|The Rose of Versailles|
The success of The Rose of Versailles can be judged by the fact that it has appeared in no fewer than four different mediums:
The Rose of Versailles was first presented as a manga, originally serialized in the weekly girls' comic Margaret in 1972. It was later collected into a set of eleven paperbacks, or five hardcovers, for a total of 1700 pages. A short segment of English translated manga can be found in the book Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics (New York: Kodansha, 1983) by Frederik L. Schodt. This is an early, but extremely through examination of the history and development of Japanese manga. This sample page, of a scene between Oscar and Marie Antoinette, was taken from this work. Two volumes of the manga were translated into English by Mr. Schodt, for the purpose of teaching English to Japanese readers, and were published by Sanyusha in 1981.
Further information and short synopsis of the manga collections can be found at Rei's Manga Page. Read with Caution if you do not want spoilers for the anime series.
The online anime magazine EX has also published a review of the manga.
English translations of the manga are also available.
The Rose of Versailles rose to national prominence when it was dramatized in 1974 by Japan's highly regarded all-female theatrical group, Takarazuka. It proved a highly popular show, and by the time of its final performance in 1991, it reportedly had been performed 1200 times and seen by nearly 3 million people, making it one of the most successful Takarazuka productions in terms of audience.
After a break of 10 years, The Rose of Versailles is once again being performed by Takarazuka, as Berusaiyu no Bara: 2001.
The TechnoGirls DVD request site has a DVD of the Takarazuka Cosmos Troupe 2001 stage production of Takarazuka's Berusaiyu no Bara, "Fersen and Marie Antoinette". It is only available in Japanese.
In 1978 the story was made into a live-action feature film with the English title Lady Oscar. Shot on location at Versailles, directed by Jacques Demy, scored by Michel Legrand, and casting Catriona MacColl as Oscar (on left), the film used a Hollywood script and English-speaking actors. In Japan, it was released with subtitles. According to Fredrick Schodt, it is very entertaining. However, Rene-Gilles Deberdt, another great fan of the series, takes a much more critical view of the film, especially the ending.
Having obtained a copy of the movie for myself, I cannot say I was very impressed with it. While it followed the general storyline, and the characters looked alright, the acting was very flat and uninspired. I can only recommend this film to a The Rose of Versailles completest. (See the FAQ for information on how to obtain a copy.)
In 1979 the story was released in Japan as a 40 episode animated television series, which ran from Oct. 1979 to Sept. 1980. Following its shoujo manga roots, it features beautiful artwork and character designs. The story is told in a very theatrical style ( i.e. dramatic pauses, sudden gusts of wind) often utilizing special effects and manipulation of stills ( i.e. the scene 'shattering' like a mirror, glitter effects) to convey mood and emotion.
Besides Japan, the series has also been broadcast in several other countries including France, Italy, Germany, and Singapore, under the title Lady Oscar.
The Rose of Versailles is one of my favorite series, due to its artwork, characters, and the powerful drama that it conveys.
Riyoko Ikeda was born in 1947 and has been drawing comics for as long as she can remember, but like many Japanese artists she has had no formal art training. Her professional career in art began in 1967 after she dropped out of the philosophy department of the Tokyo University of Education. In addition to The Rose of Versailles, she is probably best known for her other major epic, Orufeusu no Mado or Orpheus's Window, a saga of the Russian Revolution over 3000 pages long. A stickler for detail, she manages to present history in a way that appeals to readers.
Another work of hers is Oniisama E.. or Brother, Dear Brother, the story of a young Japanese schoolgirl, Nanako, who enters a private girl's school, and becomes involved in the lives of several of the other students. A very emotional and melodramic story.
The Riyoko Ikeda Offical Site - in Japanese.