Requiem of the Rose King: Kissed by a Rose

A weak season means that most shows have been forgettable or just plain meh. It’s been a type of dry spell that is becoming more and more rare with the industry. However a dry spell it is and there has been little to really pull viewers in. I know I dropped a couple shows that I just couldn’t get into.  With that said however, there were some anime that I decided to stick with and see if anything good could come from them. The result? Well after the cut let’s take a dive into Requiem of the Rose King and find out.

I have always been proud that I don’t take animation and budget into account when I am looking at the anime I watch. While I will praise good production values, I won’t hold those for or against a series if there are other glaring flaws. Likewise, if a show is lackluster in the looks department but has good characters and story, such things are forgivable. Simply put, unless your show has the budget of an Ufotable work, or something like EX-ARM, I am inclined not to be swayed either way. Rose King tests my view on that in several ways. Throughout my time with the series I kept coming back, again and again, to the idea that if this show had been given a real budget, or have had a veteran and experienced studio behind it. That it might have turned out to be something very popular. This ends up not being the case, and Rose King ends up being a show that is begging, pleading for more money.

Based on one of the many historical plays by William Shakespeare and set during the infamous War of the Roses (that serves as the inspiration for Game of Thrones), we follow the young Richard of the House of York, one of two families squabbling for the English crown. Cursed with a body that is neither male or female, Richard tries to navigate a brutal war of succession while battling his own inner demons. Along the way there are alliances, betrayals, marriages, and the bloodshed that would make this conflict one for the history book.

The Lancasters and Yorks have a compelling conflict that should have been represented better here.

Now all of that sounds amazing on paper, a great premise with some interesting characters, but sadly there just isn’t enough in the anime to make it work. Whether it was production issues, or budget concerns, Rose King feels like a series suffocating under its own ambition. Whether it is things like the blank faces on background soldiers, the awkward cuts in fighting, and the relatively grey and static scenery, everything feels a shadow of what it could have been, but was gutted and left to die in the dirt.

Richard’s struggles are compelling, but aren’t given enough time to breathe.

Furthermore Rose King suffers from both an overloaded and under-developed cast. While Richard himself does a decent job in that classic Shakespearean angst, almost the entire rest of the cast feels barely there. Too many of them seem to blend together, or have plot lines that are more one note than a piece of paper. I did like characters like Lady Anne, or Richard’s father, but there just isn’t enough to really chew on.

I know this is a more negative post than others, something I have always tried to avoid, but I won’t pull my punches. While I stuck with the series the whole way (or at least it’s halfway point?), Requiem of the Rose King is a very meh show, and kind of represents the entire meh feeling of the season. I did like the angst, and Richard’s continued digging of a deeper hole for himself, but there is very little to grab onto, and the show doesn’t have the looks to back it up. In another reality, this show got a top-tier budget and made it work, but in the reality we have, it is what it is. I doubt with the packed season coming up that I’ll return to this show, and frankly I have little need to. Give it a look and see what you think for yourself, but you might want to stick to the manga, or just Shakespeare.

Oh and Joan of Arc is here too…for some reason.

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