Berusaiyu no Bara, 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.While the anime and manga saw a wide release in much of the world during the 1980s under the name of Lady Oscar, one notable exception was in English. The first two volumes were released in the early 80s as a teaching tool for Japanese to English, but aside from this release, the manga has never been released in English officially. Similarly, the anime went unlicensed in English for over 30 years before Right Stuf International finally picked it up in late 2012 for a subtitled-only release in Spring 2013. You can watch it legally here.Not to be confused with the Japanese Power Metal band Versailles, or BaraGenre.
Adaptation Expansion: The anime has more filler in the early series to fill out Oscar's childhood adventures.
Adaptation Name Change: Perhaps to prevent confusion with her character Bernard Chatelet, Ikeda changed the name of the regimental commander of the French Guards from Duke of Chatelet to De Vouillet (no nobiliar title specified).
Alternative Foreign Theme Song: It's easier to count the countries that didn't use a new theme song. This is most likely due to the show receiving a new title overseas, Lady Oscar. What gets funny is that the Japanese theme is suitably dramatic and somber, while many of its dubs chose cheerful and happy theme songs...despite the content of the show still concerning the tragic lives and deaths of people living through the French Revolution. Even more amazing? The actual French dub probably has the perkiest song of them all.
Angry Mob Song: The manga has a scene where a group of Jacobins are singing the Revolutionary version of Ça Ira and one in which soldiers march to the front singing the War Song for the Army of the Rhine, now better known as La Marseillaise. If you don't know why these songs qualify, just know that they are mentioned on this wiki in the Angry Mob Song page for a reason.
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.
Badass Army: The French Guards. All of the Household Regiments (each as big as a standard brigade of their specialty) are considered elite, but it's only when Oscar's regiment-sized company of French Guards grenatiers utterly curbstompstwo regiments of the regular army (an unidentified infantry regiment and the Régiment de Royal-Allemand) that we get confirmation.
The Gards du Corps are considered the elite cavalry regiment of the entire French Army, not just the Royal Household, and are universally beautiful. This even gets lampshaded by Bernard (who compares them to good-looking dolls) and Girodelle (who flat-out admits that, having been accepted in the regiment, he has to be beautiful).
Bi the Way: Maybe, Rosalie and Oscar, depending on your interpretation of the feelings going either way.
Black and White Morality: Not Saint-Just himself, but this is certainly his view of the world when it comes to the nobility. To him, they are all inherently corrupt and wicked and have to be destroyed, even the ones supposedly on his side (echoing the sentiments of his historic self late in life). On the other hand, when Bernard points out in a conversation that killing everyone that he disagrees with makes him a hypocrite at best and no better than the nobles he hates at worse, Saint-Just in no way denies this. He said that as long as the revolution succeeds, he doesn't care what history thinks of him.
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: Used quite frequently, though a few brief instances of bloodshed can be seen early in the anime adaptation.
Book Ends: The manga starts with showing the births, in the same year, of Fersen, Marie Antoinette and Oscar, and ends with a page-wide panel with Fersen's body and the words "On september 4, 1755, in Sweden, Hans Axel von Fersen was born. The following november 2, in Austria, Marie Antoinette Josèphe Jeanne was born in Austria. The following december 25, in France, Oscar François de Jarjayes was born in France".
Breakout Character: The manga was originally intended to focus on Marie Antoinette, with Oscar as a supporting cast member, and hence the story arc of the manga begins with Marie's birth and ends with her death. Oscar became so popular with readers that she quickly took over the focus of the story, and other adaptations of the work focus on her as the main character from the start. In particular, the anime begins with the birth of Oscar.
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 a captain in the Military Household, is rank equivalent to a Colonel's: while she commanded a company, Household regiments were effectively oversized brigades, with companies actually being regiment-sized and captains being the equivalent of regular army colonels.
The Brigadier: At one point, Oscar is promoted to colonel of the Gards du Corps regiment, that, in regular army ranks, translates to brigadier general. She keeps the rank even she moves to the French Guards and commands a company (again, regiment-sized).
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, and the Tricolore flag was first created in 1790 by fusing the flag of Paris (two vertical blue and red stripes) with the white from the Royal Standard, yet the anime has it flown backwards by the citizens of Paris even before the Storming of the Bastille (the manga does this right, and notes its creation in 1790).
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.
Didn't See That Coming: A lot. For example, Marie Antoinette didn't see Jeanne Valois successfully convincing the people that Marie was the culprit behind the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, and was rather shocked by it. She could have seen it coming, had she not been sheltered by most of the court and madame Polignac had not convinced her to isolate herself from pretty much everyone who wasn't in her inner circle...
