Requiem of the Rose King
Genre: Action, Drama, Supernatural
Requiem of the Rose King isn’t the first time Shakespeare’s stories have made their way into anime. We’ve had Romeo x Juliet back in 2007 and inspiration was taken from The Tempest for 2012’s Blast of Tempest. Originally a manga series that began in 2013, Requiem of the Rose King delves into the story of Richard III during England’s famous War of the Roses. The manga takes a more supernatural twist on the history, however, centering on the young Richard as the protagonist: a troubled young man (he self-identifies as such, though is intersex) who must make his own way through the war despite being considered a cursed demon by those around him. Originally aimed for a female demographic, the series has a gorgeous gothic aesthetic, in the style of Black Butler, and a large array of pretty boys to fill out the cast. But, how does this manga fare as an anime adaptation?
The answer is, unfortunately, not well. Whilst the manga is rated quite highly and has its fair share of fans, the anime adaptation is rather weak. The show’s visuals are attractive enough with lots of moody shots and gorgeous hand-painted backgrounds but the animation itself is rather lacking with the episode mostly just going from still frame to still frame. The pacing also is something of a mess – we pass back and forth abruptly between the past and the present with no warning and it’s plainly obvious by the end of the episodes that there are a lot of gaps that disrupt the story’s flow. In fact, the first episode was adapted about two volumes worth of the manga series and as such, the result is a rushed badly paced mess which ultimately just makes the first episode rather confusing.
The manga series sits at a hefty seventeen volumes (not all of which have yet to be published in English yet), and this anime adaptation has been put forward for twenty-four episodes so it makes you wonder why they needed to rush at all? This first episode in particular is an extremely pivotal one, not only setting up our cast of rival factions and characters but also the world and political landscape of the War of the Roses. Instead, we see a lot of characters who have barely any time to receive development enough to be memorable and even Richard himself doesn’t come across as a full character. It’s frustrating especially because on paper, Richard is an intriguing character – third in line for the throne but the black sheep of the family, hiding a deformity that causes others to think of him as cursed, and a surprising vicious streak. But we see the highlights of this character in the episode, rather than really truly getting to know them.
It’s a shame because there is so clearly a lot of great ideas thrown around here – Richard’s troubled family background and his own shame of his perceived physical deformity, the tense war between the two families, and the relationship between Richard and Henry which ultimately loses any emotional weight the series wants it to show. The music is stunning and whilst there are some nice visuals here and there the whole anime feels like it was made on a budget and nothing more than a pale imitation of the manga’s gorgeous art style. The more gothic monotone colours do suit the more somber, gloomy tone of the show however and this does make for some striking scenes, particularly in the visions that Richard sees of Joan of Arc. I really badly wanted to like this anime, as historical fantasy is completely up my alley, but it felt like I was watching the whole first episode on fast forward.
Overall, this is a hard anime to recommend and if the rushed pace continues for the full two-season run I see it struggling to gain the fanbase that the manga has gained. Lots of great ideas on the show but it feels like J.C.Staff were too ambitious with this project and misunderstood the importance of pacing in the story, resulting in a rushed and sloppy adaptation.
A rushed adaptation and lackluster animation unfortunately means this manga adaptation is best left on the page.