When I was in Japan last, you may remember I had a chance to see the anniversary event for Margaret magazine. One of the best-known titles that has ever run in Margaret is Rose of Versailles (ベルサイユのばら) by Riyoko Ikeda. Ikeda-sensei was asked to write something about her masterpiece for the event and, as she says in the author’s note in this volume, that’s when she had the idea of writing new stories to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the work., many years after the first ten volumes had been completed. This is the first volume of her new ideas.
My question, of course, is where does one go to write new stories about a series that ended with such finality? Before, after or in between the cracks? The answer, contained in the pages of Volume 11 of Berusaiyu no Bara, (ベルサイユのばら) is…all of the above. And it was sublime.
Each chapter follows a single character from the original story. We sometimes get a glimpse of their early life, as in the chapters that focus on Andre or Girodel, or an episode post-revolution as we do get Fersen and Allan.
The chapters are broken up by “Fan Room” pages, in which Ikeda-sensei asnwers frequently asked questions about Oscar and the featured characters. As she did, so shall I, by reminding you of who everyone is.
It’s a fair bet you’ll remember Andre, the servant and eventually lover of the story’s hero, Oscar Francois de Jarjeye. Girodel is the young man she beat out for the position of the Captain of the Queen’s guards and who remained Oscar’s good friend right to the end. Allan was the sergeant of the French Guards, when Oscar took a demotion to fight with commoners. He opposed her at first, but eventually came around to admire Oscar…and to love her. Hans Axel von Fersen was a Swedish noble at the French Court who, you may remember, became Marie Antoinette’s lover and with whom Oscar fell in love.
In the course of the story we get cameos from Oscar’s father, Andre’s grandmother and Allan’s dead sister, corpse in situ, Rosalie and Bernard and others.
We also meet some characters less well-known in this volume. (We know they are less well-known, because they all are given a “who are they?” panel in the Fan Room.) Oscar’s niece Lulu, Marie Terese, Antoinette and Louis’ eldest child who escaped the guillotine, but was forcibly deported to (or perhaps negotiated for by) Austria and a childhood friend of Andre’s who has become the Duke Orleans’ mistress.
All the chapters were exactly what you expect from Rose of Versailles. Tons of melodrama and so many tears! People cried over Andre’s death, Oscar’s death, Antoinette’s death, the revolution, France…it was all a lot of fun. ^_^;
Of interest to us here on Okazu was this spread: We Love Oscar-sama
These pages detail all the people who were “in love” with Oscar. Andre, of course and Rosalie, of course, Allan, Louis Joseph (one of the Bourbon children) and “Other Ladies of the Court.” This last can be seen in the bottom left, in a picture one can only describe as Oscar macking on the lady.^_^
Art – 8
Story – Did I mention the crying? 8
Characters – 9
Service – 1 on principle
Yuri – 2 ’cause of the spread
Overall – 8
I have to say, I really enjoyed this volume. Finished it, tears and all, with a huge grin. I had no idea that I’d be so glad to see these characters again! Now I’m dying to read Volume 12!
Who can tell me the name of Oscar’s sister? Answer in the comments. A prize may be forthcoming. (Don’t cheat and look it up, that’s no fun.)