For several years now, the shoujo subgenre has been a major force in the anime business. Shoujo anime, which literally translates to "young girl," are aimed at young girls and women and typically feature a female heroine. The magical girl theme is the most well-known subgenre of the shoujo genre, with prominent examples being Sailor Moon, Madoka Magica, and Tokyo Mew Mew.

Despite its early release and enormous success, it is a frequent misconception that Sailor Moon invented the magical girl motif or the shoujo subgenre altogether. The 1953 manga and anime series Princess Knight by Osamu Tezuka was only formally a magical girl animation.

Storyline of Princess Knight Is Interesting

What Was the First-Ever Shoujo Anime - And Does It Still Hold Up Today?_0

Set in the fictional European kingdom of Silverland, Princess Knight focuses on a young princess named Sapphire, who is supposed to be next in line for the throne. However, because the law forbids women to do so, she is advised to pose as a boy. Fortunately, this turns out to be very easy, due to Sapphire being born with a blue heart alongside her pink one.

Despite this, Duke Duralumin -- who is also supposed to be next in line -- will stop at nothing to uncover Sapphire's facade so he can rule Silverland the way he wishes. Unaware of Sapphire's predicament, an angel-in-training named Tink is sent down from heaven to remove her blue heart. When Sapphire objects, the two of them become friends and go on multiple adventures -- all the while avoiding Duralumin's attempts to unveil her.


What Constitutes a Shoujo Anime?

What Was the First-Ever Shoujo Anime - And Does It Still Hold Up Today?_1

Contrary to what its name may imply, there are many more aspects to shoujo anime than having a female protagonist. While they can contain a variety of action, shoujo stories tend to lean more toward emotional problems the characters may have, whether it's struggling to get over a breakup or losing someone they care about. In terms of design, the characters have a traditionally feminine-aligned appearance and are often drawn with large, detailed eyes to show off their personality. On top of that, the protagonist is usually able to speak for herself and function on her own.

Although every shoujo anime is unique in its own way, Princess Knight fits the genre perfectly. Aside from having a female protagonist with standard feminine characteristics, it also features several shoujo-oriented plot elements, such as Sapphire falling in love as well as feeling devastated when her parents are killed. She is likewise unafraid to show her skills when it comes to defending her kingdom from evil.


Princess Knight has exercised its own artistic freedom.

What Was the First-Ever Shoujo Anime - And Does It Still Hold Up Today?_2

Although princess characters have been typically portrayed as damsels in distress and in need of rescue, Sapphire is shown to be the complete opposite of that. Along with her refusal to conform to traditional feminine standards, she is able to defend herself and others while embracing both sides of herself. While modern shoujo anime also depict their characters being able to stand strong and fend for themselves, they are still represented with traditional feminine physical characteristics and may not show much self-confidence.

This is often seen with Usagi in Sailor Moon, who has to rely on her teammates while building up her own bravery. On the other hand, Sapphire does not hesitate to be herself or stand up for what she believes in, even if society may view her differently for it. Combined with her own confidence and immense heroism, Princess Knight may very well be ahead of most of today's shoujo anime in terms of progressiveness and storytelling -- especially given its time period of serialization.