Saturday, March 21, 2015

I Reads You Review: REQUIEM OF THE ROSE KING Volume 1


TRANSLATION: Jocelyne Allen
LETTERS: Sabrina Heep
ISBN: 978-1-4215-6778-5; paperback (March 2015); Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
192pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

Requiem of the Rose King is a dark fantasy manga and is also the most recent work from mangaka Aya Kanno, the creator of such manga as Otomen and Soul Rescue.  Published in the Japanese shojo manga magazine, Princess, Requiem of the Rose King is loosely based on the work of William Shakespeare, particularly Henry IV (1591) and Richard III (1592).  VIZ Media has just started publishing the series in English.

Requiem of the Rose King, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 4) opens in medieval England.  Henry is king; he belongs to the House of Lancaster, represented by a red rose.  Richard of the House of York (represented by a white rose) covets the throne, so he leads his forces into battle.  Thus, begins the “War of the Roses.”

Into Richard of York's house is born a third son, a sickly child that he names Richard after himself.  Richard feels a special connection with young Richard, but his wife, Cecily, who is also young Richard's mother, hates the child.  She proclaims to anyone who will listen that young Richard is a demon child who will lead to the death of her husband.  As the battle between Lancaster and York rages, Richard dreams of his family ascending to the throne, a throne that will one day be his.

The Requiem of the Rose King manga reminds me, believe it or not, of Rei Toma's manga, Dawn of the Arcana, in terms of story and of graphic narrative.  The difference is that in Requiem of the Rose King, Aya Kanno focuses on a lead character around whom swirls omens, portents, and dark motivations.

I find myself repulsed by young Richard, but not in the way a great villain makes being repulsed such a good thing.  Actually, I like Richard when he is contrasted with King Henry, who exudes light and the urge to be a genuine Christian.  Their time together is lyrical and poetic, and I wish the series were built around their relationship.  Requiem of the Rose King has much potential.  I want to see where this goes.  Fans of Aya Kanno will want to try Requiem of the Rose King.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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