19][23] Power stated that by this attitude Sapphire shows "her true happiness comes from being in a traditional female role."[25] For Paul Gravett, it demonstrated she "was no feminist rebel after all" and he wrote in Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics that Tezuka "created an exquisite world of indecision."[14] Power concluded that "The image of Sapphire must have sent complex, if not conflicting, messages" to readers.[26] This conflicts led Johnson-Woods to say "It may be more accurate to depict her characterization as schizophrenic rather than androgynous".[b]

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."[28] 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".[19] Drazen also exposed that the series deals with "another classically Japanese pair of opposites: duty and desire."[29] Drazen said "she doesn't resent her duty" of having to be a boy and have fun with it, but that "only in private does she live out her feminine desires."[29] Mautner expressed a similar view, affirming that even if she likes to be a boy "possesses a strong desire to indulge her female side."[19]


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,[30] and was followed by a three tankōbon volumes release[31] between December 30, 1954 and June 25, 1958.[32] 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;[33][34] on April 17, 1995 under KC Grand Collection line,[35] and on November 12, 1999 under Manga Bunko line.[36] In 2004, Geneon Universal Entertainment released a kanzenban edition of the manga that was republished by in 2012.[37] It was also released in a three-volume Kanzen Fukkoku-ban (完全復刻版, lit. "Full reprint") edition on January 13, 2009,[31][38] followed by a "Special Box" on January 14, 2009,[39] and in an Osamu Tezuka Bunko Complete Works edition on February 10, 2011.[40]

The second serialization, a follow-up to the Shōjo Club version, ran in Nakayoshi from January 1958 to June 1958.[41] 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.[30] It was first compiled by Suzuka Shuppan and released in a single tankōbon on May 15, 1960,[42][43] which was republished by Mushi Pro Shōji on July 15, 1971.[44] Kodansha published it in different lines and formats; on July 28, 1978 under the Osamu Tezuka Manga Complete Works line;[45] on June 4, 1995 under the KC Grand Collection line;[46] on November 12, 1999 under the Manga Bunko line;[47] and on May 12, 2010 under the Osamu Tezuka Bunko Complete Works line.[48]

The third serialization was a rewriting of the Shōjo Club version and ran from January 1963 to October 1966 in Nakayoshi,[49] and was originally published into five tankōbon volumes by Kodansha[50] between August 15, 1964 and June 15, 1966.[32] It was followed by several rereleases and reissues; three volumes were published by Shogakukan in pocketbook format between March 10, and May 10, 1969;[32] three volumes were published between June 13, 1977 and January 11, 1978 under the Osamu Tezuka Manga Complete Works line by Kodansha;[51][52] in June 1982 it was published by Holp Shuppan;[53] on December 14, 1994 it was released under KC Grand Collection line;[54][55] on October 9, 1999 under Manga Bunko Line;[56][57] and on October 9, 2009 under the Osamu Tezuka Bunko Complete Works line.[58][59] A Kanzen Fukkoku-ban edition, along with a "Special Box", was published on May 29, 2009.[50]

The fourth serialization was a science fiction story originally written by Tezuka, with the drawings done by Kitano Hideaki.[30] It was serialized in the magazine Shōjo Friend in 1967, concurrently with its broadcast on television as animation.[30] Kodansha encapsulated its chapters into two volumes released on May 3, 1967 and June 3, 1967.[32] A tie-in to the anime series, Tezuka himself admitted that it was "a commercial flop, an ill-conceived" version.[17]

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.[32][60] A preview of the 1953 manga was released in the July 2007 issue of Viz Media's shōjo magazine, Shojo Beat.[c][60] At the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International, Vertical announced that it had licensed the 1963 version[d] for an English-language translation in North America.[64][65] Vertical published it in two parts; the first on November 1, 2011 and the second on December 6, 2011.[66][67] In the following year, Vertical licensed The Twin Knights,[68] which was released on July 30, 2013.[69]

Anime adaptation[edit]

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.[5] The series of 52 episodes was originally broadcast in Japan on Fuji Television from April 2, 1967 to April 7, 1968.[5][70] 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.[3][71] It was released as an extra when the series was released on LaserDisc in Japan.[3] All episodes were released on LaserDisc by Pioneer on March 28, 1997.[72] The episodes were also distributed in DVD format; Nippon Columbia released two box sets on December 21, 2001 and June 1, 2002.[73][74] A single box set was released by Columbia on July 23, 2008,[75] and another was released by Takarashijima on October 29, 2010.[76] A "Best Selection" DVD series was first released by Columbia on September 25, 2003,[77] and rereleased on July 23, 2008.[75]

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."[78] Animator Joe Oriolo, however, purchased the anime's distribution rights, and along with Burt Hecht dubbed its episodes into English.[3][79] In 1972, after a limited release under the title Princess Knight, Oriolo and Hecht 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.[3][79] 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.[80] The first part was released on August 20, 2013 while the second one was published on October 22, 2013.[81][82]

The show also aired in Australia in the 1970s,[83] and was released on home media in Australia and 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.[3] 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.[84][85] In August 2013, Hanabee Entertainment licensed the series for an Australian release;[83] it was released on DVD into two parts on September 18, and October 6, 2013 respectively.[86][87] A box set is set to be released on September 6, 2014.[88]


At various times in his career, Tezuka worked on short original animation films, or "theater anime", which included some of the Princess Knight story.[89] Samples of this work were shown in the "300 Inch Theater",[90] which was held at Tezuka Osamu World in the Kyoto Station Building from July 1999.[91] 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.[90]


