“The Prince Vows to Awaken Sleeping Beauty”

In the wake of the Japanese discovery of Western fairy tales, manga and anime series began to include references to specific tales, sometimes in tactically important ways. As I noted (in …) a common motif involves the production of a “school play” that is based on a well-known tale. In the process, the plot of the tale functions implicitly as metacommentary on the larger story arc in which it is embedded. And the performance is never without accidents, which often function as crucial turns in the action of the manga or anime.

This cel comes from Cardcaptor Sakura, an immensely popular series based on a manga by the artistic team CLAMP and adapted into an anime by Madhouse (1999-2001). A “magical girl” series, it describes the progress of a young girl with latent supernatural powers as she locates and learns to use a set of cards with occult properties. This critical episode (42) involves a school play based on “Sleeping Beauty,” in which the roles have been assigned to students of the opposite sex, so that Sakura plays the role of the bold Prince rather than that of the passive enchanted princess. The result is a complex interplay between the resonances of the Grimm tale and the broader issues, also dealing with the challenges of the menarche, of the anime plot.

For more on the impact of the Grimm tale on this popular series, see my “Sleeping Beauty Awakens Herself: Folklore and Gender Inversion in Cardcaptor Sakura.” in The Japanification of Children’s Popular Culture, ed. West. (Scarecrow Press, 2008).

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