Anime 101.5 | A Sudden Slice of Prescient Transgender Shōjo THE ROSE OF VERSAILLES | This Assignment: Mandatory

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Shōjo, shojo or shoujo (少女 shōjo) is a Japanese word originally derived from a Chinese expression written with the same characters.The Chinese characters ( and ) literally mean young/little and woman respectively. In Japanese, these kanji refer specifically to a young woman approximately 7–18 years old. Shōjo can often be translated with the English word girl.

Yes, I cribbed the above from Wikipedia—yes, I am a lazy hungover deranged bad-hair professor, just deal with it. And yeah, swerving from YAMATO into Shōjo might seem a weird left turn but really, it’s not. There are stories for boys and stories for girls, but despite whom these stories are “designed” and aimed for, both sexes happily dip into genres of the other and both are left richer for their explorations.

Which gives me a bitchin’ dead-on intro to my main topic.

There are fewer white-hot issues in our western world right now in 2014 than the recognition and the rightly-demanded rights and deserved respect of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi, transgender) community. Head scratcher: Japan, one of the most conservative (and sexist, militaristic, and exploitive) countries on the planet, had centuries ago accepted homosexuality, cross-dressing, and transgender as a silent “norm.” (This from a country that for most of the 20th century found the concept of a kiss “obscene,” but that’s another article.)

Contradiction and complexity: These factors make life interesting.

The Rose of Versailles (ベルサイユのばら Berusaiyu no Bara?), also known as Lady Oscar or La Rose de Versailles, is one of the best-known titles in shōjo manga and a media franchise created by Riyoko Ikeda. It has been adapted into several Takarazuka Revue musicals, as well an anime television series, produced by Tokyo Movie Shinsha and broadcast by the anime television network Animax and Nippon Television. The show remains incredibly popular in Italy.

The Rose of Versailles focuses on Oscar François de Jarjayes, a girl raised as a man to become her father’s successor as leader of the Palace Guards. A brilliant combatant with a strong sense of justice, Oscar is proud of the life she leads, but becomes torn between class loyalty and her desire to help the impoverished as revolution brews among the oppressed lower class. Also important to the story are her conflicting desires to live life as both a militant and a regular woman as well as her relationships with Marie Antoinette, Count Axel von Fersen, and servant and best friend André Grandier.

It features elements of the yuri genre embodied in the relationship between Oscar and her protégée Rosalie Lamorlière, the secret daughter of the scheming Madame de Polignac, whose admiration for Oscar may be interpreted as either hero worship or romantic love coming from her possible bisexuality. Many of the court ladies also greatly adore Oscar, openly admiring her at parties and become very jealous when she brings female companions to them.

“PROFESSOR DRAX! ARE YOU CUTTING AND PASTING FROM WIKI AGAIN?!”

Yes. Yes I am.

Here’s the first episode from 1979. Still good. The opening theme rocks.

Ω

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