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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 is currently ongoing. On February 19, 2020, the final volume of Innocent Rouge will be released.

This series provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Quite a few examples but the most noteworthy is the 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.
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  • 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.
  • 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 Ol' Eyebrows: Marie Antoinette has some pretty distinctive ones, though they don't diminish her femininity and grace in any way.
  • Bi the Way: Charles has a homosexual experience with the son of a noble, but later shows that he is interested in women as well, as per his sexual experience with Marie Jeanne.
    • Marie Antoinette starts having an affair with Hans Axel von Fersen after her fallout with Marie-Joseph.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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'.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Given that this is a historical manga, there's not much room for deviation.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hidden Depths: A number of characters have more to them than meets the eye, such as Charles' father Baptiste, and his grandmother, Anne Marthe.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 inspires Marie Antoinette to take matters into her own hands and try to 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.
  • Older Than They Look: A number of characters throughout "Innocent"/"Innocent Rouge" don't look as old as their age describes. Most notably is Andre, who doesn't look he has aged a day after living the slums for less than a decade. However, this can also be chalked up to gaining Prematurely Grey-Haired.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sociopathic Hero: For a reader that is firmly on the side of the Revolution, Marie Joseph becomes this.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • "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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