Sunday, May 09, 2010

Thoughts/Review: Rose of Versailles (1972-1973)

Oscar Francois de Jarjayes was born female but raised as a man due to her father's fervent desire for a son. This story follows her life from entering the military as a commander of the Royal Guard assigned to protect and serve the French royal family at the age of 14 to the finality of the monarchy, the French Revolution.

This manga-adapted anime aired in 1972-1973 setting a precedent as one of the early mangas to be adapted to various franchises including anime, live-action movie, and musical theatre. Watching this anime 38 years after its inception leaves me awe struck to the various areas of which this title has been claimed as "the first."

There are many significant elements that have already been cited (just read comprehensive Wikipedia but beware of spoilers), but my favorite element is Oscar's appeal. What makes Oscar different is that she is known to most as a man. Her femininity is abandoned in the name of filial duty to her father and loyalty to her Queen Antoinette. In spite of that, her beauty and humble heroism attracts both men and women equally, regardless whether they know if she is a woman or not. Oscar herself is in love with a man but the borderline lesbian admiration from other women makes for a progressive topic both in the 18th century of Oscar's time as well as during the 70's when this anime aired.

Another element I enjoyed was following Oscar's maturation from childhood into adulthood. Throughout this series, Oscar is faced with many challenges both in her military career and in her personal life. As she grows up, she discovers herself and her loyalty to her Queen is tested with the arrival of the new era of democracy. But most importantly, Oscar ultimately transcends and comes to accept her womanhood.

This anime has stood the test of time (it's older than me). A great title that can captivate decades later. Rose of Versailles really is one of the very best I have ever watched. I'm rating it 5 out of 5!

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