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Manga / Innocent

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Innocent is a historical drama seinen manga created by Shinichi Sakamoto, the author behind the acclaimed Kokou no Hito.

In 18th century France, during the last days of the french monarchy in the reign of Louis XVI, the Sanson family, appointed as the royal executioners by the king himself, are struggling with the reluctance of the eldest son, Charles-Henri Sanson, to succeed his father. The story centers around Charles' struggle as a kind, sensitive young man, as he faces his harsh fate as the "Monsieur de Paris", and is changed radically in the process. Over time, the series also begins to focus on his sister, the cold, morbid and rebellious Marie Joseph as she struggles to navigate the patriarchal society of the time to become an executioner herself, and her eventual entanglement with Marie Antoinette.


The series was originally serialized in Young Jump, and ended publication at 9 volumes. A sequel series continuing the story, Innocent Rouge began serialization shortly afterwards in Grand Jump and ended on February 19, 2020, through the publication of Rouge's final volume. A musical adaptation of the series, called "Innocent musicale", ran from November 29th to December 10th of 2019.Innocent Rouge is now a finished series.


This series provides examples of:

  • A Minor Kidroduction: The very first chapter of Innocent starts out with a little girl, Marie-Joseph, walking through the halls of the mansion until she comes across a room in one hallway. Curious, little Marie takes a footstool to peek through the keyhole and sees the brodequin. She's seeing through the Sansons' torture chamber.
  • Abusive Parents: Charles' father, Baptiste, tortures Charles in order to get him to accept his role as an executioner. Later, Marie and Charles' grandmother, Anne Marthe, tortures Marie as punishment for her helping Charles in his execution and thusly defying the societal role of women at the time.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Marie-Joseph, due to her rigorous training from an early age in order to live up to the role of an executioner.
  • Anachronic Order: This trope is used midway in Rouge, made even more confusing when one flashback chapter is followed by a Flashback Within a Flashback.
  • Arranged Marriage: This goes without saying with Marie Antoinette and Louis-Auguste's marriage. Later on in Innocent, Charles admits to Marie that he's already chosen a groom, Gaspard, for her to marry in order for her to settle down and continue the family line. After losing in a duel, Marie agrees to marry Gaspard, though this turns out to be a ruse.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Quite a few examples but the most noteworthy is Count De Luxe, who burns down a school with children inside simply because he hated the idea of poor people getting the same education as nobles. Notably even other aristocrats are disgusted when they learn the full story.
  • Artistic Age: Shinichi sometimes draws characters to have them appear, or continue to appear, younger than their real age. See Cast of Snowflakes below.
  • Anatomy Anomaly: If a character is presented without having any visible eyebrows, chances are that the character is a Sanson.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: Chapter 79 of Rouge takes place in a modern-day Japanese high school. It doesn't last, though.
  • Art Shift: From chapter 79 to chapter 80, the art style changes somewhat for one that falls more in line with shoujo manga.
  • Based on a True Story: Though dramatized, the manga is based on real historical events, including the memoirs of Charles Henri's grandson.
  • Bishōnen: Charles, Jean, Louis XVI, and many others.
  • Big Bad: Robspierre eventually takes over as this
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Marie Antoinette has some pretty distinctive ones, though they don't diminish her femininity and grace in any way.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Oh boy, the Sansons are an interesting bunch.....
  • Bittersweet Ending: While a majority of the characters will eventually die, have died before their actual date, or their fates are left unknown, the Innocent series ends with a summary of the downfall of the aristocracy with the eventual abdication of Napoleon III in 1832, and the abolishing of executions in France in 1981. While Marie and Charles were unable to achieve their dreams when they were alive, their dreams were realized centuries after their deaths. Marie appearing as a ghost also helps Charles come to terms with his failures and forgive himself.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Marguerite Jouenne, a woman who would eventually become the first lady of the Sansons, suddenly began vomiting/coughing up blood, beginning from when her first son was born, up until her death.
    • In chapter 38 of Innocent Rouge, there's a page of Marie wiping away some blood from her lips while it's snowing out. Whether this is just because of chapped lips or the symptoms of the unspecified illness that she revealed to Charles in the final chapter of Rouge, is speculation at this point.
  • Break the Cutie: What the first few volumes are for Charles, as he's forced to accept the heavy burden of his responsibilities as an executioner.
