The episode begins with the birth of the Rose herself. In the story she’s not actually cold Rose. Who’s father having had so many daughters comma and living in pre-revolutionary France, desperately needs a son with which to carry on the family line. Well ain’t it just the way, it’s a girl.
Well, not one to let that stop him again, he decides that this child is a boy and she’ll be named Oscar.
Skip ahead 14 years later, the French Revolution is 20 years out, and Lady Oscar is having some gender identity crisis. We raised as a man when her own servants are hammering her about being a woman, I find it rather telling that so many young ladies are eager for her attention when all the balls and Galas are going on. I’m not saying anything…
While her passions are definitely swordplay, she refuses to lend her skills to be the bodyguard of some girl. Case in point, some girl refers to Marie Antoinette. So you know exactly where the series is going, the ending narration even cryptically hints at it. As if to drive the nail home.
But alas, one cannot stay in their ideal childhood comfort forever. At some point one must make a judgement about who they’re going to be as they progressed forward into the adult world. As such, Oscar’s father is approached by King Louie to participate in a duel to determine who will be Marie Antoinette’s protector.
And that’s when the trouble really hits home. The passion for swordplay I spoke of earlier, it is also match by a pride in her swordplay that is not misplaced. But when the two combined it is dangerous. Oscar waits for her opponent in route to the match, and challenges him.
Casting aside all compliments of her beauty she quickly puts him in his place with a well-placed strike to the chest that ruins his lovely shirt. At which point he takes her seriously only to quickly be disarmed. A word of caution, I first saw this in an anime club and while I was new. My upperclassmen commented that the boxing in the sword play leave only the cannon fire choreography to be realistic. Watching again all these years later I do not disagree.
Well, she has stepped in it now. So much so that I think her rebuke of two slaps to the face and one push down the stairs is a little restrained. She stands to be executed if it tickles the king’s fancy, and that’s a decision he’s already weighing. And I think of all the times. However a messenger arrives saying that Oscar’s challenger has already sent forth word saying that only has spoken to the king and has said that only she is worthy of guarding Marie Antoinette. So now all that’s left is getting her to accept the job.
Well that turns out to be a very hard sell and her father knows now just how stubborn and proud she is. So he leaves it to her childhood friend Andre who she prefers to skip out on Galas to spend time with and whose grandmother keeps trying to put Oscar in a dress. Good luck with that, Granny.
Well as the count is giving Andre his assignment Oscar is standing outside the window on a Ledge listening in. So when Andre invites Oscar to accompany him to the for a ride, she is waiting for him to make his move. To try to persuade her to do what other people want her to do. But throwing some fuel early on the shipper fire, he doesn’t have the heart to do it and tells her to follow her own path. While their colliding hot heads culminate in a fist fight, do you remember my comment about the boxing earlier? Well as Oscar is preparing to storm off on her horse, Andre calls out for her that it is not too late for her to be a woman.
The episode reaches its fateful conclusion when Andre confesses to the count that he was unable to persuade Oscar, and that she should live her own life by her decisions. While her father is being distraught over this, there’s a Ruckus from outside and the two emerge to look upon a shocking sight. Oscars descending the staircase she found out earlier dressed in her new military garb. She is adamant with just one sentence though that this is her decision made for her and no one else. As she and Andre write off to their assignment, the narrating voice from the beginning returns and cautions of Oscar’s ignorance of tumultuous events 20 years down the line determining her fate.
I’ve been unable to avoid slipping in my thoughts sometimes as they came up but here are my thoughts on the episode as a whole. It makes very good use of the animation technology and techniques that these days look very limited. Who swords move quickly in fencing the the rain in heavy downpours comes up twice during Oscar’s birth and during her espionage, and it’s very effective. It feels like heavy importance and anxiety comma adding a physical and emotional and audible way to the scenes both in her father’s anxiety as he’s nervously pacing about awaiting his next child’s birth, and as Oscar is revealed to be spying on him 14 years later. When he decides that he will raise her as a son the rain is accompanied with lightning crescendos like an epiphany. A major reveal of destiny and triumph. Then when it’s just focusing on an exterior like when she’s on the ledge she is one with the background like she was drawn there and it’s only the rain that’s animated. Like she’s is part of the cell. She’s even shaded right for it. It looks very good. As for the story, it’s very well paced. We see birth, we see childhood, and then critical actions and a rise to manhood. There is a lot going on in less than 30 minutes period and it is very hard to fit all that in, yet it seems seamless. The episode ends with Oscar’s departure, so all that is awaiting her outside of a certainty of doom we already had going in, or at least very early on. What’s awaiting her and how the series will treat Marie Antoinette, you have to turn into the episode to get any taste of it. And that I will.