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Manga / Princess Knight

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In Heaven, the souls of unborn children are being prepared for their births. Tink, an inexperienced apprentice angel, accidentally gives a child who will be born female both a pink "girl's" heart and a blue "boy's" heart. When this is found out, it's too late to fix the mistake, so Tink is banished to Earth in a weak mortal body to watch over the twin-hearted child.

Meanwhile, in a vaguely medieval kingdom note , the King learns to his dismay that the Queen has given birth to a girl and due to complications, cannot have another child. Women cannot inherit the throne and the King knows that his closest male relative, Duke Duralumin, is a wicked man who would use the dim-witted Plastic as a Puppet King to oppress the people. So the King pretends that Sapphire was born male, with only a handful of close advisors knowing the truth.


Thanks to her dual nature, Sapphire is equally adept at male and female activities (even if the latter must be taught in secret). The story picks up in Sapphire's early adolescence, as Duke Duralumin steps up his attempts to prove the Prince to be a girl, and Tink finally finds Sapphire in the mortal world. And it's a good thing Sapphire has a new ally, as the Duke is not the only force that threatens the kingdom.

Ribon no Kishinote  was created by Osamu Tezuka in 1953, and is one of the earliest shojo manga. The original manga series ran from 1953 to 1956 and proved popular enough to be granted a sequel, Twin Knights, starring Sapphire's daughter Princess Violetta on her search for her lost twin brother, Prince Daisy. During the 60's Tezuka also made a TV anime adaption and an extended remake of the manga. Both versions followed roughly the original story up until close to its ending where they split off in their own directions. The new manga had Sapphire encountering the pirate Blood, fellow swordswoman, Friebe, and the goddess, Venus, all while overcoming the permanent loss of her male heart. The anime also played around with some of these ideas, but quickly put them aside in favor of a longer Story Arc involving a new villain, Mr. X.


The anime was broadcast in the United States as Princess Knight or Choppy and the Princess, the latter being at first the title of a short movie made by mashing together three of the episodes. Distribution of the American version was spotty at best, and it wasn't until 2012 that the show got a proper DVD release. The 60's manga has received an English language two-volume collected release from Vertical inc in 2011 and a similar release of Twin Knights finally saw the light of day in 2013.

Princess Knight provides examples of:

