First Impressions: Requiem of the Rose King – Aya Kanno

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.

Requiem of the Rose King vol. 1

Requiem of the Rose King vol. 1

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.

Henry and Richard's Second Encounter

Henry and Richard’s Second Encounter

Oi, there’s a massive spoiler I want to talk about, but I don’t want to ruin it for those of you who haven’t read it. Suffice it say, I wonder if there will be any romantic interests occurring with these characters. It would definitely make this story crazy interesting.

One other plot element that seems to be gaining momentum is the dark, supernatural events that seem to be occurring. I say “seem” because I couldn’t decide if these events were really happening, or just part of Richard’s imagination/delusion. With some of the art I’ve seen, I’m predicting it’s for real. Which means that the appearance of a famous witch and Richard’s ability to influence others with his voice are going to be major game changers in this series.

The Art: Aya Kanno’s art has always been a pleasure to read. I really love her line art, and Requiem of the Rose King delivers that in spades. The story’s setting lends itself to more fanciful art and it’s really enjoyable to see how Kanno makes that happen. The character designs are iconic enough, although, King Henry at times makes me see Asuka from Otomen. The paneling flows well and the toning has that perfect dark vibe when the story calls for it. The colored pieces are dramatically striking as well.

Colored Art Used for Volume 1

Colored Art Used for Volume 1

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.

Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥♥

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.

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Super mom and teacher until the kids go to bed, then romance manga addict and writer until the caffeine wears out! Specializes in the shoujo and josei genre of manga and anime.
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  • Thanks for the review! I think I’m definitely going to check this out. That art looks fabulous.

  • Wow! Your review is so well put together. I had a hard time writing up a review for this but I did really enjoy it. The whole time I was shocked at how it was marketed as shoujo-it has the elements but it was definitely much more mature. I really like how it deviated from the usual shoujo tropes and we aren’t sure where this will be going. I just hope it’s done well.

    I am so glad it wasn’t a disappointing read for the both of us and the art in this is just gorgeous. I haven’t read Kanno’s other works, but now I see that I need to.

    And I really hope there’s some romance with that girl-sorry can’t remember her name-but she did kind of scar Richard with what she said to him.
    Thanks for such a great review as always! 😀

    • Do you have a review blog? What is it?

      I liked Otomen by Kanno, but never got into Blank Slate. I recommend Otomen, though.

      I saw some interesting art with Richard and Henry, Richard and Edward, and Richard and Anne – that girl you’re talking about. So it looks like we will get some romance in this. Yay!

      • No, I have a Goodreads account that I review on 🙂

        Haha, don’t really have too much time to invest in a blog like you. Oh right! That was her name. Yes the art is just gorgeous in this manga.

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