Basic series information|
As BeruBara is considered a "neglected classic," many people know of it, but they don't know much about it! Fear not, I'll do my best to answer all of the basic, but important, questions.
Q: What the heck is "BeruBara"??
Bara is the nickname fans have given to the series Rose of Versailles. The Japanese title for Rose of Versailles is "Versailles no Bara/ベルサイユのばら," which in Japanese is pronounced "Berusaiyu no Bara." (Berusaiyu = Versailles, no = Japanese posessive particle, bara = rose; literally: Versailles' Rose, but that doesn't sound as nice as Rose of Versailles!)
Combine the words "berusaiyu" with "bara" and you have BeruBara. Much easier than typing Rose of Versailles over and over!
Who wrote it and when?
The manga was originally written by mangaka (manga artist) Ms. Riyoko Ikeda, and it first appeared in April 1972 in the manga 'magazine' Margaret. Her editors were very skeptical that a historical drama would be successful with girls, as such a manga had never been made before. Needless to say, her story was an instant hit, and as the series celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2002, it shows no sign of losing popularity as a classic.
What about all the adaptations of the manga?
Well, unlike a great deal of modern anime that are quickly made after a manga's success, BeruBara wasn't made into an anime until 1979. The reason for this is because in 1974, two years after the manga began running, BeruBara was adapted for Takarazuka -- there were more than one, usually one focuses on Andre and Oscar while the other focuses on Marie-Antoinette and Fersen. Simply put, Takarazuka is an all-woman response to the traditional all-male kabuki arts in Japan, except Takarazuka performs a number of Broadway-style musicals in addition to traditional Japanese plays.
The Takarazuka versions of BeruBara were a huge hit and is considered them to be the best and most famous Takarazuka productions ever made. Most people in Japan immediately associate Takarazuka with BeruBara because of this. The Takarazuka versions of BeruBara ran from '74 to 76, again from 89 to 91, again in 2001, and I hear they are putting on yet another version in 2005.
Because of the enormous popularity of the Takarazuka productions, BeruBara was actually made into a live action film, filmed at Versailles by French director Jacques Demy, using British actors (speaking English of course), and largely sponsored by Japanese cosmetic company Shiseido. A truly international feat that had gorgeous costumes, settings, and cinematography, the movie flopped because, well, it was really bad. (I have it on DVD, and there is more information about it on this website.)
Somehow, despite the film's failure, Tokyo Movie Shinsha picked up the series and from 1979 to 1980, the anime ran on Japanese tv, and the rest is legend!
This isn't to say BeruBara has only been Takarazuka, anime, movie and manga (only!) -- nope, believe it or not, there has been a BeruBara BALLET and a marketing deal with boy band producer Johnny's. More BeruBara than you can shake a stick at!
Q: How many episodes are in the anime series?
There are exactly 40 episodes. Some people say there are 41, but the 41st episode is just a review of the entire series, there is no new material. The 41st episode is also not included with all standard releases of the show. So yea, it's 40 episodes long.
Q: How many books are in the manga?
The manga was originally 9 main installments, plus a "gaiden," which is an extra story that is not part of the main series or its chronology, so it's five manga in all. Now, when you buy the re-released manga, you can also get it in two VERY large books (phone book sized!), the first book is the first five chapters, the second is the last four and the gaiden.
The small, standard-sized manga, all five of them, called "tankouban", look like this:
The first cover of the five-set tankouban manga.
The large tomes are red and green (the first tome is green, the second is red), called "aizouban," and these are the covers:
The first and second tomes of the manga-- in my opinion these are better than the tankoubon, as the pages are twice the size (pictures are bigger!) and you have the entire story in two attractive books.
The large tomes, or aizouban, are still easily available in both Japanese and French; in Japanese they were originally printed in 1987 and reprinted in 2002. The tankouban version of the manga series is also available in Japanese, and also in Italian I believe, if not more. Sadly, none of these are available in English. (But I am working on scanlations until some anime/manga company in the US gets it together and finally licenses this series!)
For information about purchasing these manga in Japanese, French or Italian, please see the "where to buy" section in the menu.
What other goodies are there?
As BeruBara has been around for so long, there is more merchandise for this series than I can easily recall. If you want BeruBara merch, the best place to start is the "Power Ambitious" webstore, which is on the "where to buy" section of this site -- it's the official store for BeruBara. You can get anything from the manga to statues of Andre and Oscar, to body pillows of Andre (yipee!), to a shirt with a decal of the Jarjayes crest, to cups, BeruBara wine, cell phone straps, Oscar's shirt (really!), tshirts, diaries, stationary... the list goes on forever.
But as for stuff you might actually *want* to buy, there are a number of artbooks and a special BeruBara encyclopedia:
left: The artbook, hardcover with gold foil lettering. Very beautiful artwork inside (see "original scans" section for examples!), a must if you love Riyoko Ikeda's artwork.
right: The 30th anniversary encyclopedia, softcover, which is text-heavy and in Japanese, so unless you can read Japanese it's not essential (it's also hard to find outside of Japan). If you can read Japanese, however, you will get a kick out of the wealth of information in this. Absolutely anything and everything BeruBara related -- historical information, production information, adaptations, never-known-before information, EVERYTHING -- is in here. There's a new picture of Andre and Oscar, drawn in 2002 by Riyoko Ikeda, in the back, which I scanned and put in the "original scans" section as well.
Q: Was this series really the inspiration Shoujo Kakumei Utena/Revolutionary Girl Utena?
According to Utena director Ikuhara Kunihiko in the commentary of the final Utena DVDs, while Utena's and the Student Council uniforms was definitely inspired by Oscar's, any other comparisons aren't entirely fair. Ikuhara and mangaka Chiho Saito answered this question at length, and they were very clear in that most stories in Japan about girls who act like boys are eventually compared to BeruBara, as BeruBara kind of made that "genre" popular but it wasn't actually the first, as the late 60s anime and manga Ribbon no Kishi is considered to have started it all.
Many, many lengthy essays have been written in argument or defense of this, but the general concensus (with which I agree) is that Utena definitely wouldn't exist if it weren't for BeruBara, in that BeruBara really galvanized the ass-kicking-shoujo genre; however, you simply cannot draw direct parallels between the two stories. Once you get to know both Utena and Oscar, for example, their characters are motivated by different things and they, as people, are actually quite different. (Personally, I was a fan of Utena for many years before I discovered BeruBara, and I had only heard about BeruBara in reference to this rumor.) People always try to insist that Utena is merely an updated, darker version of Rose of Versailles, but, to put it bluntly, that's simply incorrect.
Versailles no Bara and all associated intellectual property are © Riyoko Ikeda.
Everything on this website was legally procured by the site author, CCS, for the sake of sharing the fandom on the internet. Please do not take anything here as it was a lot of work and money to gather.