Posted by psgels on 7 August 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews




I obviously haven’t seen all of the anime that are out there, and this especially goes for the series that were made in the sixties and seventies, so the following statement should be taken with a grain of salt. But I’d actually wager that at the time that it aired (1979/1980), the Rose of Versailles was better than any other anime that had aired so far. Heck, it would probably take until the premiere of the Legend of Galactic Heroes for this series to leave the top 3 of best anime ever made. This statement is just based on my opinion and the stories that I’ve heard about LoGH, so this obviously shouldn’t be taken as a fact. But damn: this series really blew my mind.

The Rose of Versailles is another product from Osamu Dezaki. It’s perhaps not the series where his direction is the strongest. Instead, what sets this series apart is its plot, characters and setting as it chronicles the events leading up to the French Revolution. There are a ton of things to praise about this series.

Imagine this: most series only take place during a few years, at most. The Rose of Versailles takes place over twenty four years, starting at the point where Marie Antoinette arrives in France to become the future queen. There’s so much character development in this series because of this: you can really see the entire cast grow up and gradually change over time; the amount of character development in this series is really unbelievable. On top of that, the creators actually succeeded in making a great character out of Marie Antoinette: she’s one of the most important characters in the series and the creators did really well in making her sympathetic, yet still retaining her as the wildly irresponsible queen that she was. On top of that, we also have the main protagonist of this series, Oscar. Oscar was… amazing. Charismatic, ridiculously strong, independent and charismatic, and yet with plenty of flaws most notably her pride and with pretty much the best development out of the entire series. I’m not sure what it is with anime, France and cross-dressers, but this series explores every inch of her character.

The characters aren’t the only ones with top notch development. Just about the entire series is the same. It actually starts of like your typical shoujo series, full of sparkles, court politics, nobles, frills and pretty character designs, and only subtly gets darker and darker as the series goes on and the French Revolution draws nearer, up to the point where you really can’t call it shoujo anymore and it transcends genres.

The one criticism is that it has dated a bit, and it does tend to get a bit overdramatic at times: it’s a very theatrical series that has the characters overacting on purpose to get an as big emotional response, sometimes accompanied by those cheesy shoujo sound effects. Still, it’s not like the acting is bad here: the voice actors have an amazing range here, from wonderfully restraint to powerful and over the top. It works for the most parts really well, but there are times where it goes a bit too far in this.

Overall, if you’ve never seen any series from before 1985, the series that I’d recommend the most are the Rose of Versailles for a dark shoujo, Ie Naki Ko for its drama, The Mysterious Cities of Gold for a more innocent adventure. Most of the top series of those days are tests to your patience: Gundam is an endless string of battles and fights, Perrine Monogatari takes a really long time to set up its characters, and Votoms also takes a while to really get going and develop. The series of those days just didn’t have to worry about time constraints and there was much less competition, allowing to spend a lot more time to careful build-up. The three series above however are amazing, right from the start, and they continue to be so through their entire run. Even during the shoujo-esque start of the Rose of Versailles, there’s plenty to like and it only gets better as time goes on.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Amazing plot progression, excellent direction, excellent pacing, wonderful told.
Characters: 10/10 – 24 years worth of development. Just about every character develops significantly and memorably.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Obviously dated, but comparing it to other anime of it time and it starts to look really good and refined.
Setting: 9/10 – An amazing look at the events leading up to the french revolution. It’s not 100% accurate, but it definitely does try to be true to history.

Suggestions:
Revolutionary Girl Utena
Onii-Sama e
Simoun

18 Responses

  1. paj says:

    totally agree with you on this one. One of my all time favorites.

    I love this one next to Le Chevalier D’Eon. I really do prefer these in-depth character growths because they really contribute to the overall story because you get really attach to them.

    I shed a few drop of tears for Oscar-sama too. . .everything about her was awesome.

  2. Kim says:

    I have also seen very few classic series but from the ones I have seen Rose of Versailles is definitely my favorite. The early parts might be a bit soap operaish but I think they set up things nicely for what is to come later. This is a sweeping epic and the best story I have seen on the French Revolution (even beating another favorite of mine The Tale of Two Cities).

  3. Mi-Mi-Mikuru says:

    Awesome that you watched Lady Oscar! 90 is a nice score for it.
    I love this series since my childhood when it was broadcasted in germany, and I still enjoy it while rewatching!

