Manga of the Month: The Rose of Versailles

Screen Shot 2021-08-22 at 1.02.25 PMThe Rose of Versailles (ベルサイユのばら)
by Riyoko Ikeda

July 2015 will probably be remembered as the summer when anime and manga dreams came true. Sort of. The month before has been the E3 where the The Last Guardian was saved, Final Fantasy VII got a remake, and Shenmue III was going to get made via a kickstarter. The Anime Expo 2015 did the same thing for the otaku community. While the impossible dream of getting the Legend of the Galactic Heroes anime and novels would normally be enough to make the announcements go into the realm of the fantastic the manga lineup was no slouch. The most surprising news was probably the fact that Udon was going to release the original The Rose of Versailles manga from the 70s.

The Rose of Versailles was always one of those manga that everyone asked for but never really expected. When the Right Stuf licensed the anime the reaction (beyond being slack-jawed) usually was, “It would be nice if we could also get the manga but this is more than good enough.” So when Udon of all people unveiled their little SDCC it made a mad sort sense given the events that had occurred in the last few weeks. I don’t think a year and a half ago most people who have guessed:

A. Anyone would license such an old shojo manga.
B. Anyone could get such a tricky prestigious shojo manga.
C. That it would have ever been from someone like Udon.

That summer of 2015 was interesting as most of the titles I mentioned had some major hiccup that changed the way people saw that string of miracles. The Last Guardian was sort of good but it sort of got overwhelmed by expectations thanks to years of dreams so it mostly exists in this limbo state between a dream come true and an utter disappointment. Shenmue III got really bad reviews but everything I have heard seems to say that it deserved every thumbs down it got. Final Fantasy VII has taken a long time to come out and since it is now being released in parts it has yet to be seen how the final product will be especially since there have been some major changes in the first part. It seemed like everyone of those wishes was made on a monkey’s paw. Not every wish ended in disaster but no one really got exactly what they wanted.

The Rose of Versailles manga seemed to have been a wish made on the same cursed monkey’s paw. As delayed as the Final Fantasy VII remake was at least there was occasional news updates even if they were few and far between. Udon seemed to just license The Rose of Versailles and then completely forget about the series. The was some speculation that Udon had just bit off more than they could chew and the license and they were just waiting for the license to lapse. But then beyond all odd Udon actually released the manga and it was in a super amazing premium format that lived up to most expectations and often exceeded them.  It was a long wait but it was very much worth it. Continue reading

Anime NYC 2019: Code Geass: Gundam Reconguista in G Movie I

hisui_icon_4040_round Yoshiyuki Tomino is a treasure. More precisely he might be one of those cursed treasures whose tremendous powers come at a terrible cost but in the anime industry that is just being extremely on-brand. The clearest example of the demon sword that Tomino has become is his last TV series Gundam Reconguista in G. I know it is slightly controversial to say but there are some cool things about the show. It has some amazing mecha designs, memorable characters, interesting setting concepts, and even some engaging and clever themes. But I also have to say that Gundam Reconguista in G is a hot mess. The characters go through unexplained Tomino mood swings and allegiance changes on the drop of a hat, the world-building is random and spotty to the point where it seems deliberately obtuse, the pacing could generously be called messy, and it always feels like it is the first draft of something that need three more drafts to be functional. It has distinctly earned its reputation despite having some really good points in its favor. I enjoyed it but it is undoubtedly the durian of the Gundam series.

So with any of these Gundam compilation movies, there is always a faint glimmer of hope that this could be the second draft to clean up a messy TV series. The original Gundam movies did a lot to streamline the somewhat messy and bloated TV series. Past that point, the compilation movies are a mixed bag with far too many of them feeling like a sloppy clip show more than a properly curated affair. The problem is usually they just show the best parts of the TV series without any of the proper connective tissue to have any of it make sense. They often wind up chopping out the important little parts without trimming enough of the filler fat.

The thing is Gundam Reconguista in G feels like a series that MIGHT be saved with some proper editing. There are a whole bunch of somewhat useless storylines that could be trimmed or remixed into something far more viable while adding in some new informative scenes to flesh out things that seemed to come out of nowhere. Assuming this would happen is utter foolishness but this series would also benefit much more than others so it seemed like something to check out just in case.

Continue reading

Anime NYC 2019: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection

hisui_icon_4040_round I already mentioned that I had the most uncomfortable viewing experience for Weathering with You but I possibly had the most “authentic” viewing experience for Lelouch of the Re;surrection. I say “authentic” because it was sort of the worst seats in the house but there were be no set up that could be envisioned as more Code Geass that I could think of. First of all the music in the room was just a tad too loud. They raised the volume to counteract a potentially noisy crowd but it mostly only made the crowd louder to compensate. To the right of me was a vaping CC who pretty much smoked her little device the whole movie. Behind me were a row of rowdy fujoshi. They had seen the movie before (a fact they mentioned several times) so they mostly just shouted various comments at the screen with an emphasis on anything hot or to do with their fan fiction. It was not full MST3K but it was a fairly wordy unwanted commentary track.

Overall I still experienced the movie fairly well it just was probably the best encapsulation of the Code Geass fandom in a single solitary moment. If anything I probably would have enjoyed a little more had they not been there but such is sometimes the price of going to a live screening.

By the way, there are going to be some MAJOR spoilers for the Code Geass and the compilation movies but truth be told you should not have anything to do with this movie if you have not seen those.

Continue reading