“The main difference between men and women is that men are lunatics and women are idiots.” – Rebecca West.
One of Osamu Tezuka’s most famous creations is Princess Knight, a fairy tale about Sapphire, a princess born with both a boy heart and a girl heart, and who must do battle against those who want to stop her from becoming Queen of Silverland. This series was popular enough to spawn a sequel, The Twin Knights. As a result, if you have not read Princess Knight yet, please read that first as this review does contain spoilers.
In The Twin Knights Princess Sapphire has married her love, Prince Franz of Goldland, and the two are now joint King and Queen of both countries. Sapphire then gives birth to twins: one boy and one girl, and at this point in the review it should be pointed out that there is one glaring issue here. The girl is called Princess Violetta, which is ok, but the boy is called Prince Daisy, which is a feminine name and a bit laughable.
As both children are of the same age, it is unsure who is the heir to the throne, so the angel Tink, who helped Sapphire in the original story, helps to decree that the heir should be Prince Daisy. However, the evil Duchess Dahila disapproves of this, so she tries to gain power by kidnapping Daisy and dumping him in a forest. Daisy is thought to be dead, so Sapphire and Franz disguise Violetta and her brother and she is forced to switch between being male and female. Daisy is found alive in a forest by a fawn called Papi, who is visited by a fairy who allows her to become human at night. Papi then raises Daisy and pretends to be her brother. The Duchess however continues to scheme, disrupting the power of the royal family, and trying to gain more power for herself.
The Twin Knights continues with the same themes as Princess Knight. It is mostly the story of a young girl trying to fight against prejudice, wanting to do what is right and just, and become ruler. However, in this new story we also have the issue of both male and female heirs. It is one that Tezuka tries his best to convey, but ultimately it just leaves you a bit confused. You know that you want Daisy and Violetta to be reunited and to live happily ever after, but then you get that slight feeling about which one of them should really be ruler. This was obvious before, but that slight ambiguity does make things murky.
However, other than that, and the issue of the choice of names, this is still a great read, mainly because of the art. Tezuka’s shojo style was pioneering. The original Princess Knight began the tradition of having star-shaped pupils and this is one that is continued here. The main plot is also good too, with plenty of thrills to entertain reads – both boys and girls.