    Wilde Rose stolz und frei, immer nur sich selber treu, Lady Oscar~ Lady Oscar~ wie ein Mann kann sie fighten, sie kann fechten und reiten… *German opening sing*
    Nostalgia~

  4. windy says:

    You’re absolutely right, Lady Oscar is like a legendary anime, it’s one of the best shows ever, I still think that it’s THE animated series that really introduced me to the world of animation and made me addicted to it^^!

  5. windy says:

    It’s been airing in France before, I loved that show soooo much, it gave way to so many emotions at a time, I was younger and even used to play at it after school, was completely under the spell of it, that was a long time ago,there’s also another one that aired almost at the same time “Little prince Ceddie” ( that was a good one too)…shows like this are not aired anymore, I suppose it’s not profitable to big companies or something who want to sell the dvds, but that’s just stupid, as a result now we only have utter nonsensical shows aired for two years-old on tv, seriously alarming…

  6. Firechick says:

    Ummm…Psgels? 85% of your review is in italics.

  7. elianthos says:

    I actually screamed YEESSSSSSS! and pumped my fists in the air when I spotted your review XD.
    I was hoping you’d like it that much ( I like it even, more, but hey, I remember this anime since the first time I watched it – I was 2 years old, no kidding -. It has shaped my life and my beliefs is a way few others things have achieved to. If I was forced to choose a single book, anime, movie to keep with me while livig on a desert island, RoV would be THE anime XD). It’s probably the one title from my childhood and adolescence (ah, the 80’s and early 90’s…) that has stood best the test of time beyond nostalgia goggles. A true classic.
    An extra thanks to you for picking Andrè for one of the screenshots ;D.

  8. tk007 says:

    Strange, I thought I’ve seen you reviewing Rose of Versailles before. Or maybe I’m imgaining things. >.>

    Regardless, I simply have to agree with this score. IMO, Oscar has got to be the best shoujo female lead in anime history. OSCAAARRR~~!

  9. chuu says:

    Glad you reviewed Rose of Versailles. It is one of the most memorable series of my childhood, along with Captain Harlock, Candy Candy, Mysterious Cities of Gold and Ulysse 31.

    IMO, Oscar remains today the best, the most classical example of the bishonen archetype. The careful historical backdrop sets this serie above all other shoujos.

  10. Guigas says:

    OMG, we finished this show at the same time Psgels. Unbeliavable. I finished episode 40 yesterday. Great stuff indeed, totally agree with your 90/100.

    Now go watch Monster and make a review with 95/100 rating, and go watch Legend of the Galatic Heroes (I’m expecting at least a 97,5/100 for this one, BEST ANIME EVER)

  11. Hades says:

    I think that Versailles is a very good anime. Oscar is one of my favorite female leads. This is my favorite shoujo as well.

    I’m dying to see a LOGH review from Psgels too. No doubts it will enter at Psgels top 5. That anime reached perfection, and when the time comes, Psgels will also understand the reason this anime gets so much praise,and deservedly so.(THIS is a masterpiece guys, not Mahou Shoujo overrated madoka or Code Geass).

  12. Firechick says:

    One other thing, Psgels: you used the word charismatic twice.

  13. Gottis says:

    Rose of Versailles, Georgie, Candy Candy, Hello Sandybelle!, Starzinger, Ginga Nagareboshi no Gin, the Mysterious Cities of Gold and Macross/Robotech are the anime from my childhood that I can still watch today, that haven’t aged too badly at all. I seriously love them, I love Oscar… And I’ve named one of my cats ‘Rosalie’. Yeah. I’m glad you liked it! ^^

  14. Meep says:

    One of my top 5 favorite anime! I’m pleased with the score and review. x3 Gawd, I wanna watch this all over again…

  15. manuel says:

    this anime was also aired in latin america ,is a little and beatiful part of my chilhood
    i adored the ending song in my ignorance i wondered why if the characters speak in my language , the song lyric was in japanase
    i Never feel bored to watch again and again although i already know the end

  16. HeleinaBlaire says:

    I just accidentally found ROV in my quest of finding Lady Georgie and I AM SO HAPPY to have found ROV!! WOW! I grew up watching sailormoon and that is my all time favorite but I never thought I would find something like ROV that could match may love for Sailormon..ROV is so great!! Just found it last week and now I’m re-watching it the 3rd time!! I feel like I’m inlove with Oscar..Just super love her character..But like everyone I guess,I also wish that they had more time together as a couple but well we have to accept..that’s that..boy I did cry when Andre died..It was so heart wrenching..I enjoyed reading your review and I’m happy to know that there are many who also love and appreciate ROV.. Long live Rose of Versailles!! =D

  17. RW says:

    Wow, I am amazed at how there are many of us who have been watching this decades old anime just recently.

