Rose of Versailles
Versailles no Bara
TV Series: 40 Episodes
October 1979 – September 1980
Studio: Tokyo Movie Shinsa
Genre: Historical Drama
Synopsis: Raised from birth as a man, the Oscar Francois De Jerjeyes commands the palace guards at Versailles in the years before the French Revolution. Her beauty and noble spirit make her a shining figure in the eyes of both men and women but she is torn between her chosen life of service and duty to class and country and her own heart and desires. She lives as a noble amidst the opulence of Versailles but her keen senses and compassion are not blinded to the poverty of the French people. And as the years turn, the anger of the people is slowly reaching boiling point, a point that will mean revolution.
Throughout this long story, there is one single issue that is raised more than any other, man’s inhumanity to man. This subject continues to emerge again and again, from the inhumanity of the French nobility to its subjects, to the common people as they start to usurp power. This issue is dealt with in a very brutal, yet always tasteful manner throughout Versailles.
Because of the length of time these 40 episodes span (from 1770 – 1794), the series often jumps several years at a time. These jumps can sometimes cause confusion as to the exact points in history, but fortunately the narration easily keeps the viewer up to speed.
Rose of Versailles is surprisingly accurate for an historical anime; this turns out to be both a blessing and a curse. Unfortunately, if you are remotely familiar with French history you already know the ending of Rose of Versailles. At the same time, after the credits for the final episode roll, most viewers are often quickly looking up historical texts to find out how much of Rose of Versailles really happened (you would be quite surprised at the results), to find out what your favourite characters really were like.
This is Rose of Versailles greatest strength. The cast of characters, many of which are pulled from history are utterly convincing and realistic in their actions. Those drawn from reality are believable, even if their roles are changed to suit the dramatic story. Those who are invented fit absolutely perfectly in reality.
The lead character of Oscar Francois De Jerjeyes is one of the greatest lead characters in Anime. One of those rare characters that is both inspirational and deeply dramatic, her fight between her masculine and feminine sides is incredibly interesting.
Of the characters drawn from history, the most interesting is that of Marie Antoinette. Although her role is slightly exaggerated, her ladylike nature and sweet naivety is an excellent counterbalance to Oscar’s masculinity and realism.
The animation style used within Rose of Versailles is slightly dated, using techniques that are often ridiculous looking and outright laughable at times. Despite this, the vibrant colours and ahead of its time animation is still easy on the eyes.
The background designs and character styles are extremely accurate to history and easily immerse you in the life and times of pre Revolutionary France.
Voice Acting/Music: 8/10
The voice acting in Rose of Versailles is extremely well performed. There are no characters whose voices are annoying or grind on your ears. The voice of Oscar is the standout within the anime, who provides a strong and altogether powerful performance.
The music is incredibly drawn from instrumental and orchestral nature. This music is genuine to the period of this piece. Altogether, despite some music tracks, which have a rather dated feel, the music is often powerful and effective.
Although many aspects of Rose of Versailles are rather dated, the story is timeless, whose characters and themes have been copied countless times. Despite the slow beginning, this story builds to an exciting and conclusion, which is close to perfection. This piece is timeless and an utterly wonderful story.