Rose of Versailles

Berusaiyu no Bara
Also Known As: RoV, Lady Oscar
Genre: Romance/Drama
Format: 40 Episodes
Allegiance: Tokyo Movie Shinsha
Director: Dezaki Osamu, Nagahama Tadao
Vintage: 1979-1980
Intelligence Agency Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
Oscar François de Jarjeyes is a promising young fencer, and is one of the top candidates to becoming the commander of the Royal Guards. Only thing is, Oscar is actually a woman, raised as a man by a father desperate for an heir. Possessing the skill and courage of a man, but the refinement and beauty of a woman, Oscar seeks to make an impact on the court at Versailles, just as France herself is about to enter the most turbulent era of her history.

Field Agent Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
Overall 9.25

The French Revolution is one of the most immortalized events in history. The three simple words, “liberté, equalité, fraternité” are forever engraved in the hearts of every free person in this world. As such, there have also been a lot of stories that have been written using the French Revolution as a setting, with mixed results. Rose of Versailles is one of the better historical fictions, relying on strong characterization and a powerful and emotional ending to deliver the côup de grace to the audience.

The primary strength of Rose of Versailles is without a doubt, its characters, and in particular, Oscar François de Jarjeyes. Oscar, as a strong lead female, is a rare breed in anime, worthy of admiration from the start just for her courage and skill. However, as time passes and she is subjected to the circumstances of the era, one can’t help but feel for the one member of the nobility that actually deserves the attribute “noble,” as she struggles to find her own path in the turbulent times. Of course, no cast would be complete without formidable supporting characters to aid in developing the lead, and Rose of Versailles has no shortage of superb supporting characters, ranging from André Grandier, to Hans Axel von Fersen, to Marie Antoinette herself.

However, Rose of Versailles has quite a few notable flaws, proving once again, that one can’t have his/her cake and eat it too. For one, the anime was produced in 1979, so naturally, the animation is just not up to par. Stills are common, action scenes are quite choppy, and it’s funny to note that everyone in Paris seems to wear the same 3 sets of clothing. Also, the plot to the first half of the show is actually rather weak, consisting of a number of smaller arcs about inconsequential court affairs and scandals at Versailles. However, this is more than compensated by two things: the fact that everything and everyone is connected in some way (much like actual history), and the charged and passionate last half of the show, particularly the last quarter.

Make no mistake, Rose of Versailles is historically-based fiction, and as such should be taken with a grain of salt if it were to be regarded otherwise. However, it is a masterful piece, intertwining fiction and fact to create a believable setting and plot. Don’t let the animation and first half of the series fool you, this is one rose that doesn’t have thorns.