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The Rose of Versailles

In 1755, Marie Antoinette is born in the royal family of Austria and raised in luxury. However, the fate of the future queen of France is set in stone—at the young age of 15, she has to leave her family and marry the crown prince of France.At the same time in France, a girl is born in the family of the Commander of the Royal Guards. Upset at not having a male heir, her father decides to raise her as a man and names the girl Oscar. Oscar is trained from a young age to become the leader of the Royal Guards, but she is yet to discern that the will of the queen sometimes does not equal the good of the people.Based on the critically acclaimed manga by Riyoko Ikeda, Rose of Versailles depicts the fateful meeting of Marie Antoinette and Oscar, which is bound to influence history and change the life of the people facing the French Revolution as the clock ticks toward the end of the French royalty.[Written by MAL Rewrite]
User Count6988
Favorites Count217
Start Date10th Oct 1979
Next ReleaseInvalid date
Popularity Rank1607
Rating Rank702
Age RatingPG
Age Rating GuideTeens 13 or older
SubtypeTV
Statusfinished

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As a general rule, I'm not into shoujos - joseis yes, but not shoujos. "Rose of Versailles" is a shoujo.And it's also one of my favourite anime."Rose of Versaille" is an old fashioned telling of an old story. The oldness is all too obvious in its painfully outdated presentation (such as the overuse of panning, static frames), the agonizing lack of finesse (such as the over the top and often random dramatisation), and the poor quality sound production. And yet, right from the start, I could sense potential underneath its crappy exterior. I was not disappointed. It took me a few episodes to get used to the laughably bad production gimmicks, but by episode 10 it already has the markings of a great tragedy, and I was engrossed."Rose of Versailles" is a story with historical settings - it's set in France during the reign of Marie Antoinette as Queen of France. It tells the story of Oscar Francois de Jarjayes, daughter of a French General who was brought up as a man and served Marie Antoinette as the captain of the royal palace guards. Now obviously, Oscar never existed, but unlike most Holywood films that are "based on a true story", the series includes plenty of events that really did happen. Because of this, you can guess how the show will end. Or even if you cannot, the narrator pretty much tells you what to expect. Watching a show with the ending in mind creates an interesting viewing experience - you get to how everything builds up towards it, such as Robespierre's growing contempt for the nobles, and how Marie Antoinette is unknowningly fuelling the people's anger towards her. This makes "Rose of Versailles" more potent as a tragedy, because there's a sense of utter helplessness watching the events hurtle towards their inevitable conclusions, dragging the characters along mercilessly.Though historical commentry style narratives can make a show feel overly cold and detached (just look at the first season of "Legend of the Galactic Heroes"), this isn't the case for "Rose of Versailles". In fact it's a most emotionally engaging anime, because it makes you care its characters. And not just the main ones either. Very little is black and white in "Rose of Versailles", as it's not a show that likes to take sides. Or rather, it's a show that likes to take multiple sides, allowing you to see things from more than one view point. Take, for example, Marie Antoinette herself. The show does not portray her as a very competent queen, the kind that is capable of handling domestic politics and ruling with wisdom and strength. She is shown as frivolous and ignorant. But while the people's frustration and anger towards such a queen is understandable, her childlike innocence and high sense of morality also makes her hard to condemn. It's not really her fault that she is born into a role that she is not suitable for, and a large part of her ignorance is due to her being shielded from events that take place outside her court - there was simply no one who tried to open her eyes to what was going on.Madam du Barry is another good example. Initially, she seems like a total villain, with her manipulative and corrupt ways. Eventually though, when you learn about her background, it's easy to sympathise with her, because she's just someone who made the most of what she has and climbed up from the bottom rung of society. Is she really a villain? No, she's just understandably human. In fact this is given even more emphasis when the anime introduces Rosalie, an innocent, sweet girl who also comes from an impoverished family. Being a girl who is forced to try and sell her body in order to take care of her sick mother, the parallels between Rosalie's poverty stricken background and Madam du Barry's own path to becoming the King's mistress is all too clear.But enough about side characters, lets talk about Oscar - she is the main character of "Rose of Versailles" after all. Born as a woman but raised as a man, surprisingly little is made of her gender as she rose to prominence. In a old society where you would expect people to take issues with such a thing, she certainly had it relatively easy, and didn't have to "fight the power" too much, so to speak. This is one of the points that "Revolutionary Girl Utena", an anime inspired by "Rose of Versailles", seized on and did much better with. To be fair though, the