Taking place in a medieval fairy-tale setting, Ribbon no Kishi 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 he were to become king, and because of this the King will go to any length to prevent him from taking over.
Ribbon no Kishi was published in English as Princess Knight by Vertical on November 1 and December 6, 2011. The English version was split into two volumes, rather than the original three. A digital version was published August 12, 2015.
I think it's only fair to start this review by mentioning I'm a big fan of Osamu Tezuka's works. He's created some of the best manga in history and his influence has been absolutely integral to the growth of anime and manga as a whole. However, despite Princess Knight paving the way for future manga and anime, by today's standards it's a tough pill to swallow.
Princess Knight (Known in Japan as Ribbon Knight) is a fairytale story set mostly in the kingdom of Silverland. In the world of Princess Knight, unborn children are given either a girl heart or a boy heart, and this influences
which gender they will be when they're born. The story starts with an angel named Tink who accidentally gives one baby both a boy and a girl heart. To make matters worse, this baby is the daughter/son of the king and queen of Silverland, and so God sends Tink to take back the baby's boy heart since they were supposed to be a boy. Several years later we meet Prince/Princess Sapphire, a young man/woman who is able to be both genders as he/she pleases. This proves to be a problem as the king of Silverland dies, which means Sapphire now has to ascend the throne despite truly being a woman. The story takes many twists from this point, but this is the gist of what makes up the story.
The first problem some people may have with Princess Knight is the art. Personally, I liked it. It's a bit simple, especially with the backgrounds, but it's all done in Tezuka's signature style and has a lot of personality to it. Even this early on, Tezuka had a knack for portraying emotion well, and it really helps elevate the story to be so well drawn. The panel layout starts off a bit strange, but by the end Tezuka seems to have adopted a consistent layout that's easy to read and makes sense. Tezuka also includes some of his signature jokes, most notably the gag character Hyoutan-Tsugi, AKA Gourdski. The art isn't incredible, but it's certainly serviceable and nice to look at.
The story and characters are unfortunately where Princess Knight falls apart. At times it feels like the characters act in a way that is either hard to follow or doesn't make sense to the reader. I can't give examples without spoiling things, but there's a notable example of a character's hatred disappearing seemingly on a whim, and it's hard to relate to since there's never any conflict over how this is resolved. As for the plot, it unfortunately employs deus ex machina far more often than I'm comfortable with. It's excusable in some cases where it actually does lend to the story and isn't too distracting, but by the end of Princess Knight it becomes a distracting way to lengthen the story beyond what it needed to be when it was already wrapping up just fine. A new subplot and villain are introduced at the end after the main conflict is resolved, and this is arguably the most disappointing aspect of Princess Knight. It ends in a very haphazard way, which leaves me with misgivings about recommending it.
So in closing, I can't really suggest reading Princess Knight from an entertainment perspective. Fans of Tezuka and manga history should definitely give it a read as it's actually quite good given that it's now over 50 years old. But for casual readers, it's a hard sell.
Princess Knight is a shoujo manga written by Osamu Tezuka in 1953. It is also one of the earliest shoujo manga in existence. It (probably) inspired many classics like Revolutionary Girl Utena, Rose of Versailles, and many more. I will be reviewing Vertical's release, which is 2 volumes.
Art: Love old Disney cartoons? Then you'll probably love the artwork. Unfortunately, I don't like it at all. The male characters often feature exaggerated facial proportions, while the female characters feature much of the same. None of the characters are particularly attractive, ignoring the young female lead.To
go more in depth: The characters usually have rather long noses, floppy feet. Pretty much everything about them is silly. The backgrounds aren't very impressive either. Most of the time the floors look like cushions and the backgrounds are usually not very extravagant. Having such small panels could possibly be an excuse for the lackluster backgrounds.
Story: Nothing too impressive, but I'll try to elaborate. Most chapters follow a set formula of: Bad guy has plan> Plan starts> Plan backfires> next chapter. I can't really elaborate much since there's not so much I can possibly say about it. It would be nothing more than generic by today's standards.
Characters: Everyone is pretty much a cardboard-cutout besides the young female prince. She's interesting because she's forced to lead a life playing both genders, but all she wants is to be female. The villains(for the first half) try to expose the fact that she's a women, and they eventually succeed.
The villains are pretty much standard dumb-asses. There's also a prince and he's apparently handsome.
Enjoyment: You'll probably enjoy this as long as you don't take the story seriously. Because it's certainly not a well written piece. I would suggest only reading this if you're interested in the history of shoujo manga, or huge disney fans.
-Revolutionary Girl Utena
-Rose of Versailles
-Fushigi na Melmo