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Manga / The Sword of Paros

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Lady Oscar... no, wait. Wrong manga.

"There is a legend in the kingdom of Paros — a legend of the Sword. It is said that if one who is unfit to rule should wield it, it will mean the ruin of the kingdom."

The Sword of Paros (パロスの剣 Parosu no Ken) is a shoujo historical fantasy manga written by Kaoru Kurimoto, a science fiction author best known for the Guin Saga, and illustrated by Yumiko Igarashi, best known for Candy Candy. The manga ran in Monthly Asuka from 1986 to 1987, and was compiled into three volumes.

The plot of The Sword of Paros is strongly centered on the romance of the two female protagonists, one of whom, like Oscar in The Rose of Versailles, dresses and behaves like a man. But, differently from Oscar, Hermina feels a "man trapped in a woman's body". Besides, Paros no Ken crosses a line that other yuri mangas hadn't before, by giving a light of hope to a lesbian couple, instead of an ending openly tragic.

Hermina is the princess of the fictional reign of Paros and the sole heir of the throne. The problem is that only men are permitted to rule, so her husband will be the next king. With the reign of Kauros determined to absorb Paros by marriage or war, the king demands Hermina to choose a husband at her next birthday. However, the fate intervenes when Hermina saves a young laundry maid from a runaway horse.

