Anime DVD Review: The Rose of Versailles Part 2

The Rose of Versailles Part 2 is a four-disc DVD set released by Nozomi Entertainment that includes the final 20 episodes of the classic shojo series, The Rose of Versailles. Each disc in the set contains five episodes, and the only audio option for the set is the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.

The Rose of Versailles Part 2
English Publisher: Nozomi Entertainment
Format: DVD
Release Date: July 9, 2013

This set opens with the series’ telling of the Diamond Necklace Affair. While Marie Antoinette herself was actually innocent during this whole event, details of the palace’s excessive spending were revealed during the trial. These details only gave fuel to the commoners who were already frustrated by high taxes, and helped to fan the flames of dissatisfaction that would eventually lead up to the French Revolution. Even though the Diamond Necklace Affair was a real event, The Rose of Versailles fictionalized some parts of the story.

For me, this section was interesting to watch in regards to Marie Antoinette’s character. On the one hand, I knew as a viewer that she had been rather flighty earlier and already know from history that she wasn’t going to be very likable later. However, on the other hand, I had to feel a little sorry for Marie Antoinette during this storyline, because she truly hadn’t done anything wrong in regards to the necklace. However, by the end of the series, I had very little sympathy for her.

After the Diamond Necklace Affair, most of the remaining episodes in the series focus on the events that led up to the French Revolution and the storming of the Bastille. Like with the Diamond Necklace Affair, most of the stories of the events follow history. However, there has been some artistic license taken and some small details were changed between history and how the events are depicted in the series. Probably one of the biggest changes is the fact that in the series, it’s depicted that Robespierre knew and was affiliated with Saint-Just prior to the Estates-General. However, according to my research, Saint-Just and Robespierre didn’t know each other until after the Estates-General was assembled.

There’s also some focus on Oscar and Andre and the evolution of their relationship. I’ve heard some criticism about this element of the series, but as a viewer and as a writer, I thought this was necessary. Several hints were dropped in earlier episodes about Andre’s feelings for Oscar, so I believe that seeing their relationship was important in order for viewers to get a payoff for this part of the story.

I have to say that, overall, the episodes that appear on The Rose of Versailles Part 2 are stronger than the episodes that appear on The Rose of Versailles Part 1. While the earlier episodes were important for establishing Marie Antoinette as a character, as well as the attitudes and motivations of the nobility, there were times that those early episodes were a little on the boring side and felt a little “fluffy.” However, there’s a lot more action, story, and plot that takes place in the episodes in the second half of the series.

As the story is written, the viewer only gets to see up to the storming of the Bastille in “real time.” The majority of the final episode sees three of the characters meeting up about five years after the storming of the Bastille, and reminiscing about the events that took place between that event and the “present time” of the final episode. At least this allows the viewer to see how the story of the French Revolution ultimately ended, and to find out what happened to many of the major characters who appeared in the series.

Unfortunately, as I watched this set, I discovered some more glaring grammatical errors in the subtitles.This was especially true on the fourth disc. Since the fourth disc contains the climax of the story, I found the subtitle errors to be rather distracting.

The Rose of Versailles has an on-disc extra and a physical extra. The on-disc extra is an interview with director Osamu Dezaki, which appears on the final disc in the set. The interview runs for roughly 18 minutes, and it appears that it was originally done in France. As Dezaki speaks, there are burned-in subtitles in French. In order for a North American audience to understand what’s being said, English subtitles had to be placed over the French ones. Unfortunately, this can make the English subtitles a little hard to read at times. But I can’t fault Nozomi for this, because there really wasn’t any other way to include English subtitles on this extra. I’m actually rather impressed that there was even anything to include as an on-disc extra outside of trailers for other Nozomi/Right Stuf properties.

The physical extra is a 48-page paperback book, which includes information on some of the creative staff for both the manga and anime of The Rose of Versailles, a timeline for the series, the real story of the Diamond Necklace Affair, as well as art and production art for the series. I found the timeline to be helpful for understanding exactly where the various events of the series took place, and I also appreciated the writeup on the Diamond Necklace Affair. Since I normally see production art as an on-disc feature, it was nice to have it included in a way that I can better see the art. It’s amazing just how detailed the production art was for The Rose of Versailles, and this helps to show just how much effort went into the art for the series.

I’m very grateful that Nozomi/Right Stuf was able to acquire the distribution license for this classic anime series and was able to get it released here. It’s nice to finally be able to say that I have seen this classic shojo series.

If you’re a fan of shojo manga or anime who also has an interest in historical fiction, then I think you will enjoy The Rose of Versailles.

Additional posts about The Rose of Versailles:

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