‘I’d sure make a lousy princess’: Resistances and reinventions of female fairy tale archetypes within Junichi Sato and Kaori Naruse’s Prétear – The New Legend of Snow White

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper will explore the various feminist transformations and subversions of ‘Snow White’ and ‘Cinderella’ within Junichi Sato and Kaori Naruse’s magical girl manga series, Prétear – The New Legend of Snow White (2000-1). When read against western fairy tale conceptions, Japanese magical girls inherently subvert the archetypes and tales with which we place them in conversation. The mahō shōjo (magical girl) genre, often placed at the intersection of romance and fantasy, overtly engages with the western fairy tale intertextual web. The heroines are often lost princesses, heirs to magical thrones of power, capable of the quintessential magical transformation from ordinary schoolgirl to overpowered superheroine – a transformation reminiscent of Cinderella’s fabled ballgown and slippers. However, as fairy tale heroines and princesses are criticised for their archetypal passivity, magical girls are forced into necessary activity, frequently – though often to their dismay – tasked with saving the world from an apocalyptic fate.
The correlation of magical girls and fairy tale princesses is often woven into the fabric of their narratives, retelling and realigning western tales within the conventions of the mahō shōjo genre to compelling and subversive effects. Junichi Sato and Kaori Naruse’s Prétear is no exception. Blending the narratives of both ‘Snow White’ and ‘Cinderella’, Prétear positions the western fairy tale tradition as a direct pretext, whilst also disrupting its structures. Throughout, Himeno – with her name outlining her fairy tale role as hime, or princess – self-consciously engages, interacts with, and critiques the fairy tale plots and conventions that shape her life as a magical girl. Within Prétear, these fairy tale plots have become a predestined cycle of female trauma and abuse, emphasised by the animosity felt between the female characters of its source tales. As Himeno works to break free from the cycle of fairy tale storytelling, she necessarily subverts the restrictions of their female archetypes and female relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 16 Apr 2024
EventQueer and Feminist Perspectives on Japanese Popular Cultures Symposium - Online
Duration: 15 Apr 202417 Apr 2024


ConferenceQueer and Feminist Perspectives on Japanese Popular Cultures Symposium
Internet address


  • Japanese Popular Culture
  • Queer
  • Feminist
  • Transcultural
  • manga
  • shōjo
  • fairy tales

Cite this