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Manga / Requiem of the Rose King

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Requiem of the Rose King (Bara-ou no Souretsu in Japanese) is a manga loosely based off of William Shakespeare's Henry VI and Richard III.

The story follows a young Richard III, the third son of the noble Duke of York Richard Plantagenet. Unlike his elder brothers, he was born as a black sheep in the family—because he was born with a deformity, he was cursed by his mother and grew up intent on proving his place in the family on the battlefield alongside his father. However, his path to glory will not be easy, and with the Wars of the Roses on the rise, he will have to lean into his cursed reputation in order to make himself known.

This manga is written by Aya Kanno of Otomen fame, and has been serialized in the Shoujo magazine Bessatsu Princess since 2013. An anime adaptation was announced for 2021, but was delayed until 2022.

A High School AU, KING OF IDOL: Bara-Ou Gakuen (previously Tokimeki! Bara-ou Gakuen), was announced for 2021, also in Bessatsu Princess.

This series features examples of:

  • Abdicate the Throne: Henry decides to pass his throne to Plantagenet under the condition that the fighting ends. In practice, it only leads to further trouble, as it fosters resentment throughout the Lancaster royal line.
  • Abusive Parents: Richard's mother hated him from the moment he was born and believes him to be the spawn of the devil. In contrast, Richard's father openly loves him and Richard is utterly devoted to him. His murder helps Richard's Start of Darkness.
  • Actor Allusion: In the drama CD, Takehito Koyasu voices a manipulative British villain.
  • Adaptational Heroism: This Richard is far more sympathetic than his play counterpart.
  • Adapted Out: Plantagenet's second born son Edmund (Duke of Rutland) is nonexistent. Where Margaret shows Plantagenet a rag soaked in Edmund's blood in Henry VI, here she passes it off as the blood of Richard, who is now Plantagenet's most beloved son.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the play, Elizabeth was portrayed as a sympathetic woman who is ruined by Richard's ambition. In this series, she's a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who has married Edward as part of an elaborate scheme of revenge for her first husband's death at Yorkist hands.
  • Alas, Poor Yorick: Richard kisses his father's decapitated head on the lips.
  • The Alcoholic: After drowning his sorrows too often, George became this by the eighth volume.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Best shown in Richard's ambition to become king, and Margaret's goal of dominating the House of York.
  • Arranged Marriage: Multiple couples in the series have these: Henry/Margaret and Edward/Anne are some of the most prominent examples. Averted with the other Edward (York), who was supposed to have this but avoided it by eloping with Elizabeth.
  • Artistic License – Biology: While Richard mentions he has both male and female genitalia, only his female genitals are able to reproduce. Generally, in cases where an intersex individual is born with both sets of parts, both will be infertile.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • Given that Edward of Westminster died two to five years before Edward of Middleham was even born, there was no doubt that he was Richard III's son in real life.
    • Edward IV is depicted looking very much like his father, which is known to be inaccurate. Edward was much taller and later in life became obese.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing /Femme Fatale: Elizabeth Woodville, who uses her looks to manipulate men and tries her best to appear sweet and vulnerable, when in reality she is anything but. Richard sees right through her act.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Several of the male characters. Henry especially.
  • Caught in the Rain: A flash flood lasting several days causes fighting between the Yorks and Lancasters to cease for the time being, but more importantly causes Richard and Henry to take up lodging together while the storm subsides. Their several days of intimacy makes Richard, to his own surprise, start falling hard for Henry.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Chapter 11 has Edward attempt to rescue Richard from drowning. While no one was looking, Edward performs CPR on him, but was also clearly intending to steal a kiss from him. Richard wakes up hoping Henry was the one who saved him.
  • Dark Is Evil: Although not evil at first, Richard dresses up all in black and wears a clawed hand. Later on it begins to be played straight as he becomes more like his character from the play.
  • Domestic Abuse: Margaret to Henry. It's never, ever Played for Laughs.
  • Doomed by Canon: Anyone familiar with the plays knows that quite a few characters won't be making it to the end. Richard Plantagenet, Edward of Lancaster, and King Henry haven't.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: George does this as a way to cope with his jealously towards Edward and Richard's brotherly support for each other. He does it again when Warwick is crowned king after the latter promised George he would be king.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Some royal families are able to appear as normal, but the leading families do not:
    • The leading family of the House of York has a womanizing eldest son who eventually is manipulated by his vengeful wife, a middle son who develops alcoholism, a queen who antagonizes her youngest son and neglects him, and said youngest who is tormented by body dysphoria, an inferiority complex, and eventually has the middle child executed.
    • Lancaster is no picnic either. Henry is childlike and pious, but terribly neglectful of his son, Margaret is a bloodhound looking to restore her line to glory and only holds affection for her long-dead ex-husband as a man, and Edward feels abandoned by Henry and develops a seething hatred of him after the former gives up the crown to Plantagenet.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Edward (Lancaster) has reservations of razing all of the people under the House of York, as he's afraid women and children will be caught in the crossfire. Margaret herself is in total agreement, preferring to marry off the Yorkish women to the Lancaster men than killing them off like a "heartless" person would do.
    • As in the play, the mercenaries working for Lancaster are disgusted by Margaret's horrific mocking of Edward before she has him slain.
  • Eye Scream: At the end of Chapter 28, one graphic panel has a crow holding an eyeball in its mouth.
  • The Fate of the Princes in the Tower: Richard locks up the boys, who are Royal Brats.
  • Flower Motifs: What else but the rose? Despite the Yorks and the Lancasters using feathers for much of this era, this story pushes the red and white roses more.
  • Ghastly Ghost: At certain points in the story, the ghost of Joan of Arc comes to taunt Richard about his circumstances, and fuels his insecurities surrounding his body. It's likely she's not the real ghost, as Richard was implied to have heard discouraging tales about her execution while growing up.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Much like the plays it's based on.
  • Historical Relationship Overhaul: Richard III and Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham are portrayed as lovers, while in real life both were heterosexuals.
  • Intersex Tribulations: Richard is intersex rather than a hunchback as in the play. His mother calls him a "demon" and claims he's cursed. His having a working womb also results in getting impregnated by the Duke of Buckingham, a topic that ultimately starts a war between the two of them.
  • Jerkass: Margaret of Anjou is an unpleasant individual and is nasty to just about everyone, but particularly to Henry.
  • Kick the Dog: Doesn't even begin to describe what Margaret does to Richard Plantagenet before murdering him.
  • The Late Middle Ages: The story takes place during this time period.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Jeez, Richard, you'll say and do just about anything to persuade people, won't you?
  • One-Man Army: After his father's horrific murder at the hands of Margaret, Richard joins one of the battles and slaughters almost every Lancastrian soldier he comes in contact with. It tips the battle in York's favour, and also signifies Richard's Start of Darkness.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. There are so far at least four Edwards, four Richards, two Margarets, two Henrys, and two James's.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Considering its source material, this is all but inevitable for Richard.
  • Say My Name: You could make a game of how many times the cast calls out for Richard or Henry.
  • Starting a New Life: The current fate of Henry. After Richard "kills" him, he assumes the new identity of James Tyrell.