comparison is a little inappropriate. After all, "Rose of Versailles" was never meant to be an anime about breaking conventions and starting revolutions (well, perhaps does have something to do with revolutions... but only in the traditional sense), it's just meant to be a straightforward historical drama with a twist provided by Oscar, a twist that is very much a shoujo fantasy. To try and convincingly integrate Oscar's gender issues into the historical settings is such a mammoth task that it would have threatened to engulf the whole show. A lot of the content in the early part of the "Rose of Versailles" is about Marie Antoinette and the politics that surrounds her. Later on though, the series becomes more focused on Oscar and her personal turmoils. More specifically, the focus is on Oscar's own inner conflicting identities as they slowly starts to tear her apart. Oscar's internal conflicts makes for some gut wrenchingly good drama, and to a large extent makes up for the lack of externally induced conflicts over her gender."Rose of Versailles" is effortlessly good at blending fact and fiction. Oscar may not have existed, but her father did. The show is filled with historical figures and historical events, many of them given fictional modification, and it's done so well I honestly could not tell where the facts end and the fiction begins. After finishing the series, I actually spent a few hours on the internet reading up on the period of Marie Antoinette's reign. To my surprise, I found the majority of the major events in "Rose of Versailles" to be based on real events (or at least on widespread beliefs, like Marie Antoinette's affair with Ferson), including some that sounds too farfetched to be true, like the diamond necklace affair. Even Marie Antoinette's sweet and frivolous nature, which seemed for all the world like a shoujo fudge factor - bad monarchs are often the cause of their own downfall, so I was convinced that the anime was portraying her through ridiculously rose tinted glasses in an attempt to get the viewers to sympathise with her - is actually very much inline with a lot of historians' perception of her (if anything, many believe that Marie Antoinette is not at all ignorant to the suffering of the people, and her demise is totally undeserved). The show clearly is a very well researched project."Rose of Versailles" is also one of the few anime I've seen that has a great ending. I can see why some viewers complained that the ending dragged, but as someone who has a passing interest in history, I enjoyed the documentary-like way it wrapped up the story. Although the french revolution was far from over by the end of it, the ending does give it a sense of closure, a sense that it was an end of an era, with the stories of all the main characters of interest neatly tied up. For me, it's a near perfect ending.On the audio front, "Rose of Versailles" may not sound as crisp and clear as modern productions, but it does not lose out when it comes to the quality of the music. The pieces are exquisite, a mixture of the styles from its productions era of the 70's, and the classical style from the settings of the show, the latter enforced by the use of instruments from that period such as the harpsichord. For the most part, the music is used to great effect, but there are moments where they suddenly cut off a pleasant piece into a harsh tone to match an ominous turn in the narration. While this trick can be quite effective, "Rose of Versailles" uses it too much. In addition, the voice acting is a bit too melodramatic, and there's a ghastly bit of voice over that hilariously marrs the otherwise graceful ending theme. Everyone should check out that voice over for their own amusement. Thankfully, the makers themselves must have realised how ridiculous it sounds, and removed it eventually.To sum it up, "Rose of Versailles" has all the standard staples of a sparkly shoujo. However, it's also far more than that. It's a show that brings to life the events leading up to the French Revolution, and the people involved in those events. Historically informed but also adept at weaving in great fictional drama, it's a shoujo that has far more substance than fluff. After all, it's very rare that I rate a shoujo so highly, especially one with such crappy production values by today's standards, and that speaks for itself.\*\*\*I've decided to include here a bit of trivia I found on the French Revolution, which might be of interest for people with a bit of a historian streak in them:There's a popular belief that Marie Antoinette uttered the notorious remark "let them eat cake" upon hearing peasants' complain that there's not enough bread to go around. Scholars on the subject, however, believe this to be completely false. Not only is there no historical evidence supporting this claim, but it's now generally accepted that it's not even within her nature to make such a remark - she is ignorant at worst (and even this is debatable), but she's not an ass who would say something as callous as that. It's possible that it was unjustly attributed to her as part of the vicious smear campaign targetting the royal family during the unpopular, later years of her reign, and "Rose of Versailles" also seems to support this theory as it shows people infuriated by the cake quote, but does not show Marie Antoinette saying it at ANY point in the series. I don't know whether this was intentional or not, but I'd like to believe that it's just a another example of the quality research that went into this brilliantly made historic tale.

