Tomoe Komatsubara’s schoolgirl pontiff is coming to UK DVD
Seven impossibly handsome pretty-boy cardinals vie for the attention of a schoolgirl Pope, in one of the odder Japanese cartoons to make the jump from manga to video this year. Starting as a four-panel gag comic in Weekly Cheryl magazine in 2006, Pretty Petra Pope was a slow-burning hit for the young artist Tomoe Komatsubara, before it was reformatted as an ongoing manga strip.
Komatsubara confesses that when she began writing, she “wasn’t all that clear” on the history of the Catholic church, but as time went on, she was drawn deeper into many issues facing the church today. She was inspired to write the story by Saint Malachy’s infamous Papal prophecy, which foretells the last Pope will be “Petrus… who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations.”
“That’s what gave me the idea of making Petra a shepherdess,” laughs Komatsubara. “She loves her flock of sheep so much that she insists on bringing them with her to the Vatican, and they cause all sorts of trouble. And that’s before the miracle that makes them all able to talk.” Other subplots include the “Ugly” Sisters (an order of super-rich nuns who want the papacy for themselves), and various problems-of-the-week introduced by visiting missionaries and bishops.
The new four-part video series draws mainly on the early, more humorous chapters from the manga, inspired in part by Dan Brown, as Petra explores the catacombs and anterooms of Rome in search of a series of magical artefacts to upgrade her papal powers. More recent chapters of the manga have taken a much darker tone, in accordance with the prophecy that “the city of seven hills [Rome] will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people.”
“This is exactly the sort of magical-girl-pretty-boy-talking-sheep-quest-narrative-harem-butler-badgirl-baroque-apocalypse” story that we love at Manga Entertainment,” said Head of Acquisitions Jerome Mazandarani, who put a five-figure sum down for the title as soon as it was announced. “We think this is a show with real legs, and we are hoping for a few celebrity voices. I’m thinking Simon Cowell for the Dreadful Judge, for starters…”
Pretty Petra Pope is available to pre-order from today.