In Japan, the easy access to anime and manga, coupled with the rapid speed at which new content is produced, means fans tend to have short memories. For most series, even relative hits, once they wrap up there’s only about a year, or at most two, until they fade into obscurity.
Which is why it’s all the more impressive when a once-loved series returns after a long hiatus. Last year, boys of all ages got a special treat with a new Dragon Ball Z movie, and this month brings a little something for the ladies, with the first new volume of girls’ comic classic The Rose of Versailles to be released in more than 40 years.
Creator Ryoko Ikeda’s sweeping tale of love and loyalty, set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, began its serialization in the pages of manga anthology Margaret in 1972, long enough ago that the magazine’s now-retro title probably still seemed like the name of a girl on the cutting edge of fashion and sophistication. Unlike contemporary hits like One-Piece or Bleach which have been going on for over a decade, The Rose of Versailles had a remarkably short run, with less than two years between its first and then-last installment.
Going out at the height of its popularity, though, did all the more to captivate the imagination of its many fans. In 1979, Ikeda’s manga was adapted into a 40-episode anime TV series, and both Rose’s aesthetics and themes of tragic romance and blurred gender roles have been influencing shojo manga and anime ever since.
▼ Utena and Anthy (right) from 1997’s Revolutionary Girl Utena take a page from Rose’s Lady Oscar and Marie Antoinette.
Despite having an underground following in the U.S., the Rose of Versailles anime wasn’t commercially released in America until 2013, 33 years after its final episode aired in Japan. But even that long wait pales in comparison to that of fans of Ikeda’s manga, which had its last collected volume hit book stores in May of 1974.
In April of 2013, Ikeda took up her pen to draw new chapters for The Rose of Versailles, which were once again serialized in Margaret. Finally, those new installments will be published in the soon-to-be-released 11th Rose volume.
Priced at 660 yen (US$6.50), the book contains 24 color pages–a luxuriously large number in the ordinarily monochrome world of comic publishing in Japan. And just in case you missed out on Ikeda’s seminal work the first time around, Margaret Comics has also announced a re-release of Volumes 1-10, sporting the same cover artwork they did in the 1970s.
Rose of Versailles Volume 11 hits bookstores in Japan on August 25. You can find us at the front of the line, and we’ll be back to tell you our impressions soon after.
▼ Rose is kind of a tear-jerker, though, so give us a day or two to compose ourselves, all right?