I’ll be the first (or the 1,234,124,312,341 in this case) to say how thrilled I am for this collaboration. I think the grandure and beauty is perfect for a splendid December Dolpa. I’ve had a lot of people ask about the plot of Rose of Versailles (“RoV” as we Otaku affectionately it). I’ll do my best to give insight as to why this series is just so dang important to so many people. This article contains SPOILERS. Please be aware!
First of all, while it is a work of fiction, it is also based loosely on historic events:
“The setting is in France, before and during the French Revolution. In the early part of the series, the main character is the young, flighty Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, however later the focus of the story shifts to a woman named Oscar François de Jarjayes. Oscar’s father, General Jarjayes, despaired over never getting a son (he had six daughters), and decided to raise his youngest daughter as a man. He trained her well in the arts of fencing, horsemanship and medieval combat. Oscar often practiced her skills with her best friend, companion and (technically) servant, André Grandier, whom she almost always defeated. André is the grandson of her nanny and thus they spent most of their time together in harmonic friendship; near the end of the story, this friendship blossoms into mutual love.
Oscar is the commander of the Royal Guard and responsible for the safety of Marie Antoinette, as well as the rest of the royal family. The story revolves around Oscar’s growing realization of how France is governed, and the plight of the poor. Another important storyline is the love story between Marie Antoinette and the Swedish Count Axel von Fersen. The affair between the two is the subject of rumours through all of France, endangering the Queen’s reputation and driving Oscar to request the Count to leave the country.
After the Count decides to leave and sign up for the American war of independence, Marie Antoinette becomes lovesick. She spends money in excess – expensive jewellery and clothes, attending balls every other night – to distract herself from pining for the only man she loved. This, in turn, weighs on the taxpayers of France, and poverty spreads throughout the country due to Marie Antoinette’s squandering of money. Both the Affair of the Diamond Necklace and the appearance of the infamous Gabrielle de Polastron, comtesse de Polignac are central plot events taken from history, as well as the French Revolution and the fall of the Bastille – all given interesting interpretations through the fictional character Oscar and her companions.
On July 14, 1789, the Taking of the Bastille, the crowds rebel but lack strategy, giving the military the advantage and making themselves easy target for cannon fire. However, Oscar and the regiment B then arrive to help organize the insurgents. During the following fierce battle, Oscar is shot and killed, but the Bastille eventually falls, symbolically striking down the French monarchy. After the Bastille is taken, the revolutionaries burst into the Palace searching for Marie Antoinette and her family. Many guards are killed and the royal family taken prisoner. Big trials are started for Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, but finally, both are declared guilty and guillotined.”
I think the most engaging aspect of the character of Oscar is how her very existence challenges societal norms- this is true for her place in the story (as we are reminded time and again in the plot) and also particularly for the 1970’s as well- when the manga was originall published. As a reader I was entranced by her enduring passion for her queen, her country and the revolution for the people of France. If you’ve not taken time to read the manga or watch the anime, I can’t possibly recommended it enough!
The lyrics of the opening theme song capture the spirit of the Oscar perfectly. She is truly ‘The Rose of Versailles’:
“If I were just a nameless flower
Blooming in a field
Then I could simply
Let myself blow in the wind
But I was born to the destiny of the rose
Born to a brilliant and tempestuous life
The rose, the rose blooms nobly
The rose, the rose perishes beautifully
I wonder beneath which star
I am destined to perish
I have not been granted
An ordinary life
But I have been entrusted with the destiny of the rose
To always live my life aflame with passion
The rose, the rose blooms nobly
The rose, the rose perishes beautifully”
Volks has done a beautiful job with the dolls and their outfits as well. The uniforms ring true and are exquisite in their detail- the swords are gorgeous as well! There’s one little issue that most people have been noticing… there’s been quite a but of debate about the nature and design of the ballgown which is taken directly from the manga.
A few people noticing that Lady Oscar’s ball gown does not quite suit the time period. Through careful research there’s a good reason for her choice. Though Oscar does not dress as a woman she decides to attend a ball and requires a suitable outfit to be made. She is asked whether or not she will will want a “French style or the odalisque style” of dress. It is not revealed until someone at the ball comments on how well the Odalisque style dress suits her that we know what she chose!
“An odalisque (Turkish: Odalık) was a chambermaid or a female attendant in a Turkish seraglio, particularly the court ladies in the household of the Ottoman sultan.”
If you google odalisque you mainly get results that are nude women lounging and it’s rather difficult to discern why this would be given as a design decision for Oscar’s dress. There is specualtion on one blog that the dress is not odalisque but the style of the fan Oscar is carrying. For more information please check out this lovely blog that elaborates on the scene, design elements of her dress and the context.
Yet on another Japanese blog the the writer insists that the dress Oscar is wearing is not an odalisque style but says through the translation:
“Speaking of Odalisque (Sukyu Turkisha) dress, is not Oskar-sama’s dress just a lifetime dress !”
So perhaps it was the fan or perhaps it is just Ikeda’s imagination or Oscar’s whimsey but either way the dress turned out to be a masterpiece and stuck us with the mystery that is the ‘odalisque style of dress’. Additionally It is arguable that Oscar’s character was not one of flamboyance- which was all the French dresses were at the time- opulently decorated with huge panniers. The idea is that she is so magnificently beautiful that she shines like the sun despite the understated nature of her dress.
If you are looking to welcome Lady Oscar or André then look towards more development on December Dolpa. We’re waiting to hear if there will be preorders or if there will be a lotttery. Additionally if they are event dolls then they should be available via lottery at the AfterEvent in late December as well as via Volks USA. We’ll keep you updated on the details as we hear them.
(angsty André is my favorite! He only needs an eye patch! —>)
These dolls are likely to be in high demand since they are based on one of the most popular shoujo mangas in history! If you are preparing to welcome one please get ready for some heavy competition! Good luck!
As always images offered on Tenshinomon.com are only supplement to Volks INC materials and are not considered replacements for the source material. All material is linked back to the original post and all images belong to Volks INC unless otherwise specified. Also a big ‘thank you’ to kritik der animationskraft for settling all the questions about the “odalisque dress”! ❤ Thank you for reading!