Saturday, February 20, 2016


POP! Asia #55 - Osamu Tezuka Official: Princess Sapphire - Funko 2015

Several years ago I was in one of my local comic shops and picked up the first volume of the 12-volume manga epic, Phoenix by Osamu Tezuka. Many years prior I had notice an abundance of Phoenix figurines which prompted me to investigate and discover the manga. But at the time, the first volume was selling for well over $100. I was interested, but not obsessed enough to spend that much. So years later when I found it for cover price on the shelf I was really happy. Then overnight I became a huge Osamu Tezuka fan. I had heard his name all my life (I was a big fan of Astroboy in high school and I knew of the Tezuka manga award). His 44 year career in comics earned him the title "The Godfather of Manga" and in the course of his life he drew over 700 volumes (very few of which have been translated into English, relatively). I've read quite of bit of his work since then (and loved it all) but my favorite by far has been Princess Knight. For a comic published between 1953-56, it was shockingly relevant.

The story starts with the birth of Princess Sapphire. Up in Heaven, there are little elf-like angels who are tasked with giving "hearts" to newborns. Tink is a new angel who is overeager and distracted and in his first assignment, he accidentally gives Sapphire both a Girl Heart and a Boy Heart.  It quickly flashes forward to a seemingly-teenaged Sapphire who has lived her life dressed as a boy, becoming a knight, and constantly fending off the advances of all the adoring maidens (with Tink as her loyal sidekick). But things get complicated when she meets a visiting Prince and falls for him. She dons a blonde wig and ballgown to play the part of the bashful damsel. Although when dressed as Prince Sapphire, the two princes will duel, scheme, and eventually become friends. The gender politics are very interesting and insightful. And again, these comics were written in the mid-fifties.  There are two volumes of the Princess Knight manga as well as a third volume called The Twin Knights (which I own but haven't read yet).

POP! Asia is a separate line of products from regular Funko POP!  It is actually a collaboration between Funko and MindStyle. This figure is a part of the Osamu Tezuka Offical sub-line.  I bought mine in Toy Toyko in New York last weekend, but I see they are also available on  There were metallic variants of a lot of these figures as NYCC Exclusives in 2015.

This is actually Sapphire's prince disguise. I think it's a visual gag that she wears earrings and has a bow on her hat, but everyone assumes she's a boy because she has short hair, carries a sword, and isn't wearing a gown.

There was a Television series in the 1960s.  It was dubbed in English and aired on American television in the 1970s under the unfortunate name Choppy and the Princess.

Time for a Comparison Pic!



  1. Back in 2007, there was a massive Tezuka exhibiton at the Art Gallery of NSW, here in Sydney. It was amazing -- lots of original art, tons of titles I'd never heard of and so much to look at! I am still primarily familiar with him due to Astro Boy, but I came away incredibly impressed with the man and his skill. Fascinating stuff.

    1. I feel the same way. I knew him from Astro Boy, Kimba, and Unico (aka his really kid-friendly properties), but I've been thoroughly impressed by the breadth and diversity of his work since *really* discovering him a few years ago. I would love to see an exhibit of his work. Actually, I just googled and coincidentally there is work of his on exhibit right now at the Philadelphia Art Museum (which I can walk to) as part of the "International Pop" show. I'll try to go this weekend. There is also apparently significant effort by his fans to translate more of his work through Kickstarter campaigns. I have never been aware during an actual campaign, but I've picked up a few volumes of manga at my local comic shops that have a "Funded by Kickstarter" logo on it. (Barbara and Captain Ken specifically).