  • Bus Crash: In the final chapter of Innocent Rouge, Marie is revealed to have died from an illness offscreen. This also overlaps with Dropped a Bridge on Him.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Though some of the characters end up looking similar due to the author's preference for beauty, it's also just as often averted, especially with "uglier" characters.
  • Catchphrase: Marie Joseph's "this sucks", whenever she's faced with a particularly annoying or unfortunate situation. Her phrase "Marie makes the impossible, possible" count as well.
  • Character Development: Charles goes from a meek, sensitive and fragile young man to a much more assertive, confident and masculine individual as he matures into his role as the head of the Sanson family. Marie Antoinette, thanks to Marie's influence, also grows from a meek girl who feels powerless to a strong young woman determined to become the most powerful woman in the king's court, even if it means incurring the spite of the king's favorite concubine, the Madame du Barry (formerly Marie Jeanne Bécu).
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: In Innocent, Charles decides to become a monk instead of being an executioner anymore, and goes to his parents' room to speak about it with his father. When he hears his parents being...."busy", Charles snuffs out the candles he held, and opens the door a crack at the mention of his mother asking Jean-Baptiste if Charles would be considered his successor. Knowing that Charles is watching, Jean-Baptiste doesn't stop until the...."deed" is completed, saying that Charles is too weak to be an executioner, and that children are nothing but puppets, and more children can be made if need be.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: The Sanson sons are all trained from a young age to bear all the nasty sights, smells, and sounds that come with executing the guilty. Before they reach double-digits, they are in the basement dissecting cadavers as a form of hands-on experience. The story does not stop at the visceral, either: Charles's story also deals primarily in his struggle to accept the hypocritical, callous, and bloodthirsty nature of French society. By the end of the first series, he has fully accepted his role.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: The story follows both Charles and Marie as they grow up and face the heavy burden of being a family of executioners.
  • Cosmic Motifs: Shooting star motifs become far more common in Rouge to represent change for the coming era. However, this motif can be seen all the way back in Innocent with with title of chapter 45: "A Comet Appears". In the Innocent musicale, Marie's Character Song, "Innocent Rouge", includes lyrics about shooting stars and a "meteore rouge" - which is what Marie becomes by the end of the series .
  • Costume Porn: The series is very lavish in its portrayal of the extravagance of french aristocracy, with all the frills and excesses it entails.
  • Creepy Child: Marie is profoundly chilling even as a little girl, with a penchant for torture and execution that far trumps Charles'.
  • Creepy Doll: Marie possessed one when she was little, which appears like any other 18th century doll. The creepiness comes in when Marie, after witnessing Charles being punished by their father with the brodqeuin, starts copying it on the doll. The doll's next appearance in Rouge shows it having a "bandage" across its face, nails driven into its body, and one arm already on the cusp of breaking off.
  • Dawn of an Era: An era in which social status and executions are abolished is represented by the end of Rouge through Zero.
  • Decadent Court: Versailles in general. The nobles are much more interested in parties, fashion, and one-upping each other than the general state of France.
  • Defeat by Modesty: After Charles-Henri cheats in his and Marie's duel by using a hidden gun in his sword to defeat her, Marie's second, the chevalier D'Eon, tries to avenge her by fighting against Charles and Marie's betrothed, Gaspard. D'Eon is quickly defeated when Gaspard uses a second sword to slash through the knight's dress, much to her horror.
  • Dances and Balls: It's 18th century France, so this is more or less a given.
  • Delinquent Hair: Marie has part of her hair cut off to symbolize her giving up being a woman in the pursuit of the Sanson family trade, and as symbol of her rebellion against the rigid gender roles of her society.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Justified, as this was done to confirm to the crowd that the convict has been killed.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Every form of execution results in the corpse being presented to the crowd until it's taken down, or decomposed.
    • Etienne, a lawyer who was hired by Louis Philippe to persuade the audience of nobles to fear Charles-Henri, is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice and decapitated by Philippe, and then has his bloody head placed on a plate full of flowers.
    • During the September Massacres, one of the poor victims was the Princess de Lamballe. One panel shows a man parading around with her head on a pike.
  • Defiant to the End: Despite being lead to the guillotine, Antoinette calmly steps on the foot of her executioner, Marie while saying her Famous Last Words: "I am sorry, monsieur. I meant not to do it." In this version of the French Revolution, Antoinette stepped on her executioner's foot deliberately.
