Every Shakespeare classic is eventually remade and reinterpreted, even his play Richard III. As for Requiem of the Rose King, this series turns a classic into a queer narrative. Whether it’ll entertain or disappoint you depends on how you view the series as an audience member.
Requiem of the Rose King focuses on the third prince of the York house, Richard III. The York family is in an ever-lasting fight with the Lancasters for the throne during the War of the Roses. It is a political mess with betrayals and alliances as Richard defends his family’s legacy of their rightful lineage. The only thing hindering Richard is the secret of his body, the fact he is an intersex man.
How dramatic do you want it?
This aspect could easily captivate you if you like character arcs around overcoming inner turmoil, or it will turn you away with Richard’s harsh language around his body. It would be an underestimate to call it anything but relentless. This story takes place in the medieval ages with an emphasis on Christianity, so it may trigger people when Richard describes himself with a body of a “demon.” If you’re sensitive to body dysmorphia, struggle with your own body, and typically avoid stories that involve sexual assault, this series may be difficult for you.
This series is considered a dark, historical romance and lives up to the tragic nature of love and death. A handful of moments had me gasp because of how shocking events became. Everyone has an agenda, but even in a war for the crown, they can explore their sexuality and relationships. However, characters can feel exaggerated in their drama and woe at times. As I watched, I tried to think of it as a real play and remember that each character serves a specific function in the plot. The few moments that felt like certain decisions came out of absolutely nowhere might also be because the anime condenses large portions of the plot from the manga. Towards the end of watching, I also felt some relationships and key moments needed more time to develop.
Other shortcuts show up in the visual production. It’s beautiful when it comes to representing Richard’s inner turmoil and flashbacks, but significant war scenes lack details. Almost every battle uses the same scenery, so it’s only distinct based on who’s fighting. In addition, every background character is explicitly drawn without any distinguishing feature. It gets a little distracting seeing the main characters yell at faceless bodies. It leaves no surprises as to who’s essential to the plot.
Despite everything, you can enjoy the melodrama of it all.
When viewing series with sensitive topics, it’s easy to put some shows in the “problematic” bin. Requiem of the Rose King is one of these series where you’ll find certain things make you uncomfortable. It takes place where women have little power, and characters hold misogynistic and homophobic thoughts. You’ll probably find a few more gripes about whether it’s effective with Richard’s Queer representation, but that’s not what this article is about. That’s up to you to decide if you find more joy than frustration watching this. I wanted to see quests for revenge, fights for the crown, and the betrayal of lovers, and I got exactly that. Even if some creative choices could have improved the anime, this series is still an enjoyable melodrama.
Requiem of the Rose King is a creative interpretation of multiple Shakespeare plays. It still lives up to the collective failures of others, leading to a greater tragedy that can’t be avoided. The characters are the show’s best aspect as they meet their tormented fate, even if a few creative choices around design and production fall short. If you’ve both enjoyed a Shakespearean play and want to enjoy more Queer anime, this series could be worth a watch.
Naudika Williams happens to be a writer and someone that’s up to no good. More often than not, these facts collide. Naudika is a graduate of San Francisco State University. They work on short stories, scripts, poetry, and games.