Rose of Versailles
The setting is 1700s France, before the Revolution. Oscar François de Jarjayes is a strong-willed girl who has been raised as a boy all her life, because her father wanted a son. She is an expert swordswoman and as a result, she becomes the Captain of the Royal Guards at Versailles Palace, as well as the confidante of the Queen-to-be, Marie Antoinette ...
After having reviewed so many doinky anime, this anime was the one that convinced me to continue being an anime fan. I love this anime.
"But doinkies, why do you like this anime? It was made a long long time ago!" you might ask. Well, just because it was made a long time ago doesn't mean it's not good. Yes, the art style may be outdated, the music might sound doinky ... but underneath that is a great historical story, with wonderful characters, especially Oscar herself. Oscar may be a great fighter, but she is certainly not a perfect Mary Sue type. In fact, she is a very well-rounded character, often struggling to reconcile her male and female sides, as well as trying to defend Marie Antoinette and herself from the many doinky things going on in the court of Versailles, and later on in the series, defending the peasants of France. In short she's the 70's Utena, and Marie Antoinette is her Anthy. And like Utena and Anthy, they have a bond between one another, a bond that some might think goes beyond friendship. There is also Andre, the Jarjayes' stableboy, and a childhood friend of Oscar's who has great love for her, which Oscar ends up not realizing herself until the very end; and Rosalie Lamorliere, a girl from a poor family who opens Oscar's eyes to the suffering of the peasants. For that matter, the portrayal of the historical figures in this anime is very impressive. They are shown as just real people with their own troubles and conflicts so that they are not just names in a history book, which is very appealing.
As for the plot, I found it very intriguing, although it starts out slow. Many French historical events around this time period, including, ultimately, the Revolution, are covered quite accurately, and are woven in nicely and made it quite believable. I've always loved historical fiction, and have been disappointed often by really doinky books and movies that don't research the historical facts. Ikeda Riyoko and the staff at TMS certainly did much research for this anime.
The animation is ... very 70s, to say the least. It was presented as though it were a theatrical play, with dramatic pauses, lots of glitter and roses, and sudden gusts of wind. Some will love this style, while others will hate it. The character designs are very close to Ikeda Riyoko's original ones, which means they are in the 70s Shoujo Manga Art Style (pointy chins, big sparkly eyes, etc.). Many people who have not read lots of 70s shoujo manga abhor this style, saying it's ugly. I don't really think it's ugly, though ... after all, it was done in the 70s, so don't expect Studio Ghibli quality. The music is also rather 70s in style, especially the opening song, which sounds very much like a disco song (a slow disco song with violins, but a disco song nonetheless).
I really like Rose of Versailles a lot, and urge you to watch it for yourself, especially if you like shoujo anime. Who knows, you may like it, too.
"Bara wa, bara wa...utsukushiku chiru..."
A classic anime that every shoujo fan should see. Subtract two stars if you hate 70s-style anime artwork. — Jennifer Berman
Recommended Audience: There is some violence with swords and such, but it generally isn't bloody. Later on in the series, though, there is some blood and many deaths by gun and cannon (of course, since this is the French Revolution!). The bloodshed is still not anywhere near Elfen Lied levels, though. Fine for teens and up.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Full (40/40)
Rose of Versailles © 1979 Ikeda Riyoko / Shueisha / Tokyo Movie Shinsha
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