Monday, September 16, 2013

Manga Monday: Like mother, like daughter

Osamu Tezuka revisits the realm of Silverland from his beloved shojo classic in The Twin Knights.

The Twin Knights is the sequel to Princess Knight. Although it takes places years later, there are a few spoilers from the first series. The review of Princess Knight Volume 1 is here. Otherwise, read on!

Princess Sapphire has married her beloved prince, and together they rule their combined realms. As we rejoin the happy couple, their kingdom celebrates the birth of not one, but two heirs. Prince Daisy and Princess Violetta are both beautiful, healthy babies, but there is a dangerous schism building. Part of the realm wants Daisy to become the heir apparent, as the traditional male heir of a kingdom. The other celebrates the era of women being able to inherit, and want Violetta to be their new Queen.

After a certain familiar angel determines that it will be Daisy who is to be King, the Violetta faction takes grave measures to undermine the prince. Duchess Dalia forces her retainers to kidnap Prince Daisy, and leave him in the forest for the monster Slobb to kill.

After turning the castle inside-out searching for their son, the King and Queen realize that he's gone forever. They now have a dilemma: if it were to gt out to the public that Prince Daisy had been killed, there would be a coup. So, in familial fashion, it is decided that the remaining Princess Violetta would have to play both the Prince and Princess.

Thankfully, Prince Daisy was saved from such a terrible fate by a doe named Papi. After praying to the goddess of the forest, Papi is given human form during the night, though she would always return to deer form at dawn, and would die if the prince discovered her true nature.

And so, life goes on. Princess Violetta lives at the castle, each day switching between her natural princess-ness and her princely persona, while Prince Daisy grows into a strapping young man in the woods. But such deception could hardly go on forever, and on her fifteenth birthday, Violetta insists on learning why she must pretend to be a boy. As the lies unravel, the Duchess Dalia renews her quest to exterminate Prince Daisy, and depose the royal family once and for all.

Like Princess Knight, The Twin Knights is, at its heart, a shojo adventure story. Being a slightly later release, there's less of the uncomfortable opinions of postwar-Japan regarding foreigners and women, and Tezuka's beliefs of preservation and equality show through more. In fact, Princess Violetta is a much more capable heroine than her mother turned out to be, while still keeping her femininity.

In the end, The Twin Knights would be an excellent introduction to Tezuka for the younger reader, with a great cast of characters and a story that keeps moving along at a breakneck pace.

Highs: Emerald, the Queen of the Gypsies, is an excellent partner to Violetta-as-Daisy.

Lows: The conversations in which Violetta-as-Daisy slips between male and female speech patters doesn't translate into English well at all.

Verdict: A sweet, childish story of friendship and responsibility

Further Reading: A*tomcat, Unico, A Bride's Story

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