Archive for the Rose of Versailles Category

Rose of Versailles Manga, Volume 13 (ベルサイユのばら)

May 4th, 2017

Rose of Versailles, Volume 13 (ベルサイユのばら) is both a touching story and a really ridiculous, overblown melodramatic piece of nonsense. ^_^

In the first half, Oscar’s feelings towards Fersen become complicated by a melodramatic overblown psychological examination of her fears and desired around being raised as a man, complete with fantasy self dooming her to misery. This part of the book was a missed opportunity to really have Oscar delve into gender politics, but no, it’s all about one-sided love for a man she hardly knows.

The second half of the book was far more interesting, focusing on a watch that was beloved by Marie Antoinette, the circumstances around which it came into her possession and the tale of how General de Jarjayes recovers it for her, to give her comfort in her final hours in prison. It also tells the story of the watchmaker and France at the same time. The bits in prison with Marie were the best parts, showing her, not as a clueless Kardashian-like creature, but as a woman who loved what she knew of France as much as anyone. That her experience of France was vastly different to common people’s is plain. And we get to see Marie standing before the guillotine with a thought for France to prosper, which were in fact not her last words at all. (She is purported to have apologized to the executioner for stepping on his foot.)


Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Service – 2
Yuri – 0 This is a very straight book.

Overall – 8

Frustrating and touching, melodramatic and epic, Volume 13 is perfect example of the breed. Although, in retrospect, I cannot imagine General de Jarjayes would have survived the guillotine for long enough to be around when Marie was killed. Really, we can only imagine Bernard and Rosalie (who makes an appearance as Marie’s attendant in prison) to be the sole survivors of the story.

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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.


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:

Image result for "rose of versailles" ballroom

actually looks more like this:


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.



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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Takarazuka: La Rose de Versailles 2001, Oscar et Andre (ベルサイユのばら 2001 – オスカルとアンドレ編)

July 19th, 2016

RoVOeA2001Welcome back to Takarazuka Week on Okazu! We’ve got another interview coming up and a review of Chicago at Lincoln Center in our future, so check back regularly!

There are several Takarazuka productions that I have seen on VHS or DVD that I have never reviewed…for many reasons. One was so awful I needed my brain scrubbed and as the Top Star couple is very popular, I didn’t want to deal with the backlash. ^_^; One was just very complicated and I will one day review it. One was brutally dull. But among these many Takarazuka shows I have not reviewed is the very first one I ever saw. It seemed to me that this is the perfect time to revisit it.

In 2003 or so, I obtained a copy of  La Rose de Versailles 2001, Oscar et Andre  (ベルサイユのばら 2001 – オスカルとアンドレ編). Of course, Takarazuka has done this show countless times, and written versions that focus on Fersen and Marie Antoinette, as well as Oscar and Andre. I knew of Takarazuka when I got the VHS, but I had never actually watched any. (How did we survive before Youtube?) So this was my first experience with the idea. Sure, I was open to the idea of women in uniforms, and I knew the story of Rose of Versailles, so it seemed like the perfect fit.

My wife and I sat down to watch it and after 15 minutes of an opening number that mostly consisted of the word “Love” repeated over and over over and over and over and over, I thought….”Are you kidding me?”

My wife took another tack and started making up her own lyrics to the songs. They were hysterical and it got us through the first bit. I couldn’t help but notice that Minoru Kou as Oscar had to duck down to be shorter than Kouju Tatsuki as Andre every minute and my enthusiasm was slipping….until Aran Kei walked out on the stage as Hans Axel von Fersen.  She started speaking and I remember saying out loud, “Oh, now I get it!” ^_^

I’m never going to love the music for this show, it had all the the weaknesses of music written by the Takarazuka staff – one (or no) musical theme, no peaks, just a slow crescendo then it sort of peters off, nothing catchy. And while I’ve been a fan ever since, I’m really glad that my first live Takarazuka show was Elizabeth, not Rose of Versailles.


Overall – 7

It’s not as bad as the Fersen and Antoinette focused version, but not stunning, except for Aran Kei, who was stunning. Here’s a bit of the show for you to enjoy and make your own decisions. Yay Youtube!

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Rose of Versailles Manga, Volume 12 (ベルサイユのばら)

March 21st, 2016

download Rose of Versailles, Volume 12 (ベルサイユのばら), is composed of two stories. One following the hapless Florian F Girodel (no one knows what the ‘F’ stand for,) as he watches, but does not participate fully, in Versailles life – and while Oscar pretty much robs him of everything he desires, without even trying. She’s got his job, isn’t becoming his wife as he intends, she gets all the attention and she even gets the girls, as he finds out when he meets Fersen’s sister, Sofia. We watch him suffering through Oscar’s resignation, and her death, and we learn of his fate after the war. Girodel’s life, as so many others, ends with a date with Madame Guillotine.

The second half of the book, follows a tempestuous affair between a young woman, betrothed to a well-borm man old enough to be her father, and a gorgeous young noble, whose love of Lorraine matches her own. Despite her betrothal, Georgette sleeps with Regnier, and later admits her crime tearfully to her mother. The engagement is called off, and her lover, with the new prince’s permission, accepts a commission in the Army, sweeping Georgette away to Versailles to become Mrs. Regnier de Jarjayes, and the mother of Oscar Francois (named after the new Prince of Lorraine) de Jarjayes.


Art – 8
Story – More sex, but still a lot of crying 8
Characters – 9
Service – 2
Yuri – 1, if only for Sofia’s obvious crush on Oscar.

Overall – 8

Oscar’s mother is actually one of my favorite characters, because you sort of assume she’s not even alive at first, then suddenly midway through the series you find that she’s perfectly fine and has been at Versailles all along. ^_^

Also included in this volume are the 2014 images of Oscar created for fashion magazine Spur.

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Rose of Versailles Manga, Volume 11 (ベルサイユのばら)

September 17th, 2015

RoV11When 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-samaOscarlove
















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.)

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