For those of you who don’t remember and I don’t blame you if you don’t because it’s been a long time, I started a journey to where I watch different shoujo anime so I can get a better sense of what it is. I watched Nozaki-Kun a while back as the first part. This is the second part. I think I did mention that it would take a long time and it will continue to do so. I’m holding back once again because while I am going through Princess Tutu, I’m only watching it two episodes a week because it’s what I watch when I am on a stationary bike at the gym and I’m only on it for half an hour two times a week. I’m like a dog that gets constantly distracted by squirrels. When I see something new and interesting, I like to look at it.
This new series I found is called Book of Bantorra. I’m sure that nobody that reads this has heard of it before. I didn’t until I got Crunchyroll’s mystery box and this was the most interesting anime that came from it. I can’t wait until I finish it so I can talk more about its unique atmosphere and setting. So yeah, that was it. I hope you all are enjoying my 30-day anime challenge. There is much more to come and I hope you all find it interesting. Now to the review:
The Actual Review:
Watching this show and Fist of the North Star have shown how bloody and brutal series used to be. I don’t mean from a blood stand point series that is still popular, but the mature content. Even without showing the content themselves, people shooting children, poisoning each other, robbing people blind, scheming to take other people’s money, showing the poor aspects of society, and so on. There is no random humor that is put into slow the blow from these aspects, which is popular these days. I mean, Rose of Versailles is called a shoujo anime, but if it came out today it would be a josei. No questions at all. I’m not saying that how anime has progressed is bad. I like a lot of modern shows, but I looking to the past to see how shows used to be.
I can easily explain away this part of my review by saying that this anime’s plot is based on the French Revolution. We all know how that ends right? Tragic for the nobles who sat on their money and titles and better for the commoners who were starving on the streets. Well, this part only covers about half of the story itself. The rest is build up. Slow, but wonderful and intense build up.
At first, we are introduced to Oscar, young Queen to be Mary Antoinette, and the society of nobles that surrounds Rose of Versailles. Then we are introduced to more characters and more incidents that lead to the French Revolution. Characters that play an important role in it show up often and are developed, problems that the queen faces at Versailles add weight to the conflict by putting a larger strain on commoners, and we all see this from Oscar’s point of view. She knows how things will turn out, which adds more to the ongoing drama. It’s a slow build up to be sure, but it’s all completely worth it.
Like every other anime that exists, there are a lot of great characters. Quite a lot of well fleshed out side characters exist that poke their heads into the narrative here and there. You can discovery who they are and how human they feel as you watch the show because they are the stuffing that makes the show feel complete. Talking about them all would take a lot of pages. For me, the two main characters I’m going to talk about are Oscar Francoise de Jarjayes and Andre Grenadier. The two are the point of view characters for the entire series. I feel like Oscar is a living representative of the noble class of society and Andre is representative of majority of France who are commoners. Many of their conversations represent this point of view. Other than that, Andre isn’t that interesting. He is the classic servant that has fallen in love with his master. His character is done extremely well, but not in any interesting way.
Oscar is an amazing character. Not just because she is purely bad ass, but because of how emotional complex she is as well. From the day she was born, Oscar was raised a male. This leads her to have an identity crisis several times throughout the series. Not only because many people confuse her gender, but because she doesn’t know how to feel about herself or who she is in love with. There was that one time where she fell in love and wanted to dance with her wannabe beloved, but that didn’t her anywhere or help her in anyway. Other than all this stuff, did I mention that she’s bad ass? She is a top ranked sword fighter, marks(wo)men, and a great commander. She knows how to get respect from people that have never given respect to anybody or anything else before. She also looks stunning in a military uniform, which has been commented on by many palace males and females alike.
Keep in mind that this show is from the 1970’s. This means that there is a lot of still frames, repeated bits of animation, and characters seemingly teleporting around because of the lack of animation. None of this takes away from the characters or the story of Rose of Versailles. In fact, the sword fighting doesn’t require high bits of animation because the characters have to barely move in order to fight. And from time to time, there are some incredibly well animated segments of this show, but they are few and far in-between anything else. There are a lot of amazing still frames from the end of scenes that deserve to be paintings in museum or something. They add so much drama and character expression in a single frame and it’s amazing. I honestly wish they did more of this in anime today.
The soundtrack is very 70’s also. I mean, I can easily compare it to the Mobile Suit Gundam soundtrack at certain points. There are a lot of techno bits that sound Disco in some ways, but there are some songs that are very pretty and you can listen to a million times without tiring of it. It’s a completely mixed bag.
(Other flaws worth mentioning)
There are three major in this show that I think people should take notice of. First there is the beginning. Rose of Versailles has a very slow start and it takes five or so episodes before everything kicks off. Second is the passage of time. It’s very choppy and I wish they didn’t mention how many years passed between each event and let it progress naturally. Lastly, the ending feels disjointed from the rest of the show. This is due to Oscar changing locations and makes me wonder how Marie Antoinette changed so much since the last time we saw her. It was a great ending, but it just doesn’t feel right.
Rose of Versailles is a tragedy that is worth watching. It is a little slow and the show is more build than anything else, but you will learn to love these characters anyway. I watched this series two episodes a week, which is how I recommend anybody else to watch this show. Let the show sink in to your mind and thoughts over time. With all the drama and everything that causes depression going on, it’s better this way.
Yes it is from the 1970’s and the animation and art are lacking, but don’t watch the show for those aspects. Watch it for the characters and the story. If you do that, you should be fine watching it all the way through. Trust me.