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Berusaiyu no Bara [1] or The Rose of Versailles is a historical fantasy of the pre-French Revolution period. Its central character is Oscar François de Jarjayes, a Parisian noblewoman who has been raised as a boy to provide her father with a "son" and heir. Oscar is made head of the Royal Guards of Versailles, and her first assignment is to protect and chaperon the new Crown Princess Marie Antoinette.

If you were wondering about the scope of anime, this series places the bar well above your initial guess. Incorporating many French historical figures and the very real political nuances of the period, this series can be read either as a political (leftist and/or rightist) screed or as a heart-rending love story. Either way, it is more than worth your time.

A Takarazuka adaptation of this work is one of the most popular. There's also "Lady Oscar", an obscure Live Action Adaptation by French director Jacques Demy generally considered to be So Okay It's Average. It is notable, however, in that it came out before the manga had ever been officially translated, resulting in famed translator Frederik Schodt having to scramble to make one for the production company. He did this by blazing through the manga and writing his translations right on the pages in pencil.

The manga is notable for being highly influential for the Shoujo category. Elements of it can be seen in shows like Revolutionary Girl Utena and Le Chevalier d'Eon. In 2009 a live action series called Haken no Oscar aired in Japan, which constantly references Rose of Versailles.

Not to be confused with the Japanese Power Metal band Versailles.

