I finally got around to reading the new volume of The Rose of Versailles (ベルサイユのバラ), which focuses on some side stories about the male characters: Andre Grandier, Florian Girodelle, Count Hans Axel Fersen, and Alain de Soisson.
I have mixed feelings about the volume. Parts of it were brilliant, but some of it felt a little forced. Mild spoilers for the volume, major spoilers for the original series.
Andre’s story begins place when he is eight and about to move with his grandmother to work for the Jarjeyes family. Christine, a girl in his village, has a crush on him and gives him a hair ribbon to remember her by–and then asks him to marry her. Years later, they meet again; he doesn’t recognize her and she can see he only has eyes for Oscar. On one hand, remembering someone’s childhood promise for nigh on 2 decades seems somewhat implausible, but it seemed to help her get through some really difficult times. On the other hand, this panel with Andre hitting on Oscar is glorious:
[prior page] Oscar: That Marie Christine has been staring at you this whole time, Andre.
Andre: Haha, don’t be ridiculous. She’s staring at you!
Oscar: Nope, it’s definitely you.
Andre: Well, that might be true. But no matter which woman stares at me, I only have eyes for you, Oscar.
Forty years hasn’t changed Ikeda-sensei’s ability to write delightful love confessions (告白).
Girodelle’s story is also a childhood one about his competition with Oscar to become Marie Antoinette’s bodyguard. Girodelle is a terrifying looking child.
Fersen’s story deals with the aftermath of Antoinette’s death, particularly her daughter Marie Thérèse Charlotte’s liberation and relocation to Vienna.
Alain’s story takes place after the fall of the Bastille, when he discovers he is the lone survivor; later, he has a chance to have revenge on his sister’s former lover and has to make The Right Choice.
Overall, the artwork is a little off–Ikeda-sensei writes in the introduction that hasn’t really drawn these characters in years, but generally it’s good. I loved the sections in between the stories, in which she answers questions about the characters, story, and history (why does Oscar crossdress? Was Marie Antoinette French?, etc.) Her intention was to flesh out some of the male side-characters, but I personally also only have eyes for Oscar, so I wished there had been more of her! The volume make not blow you away, but it’s a fun, quick read.