The Twin Knights
A gem from the late fifties when the legendary master was most deeply involved in girls’ comics, The Twin Knights is more than just a sequel to the shojo manga milestone Princess Knight. More closely addressing issues of station as well as gender, this one-volume tale has all the antic innocence of the early Tezuka even as it revises the more famous work’s premise, doing away with the conceit of “boy and girl hearts” and invoking the vagaries of chance and power in their place.
Once known as a skilled fencer who had masqueraded as a prince in order to succeed her late father, Sapphire is now happily married to her love Franz and queen of their combined realm. After she gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl who are now equal in the royal line of succession, however, a dispute arises among the courtiers and populace over which child is the true heir. When a whimsical cherub with a familiar face is unwisely summoned to settle the matter, he allows sheer luck to rule in favor of the boy.
Yet once Prince Daisy is whisked away by a cabal opposed to his ascension, the remaining Princess Violetta must embark on the same path her mother once tread to safeguard her family’s claim to the throne. Cross-dressing is hardly the end of it as she undertakes breathless adventures with a gypsy lass she meets—Emerald!
Osamu TezukaOsamu Tezuka (1928-89) is the godfather of Japanese manga comics. He originally intended to become a doctor and earned his degree before turning to what was still then considered a frivolous medium. His many early masterpieces include the series known in the U.S. as Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. From the early seventies on, he increasingly targeted older readers as well, employing a grittier style and mature themes. With his sweeping vision, deftly intertwined plots, and indefatigable commitment to human dignity, Tezuka elevated manga to an art form. Since his passing, his international stature has only grown, his eight-volume epic Buddha winning multiple Eisner and Harvey Awards in the United States.