The Sword of Paros provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Erminia is the best sword fighter in her kingdom (but, unfortunately, not in the whole world, as she learns the hard way). Fiona also becomes this towards the end.
  • Against the Grain: Both Ermina and Fiona are opressed because they won't fit in the local society. Ermina likes dressing like a man, fencing and riding horses, instead of being "feminine" (for a noblewoman, that means obsessing over her appearance and talking about trivialities like hunks and sweets). Fiona, in turn, is ridiculed and mistreated by her class colleagues for daring to dream about a prince charming because she is a poor orphan with no future.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Poor, poor Fiona. Being an orphan, and a laundry maid, the other laundry maids make her life difficult by regularly insulting her. The scullery maids treat her much worse and physically abuse her when she works too slow. When she disappears after she is abducted and raped, they only express annoyance that they have no one to boss around anymore.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Do Princess Ermina and Fiona survive? Nobody knows. Still, it can be said as a progress, given that until then lesbian manga couples never ended up together, usually with one of the girls dying.
  • Attempted Rape: Faon strips Hermina naked and tries to rape her before the marriage. She bits his tongue when he kisses her forcefully; shocked at the realization of her repulse for him, he gives up, but believes she will end up having a change of heart.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Ermina will only marry whoever can defeat her in combat, and that's not easy...
  • Bury Your Gays: Ermina and Fiona, if they didn't survive
  • The Cameo: Candy, Annie, Alistair, Terry and Archie have a picnic on the chapter 6 as they discuss the chances Hermina has of winning the competition.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: The manga introduction gives the impression that Herminia is the Chosen One who will eventually save Paros from the other kingdons. She comes with the tournament to proof her value as a warrior and be allowed to rule with Fiona by her side but, instead, she is defeated, sees Yura being blindened, her father murdered and is almost raped by Faon. After Hermina is saved by Fiona, she learns that the rebels want her to lead them in the revolution; she even considers that, until Yurias tells her that Fiona has disguised herself as her to allow Hermina to escape, but it is obvious that she will be killed when Faon discovers the ruse. Hermina then realizes she never was allowed to choose her fate because of her position as a princess and that "damned legend"; even if the commoners of Paros want her as their leader she would be still fitting in a role the others expected. Instead, she decides to try and save Fiona; even if both are killed, it's a destiny they have chosen.
  • Driven to Suicide: Fiona attempts it after being raped, but survives and winds up in a small fishing village.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Prince Faon is fine with using underhanded tactics to take over a neighboring kingdom, summarily executing its nobles, and forcing its princess into marrying him... but he backs off from the opportunity of raping Ermina when she has nothing but her temper to protect her.
  • Evil Uncle: Prince Alphonse.
  • Expy: Ermina is a lesbian (transman?)version of Lady Oscar, while Yurias is a straight-haired Andre. Fiona is a curly, dark-haired version of Rosalie.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: When Fiona was a child, she was saved by a beautiful prince who took care of her; since then, she dreams to see him again. Of course the prince is Hermina, although she had forgotten that.
  • From Dress to Dressing: Fiona rips a part of her skirt to take care of an injury Hermina received while she fought myterious knights.
  • Happily Adopted: Sort of. Fiona ends up being taken in by an older couple with a young grandson.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Fiona takes Ermina's place, dressing her bridal clothes, so her beloved will escape. Averted, because Ermina immediately decides to rescue her when she learns about the ruse.
  • Humiliation Conga: Hermina suffers this at Faon's hands.
  • Important Haircut: Fiona cuts her hair before joining Erminia's rescue mission.
  • Interclass Romance: Ermina is a princess, Fiona is a poor laundry maid.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Apparently, the source of Faon's Villainous Crush on Hermina. He laughs sadistically as he sees her cry because of Yuria's wounds and her father's death, but seems genuinously hurt when he realizes she prefers to die than letting him have his way with her. He tells his subordinates to not allow Hermina to kill herself.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Yurias is in love with Ermina, but dies saving her.
  • Karma Houdini: Faon never gets to pay for having blinded Yurias, taking over the kingdom of Paros/enslaving its citizens and the things he does to Hermina. It is left in open if the rebels are able to put him down or if he suffocates the rebellion.
  • Like Brother and Sister: How Ermina views her friendship with Yurias, only he wishes to have more than that.
  • Masquerade Ball: Ermina and Fiona take advantage of one to meet again, in disguise.
  • Melodrama: A lot, especially when Fiona is under the spotlight.
  • Myth Prologue: The manga opens with a brief narrative of the legend about the three treasures of Paros: the Sword of Paros, Kanan's Jewel of the Dead and Keiron's Great Jeweled Crown. According to the legend, whoever possesses the three itens is to rule the land; but, if they are touched by someone ill-fitted to the role, it will be the ruin of that one's status. Then the story proceeds mentioning the princess Hermina, hinting she would be the Chosen One who would eventually rule Paros against the male oppositions. Actually, it is a Deconstruction of the trope: Hermina realizes that her entire life she was forbidden of deciding her own fate because of her royal blood, so she decides to prioritize her happiness by running away with Fiona, leading to the fall of the fourth dynasty of Paros.
  • Obviously Evil: Prince Alphonse, complete with a Beard of Evil.
  • Pride Before a Fall: The entire Best Her to Bed Her Tournament Arc is predicated on Ermina's faulty belief that she is the World's Best Warrior. As she comes to learn the hard way, that title actually belongs to Prince Faon, who beats Yurias (whom she considers her equal) and her back-to-back without breaking a sweat. As a result, Yurias is blinded and eventually killed, her father dies, and her kingdom is seized by Faon's troops.
  • Princess for a Day: Yurias and Ermina give Fiona quite a nice outfit to wear for the carnival.
  • Rape as Drama: Due to her closeness to Princess Ermina, Fiona is abducted, raped and left for dead by some of Ermina's would-be suitors.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: We don't see the act in question, only a few glimpses of the men surround her before she imagines Ermina and we see her face in tears.
  • Rebellious Princess: Ermina, who prefers riding horses and swordplay than preparing for marriage.
  • Reincarnation Romance: Invoked. As Yurias makes his Last Stand to buy Ermina and Fiona time to escape Faon's convoy, Ermina promises to marry him in the next life if both of them are reincarnated.
  • Rescue Romance: Hermina and Fiona meet when the former saves the laundry maid from a wild horse. Though they had already met before (see Forgotten First Meeting).
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The rebels want Ermina to lead them, but she has had enough of people telling her what to do. Instead, she runs away with Fiona, leaving everything and everyone behind.
  • Scullery Maid: Fiona is made into this, which according to the laundry maids, is quite a low status
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Except Fiona, everybody else insist that Erminia should behave as a Proper Lady. Her father goes so far as to have her locked in her room with a bunch of maids trying to talk her into how wonderful is to wear beautiful dresses, jewels and chose a handsome husband (yuck). Poor Ermina is having a nervous breakdown, when Yuras enters and sends the clucking hens away. It is a lot worse with Faon. He belittles Hermina's habilities with a sword, has her dressed with feminine clothes after having knocked her out and goes as far as trying to rape her to "erase her male heart".
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The Sword of Paros is regarded as a yuri retelling of The Rose of Versailles, if Lady Oscar had hooked up with Rosalie instead of Andre.