Paros No Ken ( Sword of Paros ) – 1986 – Yumiko Igarashi
This is a fairy tale, plain and simple. Once upon a time, there was a kingdom called Paros, which had a beautiful Princess. Erminia, the Princess, prefers to dress and act like a Prince – but it’s no secrect that she’s actually a woman. Her best friend and partner-in-crime, a nobelman’s son, Yurias, is always willing to go riding out with her – they make a dashing pair as the cross the countryside on their steeds.
One day, Yurias and Erminia see some humble washerwomen by the river. A wild horse is headed straight for them and Erminia rushes down to protect the beautiful maiden who is threatened. Erminia saves the washerwoman, Fiona, immediately, there is serious chemistry between them. Because, despite her lower than humble status, Fiona remembers a time from her childhood, when a beautiful Prince saved her, and she has always been sure that he would once again come for her. When Erminia saves her from the runaway stallion, Fiona is absolutely dumbstruck – this is her Prince, she’s sure of it!
They part, but Erminia can’t seem to get Fiona out of her mind, while Fiona becomes subject to a great deal of taunting from the other washerwomen. After all, Fiona’s wonderful Prince is really a Princess – and well beyond her reach. Erminia keeps coming back to look for her washer girl, even going so far as to help her with the washing. Yurias begins to realize that Erminia’s feelings are more serious than just a little infatuation…just as he realizes that he’s fallen in love with Erminia himself.
The King demands that Erminia choose a husband, or he’ll choose one for her. When he picks Yurias, Erminia just laughs, but her father puts her under house arrest until she comes to her senses. Yurias sneaks in her room and switches clothes with Erminia…if he can’t have her, at least he can help make her happy. He brings Fiona to the castle and she and Erminia sneak off to the town for the festival; they dance, and drink and, in front of the fountain, they kiss. Parting, they swear that what happened wasn’t a fluke, but Fiona determines to never see Erminia again, so she can be married and bring the kingdom the stability it needs.
In the meantime, a storm is gathering outside Paros. The next kingdom over is planning on invading and only a strong front will be able to save her country…but Erminia doesn’t care about Paros, she only cares about Fiona, the beautiful peasant she has come to love. She tells her father that she’ll hold a tournament to find a suitor – if a man beats her, she’ll marry him. Convinced she’s better than any man, Erminia defeats challenger after challenger. But the enemy Prince is powerful and equally as convinced that he can defeat Erminia. To weaken her resolve, he has Fiona is kidnapped and raped. Fiona escapes, but doesn’t tell Erminia what happened, knowing it would only upset her. During the competition,Yurias is blinded in a duel with the enemy Prince. The Prince defeats Erminia and, as the invasion begins, Erminia’s father dies of a heart attack. Erminia is locked in her room until she gives in to the enemy.
Fiona escapes from the enemy and dresses as a page to sneak into the castle where is tearfully reuinted with Erminia. In the end, through Yurias’ sacrifice, Erminia and Fiona escape to build a rebel force, and to live together in happiness, vowing to regain Paros one day.
Despite, or perhaps because of, Ermina’s selfishness (and who among us wouldn’t sacrifice everything for the woman we love? ^_^) this is one of THE best classic Yuri stories ever. The girl and the girl ride away into the sunset to live happily ever after.
Unlike her predescessors in the cross-dressing Princess category, Sapphire in Ribon no Kishi, and Oscar in Rose of Versailles, Erminia is unabashedly a woman, and just as unapologetically falls in love with a women – and they end up together – and forget that her entire country has to suffer for it, we don’t know those people anyway. ^_^
It really just doesn’t get better than that! ^_^
Art – 7
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Yuri – 9
Overall – 8