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  • Action Girl: Sapphire and Friebe. Violetta and Emerald in Twin Knights.
  • Bifauxnen: Sapphire can pull off pretending to be a prince because she resembles one.
  • The Chew Toy: Sir Nylon. His constant misfortune gets more amusing.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Sapphire's crossdressing earns her a few crushes from oblivious girls, most notably Friebe, who even makes it to the altar with Sapphire before she learns the truth.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Sapphire is one.
  • Feminist Fantasy:
    • Girls can't inherit the throne in this setting but due to a quirk in the Magical Underpinnings of Reality, Sapphire can.
    • In Twin Knights, Silverland's society has progressed enough that half of the kingdom is certain that Princess Violetta would be a better heir than Prince Daisy. Also, unlike Princess Knight, Violetta's aptitude for sword fighting and other traditionally unladylike behavior isn't attributed to her having a "boy's heart".
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Where Tink is from, as are the unborn souls of children.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Sapphire has many cute animal friends.
  • Gender Bender: Sapphire is female, but has both male and female "hearts". At one point she loses her female heart and turns into a man.
  • God Is Good: The Abrahamic God gives Tink a chance to redeem himself and helps the heroes with Divine Intervention every once in a while. The Greek gods though... Not so much.
  • Heir Club for Men: Deconstructed. Princess Sapphire is born into a kingdom note  where women cannot inherit the throne by the law. Sapphire is Raised as the Opposite Gender to keep the kingdom out of Duke Duralmin's hand since he plans to turn Plastic, the only available male heir, into his Puppet King. Subverted when Plastic becomes The Good King and gives women the right to inherit the throne, giving Sapphire the crown in the process.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Blood retrieves a potion to save Sapphire's life at the cost of his own life. Although it turns out he brought it back just a few moments too late.
    • Emerald intends to use a similar potion to save Violetta in Twin Knights, but the mother wolf saves her in turn by taking her place.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: Duke Duralumin promotes his mentally disabled son, Plastic, for the throne in Saphire's place, seeking to rule from behind the scenes.
  • Likes Clark Kent, Hates Superman: Prince Franz loves Sapphire's female disguise but hates Prince Sapphire due to a misunderstanding.
  • Mask Power: During a period when Sapphire was supposed to be imprisoned, she snuck out a secret passage and donned a mask to be the Phantom Knight, who fought crime and oppression.
  • The Musical: In 2006, idol group Morning Musume made a musical adaptation with an all-female cast, aided by the Takarazuka Revue.
  • Nice Hat: Sapphire often wears a magnificently large hat. She dons it again in Twin Knights, when she and Violetta are imprisoned and she takes the opportunity to give her daughter swordfighting lessons. Violetta also has a similar one.
  • Stay in the Kitchen:
    • Throughout the series, all the heroes decry the law stating that women couldn't rule as being misogynistic and outdated. Eventually, even the immature Plastic becomes The Good King and gets the parliament to unanimously agree to abolish that law, before giving Sapphire the crown and telling her she deserves to rule no matter what her gender.
    • Inverted. No one seems to mind that Fiebe is participating in tournaments and fighting the king's soldiers. Granted, her sole reason for doing this is to get a strong husband to settle down with.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: The hearts in heaven are colored this way.
  • Raised as the Opposite Gender:
    • Princess Sapphire is known as Prince Sapphire because it was the only way to keep the kingdom out of the evil duke's hands.
    • A very interesting case happens in the sequel. To try to convince the kingdom that Prince Daisy had be safely found, Franz ordered Violetta to alternate between living as a girl and a boy. Unfortunately, the Big Bad does catch on that the "prince" is never around when the princess is.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Tink looks like a little kid, but since he's an angel it's safe to assume he's much older.
  • Recursive Crossdressing: Sapphire sometimes wore a blonde wig and a gown to impersonate a girl with a nebulous relationship to the royalty of Silverland so that she could woo Prince Franz.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • Oolong.
    • Plastic, immediately after he either gets shot with lightning in the 50's manga or swallows Sapphire's boy heart in the 60's manga. In fact, the first thing he does is start to undo his father's evil deeds, then changes Silverland's outdated laws for the better and finally, paves the way to reinstall Sapphire as the righteous king. All what he wants in exchange is mercy for his father.
    • Sapphire, among other things, heads a kingdom-wide revolution to get the women equal rights.
    • In Twin Knights, Princess Violetta sets out to find her long-lost twin brother to free her parents from prison and stop the usurpers taking over the kingdom.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Sapphire, interestingly with no name change necessary.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Plastic begins the story as dimwitted brat who pees himself in his first appearance after laughing to hard, causing him to bawl his eyes out. Duralumin wanted to make him king so that he could exert control through him. After a couple of chapters, he begins acting his age, defies his father, and installs rules that grants more rights to women, because he believes it to be just.
  • Trope Codifier: This series codified the "princely crossdressing heroine" trope that was later featured in The Rose of Versailles and Revolutionary Girl Utena.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser:
    • Sapphire pretends to be a boy out of political necessity.
    • Her daughter is forced to do the same in the sequel, to convince the kingdom that her brother, Prince Daisy, is still around. Sapphire, who doesn't fondly remember her days of living as a boy, is immensely sorry to subject her daughter to the same fate, though Violetta holds up pretty well.

    50's Manga 
  • Satan: Mephisto desired, among other things, to steal Sapphire's unique twin-hearted soul. In his earthly form, he possessed powerful magic and Nigh-Invulnerability, but was deathly afraid of angels, retreating whenever Tink blew his horn and occasionally turning him into a Butt-Monkey.

    Twin Knights 
  • Adult Fear: Sapphire and Franz are terrified when they learn that their infant son has disappeared. They have the castle searched from top to bottom for him, and even search the moat.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Tiln the Dayfly in Twin Knights.
  • Peaceful in Death: The copse of mother wolf is found with a peaceful smile on her face.

