When I visited Paris this past summer, I found myself staying, almost miraculously, in the middle of Geek Central, surrounded by comic and figurine and bande dessinée stores galore. It was not intentional, but it was fortuitous. ^_^ During one afternoon off, my wife and wandered the area and threw some Euro at the French economy. I chose three BD volumes, each one for a specific reason. Today we’re going to look at the first of the three, Volume 1 of La Rose Ecarlate, written by Patricia Lyfoung, illustrated by Jenny.
I chose La Rose Ecarlate for several obvious reasons. It clearly stars a woman as a masked thief, and also includes a attractive damsel a monster and a conspiracy! And, most appealingly, the art style and story-telling is very shoujo manga. The story is reasonably predictable – a young man and woman of noble rank, who happen to be lovers, are going out at night as the gentleman and woman theives, Le Renard and Le Rose Ecarlate, the Fox and the Scarlet Rose.
The first volume includes a small romantic setback, as a childhood friend of Count Guilhem, Le Renard, arrives during a dance and seems much too comfortable with the young count. But, when Adele and Maud, Le Rose Ecarlate, become friends, they bond over Guilhem’s foibles and become fast friends.
We then look back at the origin of the Rose and Fox, and, as the volume comes to an end, move into the main narrative about a phantom who steals away young women. They end up saving Adele, and being chased by the gendarmes through a house of ill repute. They kiss, and end the book promising to solve the mystery of “Le Spectre De La Bastilles.”
There’s no Yuri, although while I don’t put it past the series to have, at some point, an overenthusiastic thanks from a fair maiden, this volume was pretty straight.
Totally adorable in every way. Not a single word that wasn’t completely predictable, but a rollicking good yard, some very pretty full-color shoujo manga-style art and a main couple that didn’t make you roll your eyes in despair. Neither Maud nor Guilhem are damseled, although one might well have to rescue the other, it could easily go either way. The art was very well done, and I appreciated the touches that said “this is manga style,” like shoujo bubbles in the background. ^_^
The BD format, which is a large, thin, hardbound volume, worked to the strengths of the story and art. Large saturated-color pages were still easy to read. I used the Google Translate app on my phone when I was really unsure of the dialogue, but mostly, I could just guess what was being said, if my French wasn’t up to snuff.
For my first foray in to manga-style bande dessinée, La Rose Ecarlate was a charmer.
Art – 8
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Overall – 8
I probably won’t be getting later volumes, but if you’re interested in reading this and later volumes on your Kindle, you can! If you’re a French-language reader and want to let us know how the story progresses, please feel free to write in. ^_^