A classic in every sense of the word. Rose of Versailles was the first anime I ever saw when I was around 5 years old. It holds a special place in my heart and I can thank it for my love of anime and French history.

“I’ve decided. You’re a boy!"  Imagine your gender, persona, and your entire existence being decided for you. Gender shackled, and borderline incarcerated upon birth, how would you react? Growing up from an ignorance-is-bliss childhood to the non-wiser adolescence, do you retaliate and retract everything? Or do you stand idly by, reluctant to forego virtues which have been instilled to you because that’s all you’ve ever known? Or do you perhaps acclimate yourself into this transfixed state of being? Set before and after the French Revolutionary War, Rose of Versailles follows Oscar François de Jarjeyes, a noblewoman who was raised as a man. Although initially deemed inconceivable, Rose of Versailles (or rather, Oscar, I should say) manages to shine (literally) regardless of the wayward Aesopian birthmark placed upon her. General Jarjeyes, Oscar’s father – whose father and father’s father, served in the Royal Guards - a handpicked and prestigious group with specifically honed combat skills in order to honor and protect the rightful Kings & Queens of France. However, in his overwhelming dismay that he may indeed not be blessed with a son anytime soon to carry out family tradition, decides upon Oscar’s birth that she will be raised, and just as much, tried as a man.  The first episode being depicted during Oscar’s 14 year old self, one would think that at such a hormonious age, our main character would show at least an iota of reluctancy towards how she was brought up – but that is far from the case. Oscar, whom at this age in time is already considered a young woman, has not even but a whimper about how she was raised. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Over the course of its 40 episodes, this much stays true. Oscar hardly brings the distinguishing feature (or burden, as many would call it) that is how she came to be, up at all – and as a matter of fact, even embraces it.  Unfaltering willpower and relentless dedication, Oscar soon becomes one of the upper-echelons of the Royal Guards. However, with great power comes great sacrifice. Over the course of its 40 (very bearable) episodes, we, as the ubiquitous third-party, witness the enigma that is Oscar grow and mature not only as a man, but as a woman. Ever so moulding and staying true to her heart, her astute individualistic nature becomes so ostensive that it defies the unwritten, societal law that is: "what it means to be a man vs what it means to be a woman", we cannot help but feel genuine, bona-fide curiosity and delightedness when it comes to seeing and wondering what it will bring out of Oscar next. Episodic in nature, Rose of Versailles chaperones closely Oscar, her duties and troubles that come with being a Royal Guard, her stablehand as well as loyal servant, André Grandier, and lastly, Queen Marie Antoinette. This trifecta progressively and successfully demonstrates exactly how anchoring well-crafted plot devices can and should be. With each passing episode, we come across different cardinal virtues: love and its unwavering devotion, justice with its merciful rationale, and even wickedness in its conniving composition.  All things said and done, Rose of Versailles was of a thoroughly enjoyable watch. The only thing that separates it from being a 10 is me cherry picking a very, very minute detail. (One which I cannot say for spoiler reasons) So that just means you’ll have give it a watch! 

