Picture my surprise when one of my Professor’s back in college tells me she is actually watching ‘Rose of Versailles’ currently. That in fact, she owns the classic box set. That she had actually seen this 40 episode anime over five times in it’s entirety due to her fascination with Japan’s representation of French history, shojo themes, and of course the beloved Lady Oscar.
I doubt there’s anyone in the anime community that hasn’t at least heard the whispers of Rose of Versailles at least once. The manga’s style and influence on the industry can still be seen and felt to this day. In fact, not terribly long ago Uniqlo even had a collaboration event celebrating 30 something years of the series existing. Needless to say, between the ambiguous figure of Oscar, who went on to inspire legions of other women and mangka alike, I knew I had to watch. So a tracked the series down, and almost binge-watched to the fullest.
The story for those of you who may not know, is that of the rise and fall of Marie Antionette and her relationship with the fictional Oscar Francois De Jarjeyes, the female Commander of the Royal Guards. Of course, we know that nearly everyone we’re introduced to in the series is bound to either a) die or b) have a tragic ending. If you are a fan of those over dramatic endings this will not disappoint you and will have you lamenting.
Lamenting over who and what exactly depends on you, but for me it was clearly Andre. Andre was a man that could intellectually bridge the gap between royals and commoners due to his unique situation. How he did that was a little debatable but the effort was shown and there. There are steps you attempt to take before you know, imprisoning then usually killing people and burning down downtown Paris.
See, Andre is a main character in this series but he’s also probably the only main character from beginning to end that’s poor. Or, would be perceived as poor if he wasn’t Oscar’s childhood companion and constantly at her side. He’s suppose to be a simple stable-hand tending to the horses and their issues.
However, Andre is more then that. In a world where the poor farmers were illiterate, at some point Andre had to have had some education since he read letters, books, etc throughout the series. He’s able to articulate his concerns to Oscar without being dismissed due to their rare type of upbringing. Andre is a peer to Oscar, but only when she wants it. Often she dismisses some of his concerns as that of a commoner who couldn’t (and some degree didn’t) understand the balance of royalty and the court. Of course, he also is able to receive more medical care and favor in nearly every situation due to his duties to the Jarjeyes’s family and the family’s influence.
So while the queen and nobles are ignorant that people are starving and dying, he can nudge at least Oscar to take a look at where these ‘seemingly out of nowhere angry’ people are coming from. He takes it upon himself as both a Frenchmen, and as Oscar’s companion, to try and understand the situation at hand. He himself is isolated by working on the Jarjeyes property, so he has to maintain an image of his employer. He does end up attending areas that the common people gather and air their grievances. Andre even engages in dialogues with them as well to further understand points. It’s important to remember that Andre is a commoner living in a borrowed space so to speak.
Which is also why Andre gets dragged through more shit as a commoner in a nobleman’s house, then either the common people or royalty combined in some instances. While yes he has food, and basic necessities something the commoner’s would beg him for, he can’t openly rebel. He has to wait to talk with Oscar, and only then can he carefully explain a situation which she might or might not understand. Even then, he can’t look like he’s openly supporting the revolution, only can he withdraw from the court.
He can, and does attend royal events. Marie Antionette never knows his name and can acknowledge him! Note that he never approaches a soul beyond those he knows are friendly to Oscar. And even then it’s usually limited to contact outside of Versailles, to Hans Axel Von Ferson, who he somehow strikes a friendship up with due to circumstance. Being the nearest commoner man, leads him into a series of events that he really wouldn’t have been subjected too if he wasn’t Oscar’s common companion.
If you can’t stand the idea of watching Marie Antoniette squander away her dignity and respect with the people, something that always made me roll my heads into my head, watch for Andre. Look at what Andre’s doing, feeling, how and when he approaches Oscar. Because beyond Andre being the most tragic character of the series (Sorry Marie, Sorry Oscar), he’s not a bad character to observe since he has the most interesting dynamic in the series. As well as you might have heard he serves as someone, it’s Oscar’s, love interest.
Of course, he’s problematic for many ass reasons that did not do well then or now; when he does wrong he gives Oscar space!! He respects her authority as a Commander as a woman!! She is not his property!! Although he does come off as creepy in his devotion to her, which leads into the whole tragic ending and all that. But still!! He never wavers from her and is desperate to be at her side unlike the recent thots of these times that can’t be faithful for more then an episode!!
Sorry not sorry, but I would totally have been head over heels for Andre if I had been in that situation. I had to give the man some credit as he’s put through more shit then anyone.
I really can’t think of anything else to say about this series that hasn’t been said. It’s an actual classic within anime, that’s still iconic and somewhat relevant to this day. Obviously, there are some holes here and there and some elements didn’t age as well as others, but it’s still enjoyable and fun to watch all these years later. It’s a linear storyline without too many way-off episodes, that tell a historical event in a way that’s fun to watch. Don’t even get me started about the non-replicate-able art style, and delivery of what it means to have a truly tragic end. Rose of Versailles is one of the strongest, well known peers in shojo anime to this day.
Just don’t say I didn’t warn you about the stupidity and about Andre okay?