Requiem of the Rose King
Episode 3

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 3 of
Requiem of the Rose King ?
Community score: 3.3

After the old-fashioned three-episode test, I feel it's safe to say that Requiem of the Rose King is not living up to its artistic ambitions. There are absolutely moments that work—I love the psychedelic twist when Joan of Arc shows up, and the snowfall of red rose petals during Richard's rampage is likewise effective. But there's also a serious over-reliance on still shots backed up by faceless crowds, and those are dragging this down visually. That's disappointing on a number of levels: the manga is beautiful, and the morphing of a rose-filled silhouette into Margaret should have worked as a symbol of her ambition but doesn't least in part due to the fact that so much of this is visually lackluster.

It is also flying through the manga, although it's worth noting for those of you reading along at home that this week's episode opens with Act 2, Scene 1 of Henry the Sixth Part Three. Because I'm ever hopeful, this may indicate that the series is more interested in following Shakespeare than Aya Kanno, but that's an admittedly far-fetched suggestion. In any event, this is an interesting moment if only because it's a very close paraphrase of several very long speeches between Edward and Warwick in this scene, and while I dream of a more Elizabethan translation, the fact that it's still recognizable is a nice touch. There is overall more of an old-fashioned sensibility to the subtitles this week, and that really works for this show, both as a work of historical fiction and as an adaptation of (an adaptation of) Shakespeare.

That doesn't stop things from being a combination of history and fantasy, of course. Most notable this week (apart from Joan) is that the Neville sisters' ages appear to have been reversed. In real life, Anne was the younger sister of Isabel, but here Isabel can be heard addressing Anne as if she were the elder sibling. That doesn't really matter in the scheme of things, but it did jump out at me. Other bits and pieces are nicely foreshadowed for us, such as when Edward promises Warwick, his kingmaker, that he'll do whatever he says… and then mere moments later is sneaking off for an assignation with Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of the John Grey Richard slew last week.

Thus far the ladies are much more scheming than the men in this story. Margaret, despite her disgust with her husband Henry, is determined to do whatever it takes to get the throne back, while Elizabeth isn't just making up to (or out with) Edward because he's hot. No, she fully blames him for the death of her first husband, and she's decided that seduction is the way to get her revenge. It's not a terrible interpretation of how Edward went against his advisors to marry her in history, and most accounts do say that Elizabeth was both beautiful and intelligent, so it's not entirely out of the realm of possibilities either. The fact that Edward is clearly painted as a womanizer before Elizabeth ever enters the scene certainly helps, too—prior to the battle where he takes the throne, we see him talking to a dark-haired woman before telling Warwick that he wanted to see his beloved. Sure, two years have passed between that moment and when Elizabeth storms the castle, but given Edward's decree to George and Richard that they pick partners for the evening, it's evident that he may not have changed all that much.

The theme of love is, thus far, almost more prevalent than that of war or power, although love can be a motive for both of those. Richard's conversation with Joan touches on this: Richard tells her that he cannot fall in love, but Joan counters him with a reminder that he is both man and woman, both and neither at the same time. A love for his father was safe for Richard, because it came with no sexual or romantic expectations; in part that's why he took York's loss so hard. But Joan seems to suggest that at some point Richard will have to choose between his two halves, especially if he desires love. Ultimatums like that, even if they come from a dead girl, could be the driving force that breaks Richard's soul.

Rating:

Requiem of the Rose King is currently streaming on Funimation.


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