This is an anime that I was not sure about watching before I finally gave it a chance. I came across it a few times here on Anime-planet when I was looking for a new anime to watch, but I kept looking right past it for a while. All I knew about it at the time was that that it was made in the 70s and what the cover image looked like, which gave me a glipse of what the art style was like. I originally did not give the anime a fair chance just because it was about thirty-nine years old. After I have seen it I wish I saw it sooner. This is actually the kind of anime that is right up my ally because it is a historical drama, which I did not even know for a while because I was juding it by its cover. Versailles no Bara may be an older anime, but that does no change how good it actually is.
The story of Versailles no Bara is heavily influenced by the French Revolution, and the events in Versailles and Marie Antoinette's life leading up to that point. Some of the characters, like Marie Antoinette and Robespierre, were actual key figures at the time and I thought it was cool to see that and to get a different look at these people than how they are portrayed in the history books. Or at least I find historical shows to be fascinating and honestly do enjoy seeing historical figures portrayed in different ways in media.With anime like this it is also interesting to look at the story and wonder what parts of it really did happen and what parts of it are made up ti make people more interested in the story.
This anime includes many timeskips since the story takes place in the time frame of about twenty years. Since there were probably many things that happened in those twenty so years leading up to the French Revolution, they only include the more important parts of that time period in the story. The events chosen to be included in the story seem to be good choices as they do their purpose of showing the audience what the characters are like as much as they can until the end. The story does a good job of preparing the audience for the events at the end of the anime. This anime does a great job of foreshadowing with a who appears a few times and when he does appear he is usually talking about that inevitable downfall of Versailles and of France as they currently know it as. After the revolution has started, this character is seen to be dead. I thought this was an excellent example of foreshadowing because this guy who is always shown talking about this inevitable downfall dies at the very time what he was foreshadowing had just begun. The narrator of the story also does a bit of foreshadowing with a few a the things she says mainly about how a character did not know what was to come.
Now, a majority of this story is based off real events, but Versailles no Bara knows how to take these events and make it into a story of its own. Mainly with the interesting characters it adds and how it makes the audience so interested in seeing what happens in certain scenes. I absolutely love historical stories like this and I think Versailles no Bara does an amazing job of presenting it.
The art style of this anime is actually kind of beautiful. I especially like how the character designs look. I like seeing when a character is made to sparkle or how the light may reflect around them. It is nice how the art style will slightly change for a little bit to highlight an important or dramatic moment. The actual animation of this anime is not very good. As what to expect from a 70s anime, the animation quality is poorly done and there are many scenes that could have been animated better. For what this anime lacks in animation, it makes up for in its beautiful art style.
Music: Versailles no Bara's soundtrack is just beautiful. A lot of the songs on the soundtrack are sad but beautiful at the same time to perfectly fit the tone of this anime. I could just listen to this soundtrack for hours on end and have. During the anime, the music fits the mood very well. When there is a fight or battle going on the music fits that mood and makes the audience more pumped for the fight and more into wanting to see what happens. When there is an ominous mood the music gives the audience a reason to feel that way and let them know that something bad is going to happen. The music is well chosen and placed to fit the scenes it is in perfectly.
The opening song, Bara wa utsukushiku chiru, is a beautiful song to start off this anime with. Hiroko Suzuki’s voice is just beautiful and was a great choice to sing this opening song. I like how the instrumentation of this song is softer in some parts and louder in others. The parts that are louder are more important and I think fit the anime well with the fighting and war aspects. The softer parts of this song better fit the calmer and sweeter moments in this anime. Together it sounds like a beautifully made song that well fits the anime.
The ending song, Ai no Hikari to Kage, is also sung by Hiroko Suzuki, so similarly to the opening this song is beautiful in every way. It feels like this song appeals more to the more tragic aspects of Versailles no Bara and is another way the anime prepares the audience for some tragic events at the end. The beautifully sad atmosphere this song gives off fits the anime perfectly and is why it is the perfect ending.
