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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.

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.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Castof 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.
  • Catch-Phrase: 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).
  • Comingof 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'.
  • Dancesand 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.
  • 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.
  • Fragile Flower: Charles, at the beginning of the story. He eventually grows out of it thanks to character development.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Marie Antoinette and Marie Joseph.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 haidresser she was apprenticed to.
  • 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.
  • "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.