| Berusaiyu no Bara is a long manga for girls by Ikeda Riyoko (1947- ) about the French Revolution. First published in ten volumes, it is a large-scaled story with a serious theme and an unconventional image of the protagonist, which had hardly been seen in girl’s manga. The work not only won Ikeda distinction, but also played a role of attracting adult attention to the genre of girls’ manga. It instigated the 1970s girls’ manga boom.|
The story is a combination of historical fact and fiction. In the late 18th century, Oscar, the daughter and only child of a French noble was raised as a boy to be the successor. When she comes of age, she becomes the captain of the Guards and protects Marie Antoinette. The queen indulges in luxury and pleasure and is rumored to have love affairs with Fersen, a Swedish noble, and gradually she loses her popularity. Oscar, who loves secretly Fersen, tries hard to protect the queen and the Royal family. In the meantime, Oscar herself becomes aware of the contradictions of class society. Overcoming differences in social standing, she accepts the love of a commoner Andre who has been a faithful friend since her childhood. When the Revolution breaks out, Oscar abandons her title and fights on the side of the people. She loses Andre in the battle and later she is also killed in action. The people win, capturing Antoinette and bringing her to trial. Having led a hard life in prison, she is executed.
Berusaiyu no Bara was first serialized in the girls’ comic magazine Shûkan Mâgaretto [Weekly Marguerite]. As there were very few manga for girls based on history at that time, Ikeda had a hard time to persuade the editor, but it turned out to be an epoch-making hit in the history of girls’ manga. It also had familiar elements such as romance in the Court. The epic style of describing the lives of more than one character from birth to their middle age was also unconventional and influenced the genre.
However, the best appeal of the work is Oscar. The heroine who is both a good warrior and scholar, and competed equally with men, attracted readers as an image of new women in the 1970s. A beautiful woman dressed as a man in military uniform, who is admired by both sex and finally gains true love, fascinated girl readers.
After the serialization in 1974, Berusaiyu no Bara was adapted into a musical by Takarazuka Revue Company directed by Hasegawa Kazuo, which made it even more popular. It was staged many times, and was made into a television animation in 1979. A French film directed by Jacques Demy was produced in the same year under the title of Lady Oscar.