The rest of the music from the anime is mainly insturmental. Many of the songs sound very similar, which can get a bit repetitive. Some of the insert songs are very cliche for anime from this time period, especially during dramatic moments. Even so, these songs work well in their scenes and do help to bring out the mood in a particular scene.
The voice acting is alright. By alright I mean it is not bad, but it is also not great. Some of the voice acting could have been better in a few scenes or for a few characters. In some of these cases it could be the Fault of that particular voice actor, but there are other times where it just sounds like the equipment they used for recording was not very good. Sometimes in scenes with action some of the sounds the characters make (like screams or grunts in a sword fight) sound a bit off. There are also good aspects of the voice acting like when a character's voice sounds a bit dramatic when they speak as a way to get the audience to pay attention to this part. I think the scenes in this anime where some of the characters sound a bit dramatic in the way they speak are the most interesting.
The characters of Versailles no Bara are very well rounded and have good character development. I could probably name a few good and bad qualities about all of the main characters. I like how some of the characters were presented in a way that I ended up both loving and hating that character. The characters in this anime really do add to the story and pull it along and make it more entertaining. There are some characters who help bring out some of the different aspects of the story: like how Rosalie helps to bring out the tragic atmosphere of France at the time, Jeanne Becu du Barry shows how low some people would go at the time to move up in status, and Charlotte de Polignac shows some ideas and customs of the time can push people to extremes and lose their mind. There are many characters from this anime that I could talk about, but I just chose four that I thought were most important.
Oscar François de Jarjayes:
The main character of this anime is Oscar François de Jarjayes. Oscar is a young woman who was raised as a man because her father could not have any sons and he wanted someone to follow in his footsteps, so when Oscar was born he decided she was going to be his son (I know this sounds really weird. This is the beginning of the first episode and I thought it was really weird when I watched it at first). At the beginning of the anime, Oscar is a general of the French Royal Guards (I say in the beginning because her rank changes multiple times in the anime). She is an interesting character who adds things to this historical story to make it more interesting than just the events that happened. She is a very strong individual and all the fight and action scenes she has are great. I like that we also see an internal struggle within Oscar with being raised to be her father’s son, but underneath everything she is still a woman. This is nice because it is shown in episode 1 and then is shown in a few later episodes as well after many things changed, so it is nice to see that this one thing had not yet changed about her. She grows so much throughout this anime, but this one thing sticks with her throughout as a result of her upbringing.
Oscar does work for Marie Antoinette for a majority of the anime and the two of them sort of become like friends, but at some point Oscar starts to question the way Marie Antoinette rules France. It is shown that Oscar starts to question her rule, but she mainly keeps this to herself and does not try to comfort Marie Antoinette about this, which I assume is because Oscar understands that Marie Antoinette does not have bad intentions and she can see both sides. Oscar feels for the French citizens who are starving and suffering, but she also can see that Marie Antoinette is not causing this on purpose, so she mainly stays silent on the matter. I would have loved to see her do more to help the people who were suffering than she did or to do it sooner. For multiple episodes I could tell that she wanted to do something, but it is not until the last few episodes that she does.
Oscar has to be my favorite character from Versailles no Bara because of how much depth there is to her and her internal struggles: being a man even though she was born a woman and choosing between one’s duty and what is right.
Of course for an anime taking place in and around Versailles one of the most important characters to the plot is no other than Marie Antoinette. She was born the princess of Austria and became the Queen of France through marriage. The Marie Antoinette in the anime Versailles no Bara is based on the real historical figure. The way she is presented in this anime is like how she was, but it is also different than I remember hearing about in history class. I remember learning in history class that she was this selfish person who was a terrible ruler because she cared more about having the finer things in life than the happiness and well-being of her people. This is clearly shown in the anime, but it is shown in a way of just not knowing the best way to rule because she was so young when she became queen instead of in a way of that she did not care about her people at all. She was presented in a way that I actually cared about her a little bit and did not entirely think of her as a bad person. She is first presented as a selfish, young girl who has always had an easy life. She later uses money that France does not have to feed her extravagant lifestyle without thinking about how it might affect her people. There are a few times in the anime that she shows what I think is genuine concern for her people. In the way she is portrayed in the anime, she does care for her people and does wish them the best, but she does nothing to help them and is usually the source of their suffering. One thing I can definitely applaud this anime for is how it presents its characters because this anime made me both hate and love Marie Antoinette at the same time. There were sometimes where I felt like i wanted to strangle her and others where I actually felt a little sorry for her. Her character is very well presented in this anime.
