Begun as a shōjo manga of ten volumes (1972 – 1973), The Rose of Versailles (Berusaiyu no Bara) by Riyoko Ikeda became an anime animation series of 40 episodes (1979 – 1980) produced by Tokyo Movie Shinsha. Aired first in Japan, it then was broadcasted in Europe and Latin America where it’s known as Lady Oscar.
Set in France during the time of French Revolution, The Rose of Versailles focuses on the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, but even more on Oscar Francois de Jarjayes. Oscar’s father—a French general—desperately wanted a son, but after six daughters and with his biggest wish still not granted he decided to raise his youngest one as a man, who then became the commander of the Royal Guards. Although Oscar always proves to be a great and loyal militant, she is also kind and quite compassionate and that’s why she’s touched by the lower class. She may be torn between her duty and her desire to help the poor, but her inner strength will always inspire both royalty and not.
Oscar: Hero & Heroine
Oscar is an energetic fighter whose loyalty is truly admirable. Once she reaches adulthood she starts feeling something and, although she recognises what that means, she tries to bury these feelings and stay focused on the task at hand–her job as the commander of the Royal Guards. It doesn’t matter how really tormented she is and how difficult it is for her to suppress her feelings, she is always willing to sacrifice her inner desires at the cost of her own happiness, and all because she needs to be faithful to her duty.
“There are two kinds of love in this world: a love of joy . . . and a love of agony.” –Oscar
She can’t choose to be a woman because from the moment she was born—and her name is proof of that—she was given a mission, to be Oscar Francois de Jarjayes, a man of honour and the heir of the General Jarjayes’ dynasty. Yet, she’s not really a man…
“Please accept. I may be a woman, but I am still a warrior. This is the only way to protect my honour!” – Oscar
She is admired by both men and women and while a few ladies at court prove to be quite jealous mostly of the attention she inadvertly calls upon her, others inevitably fall for Oscar’s beauty and strength. And how can they not?
This female anime/manga character is perhaps the first who teaches girls that the aesthetic aspect is not what really makes them so beautiful. She is quite a beauty herself indeed, but it’s her inner strength that really shines. She shows us how to stand up for what we believe in, how to be brave, strong and how we can fight back. After all, roses have thorns…
The Rose of Versailles aka Lady Oscar remains one, if not THE most influential anime of all times, one that keeps being appreciated by both sexes from a young age not just because of the fascinating story, but right because of this amazing, inspirational main character who steals everyone’s heart.