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The Rose of Versailles Part 1

Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman

The Rose of Versailles Part 1 is a four-disc DVD set that Nozomi Entertainment released in 2013 for the classic shojo series, The Rose of Versailles. This is the first time this series has been released in North America since its debut in Japan in 1979; because of this fact, this DVD box set was a highly anticipated release for anime fans that have waited years to see this classic shojo series.

Each disc contains five episodes of the series, which means that roughly half of the episodes are available in this set. The only audio option for this release is Japanese audio with English subtitles. It should be noted that while there is no option in the menu to turn off the English subtitles, they can be removed by using the options on your DVD or Blu-ray player's remote.

The protagonist of The Rose of Versailles is Oscar Francois de Jarjayes, the youngest of General Jarjayes' six daughters. When Oscar was born, her father decided to raise her as a boy; she was taught fencing, horsemanship, and medieval combat.

The series starts 20 years prior to the French Revolution; at this time, Oscar is 14 years old. In the first episode, she becomes the commander of the Royal Guard, and her mission is to escort and protect Marie Antoinette and the rest of the royal family. Oscar is accompanied by her childhood friend, Andre. He is in love with Oscar, but she doesn't seem to notice.

The episodes in this set focus on Marie Antoinette, her marriage to Louis-Auguste, and her ascension to becoming the Queen of France. The story so far incorporates actual events, but seems to increase the drama to these events; at times, it feels like the story is a little "over the top." Probably the best example of this is Marie Antoinette's "feud" with Countess du Barry; this particular event spanned three episodes, when it really could have been done in a shorter amount of time and still made the same point. However, I do try to keep in mind the fact that this anime was based on a manga series, so the "over the top" storytelling could potentially be contributed to the original source material; however, I don't know for sure since I've never been able to read the manga series. One of the things that this series has done right is the fact that Marie Antoinette has been portrayed in such a way that she isn't exactly a very likable character.

At first, I was a little disappointed that the fact that Oscar was actually a girl was rather well known to the nobles outside of the Jarjayes family, since the back of box made such a big deal about Oscar being raised as a boy. However, after seeing something that happens in one of the later episodes, it appears that it's hard to keep a secret from the French nobility.

The animation style in the series definitely looks as if it came from the 1970s. It's also very obvious that this is a 1970s shojo series, due to the sparkles in the characters' eyes. There were also occasional shots where typical shojo tropes were used, such as still shots with sparkles on the characters, or still shots where bubbles were added to the image. When one of these images was used for Count Axel von Fersen, my husband quipped that he thought he was watching The Rose of Versailles, and not one of the Twilight films with sparkly vampires.

The first 15 episodes have a light, almost carefree feeling to them. However, this tone begins to change around episode 16. The story begins to take a darker turn, especially since it's becoming more clear that the story is starting to get closer to the events that would lead to the French Revolution. Between the last few episodes in this set, as well as a description I've read for the episodes in the second set, it appears that this darker tone that has started to appear will continue in the next box set.

When it comes to the bonus features, all four discs include Nozomi Entertainment trailers. The fourth disc also includes a textless opening and a textless closing. Considering how old this property is, and the fact that this is the first time that The Rose of Versailles has been released in North America, I'm not about to quibble about the bonus features; in fact, I'm grateful that this set even includes the bonus features that it does.

However, I do have one complaint about this set. There were several instances throughout the set where I caught mistakes that were made in the subtitles. Hopefully a little more effort will be made with the second set DVD set of The Rose of Versailles to help minimize, if not eliminate altogether, the grammatical errors in the subtitles.

After watching the first 20 episodes of The Rose of Versailles, I believe this series will hold the most appeal to shojo fans who also enjoy historical fiction, and are able to look past the dated animation style.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of this DVD box set that I purchased.

Disc 1
Disc 2
Oscar! The Destiny of the Rose
Fly! The Butterfly of Austria
Sparks Fly at Versailles
Roses, Wine and the Conspiracy…
With Tears of Dignity...

Bonus Features
The Silk Dress and the Ragged Dress
Who Wrote the Love Letter
Oscar in My Heart
The Sun Sets, the Sun Rises
The Beautiful Devil, Jeanne

Bonus Features


Disc 3
Disc 4
Fersen Leaves for the Northern Lands
On the Morning of the Duel, Will Oscar...?
Winds of Arras, Answer Me…
The Angel's Secret
The Countess of the Casino

Bonus Features
Mother, Her Name Is...?
Now, the Moment of Encounter
Suddenly, Like Icarus
Farewell, Little Sister!
Fersen, a Farewell Rondeau

Bonus Features
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Content copyright © 2014 by Lesley Aeschliman. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Lesley Aeschliman. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Brenda Chen for details.

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