  • Double Standard: Violence, Child on Adult: Marie, after being freed from the torture devices by Charles, uses one of the suture needles that she put in her hair to give Anne-Marthe a nasty scar right across her face.
  • Drugged Lipstick: How Marie was able to make De Luxe confess, right before his congratulatory dinner..
  • Engineered Public Confession: How Marie makes sure De Luxe is punished for his crimes. On his way to a dinner party in his honor she drugs him with a powerful hallucinogenic and then pushes him into the room where the King is waiting. When the hallucinogenic causes him to see his victims he ends up ranting about his REAL motivations for killing Alain and confirming that he murdered the children (complete with an Evil Laugh) in front of the King, the crown prince, Marie Antoinette and countless others. The King promptly rescinds his decision to spare De Luxe and orders him executed.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Louis XV immediately overturns De Luxe’s pardon when he learns the true nature of his crimes. Marie, despite being a cold blooded sociopath, also despises De Luxe and does everything to ensure that he goes down. Even Madame Du Barry (who persuaded the king to overturn the sentence initially) admits she actually doesn't like him but needs allies.
  • The Executioner: We have an entire family of them.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Charles start slicking back his hair after his sexual encounter with Marie-Jeanne Becú, as a symbol of his newfound confidence and shift into a more patriarchal, masculine attitude as the head of the Sanson family.
  • Fan Disservice: Charles walks into his parents having sex at one point. It's...not really titillating at all, given the context and the way Baptiste acts.
  • Female Misogynist: Charles' grandmother, Anne Marthe, initially portrayed as a resourceful, confident Iron Lady, is eventually revealed to also be this when she gets furious at Marie for climbing up on the execution platform to aid Charles, saying that men and women aren't equal and that she should know her place.
  • Flower Motifs: Roses are mostly used to represent a character. For example, Charles-Henri is represented by a white rose, representing innocence and purity. Marie Antoinette is represented by pink roses, symbolizing grace and elegance as a dauphine, then queen. Marie-Joseph is sometimes represented with red roses, and black roses at one point. Red roses symbolize passion and deep emotions, such as Marie's desire to break away from the patriarchal system of France, while black roses symbolize death. The rose that is most commonly used with Marie is the blue rose, which represents mystery, and new opportunities.
    • In Innocent Rouge, Pierre, is represented by violets by Gabriel Sanson. He even refers to Pierre as "my violet" before throwing himself from the platform, while holding Pierre's decapitated head.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Given that this is a historical manga, there's not much room for deviation.
  • Final First Hug: Charles and Ghost!Marie do this when everything between the two siblings is finally put to rest. It is beautiful as it is heartbreaking.
  • Generation Xerox: Charles Henri eventually becomes much like his father, fully accepting and confident of his role as the patriarch of the Sanson family. His own oldest son (who is even named after him) starts out similarly to him, hating the family burden that being a Sanson puts on his person, but gains a newfound respect for his father and his uncle when they save a young mother's life and even buy a foreign anesthesic to spare her pain, accepting his role as the future Monsieur de Paris. Even when it turns out that the girl will be executed the next week, the boy stands strong, refusing to prolong the girl's suffering and actually acts a weight to guarantee the execution is finished, stating that he will be by her side until the end. Even Charles' brother states that the boy has inherited his kind heart.
    • Charles-Henri's youngest son, Gabriel, starts out like this with his fear of blood and his uneasiness of executions. However, he doesn't grow out of this as he falls to his death from the platform.
  • Glove Slap: A simultaneous one occurs between Marie-Joseph and Charles-Henri to symbolically formalize their plans to duel each other after the latter confronts the former over her unseemly influence over Marie Antoinette. He acts to prevent her from jeopardizing the honor of the Sanson family and as a favor to Madame du Barry, while Marie does so because she does not wish to have her freedom jeopardized by any man, especially her elder brother.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Played with, since Marie is already a ghost when she sports one to Charles.
    • Antoinette gives Marie a smug version as she calmly walks towards her fate on the platform.
  • Handicapped Badass: Jean-Baptiste has not lost his touch despite his stroke, and manages a spinning one-handed decapitation on a standing, shaking and bleeding General Griffin while simultaneously stepping in the nails covering the boards of the execution platform.
