Requiem of the Rose King, translated from Baraou no Souretsu, is drawn by Aya Kanno and currently runs in Princess shoujo manga magazine. It is up to 3 volumes in Japan, and we have gotten the first volume from Viz’s Shojo Beat imprint this March. Aya Kanno has also had her previous works of Blank Slate and Otomen published by Shojo Beat.
The Gist: Richard, the ambitious third son of the House of York, believes he is cursed, damned from birth to eternal darkness. But is it truly fate that sets him on the path to personal destruction? Or his own tormented longings? Based on an early draft of Shakespeare’s Richard III, Aya Kanno’s dark fantasy finds the man who could be king standing between worlds, between classes, between good and evil.
The Review: I have no prior knowledge of these works by Shakespeare, so I’m reviewing solely from the story itself. That said, I found Requiem of the Rose King an intriguing read. It was like watching a scene from a lunatic asylum at times – but that’s rooted in Shakespeare.
Our two main characters Richard and Henry both seem a little crazy. Richard’s character is harder to figure out. There’s a lot of issues – unloved and unwanted by mom, identity crises, hallucinations, need of parental approval, demon possession – there’s a lot to challenge mental sanity with this character. As I was reading I kept trying to figure out where Aya Kanno was going to take this. Then there’s Henry who is a devout Christian, yet seems to have cracked some under the pressure from his reign. He’s definitely not happy with the wars that are occurring over the kingdom. His interactions with Richard show his wish for a more simple existence. Oddly enough, these two are able to confide their fears in anonymity, and it sets up the story for future encounters of Henry and Richard, sons of this War of the Roses.
The Audience: Viz has this rated older teen, and for good reason. It’s Shakespeare based, there’s going to be murder and violence. There’s some hints at nudity as well. It’s not a typical shoujo in the teen romance sense. I think it would be thoroughly enjoyed by readers of seinen and shounen manga as well as shoujo.
The Media: Volume 1 of Requiem of the Rose King is available from Viz. I think it’s interesting that this is not a Shojo Beat title. It’s a wise decision on Viz’s part to not label it as such even though it runs in a shoujo magazine. The audience for this is much broader than shoujo. So far there have been 3 tankobans printed in Japan. You can read what’s current monthly in Princess shoujo manga magazine.
Overall, I surprisingly enjoyed this new series. There was so much to take in with just this first volume, it definitely deserves a reread. I’m so curious to find out where the story is going that I’ll be getting the next few volumes. Regular shounen and seinen manga fans should give this series a read as well.