Princess Knight is fit for a young audience and completely adorable. This gender bending fairytale follows the ordeal of a princess who was born with both the heart of a boy and a girl. Although she wants to be a girl more than anything, she has a wicked witch tailing her, trying to steal her girl heart. Saphire, also known as Prince Saphire has been masquerading as a boy her whole life in order to inherit the throne and take care of her country as her parents wish. It is imperative that Saphire take over the throne to keep it from falling into the hands of the Duke's whiny brat of a son.
Saphire meets a lot of people in her adventure. She is followed by a cherub named Tink who's responsible for the whole heart mix up in the first place. It's his responsibility to see that Saphire's boy heart is taken away so that she can become a full girl.
Saphire has several issues, and a lot of enemies; a Duke trying to expose her to the people as a female so that his son can then ascend to the throne; an evil witch called Madame Hell; a handsome prince named Franz Charming who longs for her when she's disguised as a flaxen-haired maiden and despises her as Prince Saphire. (of course, Prince Charming has no idea that the two are one in the same)
It's no secret that Osamu Tezuka was greatly influenced by Disney animation. It's apparent that he has a certain interest in western fairy tales. This story is actually very much a collection of fairy tale pieces. There's a little Sleeping Beauty, a little Cinderella, Peter Pan, a little Swan Princess, and a little snow white. Some of it is taken from the Disney animations and some of it draws influence from the original fairy tales. The manga ran from 1953 to 1968 which is around the time that Disney was bringing several fairy tales to the screen (Sleeping Beauty 1959, Snow White 1950, Peter Pan 1953). Tezuka takes more than plot devices from these tales, he also takes a great amount of artistic influence.
The only thing that is sort of bothersome about the story, (and not really bothersome but just a personal preference) is the Christian stuff. See, up in heaven the whole heart mix-up took place. But this is fine. It's just me really, I'd have preferred some other explanation for the dual gender.
This story is considered a gender bender, but people keep labelling it as a transgender story online. Saphire is pretending to be a man to take care of her country. She's anatomically a female from what I can tell in the story and she even says she wishes to be a girl all the time. So it really doesn't fit that transgender description. Not that it matters at all, I just hate when people mislabel things.
I'm really excited to get volume 2. I just ordered a bunch of Tezuka from the library. heh. Watch out!