*The Rose of Versailles* is a veritable masterpiece from the 80s that has aged startlingly well where it counts--story and characters. Sure, the artstyle is a bit outdated, and sure, some music cues are too, but in spite of all that, this anime manages to shine. Set against a doozy of a historical backdrop, the French Revolution, this show starts out a bit episodic but holds one\`s attention throughout. There is action, unrequited and forbidden romance, social class disparities, opulence, political intrigue, and even a history lesson (many of the characters and events presented are straight from real life). The direction and writing are simply brilliant. Oscar François de Jarjayes steals the spotlight as the main character. She is a tough-as-nails woman and highly skilled fighter raised as a male from birth due to the desires of her father, a general who wanted a son to carry on the proud tradition of his military career. She is fictional, as is her servant, Andre, but these two end up taking the spotlight from Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. She is noble, strong, and always trying to do the right thing, making it easy to root for her. The plot in each episode is expertly crafted and always moving. There aren\`t many wasted moments, and when Marie Antoinette\`s downfall comes, you aren\`t surprised because you\`ve seen her sow the seeds for revolution for about 40 episodes. The commoners\` discontent with the selfishness and decadence of the nobility grows and grows and it\`s quite harrowing to watch since you know what\`s coming. There are several antagonists in the series to both Oscar and Marie Antoinette, and they are surprisingly varied in their aims (money, favor, power, fame) and what makes them villainous. Their scheming provides the ammunition that keeps the show\`s tension always high and makes this series a must watch. Seriously, this series oozes atmosphere and it\`s one of the greatest shoujo titles I\`ve ever watched. Overall 9/10. **Art & Animation 8/10** The art definitely screams 80s, but you get used to it after a few episodes. The animation is good for the time, though not perfect by modern standards. The art and direction ooze atmosphere at times. **Sound 6/10** Music cues can feel a bit dated. Voice acting is good. **Story 9/10** Throwing a character into turbulent situations makes for highly compelling fiction, and what better situation than pre-Revolution France? The plot is always moving with purpose toward the show\`s conclusion; even the slower paced episodes held my interest. The only time the show really hits a snag is in its last episode, when the direction and script falter because they rush through tying up loose ends. **Character 8/10** Oscar is awesome and someone you root for the whole way through. Perhaps her only flaw is that she\`s a bit too perfect, and her enemies are too obviously in the wrong (though that does make them easy to hate). I\`d say that\`s a function of when the show was made, when villains were simpler in anime. The side characters can be memorable too; in fact, Rosalie\`s story arc is probably my favorite of the entire show. One qualm of mine is the treatment of Marie Antoinette, who in the anime is portrayed as this innocent and very girlish ruler oblivious of the consequences of her actions. Quite different from the real Marie Antoinette, but I suppose they wanted a cutesy queen since it was a shoujo title. **Value 10/10** This is historical fiction done right. Oscar is an early strong female character in anime\`s history. She\`s surprisingly better written than a lot of female characters in modern anime, and her hypercompetence as a man helps question the wisdom of traditional gender roles, a topic which still is of the utmost importance today. **Enjoyment 10/10** You can\`t tear your eyes away from Marie Antoinette and Oscar as they go down a horrible path from which they can\`t turn. Slowly, but surely, the people\`s unrest boils over.

The plot is really good, although after reading the manga some scenes of anime feel so wrong. But the changes are so minor that they won't really bother that much. There is a lot of love and tragedy in this serie and interesting history facts too. And the soundtrack! Music fits really well to the serie's atmosphere.