Widely considered a classic,[1][92] Princess Knight was very popular with girls in Japan by the time of its original release.[79] One of the author's most popular works in Japan,[19][65] it has been labeled as "a fascinating piece of anime history ... that's withstood the test of time" by Bamboo Dong of ANN.[1] 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 71st in the survey.[93][94] In 2006, TV Asahi conducted another online poll for the top one hundred anime, and Princess Knight did not make the general list, but ranked 77th in the "Celebrity List".[95] 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.[65] 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.[7] Aoki, for, 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."[96] Gravett included Princess Knight on his book 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die.[97]

Its art has been well received by critics, including Sizemore,[16] Joseph Luster of Otaku USA,[98] Wildsmith,[28] Chris Kirby of The Fandom Post,[22] and by Mautner, who stated, "Visually, Knight is a stunning achievement."[19] On the other hand, Carlo Santos and Silverman of ANN said its art style may not appeal to modern readers, with Silverman deeming it a great "deterrent".[20][92] 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."[22] Sizemore praised it as it "constantly delivering thrills at each turn,"[16] contrasting to Wildsmith, who considered the episodic nature of the series "chaotic and unfocused".[28] Although also commended the formula, Santos stated the story in overall "has its weaknesses" and "allows itself ... logical loopholes."[92] Luster asserted initially it focused too much in gags which "could easily become a tiresome formula", but the action in late chapters overcomes it.[98] Sizemore called it "fun" but "deeply flawed in its storytelling."[99] Shaun A. Noordin of The Star asserted, "The memorable characters, adventure, drama and comedy (not to mention a framework for exploring issues such as feminism, gender equality and identity) are all there, but the barrage of story arcs made it difficult for us to be invested in the narrative."[100]


Sightseeing ambassador at Takarazuka, Hyōgo, wearing a Princess Knight costume, 2012.

Impacts on industry[edit]

Princess Knight marks the first time Tezuka used his "story comic" format—which uses a narrative structure and cinematic techniques—in a shōjo manga.[101][12] The series changed the concept of shōjo from gag comics or strips teaching "good behavior" to narrative-focused works,[19][26] and thus is considered the first modern work of the genre.[101][102] It also established elements that would be common in late works of the genre, including an idealized foreign (from a Japanese perspective) settings, a heroine with large eyes, and gender ambiguity with a certain amount of androgyny.[101][23][103] In the 1970s, two trends were predominant in shōjo manga: the first featured "androgynous, masculine, or asexual protagonists searching for self and love", and the other had "more explicit romance involving an ordinary girl". Elements of both were already present in Tezuka's Sapphire.[24] The manga is considered to have started the genre of female supeheroes[104] and regarded as a prototype for the magical girl genre.[14] Martin Theron of ANN affirmed the series "influence ... is immeasurable, and in a real sense every lead action heroine who has followed is a direct or indirect spiritual descendant of Princess Sapphire/Prince Knight".[105] Indeed, Sapphire is one of the most recognizable heroines of Tezuka; between March 3–June 27, 2016, the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum sponsored an art exhibit focused on the "Heroines of Osamu Tezuka", highlighting Sapphire and Pinoko of Black Jack.[106] She was also considered the most iconic heroine in anime history by Thomas Zoth of[107]

This work expanded the scope of Japanese popular culture, giving the possibility of explore a wider range of sexual orientations, which goes beyond clear gender binary homo- or heterosexuality.[29] According to Johnson-Woods, "Shōjo manga's rich potential for complex representations of the human pysche in diverse sociocultural contexts was essentially constructed by Tezuka's androgynous characters Sapphire".[24] Featuring the first "gender-neutralized" heroine,[1] it influenced many works, specially shōjo, such as The Rose of Versailles, Revolutionary Girl Utena,[29][108] The Sword of Paros and Sailor Moon's Sailor Uranus.[63]


A remake of the original Princess Knight manga called Sapphire: Princess Knight was written by Natsuko Takahashi and illustrated by Pink Hanamori.[109] Serialized from the May 2008 issue to the July 2009 issue in Nakayoshi,[109][110] it was compiled into four tankōbon between September 5, 2008 and September 4, 2009.[111][112] 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 Ribbon 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.[113] Three volumes of it have been released as of January 23, 2015,[114] and drama CD based on it was released on July 25, 2014.[115]


In 2006, Princess Knight was adapted as a musical Ribbon 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.[116] 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.[117][118] Later, on December 25, its television broadcast was done by BS Japan.[119]

In 2015, celebrating the 60th anniversary of Nakayoshi magazine, a musical directed by Yukio Ueshima, written by Sayaka Asai and with music composed by Shuhei Kamimura was staged.[120][121] It starred Nogizaka46's Erika Ikuta and Reika Sakurai and Hecate respectively, while Keisuke Kaminaga and Tsunenori Aoki completed the main four in the poster, playing Prince Franz and the pirate Blood respectively. From November 12 to November 17, it ran at Tokyo's Akasaka ACT Theater and it was followed by exhibitions at Theater Brava in Osaka from December 3 to December 6.[121]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ Silverman uses as an example Sapphire's nurse saying "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."[20]
  2. ^ As an example, Johnson-Woods mentions "a scene wherein Sapphire, wearing a dress, is happily weaving a garland of flowers for her mother but then at nine o'clock must become a 'prince'. Although at first softly lamenting her incomplete wreath, Sapphire in her prince attire – with a male facial expression and using male speech – takes her sword and destroys the wreath without hesitation."[27]
  3. ^ Shojo Beat's third volume and seventh issue contained a 25-page excerpt of some chapters and a contextual essay.[17][61][62]
  4. ^ Especifically, Vertical translated the 1977 reprint published under the Complete Works Edition line.[63]


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External links[edit]