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Lady Oscar, The Rose of Versailles, Bushido values, Loss, Marie-Antoinette, Riyoko Ikeda, Osamu Dezaki

A Bloody Song
How Anime and Literature Collide
by Caroline Kerjean

Growing up in a fractious household in working-class Brooklyn, my mother dreamt of living in France, of experiencing “civilization.” As for myself, molded by the gloomy obsessions of the adults around me, I sought refuge as a child in a Japanese anime titled Lady Oscar, and its story of a woman forced into the role of military officer for the royal guard at Versailles.

Very personal in tone, A Bloody Song examines the enduring mystery of “time travel”, leading from an adult’s awakening into the enchanted world of childhood and back again. It explores the major themes and imagery in the celebrated anime Lady Oscar and comments on those of The Rose of Versailles, the manga it is based on. The essay also proposes to examine these motifs through a comparative study of Nobel-prize winning Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day.

Divided into eight distinct parts, or themes, A Bloody Song offers a glimpse into the rich, ancient culture and literature of Japan via one of its most famous animes and mangas. In this way, it aims to elucidate the adult themes concealed within the dark, fairytale realm of a cherished girlhood series. My main reason for revisiting this world is this: to save a favourite animated character from feeling abandoned. As I once did. As we all sometimes do.

“I enjoyed [the read]—simultaneously very academic and well-written.”

​–Morris Berman, author of Neurotic Beauty: An Outsider Looks at Japan

Caroline Kerjean is a Montreal-based writer and visual artist. She fell in love with French culture at a young age and, after a life-changing experience restoring two medieval castles in the beautiful Alsace region in 1999, enrolled in history and art history at the University of Paris. She earned a B.A. in 2003 and returned to Montreal where she has worked as a professional writer, reviser and translator for many years. Kerjean’s writing experience includes novels, essays, poetry and fan-fiction. A Bloody Song is her first published work and, drawing inspiration from the old masters, she is currently creating a series of paintings that further explore some of the themes in this essay. It’s no coincidence that this rich and meaningful dialogue between past and present evokes the weaving of a tapestry, an art the author holds dear.


Caroline Kerjean

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