Critic’s Log – July 14, 2015. Review #95: The Rose of Versailles When it comes to World History, The French Revolution was always a fascinating subject to me. There happens to be one anime that is a portrayal of French History and even the French Revolution, even if the whole thing is a build-up to the French Revolution. The anime I am referring to is… **THE ROSE OF VERSAILLES** Oscar Francois de Jarjayes was raised as if she was a boy, she would later command the palace guards at Versailles in the years before the French Revolution. Her beauty as well as her strong noble spirit makes her a shining figure in the eyes of both men and women but she is torn between her chosen life of service and duty to class and country and her own heart and desires. She lives in nobility amidst the luxuriousness of Versailles but her keen senses and compassion are not blinded to the poverty of the French people. The Rose of Versailles is a TMS Entertainment production and ran from 1979 to 1980. This anime may be old but do not let its age fool you because this series is what I would consider a “vintage anime”. The animation may look awkward at times but this was made in 1979 till 1980, of course the aesthetics are going to be older than what we have now. I actually never had an issue with the animation although there are a couple visual effects that never really aged well. The one thing that made The Rose of Versailles age extremely well is the overall design. The hairstyles, the clothing, and the Palace of Versailles all look marvelous in this anime. I did some research and saw pictures of French art, sculptures and even the architecture of the Palace of Versailles and I have no reason to doubt that the French are known for their exquisite taste in art because of how well detailed French art often is. It is no surprise why France is one of the most visited countries in the world. The exquisiteness of France is translated well in The Rose of Versailles. Not only is the artwork marvelous, the character designs also stand out for the time it came out. Like I said, there are some visual effects that don’t age well but that is only the bare minimum of the entire animation aspect of this anime. There are some animation quirks but even after 30 years, it still looks remarkable. The music by Kouji Makaino is an interesting case. There are some stringed instruments used, a harpsicord, and even violin. In other words, considering the historical account and how dramatized and romanticized it is... this soundtrack is very fitting even if some tracks are a little overused. This was made in 1979 till 1980 so it’s excused. I will say that as much as I liked the opening to Neon Genesis Evangelion even though it is considered one of the most iconic and beloved anime openings, The Rose of Versailles has a wonderful opening. I never skipped it when I was watching the show and I really liked the opening a lot with each passing episode.It is sung by Hiroko Suzuki and she also sang the closing theme which is also is a nice closing theme to the show. I however recommend skipping the closing theme for this show in its first half because for some unknown reason, there is a quote that is spoken in the closing theme that SPOILS a big plot point that happens near THE END OF THE SHOW. Good thing the quote is omitted in the second half of the series. Like I said, the music is fitting in the show. Now since The Rose of Versailles was never licensed till 2012, it would be very odd to have a recent dub on an old series. For those that often watch English Dubbed anime, I am sorry to say this but this series is only available SUBTITLED. That should not be an excuse to pass on a series with great storytelling such as this one. Reiko Tajima was excellent as Oscar, Taro Shigaki is fine as Andre. Miyuki Ueda is not too bad as Marie Antoinette, and the late Nachi Nozawa is fine as Fersen. The main lead seiyus may have not done too much since (with the exception of Nachi Nozawa) they did excellently in The Rose of Versailles.  Some of the characters are fictional but there are portrayals of Marie Antoinette, Hans Axel von Fersen, Rosalie Lamorlière, Madame du Barry, Louis XVI and so forth that are in The Rose of Versailles. Marie Antoinette is romanticized in this series but her actions are dramatized in a way that I would feel somewhat sorry for her even though she was an infamous figure in French history. Now I may sound like I’m spoiling The Rose of Versailles but I don’t think I am because this anime is based off historical events leading up to the French Revolution. Hans Axel von Fersen makes the series interesting but I would not rather go in much detail on that since he does interact with some fictional characters… Rosalie had the most liberty taken with the historical portrayal since not much is known about her except she was the last servant to Marie Antoinette. Most of the things that happen with her are mostly fictional, but she is a nice supporting character in