Shoujo Anime Corner: Magical Girl Series Princess Knight
By Cami Guy
Cami here, to present Shoujo Anime Corner! Is A weekly walk through different Magical Girl series! I am eager to bring you fun and informative articles on one of my favorite genres in anime, mahou shoujo! Throughout the years since it’s inception, this has been one of the most popular and influential genres in anime and manga. You can see it’s influence throughout the world, bringing us heroines we can relate to, laugh at, cry with, and love. So each week I will bring you a different series, some you may be familiar with, some completely new. Without further ado, let’s transform!!!
This Week’s Mahou Shoujo is: Princess Knight (Ribon no Kishi)
Princess Knight i is a manga written by Osama Tekuza (Kimba the White Lion, Astro Boy) in 1953. It was published in Kodansha’s Shojo Club from 1953-1956 and then adapted to television in 1967. It was dubbed and brought over to America in the 1970’s as well as Australia and Britain.
The series follows Princess Sapphire, who when born was told she was a boy because in the kingdom of Silverland women are not allowed to inherit the throne. In order to save Silverland from falling into the hands of the next in line, Duke Duralumin, the King and Queen raise Sapphire as a boy. In order to help, God sends an angel in training named Tink, who bestows a male heart upon Sapphire and assists her in defending the kingdom. Using her male and female hearts, Sapphire must use their skills while balancing both lives to hide her true identity, keep peace in the kingdom, and keep Duke Duralumin from proving she is a female and discrediting her as heir to Silverland. I don’t want to give too much away, but she has a lot more on her plate than you would think!
For the first magical girl series, it raises some pretty great questions about gender roles and people’s perception. Sapphire has this great trick of appearing to be exactly what others think she should be. When she is the Prince, she is fierce, brave, courageous, all the things one ‘thinks’ a prince should be. When posing as the Princess(she pretends to be the ‘Prince’s twin sister’) she is demure, helpless, and tries not to be seen. Depending on which heart she is using, those roles kick in. Things that make you got hmmmmm……
Ribon no Kishi has been hailed as a classic and inspired many other manga-ka. It paved the way to explore other gender roles and sexual orientation in the shoujo genre, and Princess Sapphire is widely considered as the first gender-neutralized heroine. As a shoujo series, this sets the stage for a girl who has to hide who she really is which is rule number 1 in mahou shoujo. Not only does Sapphire have to hide who she is, she has to hide WHAT she is. She can’t be a girl. She’s playing a deep game. Tezuka set the stage for many of the tropes that now feel like requirements in the genre. For that and much more, this is a great series worth a look!