Tropes used in Rose of Versailles include:
  • The Abridged Series: Rose of Versailles Abridged
  • Action Girl: Oscar.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The anime has more filler in the early series to fill out Oscar's childhood adventures.
  • Animation Anatomy Aging
  • Arranged Marriage: Madame de Polignac tries to engage her kids twice to rich noble people, failing spectacularly and dramatically both times. At some point, Oscar's father attempts to engage her to Count Girodelle, but it also fails. Also, the main reason why Antoinette is the Queen of France is because of her arranged marriage to King Louis, staged by her mother.
  • The Beautiful Elite: At least when it comes to Versailles, but that was actually the point in the Real Life version
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Male version
    • Beauty: Hans Axel Von Fersen
    • Brains: Bernard Chatelet
    • Brawn: Alain de Soissons
    • ... And Andre Grandier has all three!
  • Beta Couple: Rosalie and Bernard. Jeanne and Nicolas. Louise and Renier.
  • Bifauxnen: Oscar, of course, though she stays slightly more on the female side thanks to the shape of her face and eyes.
  • Big Eater: Oscar says André is one of these.
  • Bishie Sparkle: Constantly.
  • Bishonen: Even Maximilien Robespierre is drawn as a very handsome guy in his first apparitions.
  • Bi the Way: Maybe, Rosalie and Oscar, depending on your interpretation of the feelings going either way.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Oscar subverts this, because she's actually pissed at the guy, so she deliberately shoots his hand and cripples him to make sure he'll never get to shoot again. It's not like she didn't have a huge reason: she had seen him shoot a commoner child in the back just for kicks, despite Rosalie begging him to not do so.
  • Bloodless Carnage
  • Break the Cutie: Oscar, Rosalie, André, Marie Antoinette, Fersen, Charlotte as a particularly tragic example... most of the cast, really.
  • Bury Your Gays: Averted! Maybe even inverted, as the at-least-bisexual Rosalie is the only member of the main cast to survive the last few episodes. She's in a relationship with Intrepid Reporter Bernard, but there's still some feeling for Oscar.
  • Colonel Badass: Oscar, as commander of the Royal Guards, holds rank equivalent to a Colonel's.
  • Come to Gawk
  • Costume Porn: Which actually borders on Shown Their Work. Many of the outfits were that elaborate in Real Life.
  • Cross Dresser: Oscar
  • Dan Browned: In-universe, Cardinal Rohan displaying a letter from 'Marie-Antoinette du France' to the King. By convention, royalty only use first names in signatures and Rohan belonged to a family that should've known this. This one actually happened, too.
    • Real examples, however, exist. For example, Marie Antoinette is consistently referred to as Antoinette wherever she goes, even in her homeland of Austria. Problem is her Austrian name is Maria Antonia.
  • Dances and Balls
  • Death by Sex: Subverted Oscar and André have sex almost at the end of the manga and anime series, apparently losing their virginities to each other as well. Both die in the Grand Finale- though the subversion is that their deaths were not a result of sexual intercourse. In a mild subversion, though, André is the first one to bite the dust.
  • Demoted to Extra: Poor Rosalie got this for being unpopular among Japanese readers.
  • Died Happily Ever After: When Oscar is fatally shot, she is smiling- because she sees that Andre- who had been fatally shot himself as well the previous day- had come back from above in order to bring her home. After they both die, they go retrieve Andre's grandmother, who also dies smiling.
  • Distant Finale
  • Distracted by the Luxury: Justified, since the ring given to Marie is also meant to be a memento from her mother.
  • Downer Ending: It's a historical drama set within the context of the French Revolution. Of course it's got one of these! About half of it is a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Dramatic Wind: So much
  • Driven to Suicide: Charlotte, Dianne (Alain's sister), Jeanne.
    • In the manga, André almost goes through with it, when he poisons Oscar's wine and plans to kill himself afterwards.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Jeanne takes to drinking vodka by the bottle after the Affair of the Necklace plays out. Oscar is also seen surrounded by empty wine bottles now and then.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: Marie Antoinette's dresses are rarely ever plain, even by royal standards. To be sure, the pageantry and ritual was half the point of Versailles and the clothes were a big piece of that. Blame Louis XIV.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: considering Robespierre and Saint Just as villains, happens in the manga at Marie's trial: when Hebért accuses her of incest, Robespierre berates him for sullying the Revolution with the charge and Saint Just entertains with the image of executing him (historically, Hebért would give them an excuse, getting executed as a thief).
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Oh, Oscar...
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Marie is so Wrong Genre Savvy that she acts as though this trope applies to her no matter what, which is where a lot of the Irony in the series comes from.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Bishie Sparkle being just one of many types this shows uses.
  • Evil Matriarch: Madame de Polignac.
  • Eye Scream: André loses vision in his left eye in very messy circumstances. When he died, he had also lost half the sight of his remaining one.
  • Eyepatch of Power: André.
  • Faceless Masses: Grayed Colored Masses.
  • Fake Nationality: While the director of the film was an actual Frenchman, most of the actors were British.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Flower Motifs: Even on dresses!.
  • Gem-Encrusted: The ermine on one of Marie's dresses, her bejeweled headdresses, and all the various dresses trimmed with pearls and jewels.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Naturally required in Versailles.
