Otaku in Paris, Pilgrimage to Versailles

August 22nd, 2016

20160816_161131I am back from the third of my three vacations this summer and once again, I come with pictures and thoughts and things, this time from Paris, France.

You may remember that in 2015, I was in Japan and had the chance to see a Takarazuka show, Hakushaku no Reijou. During the post-show postmortem, we all decided that the show was set in “Paris of the Imagination” rather than a real time or place. I now understand why. ^_^ Paris is a city that has a great deal of historicity, much of which is still functioning as business places and homes. While the 21st century has made it’s mark, it’s been kept at bay, both literally and figuratively, with construction of skyscrapers kept mostly out to the edges of the city. So, when sitting in a cafe, one can be forgiven for allowing one’s self to believe that one is, for a moment, feeling the “true” pulse of Paris. Of course, one is fully delusional at that moment, but it’s forgivable.

20160816_173142To begin with, we ended up staying in the geek central part of Paris, so one afternoon we spent a few hours digging around the various Album and Pulp stores for bande dessinée, (French-language comics. I picked up a few and will review them someday,) manga in French, figurines, artbooks, American comics and the like. Among these was the lovely complete set of Lady Oscar pictured at the top of the post, with character designs, character backstories and commentary. Despite the fact that it was in French I almost bought it. ^_^

fryuriI knew there are any number of Yuri titles available – I was particularly looking for Fleurs Bleues, the French-language edition of Aoi Hana, but did not find it. I imagine it’s too old to be in the shops. But I did see some Yuri on shelves. Saburouta’s Citrus was clearly marked “Yuri.”

froutAnd I managed to snag a free preview booklet of Tagame Gengoroh’s Outoto no Otto, which is getting a release in France. An English release is in the works, as well.

We are also waiting on the official release of Rose of Versailles in English from Udon Press, so my wife and I took one day to visit Versailles. Of course, we brought with us the mythos of Oscar and Marie, Fersen and the rest of the cast of this great epic manga. I tried, as we walked around, to picture them walking these paths and hallways. Not always easy, as the only people in Versailles now are tourists.  I joked about the horror with which Marie would view her Chateau now, crawling with plebs as it is.

Versailles is…big. Not space big, but really big.

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I kept thinking of scenes from Rose of Versailles, in which Oscar rode up to the palace, leapt off her horse and stormed through the halls to whomever’s apartments. That would have been a 40 minute trip and let me tell you, she’d be tired when she got there.

It’s almost impossible to grasp the scale of Versailles from the inside, as all the rooms are relatively small, but so cluttered with multicolored marble and paintings and gilded features that there’s nowhere for one’s eyes to rest. It would be almost impossible to capture the muchness of the place, but I see that the anime did a decent enough job, considering. A background like this:

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actually looks more like this:

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We both thought that the place would do well to have either cosplayers in the distant rooms, or an augmented reality app that would show the place full of people who were actually living and working there, rather than as the dead museum of the past that it is now.

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We didn’t have a chance to see Marie’s Petit Trianon or her little fake village, because it was just too much to do, but I imagine I will come back once again and once more imagine Oscar and Andre and Marie walking these halls.

Let me remind you that if you’re looking for a good excuse to visit Versailles, Paris’ own Yuri and Yaoi event, Y/Con 5 will be held on November 12 & 13!

Au revoir for now, France, but I have no doubt that I’ll be back to once again to enjoy the Paris of my imagination. ^_^

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5 Responses

  1. b.mdbh says:

    Aoi-Hana, isn’t that old in France, but it flopped probably due to its editor being a small company and yuri being a surprisingly really tiny market here. Citrus is currently the only published yuri manga. When you know the Y-con is mainly run by yaoi fans (I’m not saying it’s a bad thing per se), I think it’s not a stretch to say yuri is basically dead in France. Manga are still strongly associated with adolescence and are seen as something many people might read but they should outgrow at some point, like a rite of passage. There’s an interesting study on that topic (in French of course): http://books.openedition.org/bibpompidou/321

    • This is not atypical for initial Yuri forays in any country. It’s always a slow growth over time. The same is trye for Yaoi/Yuri events. All it takes is one dedicated person to revitalize interest. Seems like now is a good time for Yuri fans to relay the groundwork and start again.

  2. Alison says:

    Congratulations on your trip
    Aoi Hana is getting a release from Viz of all publishers but I’m super excited. Who licensed outoto no Otto?

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