Princess Knight

Princess Knight was a Japanese manga that ran through four serializations from 1954 to 1968, as well as a 1967 Japanese children's animated series called Ribbon no Kishi (Literally,Knight of the Ribbon.). It was dubbed into English and brought over to Western audiences in 1970, where it was called Choppy and the Princess. In 1973, this series was dubbed in Portuguese and premiered in Brazil, where it still has many fans. The original Japanese animation was created by Tezuka Osamu, the "father of manga", who is probably best known in the West as the creator of Tetsuwan Atom, aka Astro Boy. Princess Knight had a similar animation and character design style as Astro Boy, and was targeted towards the same age range. The series was one of the earliest anime produced in color.

For the most part the story of both the manga and the serializations is the same, with only the second serialization (known as Twin Knight) and to some extent the fourth serialization being significantly different.

Taking place in a medieval fairy-tale setting, Princess Knight 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.

Princess Sapphire has a pint-sized sidekick in the form of Choppy, a young angel-in-training out to earn his wings. When she was born, Choppy accidentally gave Sapphire the blue heart of a rambunctious boy as well as the pink heart of a prim and proper girl, and so God sent him down to Earth to sort out the mess and retrieve Sapphire's extra heart. Choppy is stuck inside a rather weak mortal shell, and cannot go back to heaven until he's fixed things. Sapphire won't let Choppy remove her blue boy's heart, however. As a result, Choppy is pretty much stuck with Sapphire (although he doesn't really mind).

Sapphire and Choppy experience a variety of fairy tale and political adventures, including encounters with ice witches and anti-Royal revolutionaries. Sapphire also dons a Zorro-style mask at night and fights crime as the Phantom Knight. She also spends a lot of time foiling Duke Duralumon's schemes to take over the kingdom, as well as his attempts to prove that Sapphire is really a girl (and thus discredit her as the heir to the throne).

The bright and colorful animation style of Princess Knight is comparable to that of early Disney, à la Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The storytelling style is relatively relaxed and slow-paced, albeit not nearly to the minimalist extreme of Samurai Jack. The show is aimed at younger viewers and is fairly lighthearted, although it is not deliberately campy like Scooby Doo or the 1980s' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Because it is a Japanese series, however, some mature themes do crop up occasionally. There are several references to God, Satan, Heaven, and Hell. Also, in the final episodes, the story arc is resolved and many major characters are killed on screen (although the main principals make it out okay in the end).

Princess Sapphire makes a cameo appearance in the 2004 game Astro Boy: Omega Factor created for the Game Boy Advance, along with a number of other characters created by Osamu Tezuka. In the game Sapphire Castle is located in the distant past on the vanished continent of Mu. She eventually falls in love with Tezuka's perennial - but in this case eventually reformed - villain, Makube Rokuro (a.k.a. Rock), who has been brought there by Astro Boy. In addition, Sapphire appears (with slightly darker skin) in two episodes of the 2003 Astro Boy series; again as a princess. In the first appearance she is visiting the city in which Astro Boy lives. In the second (Episode 26, The Time Machine) Astro Boy, Uran and doctor Black Jack travel through time to prevent a criminal from the future to conquer here kingdom and alter the timeline. Doctor Black Jack will perform an emergency surgery on here uncovering the fact that she's a girl. As a reward promised for his help, he will ask the kingdom to allow a female to rule.

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