First Look: Requiem of the Rose King

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Alternative title(s): Baraou no Souretsu
Manga Adaptation by J.C.Staff
Streaming on Funimation

Premise

In the Middle Ages, England finds itself at a crossroads, and all-out war breaks out between the House of York and the House of Lancaster, each of which desires to claim the crown. A young Prince Richard III, neither man nor woman, battles his own inner demons as well as (apparently very real) fearsome spirits as he strives to help his family ascend the throne.

Artemis’ verdict: Not Shakespeare-Approved

Something tells me that this wasn’t the kind of production that Requiem of the Rose King fans were looking for. This series is clearly meant to be viewed as dramatic and poignant, but hard to take any anime seriously, even a period drama with a dark fantasy twist, when everyone’s a bishounen and looks not so much like the Middle Ages anime version of themselves as they do Japan’s vague idea of what they think the Middle Ages might have looked like. For all I know, the manga put in a ton of time, effort, and research into the period, but if so, this sure isn’t reflected in the anime adaptation.

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Unfortunately, even if you don’t give a crap about historical accuracy and are looking at Requiem of the Rose King purely as something inspired by rather than loosely based on historical text(s), the drama here is just so laughably overblown and theatrical that it feels more like watching a stage play than an anime. Every single line is delivered with such intense melodrama that it’s impossible to become genuinely invested in any of the characters, likable or otherwise.

None of this is helped by the fact that a good half of the premiere is made up of still frames, giving the appearance of the show being very cheaply made. Whether or not this is actually the case, I couldn’t say – it’s quite possible that this is some kind of artistic choice. However, even if it’s the latter, I’m not sure it’s to Rose King’s benefit; it’s hard to buy into a show when neither the storytelling nor the visuals are compelling enough to act as a vehicle for the plot or cast.

As an angsty teenager writing bad poetry, I might have enjoyed this series a lot more. As a 30-something adult with plenty to do and not enough time to do it, I’ll likely pass on this one.

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Jel’s verdict: A Plague on Both Your Houses

Brooding, pretentious dialogue? Everyone is extremely pretty and ambiguously gendered? Joan of Arc shows up for some reason? Sure, those all sound like things I would expect from an anime prominently claiming to be inspired by several Shakespeare plays. Hell, they even throw in a cute animal mascot. Unfortunately none of it is working for me in this case. Every second of this episode is extremely dramatic and intense without establishing any reason for the audience to care. In fact, it was quite the opposite as I found myself getting increasingly annoyed at Richard’s baseless obsession with daddy becoming king. Maybe that works in a stage play when you’re focused more on the performance itself, but in this format I hated it.

You know what does this story about a cursed child destined to be king much, much better? Ranking of Kings, the second half of which is airing this season. PLEASE go watch that instead.

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