In 1972, mangaka Riyoko Ikeda launched her shojo series The Rose of Versailles. Fifty years later, the series has sold 20 million copies around the world, and led to such adaptations as an anime and musicals. It has also left its mark on the Japanese pop culture psyche, especially in regards to shojo manga. This year, as part of its fiftieth anniversary, there is an exhibit for The Rose of Versailles in Tokyo.
The exhibit contains original drawings, and also thoughts from creator Ikeda. “At the time there was a gap between men and women, and there were people who said ‘women and children won’t understand history’,” Ikeda noted. She knew that was a ridiculous statement. “I was young, and I replied ‘I’m going to make sure this is a hit’.”
The series has historical figures, like Marie Antionette, but also fictional characters, like Oscar, a girl raised as a boy.
“Oscar is an amazing, ideal hero for girls,” remarked Deborah Shamoon, who is the associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s Department of Japanese Studies. She likes how Oscar’s relationship with another character, Andre, is portrayed. “He [Andre] admires all her qualities and doesn’t try to change her or make her more stereotypically feminine.”
“When I first saw Oscar, I was fascinated by how cool, beautiful, strong, and wonderful she was,” said 22-year-old fan Manami Suzuki, who learned about the manga from her mother, while she was at the exhibit.
Udon Entertainment publishes The Rose of Versailles in English. It gave this description for the first volume:
“Oscar François de Jarjeyes is a young noblewoman raised as a son by her father. As commander of Marie Antoinette’s palace guard, Oscar is brought face-to-face with the luxury of King Louis XVI’s court at Versailles. Joined by her servant André, Oscar is privy to the intrigue and deceit of France’s last great royal regime.
The Rose of Versailles, the queen of shojo manga, is available for the first time in English! This deluxe hardcover volume contains the first 22 chapters of Riyoko Ikeda’s historical fiction masterwork.”
Source: Yahoo News
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.