Also, Jeanne and madame Polignac didn't expect to meet Rosalie at Versailles. This time they couldn't have possibly seen it coming: Jeanne knew Rosalie very well and expected her to remain in the slums of Paris as a working woman and had no knowledge of their mother's death, while madame Polignac, who had accidentally run over their mother and told Rosalie to visit at Versailles if she wanted to complain, couldn't possibly expect that, in the attempt to do just that, Rosalie would have befriended Oscar, who trained her to act as a lady and brought her in Versailles.
Both Rosalie and madame Polignac didn't expect Rosalie to be madame Polignac's illegitimate daughter from Jacques de Valois de Saint-Rémy, last descendant of the House of Valois, and were rather shocked to find out: Rosalie when Andre discovered that of all the women named Martin Gabrielle in the peerage, Yolande Martine Gabrielle de Polignac, nee de Polastron, was the right one, madame Polignac when her daughter mentioned Rosalie's full name).
Didn't Think This Through: A lot of characters end victim of this due to arrogance, but the Countess Du Barry takes the cake. Namely, engaging Marie Antoinette in a pissing match without realizing that, once the already 62-years old Louis XV would die, Marie Antoinette would be the queen and capable of dishing whatever revenge she wished. Ironically, her undoing is at the hands of the king's confessor, who convinces the ailing king to throw her out. She lampshades this later to Oscar.
Cardinal Rohan did it big time due his attempts at getting in Marie Antoinette's good graces. Between Marie Antoinette being the daughter of Maria Theresa (who had very little tolerance for him and his womanizing ways), Antoinette having a personal grudge against him for both spreading rumours about her and talking bad of her mother, and her answers at his initial attempts he should have realized earlier that the letters given to him by Jeanne were fakes, especially given that they were signed "Marie Antoinette de France" (by convention, royalty only uses their given names when signing, and with the House of Rohan having prince étranger status he should have known). And yet he not only failed so, but got duped in the infamous Affair of the Diamond Necklace. To be fair he did find strange the difference between the queen's actions and the tone of the letters, but Jeanne had him meet a perfect lookalike of the queen to confirm her story...
Averted by Oscar: she does make a point of thinking everything through, and was able to pull a lot of crap (including holding the lover of king Louis XV at swordpoint) and live to tell (not that she was stupid enough to do it) specifically because she quickly thought it through before pulling it.
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.
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.
Elites Are More Glamorous: Most of the pre-Revolution regiments featured (and all the named ones: Gardes du Corps du Roi, Gardes Suisse, Gardes Françaises, Royal-Allemand, Royal Suédois, Royal-Cravate, Salis-Samade and La Fere) are considered elite. Goes double for Oscar's units: in the Gardes du Corps Oscar enrolled into (and later commanded the) Compagnie Ecossaise (Scots Company, so called due originally being composed by Scots emigrates), the elite among the Gardes du Corps, while in the Gardes Françaises (the elite infantry regiment of the entire French Army, not just the Maison Militaire) Oscar commands a grenatier company (by that time grenatiers had ceased to be grenade-armed infantry and were elite infantry).
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).
In terms of wastefulness, Marie Antoniette compared to the Du Barry: where the Du Barry cared only of showing off her power with loads and loads of jewels and expensive clothes without a care for the expense (doing a lot more than Marie Antoniette to bankrupt France in the process), Marie, even before realizing how much she was wasting, would always ask the price, and refused to buy the infamous diamond necklace (originally created specifically for Du Barry) because for its price you could build and equip a warship.
Some of the female characters are represented by roses: Oscar is the white rose, symbol of purity and innocence, made red at the end of her life by both finding true love and her own blood; Marie Antoinette, dominated by the search for true love, is the red rose; Rosalie is the pink rose, symbol of either gratitude or youth, desire and energy depending on the shade; Madame de Polignac is the yellow rose, expressing both friendship, jealousy, and the deepest of both love and betrayal; her daughter Charlotte, innocent even beyond Oscar herself, is holding a white rose before falling to her death; Jeanne, finally, is the black rose of hate and death.
Foregone Conclusion: The entire series is based on the life of Marie Antoinette...and takes pains to remind the viewer from time to time about the tragic course of her life.
Subverted by Oscar's grenadier company in the French Guards: they are really good at guarding Versailles, and Fersen found himself held at gunpoint when Alain and another guardsman (who, due the French Guards mounting guard outside of Versailles, didn't know him) found him wandering at night, and would have been subjected to arrest had Oscar not been checking that they weren't slacking off. Played straight immediately after, as Oscar, once she got him out of her men's clutches, had Fersen leave Versailles from a gate she knew was surveilled by less competent guardsmen.