  • Heaven Above: As a very older Charles-Henri looks up at the starry sky, after having been rejected by Napoleon Bonaparte for his petition to abolish the death penalty, Charles witnesses a large meteor shower. From the sight of it, Charles compares it to the gates of heaven being opened. It turns out that he's right, as these divine gates allow Marie-Joseph to descend to Earth to see her big brother one last time.
  • Hidden Depths: A number of characters have more to them than meets the eye, such as Charles' father Baptiste, and his grandmother, Anne Marthe.
  • Informed Ability: Marie's friend and second for her duel, the chevalier D'Eon, is a diplomat and spy for the king's secret service, much like in real life. While we see her swordsmanship by effortlessly cutting through a leaf, her skills against fighting another person aren't shown.
  • Historical Domain Character: The majority of the characters in this series are real figures of French history.
  • Kangaroo Court: The Duke of Orléans tries to set Charles up in one at the Palace of Versailles, in a plot to remove Lord Louis Auguste as the heir to the throne so he can become king. It fails due to Charles' charisma turning the tide in his favor, causing the Duke to kill his lawyer to cut his losses.
  • Killed Offscreen: Marie admits to Charles-Henri, who is now a very old man, that she died in England due to an illness.
  • Lack of Empathy: Marie-Joseph is shown to possess this from a startlingly young age. She serves as a stark contrast to Charles-Henri, whom struggled with the brutal nature of his family profession, by displaying a cold and calculated fascination with execution and torture, entirely disinterested in the obvious excruciating pain that arises.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Marie Joseph. Played with during her affair with Marie Antoinette. Due to the female executioner's androgynous look, she's able to switch between this and Butch Lesbian with relative ease.
  • Marriageof Convenience: Revealed to have been done in secret with Marie and Jean-Louis "Bottomless Swamp" Sanson, as part of Marie's plan to keep her post as Prevote de L'Hotel (along with being able to keep her hair and style of dress as is without Charles' interference). It also worked because Nicolas-Gabriel, who was a monk by this point, wanted his family to have a stable income.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Marie-Joseph is the masculine to Charles', Louis XVI's, Andre's feminine.
  • Men Act, Women Are: Understandable given the culture of the time, and it becomes even more stifling the higher one's social class, but Marie-Joseph becoming an executioner in place of her uncle is the story's most dramatic subversion of this trope. Her willingness to take her life into her own hands is so inspiring that it makes Marie Antoinette play the court rather than remain a pretty doll to be propped up in Versailles.
  • Misery Builds Character: Losing his friend due to the spite of a noble, and his father losing faith in him to the point that he tries to impregnate his wife with another heir, is what eventually motivates Charles to grow a spine and accept his fate as executioner.
  • Mistress and Servant Boy: Inverted from the fact that Andre is actually older than Marie. The other trappings of this trope still apply.
  • Musical World Hypotheses: The "musical numbers" that are peppered throughout Innocent and Rouge are "the all in your head" hypothesis. The theatrical, almost whimsical, gestures and "lyrics" performed by certain characters exist to enhance a character's mindset. They can even verge Disney Acid Sequence.
  • Odd Friendship: Charles has one with both King Louis XVI and Robert Francois Damiens. Tragically he ends up being forced to execute both of them. Marie also forms a strong bond with Alain.
  • Older Than They Look: A number of characters throughout "Innocent"/"Innocent Rouge" don't look as old as their age describes. One example is the supporting character Andre Legris, who doesn't look he has aged a day after living the slums for less than a decade.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The way that Marie comes back from Heaven to visit Charles-Henri is based on the European and American folklore that meteors are from the souls of people who have just passed away.
  • Painting the Medium: Shinichi does this to great effect, such as having some of the pages "stained" with blood. One distinguished example is in chapter 63 of Rouge: after Louis XVI is executed, characters start to overlap panels, and by the end of the chapter where people rush to get some of Louis' blood, panels and speech bubbles start to become distorted.
    • This trope is also done with more disturbing effects: when the Cardinal de Rohan starts, uh, fantasizing about Antoinette, two pages are "stained".
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Marie does this to De Luxe, manipulating things so that his pardon is overturned and then pulling strings so she’ll be the one to kill him. Given that De Luxe murdered children though, no one really complains.
