I can easily enough poke some holes in Requiem of the Rose King. The pacing is pretty crazy, the animation is certainly nothing special, and its take on the history involved is even more fanciful than the Bard’s. But when push comes to shove the story it’s telling is a damn good one, and that can caulk over a lot of holes. The fact that anime hardly ever tackles this sort of thing anymore is a nice bonus – that gives the series a certain freshness despite the fact that it’s actually quite a throwback.
I did think this was an improvement both in the pacing and visuals department. Although the time spanned by the episode was the longest yet, things didn’t feel quite as rushed. And the minimal animation was woven into the visual style a little better – there were some moments that were genuinely eye-catching. The names were still dropping like the crypto market and if you’re not in the minority who know who the likes of William Catesby and Elizabeth Woodville are there might have been some hurried trips to Google. But I imagine this will have been easier to follow even for those not versed with the history (or the manga).
Everyone is slipping into their assigned roles – assigned more by Shakespeare than actual history at this point, though there’s a lot of overlap. Warwick is the power behind the throne. The new king Edward is a bit too fond of the ladies and a bit too flip about the political realities of his job. George is a half-bright innocent, caught between his dark and brooding younger brother and his dashing and ambitious elder. And Richard assumes the role of shadow – the one who operates in the darkness to his brother can bask in the light. As for the Lancastrians, they’ve fled to Scotland – though Henry is nothing if not thrilled that he’s not saddled with being king any longer.
Warwick has in mind for Edward to wed a girl of the French royal family, the surest way to shore up his own power. But Edward has other ideas once he meets Anne Woodville, played with gusto by Itou Shizuka. The widow of a Lancastrian lord whose lands were seized by the throne, she’s come to entreat for their return but quickly latches onto the possibility of catching a bigger fish. Edward for his part is keen to get his two brothers paired off, something Richard wants no part of. But he does remember young Anne Neville (she and older sister Isabel are the daughters of the Earl of Warwick), and the two royal brothers wind up dancing with the two Neville daughters.
Is there room in Richard’s heart for love? He doesn’t think so, and neither does ghost Joan of Arc. But for the moment Woodville’s presence is the crucial one, and Richard learns the truth when he sees she and Edward having a tryst during the brother’s hunting trip (a front for just this eventuality). Even if one doesn’t know the history (or its fictional counterpart) I think it’s possible to sense where things are headed, but they call them “tragedies” for a reason. The drama is not in the suspense, but in knowing what’s coming and being able to do naught but watch it play out…