Back in October, I was trawling through Mandarake in Nakano, Tokyo, (as all good otaku must) and I found two amazing things. The first one was an artbook by Takahashi Makoto, Akogare, which I discussed back in November. At the time I mentioned that I had found one even more amazing thing. And today, at last, I will tell you about it. “It” is a Rose of Versailles Karuta box set.
To begin with, Karuta is a card-matching game. If you’ve watched the anime Chihayafuru, you’ll be familiar with it. Cards with verses written on them are laid out between two players. A reader reads half of a verse and two participants reach for the card with the second half of the verse. Hyakunin Isshu, a game played on New Years’s Day, is one form of karuta.
In this version of the game, the lines are taken from the Rose of Versailles manga. Under the hiragana for “he” へ, we see a functionary saing “Heimindomo ha uraguchi he mawatte morau” – “Commoners go around to the back entrance.” As we can see, this is not received well by Oscar who says the 17th century French nobleperson’s version of “What the hell?”
The set box, card box and booklet are all adorned with art from Rose of Versailles, obviously.
The box of cards contains two sets – one for the players with scenes depicted from the manga (as in the top picture) and another for the “reader.”
The inside of the card box has an image of Oscar in classical armor, but I’d have to unfold the box to scan it in, so no picture for you.
The booklet includes a short discussion of key cards, with commentary by Riyoko Ikeda on them, and a CD.
The booklet includes a CD with the first half of the card’s verses read by Takariesienne Shion Yuu, top star of the Star Troupe in 1992-1994. She played Oscar a few times and Fersen once in various iterations of Takarazuka’s most beloved show.
So, if you’ve ever wanted to play karuta, but with lines from Rose of Versailles instead of famous poems*, cards illustrated by Riyoko Ikeda and have the reader be a former Takarauka top star, come on over, I can actually do that for you! ^_^
Too sublime for mere numbers.
I note, with some satisfaction, that I didn’t even overpay for this, because the other thing about Mandarake is that you can get reamed on prices, if you don’t know what stuff is worth.
*In 2005, when Yuricon and Shoujocon teamed up to run Onna!, we created a modern English deck for karuta. We apparently vastly overestimated the poetic literacy of the attendees, who didn’t recognize even so much as nursery rhyme phrases (no kidding “Mary had a little lamb”), much less famous poems (“How do I love thee…”.) That was a bit disappointing.