    • This is Marie's default response to any man who attempts to harm her or other women, especially those guilty of sexual assault and rape. She takes great satisfaction in making their executions as painful and bloody as possible.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Marie Antoinette is seldom seen out of one, and basically any other women in the nobility are guaranteed to be dressed in one as well, as one might expect.
  • Princess for a Day: Charles-Henri dresses up as a madame in one chapter to help steer Marie Antoinette to finally acknowledge Madame du Barry as part of Louis XV's court.
  • Public Execution: In 18th-century France, this happens A LOT.
  • Put on a Bus: After being a prominent figure in the story for a few volumes, Anne Marthe marries a servant in the manor and moves away, following an incident where Marie scarred her face, making her lose most of her vigor.
    • Close to the end of Innocent Rouge, Marie-Joseph is smuggled off to England in a casket to escape being executed. Although she reappears by the end of that chapter, alive and well, it's revealed in the final chapter (chapter 88) that that wasn't Marie at all, but Grosholtz/Marie Tussaud posing as Marie-Joseph, with the intent of taking down Robespierre and end his reign.
  • Rape as Drama: Marie has to perform sexual favors for an official in order to secure her position as Prevote De L'Hotel. He is eventually branded as a criminal, and Marie relishes her execution of him a bit too much, forcing her father to step in. Marie Jeanne was also raped by a hairdresser she was apprenticed to.
  • Rewrite: Previously in the first pages of each Innocent/Innocent Rouge volumes, the birth and death dates of important characters are listed, with Charles-Henri having died in 1806, and Marie-Joseph having died in 1813. Her death year is completely forgotten, as the final chapter of Innocent Rouge reveals that she passed away several years before Charles-Henri would.
  • Sir Swearsa Lot: Marie-Joseph, Jeanne de la Motte and Subyss curse like sailors.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Alain and Count De Luxe; Alain because his idealism and senseless murder inspire Marie to try and overthrow the system, De Luxe for murdering Alain (thereby setting Marie down an even darker path and ruining her one chance at avoiding being an executioner).
  • Smug Snake: Count De Luxe; of course after Marie tricks him into admitting the real nature of his crimes and his pardon is overturned he undergoes a Villainous Breakdown.
  • Social Climber: Given how vulnerable women were during this era in French society, many female characters in the cities display shades of this, primarily by way of seducing powerful men. Marie Jeanne Bécu climbs her way to the top, going from a humble nun to Louis XV's favorite mistress, by using her wits and talent for pleasing men. Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Remy, born of a direct descendant of an illegitimate son of King Henry II, later to be known as Comtesse de la Motte, rose from the slums of Paris to be a member of King Louis XVI's court by marrying Nicholas de la Motte.
    • Rose Bertin also deserves a mention, as she's one of the few female characters who uses her skills as a seamstress to become the official dressmaker of Marie Antoinette.
  • Sociopathic Hero: For a reader that is firmly on the side of the Revolution, Marie Joseph becomes this.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: In a couple of panels that portray Andre taking over Nicolas' role at torturing Damiens as Andre and Nicolas (as kids), escaping from a dark forest, Andre's hand suddenly "catches" on fire. Child!Andre can only scream in fear and pain as the flames consume him.
  • Start of Darkness: Marie's is the death of Alain.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Alain, Marie Joseph’s first love. His murder also ruined any chance of her finding satisfaction outside of executions
  • Torture Technician: Subyss, who is called in to extract information from Damiens, but fails. Jean-Baptiste is shown torturing his son at one point.
  • Torture Always Works: Played straight with Charles, subverted with Damien. Still portrayed in a negative light.
  • Third-Person Person: Marie Joseph refers to herself as this as she got older.
  • Undying Loyalty: Andre Legris is this to the Sanson family; first to Nicolas-Gabriel during Damiens' execution, and later to Marie-Joseph.
  • Villainous Breakdown: De Luxe has one when his pardon is overturned, going from a Smug Snake to a pathetic wretch begging for his life.
  • "What Now?" Ending: After being a supporting character throughout the entire series, Andre's fate is left unknown after going to England with Marie.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Charles' uncle, Nicolas, is driven by his desire to be acknowledged by his mother, as he was the second-born and thusly did not receive as much attention, due to Anne Marthe focusing most of her attention on Baptiste.


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