    I tend to take a sneak at your blog after finishing animes. I haven’t watched nearly as many as yours. First of all, brilliant blog you got here! I found this anime while I was searching for one of those set in a Royal court/aristocracy setting. However, I ended up watching another one instead. Though the title itself did seem alluring at first glance, I assumed that this might just be another painfully sugarcoated story-line. Boy was I wrong! It does indeed make history alive. Although, I did shed my tears, I would not have it end in any other way. It would seem unreal if they actually remained alive. I’m surprised that Oscar managed to stay alive for this long.

    Story might have worked because I knew it is based on a real story. I really liked the artstyle of this anime. I think this anime being made during the 70s worked well for its setting. Does make it seem like a story straight out of a picture book. Amazing soundtrack, too.

    I think, to me, it is one of those animes that is so great that you do not want to watch it again,but instead to keep the first memories alive. But as it slowly fades, it becomes more-like the 70s. Buried under the tide of time but never truly forgotten. Some aspects of soundtrack is stuck in my head.

    I would not be surprised if I did ‘accidently’ find myself watching it again. I don’t really know what it is but something just makes this whole anime work.

    Keep up the work! How you find so much time to keep blogging is a wonder.

  18. Joe says:

    Good review but I wasn’t pleased about that tacked on generalisation of Gundam. The good entries in the series are far from an endless string of battles. War in the Pocket barely even has any.

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  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Mar 7. 2015 02:00 AM)
    @Vxien, Not sure who that recommend is for but whoever it is has seen death note. It’s like recommending Cowboy bebop. Anyone calling themselves an anime fan has likely already seen it and anyone that hasn’t…should watch it immediately.
  • Vxien
    (Saturday, Mar 7. 2015 12:41 AM)
    Might I recommend Death Note if you haven’t already.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:47 AM)
    I remember that same guy, during end of eva, pausing it over and over during that scene where asuka dies with all of those fast moving clips too.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:39 AM)
    I remember catching it also when I was young with a friend and we looked back on a fanservice scene with shinji and rei and he mentioned “You know if you think about it that scene is damn disturbing when you think she’s a clone of/modelled after you know who…”
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:36 AM)
    Before Eva, when I was 11 or so my image of a mech anime was Nadesico…then it was eva and then I was like…Whoah…whoah God halp! =O
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:34 AM)
    I suppose credit where I feel it due, the angel designs are excellent and I remember getting the shock of my life when shinji’s eva went nuts and then there was a bit with Bardiel infect Toji’s unit. I remember at least Masatos boyfriend being a likeable character.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:31 AM)
    I don’t think anyone was prepared for Eva, whether they liked the show or not, at 11 I can remember being horrified by end of eva and the series original ending as well as having my first moment of “Feck…theres a first…an anime that did something that scrambled my mind, I actually feel kind of thick now, this show is smarter than I am”.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:27 AM)
    It really wouldn’t have been that hard to put a satisfying ending to the original series, wrap up the threads nicely and put a pretty ribbon on the package to finish it off. But Anno and friends took a risk and went against the tide and end up becoming the trope-namer for the Gainax Endings. That took balls and made things unexpected and fresh, cuz god knows that ,good guys win the day ‘is tired and boring.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:26 AM)
    Requiem for a dream. I remember the guy who recommended that film saying to me “Even someone such as yourself who finds it hard to find/has high standards an emotionally investing film will get something out of requiem for a dream”
  • Bam
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:17 AM)
    @Emma: leaving a bad taste is pretty much the point of Eva, just as getting bummed out by Requiem For a Dream is the naturally intended effect. I don’t mind that you don’t enjoy Eva all that much Emma, l actually appreciate it over dishonest admiration. Just keep in mind that Eva deserves it’s special place in anime.

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