  • Heroic BSOD: Charlotte spends her last moments in this state, acting like a madwoman until she kills herself by throwing self off a balcony. André also suffers a BSOD of sorts when he realizes he's going blind, then Oscar tells him she intends to live and die as a man. He absolutely loses it, forcefully kissing her and ripping her shirt; after realizing what he almost did, he tearfully confesses his love and walks away.
  • Historical Beauty Update: Everyone.
  • Historical Domain Character: Everyone who actually existed; it might be shorter to list those who do not belong to this category.
  • Historical Fiction
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Since the series is told from the perspective of Marie Antoinette, many of her political enemies got this treatment, notably Madame du Barry and Louis Phillipe II (Duke d'Orleans).
  • If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him: Oscar refuses to kill Bernard "Black Knight" Chatêlet, the one to blame for André's Eye Scream situation, because of this.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Oscar gets tuberculosis, but unusually for the trope, she doesn't actually die from the cough (though she is informed that it's terminal) but in a far more suitably dramatic manner while storming the Bastille.
  • In the Past Everyone Will Be Famous: Oscar, besides working with Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, randomly bumps into Robespierre and Louis Saint-Juste on many occasions. The manga is even more egregious, and name-drops Napoleon for zero reason, and for only a few pages, in a later chapter.
    • The Napoleon name-dropping is only gratuitous for those who haven't heard of the Napoleon-centric sequel to the manga, Eikou no Napoleon, which is admittedly obscure compared to this series. To those who do know of it, it is more of a case of Chekhov's Gunman.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Bernard, after his Character Development.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Girodelle/Gerodere.
  • Kill'Em All: Most of the characters of the series are dead by the end, even the humble accordion narrator! Only Alain, Rosalie, and Bernard are left in the epilogue.
  • King Incognito: How Marie met Fersen.
  • Knight Templar: Robespierre, in the end. Then again, he's almost always portrayed like this in the media, so...
  • Knight Templar Parent: Empress Marie Therese.
  • Lady of War: Oscar, overlapping with Action Girl.
  • Let Them Pretend Happy: André starts losing eyesight on his remaining eye, and at some point he stands next to Oscar's new portrait and starts giving a flowery false description of it to not let Oscar know his eyesight problems. Oscar then tearfully says the picture is as gorgeous as he says it is, not having the heart to tell André that she knows he's almost blind.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Most of the cast, especially commoners, though Oscar does go through three different uniforms.
  • Lolicon: Even though it WAS normal for the time period and the high nobility, Duke Guiche likes his women a little too young...
  • Love Dodecahedron: André<->Oscar, Rosalie->Oscar, Oscar->Rosalie to a much lesser extent, Oscar->Fersen, Fersen<->Marie Antoinette, Bernard->Rosalie, Rosalie->Bernard to an extent, Louis->Marie Antoinette, and there's something more than a guard/charge relationship between Oscar and Marie Antoinette as well.
  • Love Triangle: André/Oscar/Fersen/Marie Antoinette.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: A gender swapped version, played straight: Rosalie's adoptive mom died after being crashed by Mme de Polignac vehicle. Rosalie swears she will get revenge. The problem is, the answer to her You Killed My Mother could be "I am your mother!" Rosalie is really the illegitimate child of Mme de Polignac, who had to abandon her to a servant.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Jeanne de la Motte.
  • Maria Theresa: As the Empress of Austria and the mother of...
  • Marie Antoinette: And how.
  • Melodrama: If you could bottle and sell it, you'd make a fortune from just a few episodes.
  • The Mistress: DuBarry.
  • No Export for You: Sort of. Ask any anime fan whose native language is English about Rose of Versailles, and you're more likely than not to get a blank stare. Although the anime was a hit all over Asia, Continental Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America, an official release remains conspicuously absent in the Anglosphere. That's because the original creator has vowed that her work shall never be translated into English. Why? Apparently she bought into Eagle Land paranoia and believes that everything that touches American shores is heavily censored or dumbed down, despite the fact that nowadays, nearly all anime and the vast majority of manga come over completely uncensored.
  • Only Six Faces: The real reason Orlean's henchman was able to impersonate Antoinette. Also, Jeanne and DuBarry have exactly the same face, only Jeanne is a brunette and Du-Barry is blonde.
  • The Ophelia: Charlotte, after being broken. Maybe, Dianne before her suicide.
  • The Other Darrin: The 2008 movie brings a pretty interesting and all-star new cast: Sanae Kobayashi as Oscar, Toshiyuki Morikawa as Andre, Ayako Kawasumi as Marie Antoinette, Mamiko Noto as Rosalie, Hikaru Midorikawa as Bernard, Kazuhiko Inoue as Fersen, Rikiya Koyama as Alain, Masako Katsuki as Polignac, Akiko Yajima as Jeanne and Kenji Nojima as Louis.
  • Parental Abandonment: André is an orphan raised by his grandmother, who works as the Jarjayes caretaker. Marie Antoinette is distanced from her mother Maria Theresa, who marries her off to young Louis as a pawn in her European politics; Louis Auguste himself is being raised by his grandfather the King and his aunts. Rosalie was abandoned as a baby by her 14-year-old mother and raised by a peasant along with another girl, Jeanne; said peasant, Nicole, dies at the beginning of the story when run over by the carriage of Madame de Polignac... Rosalie's true mother. Bernard's mother dies when he is 5. Robespierre's mother dies when he is young. Averted- and how- by Oscar being outlived by both her parents. Subverted by Alain's mother being alive until he is in his mid 20s.
