Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Manga Tuesday: Princess Knight

Princess Knight (Volume 1)
Osamu Tezuka

Originally beginning its serialization over fifty years ago (in 1953) in Shojo Club, Princess Knight was reworked and serialized three more times in different magazines, spawning a TV series, a film, and shaping the future of shoujo manga for generations to come.  The version that Vertical collects here, in the first of two collections, is translated from the Tezuka Osamu Manga Zenshu edition from 1977, but the story was very similar from one serialization to another.

Princess Knight follows Princess Sapphire, who pretends to be a prince to inherit the throne one day.  A little trouble-making cherub named Tink gave her a boy heart to go along with her girl heart before she was born, so she has aspects of both genders (she's very courageous and good with a sword, and also gentle and empathetic).  Despite the significant risks involved, Sapphire does dress as a girl sometimes, and it's as a girl that she falls for a prince from a neighboring kingdom, who also falls for her.  But after an assassination attempt against Sapphire, the prince is mistakenly imprisoned and from then on, he swears Prince Sapphire as an enemy.  There's plenty of more stuff that occurs in this first volume, including a witch who wants her girl heart, a pirate who wants to win her over, and a transformation into a swan, but it's really the quest to retake the throne, and win over her handsome prince that drive this title.  Tink makes for a cute little side character for Sapphire, but Sapphire is completely likeable in her own right.  I'm a huge Tezuka fan, so I wasn't surprised that I really enjoyed this book, but even my high expectations were exceeded by this title.  Great cartooning, fantastic plot twists, tons of suspense and action, and a romance that has you rooting for the main character to beat the odds.  This is Tezuka at his best, and it hardly surprises me that this title has been such an influencial work.

No comments: