I think reading the first volume of Princess Knight prompted me to enjoy the second volume more, because I was primed to enjoy all the insane plot developments, and I was no longer expecting Princess Sapphire’s gender issues to be dealt with in a serious way. Instead I opened the book expecting to find more fun fairy tale pastiche, and that’s exactly what I got. I grew to have more affection for Prince Franz, because I decided that Tezuka was deliberately portraying him as an idiot. He finds out that Sapphire’s been cross dressing and spurns her, not realizing that she’s his long-lost “flaxen haired maiden.” Captain Blood promptly slaps a wig on her head, causing a comically abrupt change of heart from Prince Franz as he proclaims to the woman he was yelling at seconds before, “I won’t let you go, I’ll carry you back to my castle and mend the wounds in your mischievous, beautiful heart.”
Sapphire continues to have issues holding on to her hearts, as she becomes comically masculine when her female heart is taken from her, then shifts over to being feminine when her female heart is restored and her boy heart is taken instead. Sapphire finds some unexpected allies in her homeland as Prince Plastic becomes extra noble and manly when he consumes her boy heart and decides that he’ll change the laws of their country so Sapphire can assume the throne instead of him. There’s a war between the sexes as Sapphire is barricaded in a tower with the palace women, who use domestic implements to fend off their husbands in their defense of their princess. This is no great blow for women’s liberation, because while they might be fighting for Sapphire’s right to rule, their methods involve going on strike from household duties which are promptly resolved once Sapphire’s situation is resolved.
While her country might be in better shape, Sapphire’s love life is a shambles. Captain Blood still loves her, and fills her in on his past life as an adopted son being raised by Italian nobility before turning to a life of piracy. Franz is blackmailed into agreeing to marry Hecate who is less than thrilled about her prospective bridegroom. Franz and Hecate actually fall into a sort of odd companionship with each other as they deal with their own adventures, which was nice to see. There are plenty of references to fairy tales in this volume, as Sapphire falls into a coma and Tink fights of a briar hedge. The last section of the book is particularly ridiculous, as the Goddess Venus falls in love with Franz and is determined to secure him for herself and Sapphire almost finds herself married to a brave female knight. One of the things I liked about this series overall was the goofiness of the plot combined with the clarity and iconic quality of Tezuka’s art. It seems like there’s no scene he can’t pull off, from a literal battle of the sexes to fending off overly amorous goddesses. Once I found myself accustomed to Princess Knight’s silliness, I ended up finding it extremely charming.