Robespierre is another major historical figure who is also in this anime. He does not have much of an impact until the second half of the anime, closer to when the revolution happens. I wanted to talk about him in here because of he influences some of the main characters in what they later think and do about the state of things. As one of the main voices of the French Revolution, both in real life and Versailles no Bara, what he had to say had influenced many people, this includes our main characters Oscar and André. André was always interested in what Robespierre had to say and Oscar took a little while longer to decide, but also agreed with him. What I find cool about Robespierre is not what he does directly, but what happened indirectly because of his influence on people.
André is Oscar’s childhood friend who is the son of a servant at the Jarjayes house. André and Oscar are very close and in the anime they are often fencing partners or will just talk when one of them is going through something. André is always there for Oscar and cares for her a lot. Something I find interesting about André is that he seems to not be accepted in either world of nobility or of the commoners. He is not accepted in the world of nobility because he is seen on the level of a servant and does not get treated like a nobleman. He is also no accepted in the world of commoners because even though he may be a servant, compared to other commoners he has had it easy like a nobleman would. I remember a scene where a character said something like this to André and he seemed surprised because there is a huge difference between him and a noble, so he never thought of his life that way. The way André supports Oscar is interesting. He is of a lower class than her, so he often tries to stay quiet about views he has that she may not agree with, but if it is something he thinks is best for her he will make his ideas vocalized. The conclusion Oscar came to about the state of things André came to much earlier and I think him thinking that way did influence Oscar to do so as well. He seems like a very smart character who adds a lot too the story.
Versailles no Bara does not just focus on one main character, but instead wants the audience to get to know many different characters. This anime also very rarely shows the characters in one way, but will instead show at least two sides to each character so the audience can get a more well-rounded understanding of the characters. Being able to see all the characters in this way helps to show the themes of this anime such as morality, which in this anime is shown to be very blurred. The characters is the aspect of this anime that is the strongest because the way they are presented and develop aids in presenting the themes of this anime in a very nice way and it also makes it easier for the audience to because attached to some characters and to be interested in what happens to them. How the characters are written in this story is a key part as to why it is just as good nearly fourty years after it was released.
Watching this anime has probably made me more open to watching more kinds of anime. What I mean by that is mainly with older anime. Before watching Versailles no Bara I did not really watch any older anime (only a few from the 90s). I mainly did not like watching older anime because of the style of the animation. I loved the animation in Versailles no Bara though, so after watching this I think I could watch more anime made around the same time. This anime made me think differently about older anime and to not strictly judge them on the animation itself.
This is an anime that I would definitely recommend to all kinds of people. The story is set in the eighteenth century France, so I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves history, especially European history. I myself thought the historical aspect was fascinating. I loved seeing these different historical figures and how this anime portrayed them. It is also nice for shoujo or romance fans because there are some moments that seem a bit girly. It is also great for fans of action. From episode one the fight scenes are great from the sword fights, to the gun fights, and full on battles and wars. The action scenes are always interesting to watch. This anime has so much in it, so I think it is something that so many different people can enjoy.
I absolutely love this anime. It has a few flaws here and there, but overall it is an amazing anime, especially for something made in the 70s. I did not think I would enjoy this anime as much as I did because of its age and I have not seen many older anime, but I really enjoyed this one. This may be the anime that can get me into older anime. This was such a good anime that I think is very close to being a masterpiece, which I do not say about many anime. I watched for the first time a few weeks ago and I already want to rewatch to relive all of this. The Rose of Versailles is an amazing anime that I am so happy to have seen because of how much I now love it.