Gem Encrusted: The ermine on one of Marie's dresses, her bejeweled headdresses, and all the various dresses trimmed with pearls and jewels.
Genre Shift: Subtly done, and since the anime had two directors (Tadao Nagahama directed the first eighteen episodes, while Osamu Dezaki directed all the episodes after that), the change was when it started; it was a historical type of account about Oscar enduring the endeavors of the court of Versailles and about Marie Antoinette's marriage and trials. Starting around the twentieth episode, the story became more politically charged and introspective and the focus shifted from Versailles to the people of Paris, the French military and, eventually, Oscar and Andre themselves.
The Guards Must Be Crazy: Versailles' guards are so lazy on guard duty that, as Jeanne put it, "you only need a hat and a sword to meet the Queen".
Hilariously subverted by Oscar's company in the French Guards, who are very good at their job even without Oscar trying to catch lazy guards (and in fact take offense when she shows up by surprise) and caught Fersen trying to sneak out of Versailles after a night meeting with Marie Antoinette. Had Oscar not showed up right as they were arresting him, Fersen would have been thrown in jail without much fanfare.
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.
Bernard says this has long since happened to Saint-Just. Saint-Just however doesn't care.
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.
Mozart as a child even shows up in the first chapter of the manga.
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.
Kill 'em All: It's an anime based on the French Revolution that largely used real people. Marie Antoinette and her husband are given by that alone, as is Von Fersen. Nonetheless, only Alain, Rosalie, and Bernard are left in the epilogue.
Fersen's death is particularly egregious: he did survive the Revolution, meaning he could have been spared, but the manga took care of detailing his lynching in 1810 and has his mangled body as the very last page.
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.
Love Dodecahedron: Girodelle->Oscar, Alain->Oscar, 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.
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.
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. Downplayed by Alain's mother being alive until he is in his mid 20s.
Pass the Popcorn: When the countess Du Barry (lover of then-reigning king Louis XV) and Marie Antoniette engaged in their pissing match, Oscar, upon being asked which side she would take, started laughing and stated she would enjoy watching it (her friendship with the future queen would start only after the pissing match, and only after witnessing Marie Antoniette's reaction at being forced to surrender).
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.
Praetorian Guard: Oscar serves her career in the Maison Militaire du Roi de France (Military Household of the King of France, the collection of regiments guarding the King, including the Musketeers of the Guard), first in the Garde Écossaise (lit. "Scots Guard", a company originally composed of Scots expatriates) company of the Garde du Corps (lit. "bodyguards", the senior cavalry regiment) and later as commander of a grenadier company in the Gardes Françaises (French Guards, the senior infantry regiment).
Private Military Contractors: The regiments Royal Suedois, Royal Allemand, Salis-Samade and Gardes Suisses are composed by foreign mercenaries coming from Sweden (Royal Suedois), Germany (Royal Allemand) and Switzerland (Salis-Samade and Gardes Suisses). They are not the only foreign regiments in the army of the Ancien Régime, but they are the ones featured.
Among them the Royal Suedois and Gardes Suisses are the most important, due Fersen being the commander of Royal Suedois and the Gardes Suisses being an Household regiment.
Also, the Garde du Corps (Oscar's initial regiment) was created around the Gardes Écossaise, a unit of Scots soldiers entrusted with the safety of the King. While Scots had long stopped serving in the Garde du Corps, the first company (Oscar's command as a captain) was still known as Compagnie Écossaise due being the original unit around which the Garde du Corps was formed.
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.
Red-Headed 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.
Shown Their Work: This manga is maniacally accurate, to the point of beating most history tests, and the actual errors are extremely rare.
Artistic License - History: That said, Ikeda willingly altered the ages of François Augustin Reynier de Jarjayes, Rosalie and the Countess of Polignac and changed the name of the commander of the French Guards for narrative reasons. To explain: the Real Life de Jarjayes was only ten years older than Marie Antoinette, and the history needed him to have his SEVENTH DAUGHTER born a few months after Marie Antoinette; the historical Rosalie was born on 19 March 1768 in Breteuil from a shoemaker, not in 1756 in Fontette (and was not Jeanne's sister); the historical countess of Polignac was born in 1749, yet the manga age her enough to be 15 and be Rosalie's mother in 1756; and the historical commander of the French Guards in 1789 was the duke of Chatelet, but got his name altered in Boulainville to avoid confusion with original character Bernard Chatelet.
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 and André. They do get together, but André dies the day after he and Oscar consummate their relationship.
Marie Antoinette is the Queen, Count Fersen is a diplomatic agent from Sweden.
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.
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.
Uptown Girl: Oscar is a noblewoman, André is a commoner.
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.