    60's Manga 
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Venus.
  • Deus ex Machina: Played with, due to the nature of the plot.
    • Played straight when a bunch of angels come to help Tink to fight Madame Hell or when God himself helped out briefly.
    • Deconstructed when the help of Venus makes everything worse, since her help isn't for free and almost ruined the Happy Ending.
  • Driven to Suicide: Duke Duralumin kills himself when he thinks his son is dying.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: When Sapphire temporarily loses her female heart and turns into a guy, she looks exactly the same as she did as a girl.
  • Easy Amnesia: Sapphire temporarily loses all her memories after she's brought back from the dead.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: A really weird example; apparently the Abrahamic God and the Greek gods exist in the same universe.
  • Good Hurts Evil: Crucifixes and other holy items cause great pain to demons.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The warden of the prison tower Sapphire and her mother the queen are locked up in, Gammer, starts off as someone being more and more of a Jerkass, and eventually is pushed by Duralumin to eliminate both of them. During the struggle that follows however, he plummets down the stairs. When they tend to his wounds, essentially saving his life, he finally has a change of heart. Which he demonstrates by taking down an assassin, who was aiming for Gammer's former targets, with a knife throw, saving their lifes. When appearing later on, he is serving at the queens side.
  • Hot Blooded Sideburns: Blood. Fitting for the pirate.
  • Jerkass Gods: Venus, a goddess that becomes a villain out of jealousy.
  • Laughing Mad: Friebe has a brief fit of hysterical laughter when she finds out that the boy she's about to marry is actually a girl.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Captain Blood is the older brother of Prince Franz! Who'd have guessed?
  • Magic Feather: The loss of Sapphire's boy heart initially cripples her with fear, but she eventually learns to be just as brave without it.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Madam Hell is reminded at one point her flesh-to-stone spell will be reversed if she dies. Sadly, this also applies to Hecate, as her mother literally made her using magic.
  • No Woman's Land: In Silverland, women aren't allowed to vote or own property and generally are considered inferior to the men. In fact, one of the driving conflicts in the series is that Princess Sapphire was born a girl and thus is ineligible for the throne. Subverted at the end when Plastic becomes The Good King, gets all women in the kingdom equal rights and gives Sapphire the crown.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Marquis Oolong pretends to be a nutcase so that if any of his underlings plot to overthrow him, they'll be less covert about it and he'll be able to root them out.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Parpa and Friebe.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: Once Madame Hell and Duke Duralumin are out of the picture, Venus serves as the final obstacle of Sapphire's and Franz's love.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Eros often disapproves of her mistress Venus's jealousy — motivated plots, and alternates between following orders because it's her job and secretly sabotaging Venus's plans while hoping that Venus won't find out.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Subverted. While Princess Sapphire and Friebe do their best ass-kicking while in masculine clothes, Sapphire learns to fight without her male heart, feels far more comfortable in feminine attire and it's implied that this is the way that's best for her. Friebe, meanwhile, is almost always seen in her armor, but wears a dress and brags about her ability to cook and sew as a selling point to convince Sapphire to marry her. Needless to say, none of their feminine traits stops them from being heroic and getting stuff done.
  • Rebellious Princess: Hecate is an odd case because she's technically the princess of Hell and she frequently rebels against her mother's plans and helps out the people that her mother is victimizing.
  • Taken for Granite: Sapphire's mom, and later on lots of people in the vicinity of the royal castle of Silverland.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Hecate can change into a variety of animals and creatures.

  • Bag of Kidnapping: Captain Blood does this to Princess Sapphire in episode 48 after knocking her out, to hand her over to the X-Union for reward money.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Sir Nylon, Duralumin's luckless henchman, finally snaps from the abuse and kills his boss, ruling Silverland for a very brief time as a drooling madman and puppet of Mr. X.
  • Forgot I Could Change the Rules: The king finally wants to change the law to allow Sapphire to succeed him, but is kidnapped to stop it.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Mr. X makes things a lot more serious.