  • Parents as People: Oscar's father, and how.
  • Pastel-Chalked Freeze-Frame: Any time anything really dramatic happens, it's even odds that this happens.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: André loses the use of one eye roughly halfway through the series, and subsequently covers it up with his hair for the remainder of the series. Perhaps unusually, he does experience problems with his sight as a result of this, which becomes a plot point later on.
  • Pimped-Out Cape: Marie had the most, and her most pimped out was the one in the manga with the bejeweled ermine dress, because the cape was also similarly trimmed. But in the anime, it was just trimmed with thick, white fur (still enough to count as this trope of course). There is also the king's royal robes. And in the manga, Oscar even has a fur-trimmed cape she wears once. Rosalie either borrows that cape or has one of her own.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Plenty, given the setting, but given Marie's position, she gets the grandest dresses, even before she shows up in France (the dress trimmed with jewelry-tipped ermine). Also nearly as grand are DuBarry's dresses, and Oscar's dress.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege: Marie successfully saving André from execution.
  • Pretty in Mink: Marie wears a few other furs in addition to her ermine capes. In the manga, Oscar even has a fur she wears once, and Rosalie has a cape, and a jacket and muff.
  • Princess Classic: Deconstructed through Marie.
  • Princess Curls: Marie has these, even when she changes her hairstyle.
  • Quivering Eyes: Antoinette.
  • Raised as the Opposite Gender: Oscar, of course. Oddly for this trope, she is completely open about being female and few make anything of it. But that could be due to the fact that by the time Oscar meets Andre at age 7, she already knows she is a girl.
  • Really Dead Montage
  • Redheaded Stepchild: Madame du Barry consistently refers to Marie Antoinette as a redhead even though the latter is obviously a blonde. It's clearly meant to be an insult.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: Only occasionally worn, save for state occasions and particularly dramatic moments, like when Marie flung off her ermine cape when forced to speak to Madame DuBarry, signifying Marie's torment at having to give in to a commoner. Of course she was actually giving in to the King, but that wasn't the point.
  • Rule of Drama
  • Rule of Glamorous
  • Say My Name: "OSCAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!"
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: Rosalie, possibly Charlotte.
  • Shadow Archetype
  • Shoujo Demographic
  • Spoiled Brat: Little Charlotte, until she goes mad
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Oscar, yet again.
  • Stab the Sky: Such as when Oscar is pleading for André's life after Marie's horse accident.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: In a dark, personal scene, Oscar and André are arguing, when André becomes very upset at her decision to live her entire life as a man. He has always seen her as a woman as well, and their fight takes them near Oscar's bed. As he becomes physical, Oscar (being the main character) keeps fighting him off until he grabs her and the shoulder of her shirt rips. Then she's just at his mercy, asking "what will you do?" very pitifully - but this of course frightens André, who stops and apologizes repeatedly.
    • OTOH, this is less about Oscar going fail-tastic at fighting without reason, and more about Andre almost crossing the Despair Event Horizon when he comes to think she's throwing her life away, and Oscar being throughly shocked when unable to face a truth she has been avoiding for so long.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Oscar is a noblewoman, André is a commoner (and so is Rosalie). Marie Antoinette is the Queen, Count Fersen is a diplomatic agent from Sweden.
  • Staring Through the Sword: Done at least three times by Oscar.
  • Sugar and Ice Personality: Oscar starts out as being seen as this.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Tomboy career woman Oscar- though most people can tell she is a woman from the very beginning- and Girly Girl Rosalie. Antoinette started off as tomboyish when she was a little girl, but when she became the queen she turned into a very frou frou girly girl.
  • The Tragic Rose: It's even in the name.
  • Tsundere: Version of the Type A Tsundere. Oscar is known for her stoicism and fierce Lady of War attributes, but she also has a severe crush on Fersen and later falls deeply in love with her childhood friend Andre.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. He's more pudgy and plain-looking than strictly ugly, though; in this series, no one is a Gonk.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal:
    • Marie, when she meets Oscar. Repeated with Rosalie.
    • The Duke of Orleans tries to do this to the king and the prince in a Filler storyline in the show. They get a Cute Shotaro Boy to dress up like Marie and impersonate her, so that he marries the prince instead, thus creating a huge scandal.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: André, though it's a very small victory seeing as he dies the day after he and Oscar consummate their relationship.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Lots of those, specially Robespierre, Saint Juste, and Bernard before his Character Development.
  • White-Haired Pretty Girl: Oscar in some art. Blonde elsewhere.
  • Wheel-O-Feet: In the manga.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: In an anime only arc, the Duke of Orleans plots to ruin the marriage by having a boy show up in Marie's place. The boy, Jean, already looks a lot like Marie, so the addition of a wig really isn't much of a stretch.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: The Dauphin was a nice and sweet kid. Too bad he also was Too Good for This Sinful Earth.
  • The X of Y

Notes

  1. No, no, no, not THAT one!
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