Requiem of the Rose King Volume 1 is based on William Shakespeare’s Henry VI and Richard III.
Requiem of the Rose King is set in medieval England during the War of the Roses, where a fierce battle rages between the House of York and the House of Lancaster. The story ultimately focuses on two characters: Henry from the House of Lancaster and Richard from the House of York.
Henry is portrayed as “beautiful boy” character, and he is currently king. He wants no part in any fighting or any war and is a devout Christian. It’s his wife, Margaret, who is leading the campaign against the Yorks.
Richard is the third son of the House of York, and his father wants to ascend the throne. While Richard is loved by his father, his mother hates him because she sees him as a demon spawn. It appears that Richard has an ability to see what’s going on far away in his dreams and can inadvertently communicate with those he sees in his dreams. There’s also a secret about Richard that could have major repercussions if the wrong people discover it, and it explains why his mother treats him like she does.
As fate would have it, Henry and Richard have a chance meeting when Henry has snuck away from the castle and Richard finds a way to escape from the cell he, his brother, and his mother are kept in at one point in the story. Neither one realizes who the other is, but Henry wants to be friends. While Richard never outright agrees to be Henry’s friend, the fact that Henry asked him at all keeps coming back to him. If Richard ever finds out who Henry really is, it could complicate things for him, since Henry is the man his father wants to overthrow.
One of the strangest parts of Requien of the Rose King is the ghost of Joan of Arc that floats around Richard and can only be seen by him. For the most part, I really didn’t understand the purpose for her being around. At best, she dropped one or two hints about Richard’s secret. Hopefully she’ll play a bigger role in future volumes of the series.
The art in Requiem of the Rose King tends to focus on many of the male characters looking like beautiful boys. The main male character to not have this look is Richard, and this is due in large part to the secret that he’s trying to hide from the world. The two main females, Richard’s mother and Henry’s wife, both have a haughty look about them, and Kanno takes the time to put a lot of detail into their dresses to emphasize the fact that this story is set in medieval England. When it comes to the art for the overall story Kanno’s style works very well.
From what I know of the War of the Roses, it appears that Kanno is playing it fast and loose when it comes to historical accuracy. Instead, the emphasis is placed on the drama of the story that Kanno is telling. Even though this series may not have historical accuracy, Requiem of the Rose King is intriguing enough to potentially cause readers to want to read more of the series in order to find out what will happen next.
In a lot of respects, Requiem of the Rose King can be seen as a more modern and English version of The Rose of Versailles shojo historical manga from the 1970s, which was set in France and focused on Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. Requiem of the Rose King isn’t bad for what it is, and Kanno effectively depicts that this series is on the darker side
Personally, I think that manga readers who enjoy historical fiction that doesn’t necessarily strive for accuracy will have the most appreciation for Requiem of the Rose King.
The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media