The Rose of Versailles. Now there’s Oscar François de Jarjayes. Oscar’s father wanted a male heir but it turned out that the child was a girl. So Oscar’s father decides to raise his newborn daughter as if she were a boy. Oscar is admired by both men and women because of her demeanor and elegance. Now looks aren’t everything because Oscar Francois de Jarjayes is a well-developed character in this show and she is one of my favorite female characters. Lady Oscar was not the first “of her kind”… you know, the lady taking on a typical male role. Osamu Tezuka’s **Princess Sapphire** had this similar concept where Princess Sapphire pretends to be a male knight for a specific cause. Also, **Revolutionary Girl Utena** is also another series with a similar concept. Even though Oscar is physically female, she is identified as Gender-fluid. There is no Identity crises addressed in this series and Oscar is a very believable and she develops extremely well in this series. Not only is Oscar well-developed, but so is André Grandier. I won’t say much about Andre because he is not as much of a special case than Oscar. I will say that Andre’s purpose in the plot is rewarding to watch. All the characters make The Rose of Versailles intriguing to watch. Another fascinating aspect of The Rose of Versailles is the story, I did state early in the review that it is based on historical accounts leading up to The French Revolution and for those that are into French history should not miss out on this series. It may be romanticized in some areas but the historical aspect is still kept true to the turbulent spirit of the events that are portrayed in this fictional telling of French history. The show may be slow at first but the slow pacing is excused since it fleshes out the characters. The first half of the series does focus more on Marie Antoinette and this is fine since Oscar served for Marie Antoinette, the focus did later turn more to Oscar in the second half of the series. Even though the focus is different in two points, I have no problems with this because Oscar was still treated as the main character throughout the entire anime’s runtime. There is also another thing that I should note is that the first 18 episodes were directed by the late Tadao Nagahama, he passed away during the airing of The Rose of Versailles and the remainder of the show was passed down to the late Osamu Dezaki who was known for his distinct visual techniques at his time and the pastel freeze frames are a good example because they are used in this show. I remembered the **Berserk** TV series had the pastel freeze frames which was kind of hit and miss except for an end of an episode. The pastel freeze frame technique however works well in The Rose of Versailles and I am glad this isn’t used a whole lot but I like how it is used in this series. Now as excellent as this show was, I had a couple issues with the story. First off, the finale had some odd pacing in the last 10 minutes and even though it ends with a nice touch… the second thing that bothered me was one scene that the narrator of The Rose of Versailles is to blame for. The narrator did hint events such as The Affair of the Diamond Necklace and the French Revolution and this is acceptable since they did happen, but near the very end of the series, the narrator blurts out something that will happen before it even happens. The Rose of Versailles is not all sparkles, sunshines, and rainbows. This is no surprise since The French Revolution is involved but I must ask myself this… Why the hell would someone think that a narrator telling the viewer things in advance sound like a good idea? I am so glad this only occurs once, but this also took place in the final stages. For a series that was so good for the heavy majority, this only narration-spoiler felt out of place.  I also found the last 10 minutes underwhelming thanks to the odd pacing but I am not saying the conclusion is bad, it is just had some things left to be desired. Even though I have a couple issues with it, it was still a truly excellent series overall. The Rose of Versailles is available by Nozomi Entertainment, The movie “The Rose of Versailles: I’ll Love You As Long as I Live” was never licensed and I don’t see the point in watching it because it is a 90 minute compilation. The iconic shojo manga of the same name by Riyoko Ikeda was just recently licensed by Udon Entertainment and will at last have an official English Translation. And now…My final verdict! The Rose of Versailles has a compelling story with believable characters as well as taking liberties of historical French figures without taking too much of what is recorded in history. This masterpiece also has a great soundtrack for its time and the animation has aged extremely well. This anime has not withered in time, it has an aroma of excellence. That being said, I give The Rose of Versailles a 9.7 out of 10. Feel free to leave a comment.

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