The Rose of Versailles, also known as Lady Oscar or La Rose de Versailles, is a Japanese shōjo manga series written and illustrated by Riyoko Ikeda. It has been adapted into several Takarazuka Revue musicals, as well an anime television series, produced by Tokyo Movie Shinsha and broadcast by the anime television network Nippon TV. The series remains incredibly popular in Italy.
The Rose of Versailles focuses on Oscar François de Jarjayes, a girl raised as a man to become her father’s successor as leader of the Palace Guards. A brilliant combatant with a strong sense of justice, Oscar is proud of the life she leads, but becomes torn between class loyalty and her desire to help the impoverished as revolution brews among the oppressed lower class. Also important to the story are her conflicting desires to live life as both a militant and a regular woman as well as her relationships with Marie Antoinette, Count Axel von Fersen, and servant and best friend André Grandier.
It features elements of the yuri genre embodied in the relationship between Oscar and her protégée Rosalie Lamorlière, the secret daughter of the scheming Madame de Polignac. Rosalie refers to Oscar as her first love. Many of the court ladies also greatly adore Oscar, openly admiring her at parties and become very jealous when she brings female companions to them.
In 1979, The Rose of Versailles was released in Japan as a 40-episode (and 1 recapitulation) animated television series, which ran from October 1979 to September 1980. Besides Japan, the series has also been broadcast in several other countries of Europe and Latin America under the title of Lady Oscar. The anime was directed by Tadao Nagahama (episodes 1-18) and Osamu Dezaki (episodes 19-40), who brought a cinematic approach to the series. Shingo Araki was the animation director and co-character designer along with Akio Sugino and Michi Himeno. Kōji Makaino was in charge of the soundtrack.
The production staff included the most recognized animation professionals then, who contributed in the making of the 40 episodes of the anime. In spite of the difficulties they had to go through, the staff could continue with their work and took advantage of the problems. The most important of said incidents was the change of direction at the middle of the project, which marked a notable difference between the first half of the anime (directed by Tadao Nagahama) and the second one (directed by Osamu Dezaki).
The anime was finally aired on October 10, 1979 in Japan on the channel Nippon TV. From this point on, the series would be aired every Wednesday until September 3, 1980, with the airing of the last episode.
There have been two films based on the Rose of Versailles series. A third film was in pre-production 2007-2009 at Toei, but later reports claim it has been cancelled.
Lady Oscar is a 1979 film, written and directed by Jacques Demy, with music composed by Michel Legrand. Lady Oscar is a French-Japanese co-production, and was shot in France. Frederik L. Schodt translated the entire manga series into English as a reference for the producers of this film, but gave the only copy of the translation to them and it was lost.
Inochi Aru Kagiri Aishite
Inochi Aru Kagiri Aishite (I’ll Love You as Long as I Live) is a film that summarizes the whole anime. It was released first on video on May 21, 1987 and received a theatrical release on May 19, 1990.
Oscar François de Jarjayes
is a beautiful woman who was raised as a boy by her father. She is educated in such diverse arts as fencing. Eventually, she commands the Imperial Guard of Queen Marie Antoinette. She has no reason to pretend to be a man because most of those at Versailles know that she is a woman. Oscar falls in love with Hans Axel von Fersen, a Swedish count. But Fersen has eyes for the queen only, and treats Oscar like a friend without knowing her true feelings for him. When the revolution begins, André tells Oscar that he loves her, and she realizes that she loves him too.
is the friend of Oscar and the grandson of her nanny, André and Oscar learned the arts of fencing and horsemanship together when they were children. As they grew up, Oscar became the Dauphine’s guard and the class gap between them widened.
André is secretly in love with Oscar, but he never tells her until both of them decide to help the insurgents when the French Revolution begins. Oscar initially refuses his extreme advances, but later realizes she does not want to marry any other men for fear of hurting him, before realizing she also loves him back, but did not understand the nature of her love at first.
Later in the series, André loses sight in his left eye in order to save Oscar who had been captured by the Black Knight; his condition slowly worsens until he is completely blind. André is a very sensitive and passionate man, suffering for his unrequited love for Oscar but being unable to quench his desire for her and vocally siding with the commoners in their plight.
Sadly André dies from a stray bullet the day after Oscar’s declaration of love, able to share only one night of passion with the woman he lived for.
married the Dauphin to seal the alliance between his grandfather Louis XV and her mother, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, when she was 14. After her marriage, she realizes that Madame du Barry, King Louis XV’s mistress, is against her. The princess, horrified by what she had heard about du Barry, decides to never speak to her. Meanwhile, she meets Count von Fersen, who becomes her lover.
Madame du Barry, always plotting against Marie Antoinette and Oscar, fulfills her desire to be greeted by her. After the death of Louis XV, Madame du Barry is forcibly removed from Versailles and sent to a convent.
Marie Antoinette, after several conflicts with her husband, starts feeling lonely. Fersen, who had left France on Oscar’s advice, returns. Rumors swirl about the Queen and the Count, and Fersen leaves again. A depressed Marie Antoinette befriends the Duchess de Polignac. Polignac leads Marie Antoinette to her downfall. Marie Antoinette is described as a “lively, silly girls of shoujo manga”.
Hans Axel von Fersen
is a handsome Swedish aristocrat who comes to the court of Versailles and becomes involved in a forbidden romance with queen Marie Antoinette. It is revealed in the series that Oscar also has strong feelings for Fersen.
is the adoptive daughter of a commoner named Nicole Lamorlière. She is described as “a stereotypical good girl, sweet, obedient and timid”. Her biological mother is the Duchess de Polignac, referred to as Martine Gabrielle. Nicole tells Rosalie the truth when she is dying after being hit by a carriage. Rosalie swears that she will kill the person in the carriage that killed her mother. She tries to kill Oscar’s mother, Lady Jarjayes, because she thought Lady Jarjayes was in the carriage, but Oscar stops Rosalie. Oscar decides to help her, and she teaches Rosalie the art of fencing, manners, history, and other courtly skills. Rosalie comes to admire and love Oscar greatly.
Rosalie tells Oscar about Martine Gabrielle. At a party, Rosalie recognizes the Duchess de Polignac and tries to kill her, but Oscar stops her and tells her that killing her won’t bring her mother back, and if she killed her, she would be executed. Later Oscar and André discover the true identity of Martine Gabrielle and her relationship to Rosalie.
Rosalie ambushes Polignac’s carriage in front of Polignac’s daughter, Charlotte, but Oscar stops her. After an incident where Charlotte loses her mind and commits suicide, the Duchess de Polignac goes to Jarjayes’s Mansion and tells Rosalie that if she didn’t come with her, she would tell the authorities that Oscar was the protector of the sister of Jeanne of Valois-Saint-Rémy, the mastermind of the “Affair of the Diamond Necklace”. Rosalie decides to go; soon, she realizes that the Duchess de Polignac intends were to marry her to the Duke of Guiche, Charlotte’s ex-fiancé and cause of her suicide. She escapes, and marries Oscar’s friend, Bernard Chatelet and meets Oscar again during the Storming of the Bastille.
After the storming of the Bastille, the people burst into Versailles and take Marie Antoinette prisoner. Marie Antoinette and her family are taken to a prison, where Rosalie serves the queen as a servant, telling her all she knew about Oscar. Marie Antoinette, before the day of her execution, gives Rosalie a rose she made out of cosmetic paper, and tells her to paint it with Oscar’s favorite rose color. After The Rose of Versailles ends, she appears in its sequel, Eikou no Napoleon – Eroica.