Oscar François de Jarjayes
|Oscar François de Jarjayes|
|First appearance||Oscar, the destiny of a rose|
|Last appearance||Adieu, My Beloved Oscar|
|Created by||Riyoko Ikeda|
|Portrayed by||(see below)|
Commander of the Imperial GuardCommander of the Military Regiment B
Brigadier (current)Colonel, Commander (former)
Born the last of five daughters to the Commander of the Royal Guards, General François Augustin Regnier de Jarjayes (a real historical personage), she is raised by her father as if she were a boy in order to take his place and command the Royal Guards serving at Court after he retires. At the age of fourteen, as soon as her training in the basic military skills is complete, Oscar is given the task to protect the Dauphine Marie Antoinette when she arrives at the French Court.
Despite being raised as if she were a boy and dressing in males' clothes, Oscar is open about being female. Even as she embraces her womanhood, she uses her male position to gain freedoms that she could never have as a lady of the court.
She is the love interest of both André Grandier, her servant at the Jarjayes mansion and afterwards a soldier in her regiment, and Marie Antoinette, who she acts as a bodyguard to. She also earns the admiration and love of Rosalie Lamorlière, and in turn calls Rosalie her "spring breeze". Other women are infatuated with Oscar, even after she tells them she is female. She dislikes the court intrigues, but remains there out of loyalty to her father and her friend, Marie Antoinette. At one point, Oscar falls in love with Fersen, who has a forbidden love for Marie Antoinette.
Soon gaining the Dauphine and Queen-to-be's affection and trust, Oscar experiences life at Versailles and the pain caused by the contradictions of her being a woman whom everybody, including herself, considers a man. Later in the story, Oscar learns of the political ideals of the Revolution and that the royalist regime is corrupt. As the French Revolution is about to begin, Oscar refuses to sedate tumults occurring in Paris. She renounces her status and her regiment joins forces with the people marching to the Bastille. Shot by soldiers inside the fortress, she dies right before the prison falls.
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Oscar was originally a supporting character to Marie Antoinette, and was created as a female because Ikeda was unsure if she could accurately portray a male soldier. Oscar eclipsed Marie Antoinette in popularity and due to reader feedback became the main character. Eri Izawa suggests that as Oscar is fictional, Ikeda could be freer in the portrayal of Oscar's life than Ikeda could be in the life of Marie-Antoinette, who had to die on the guillotine. Oscar's androgynous persona is based on the actresses who play male roles in the Takarazuka Revue and Princess Sapphire, and she was named for Oscar Wilde, as Ikeda is a fan of his.
In the Takarazuka Revue performances of The Rose of Versailles, Oscar has been played by several male-role actresses from 1974 to the present day. In the 1974 Moon Troupe performance, Yuri Haruna played Oscar. Mayo Suzukaze has played Oscar. Kei Aran and Hikaru Asami played Oscar in 2006.
In the 1979 anime adaptation of The Rose of Versailles, Oscar was voiced by Reiko Tajima.
In the 1979 film Lady Oscar, Oscar was played when a child by Patsy Kensit, and when adult by Catriona MacColl. MacColl's feminine and weak portrayal of Oscar was criticised, and it was felt that she was not androgynous enough to play Oscar. In the forthcoming film La Rose de Versailles, Oscar is expected to be voiced by Sanae Kobayashi.
She has been described as "iconic", as an archetype, "thrilling", and credited with the success of Rose of Versailles, as she illustrates the performative nature of gender. Ian Buruma and Deborah Shamoon consider that Oscar's politics are less important to the audience than her romances. Shamoon sees the Oscar-Andre relationship as very different from the Cinderella-Prince Charming stories which "dominated" shōjo manga in the 1960s, where the female protagonist would lose her identity to her boyfriend. Shamoon considers that the Oscar-Andre relationship follows the pattern of pre-war douseiai shōjo novels, which featured same-sex love between girls.
Kazuko Suzuki says that after RoV, "several works" were created with "nonsexual" female protagonists like Oscar, who realise their "womanness" upon falling in love. Suzuki sees her as being a transitional figure between the heterosexual romances of 1960s shōjo manga and those of shōnen-ai. Oscar's "gorgeous androgyny" has led to her being interpreted as belonging to the bishōnen - beautiful young men.
Oscar's relationship with Andre has been interpreted as being male-male, and Andre vows to die for Oscar if he needs to, like the Kabuki samurai. Oscar's conflict between her principles and her loyalty to Marie-Antoinette has also been compared with a "samurai who must be faithful to an unworthy master". Oscar has appeared in the Animage top 50 character list as recently as 1992.
In 2007, a manga series called Shōjo Manga (series) was serialised in Chorus and was compiled into one volume. It told the story of an office lady who is inspired by the character of Oscar to defy her managers. It was adapted into a six episode TV series and renamed Haken no Oscar ~"Shōjo Manga" ni Ai o Komete, which aired starting from 28 August 2009. In the 1990s and 2000s, Oscar inspired Revolutionary Girl Utena and Le Chevalier D'Eon.
Anne Duggan describes Oscar as a "maiden warrior", a young woman who disguises herself as a man to take up arms and protect king and country, as in The Ballad of Mulan, Madame d'Aulnoy's Belle-Belle ou Le Chevalier Fortuné, or Marie-Jeanne L'Héritier's Marmoisan ou La Fille en garçon. At the close of the tale, the typical maiden warrior hangs up her sword. Duggan describes Oscar as a case where the maiden refuses to put away her sword, and fights against the order that she was supposed to defend. Oscar's masculinity is central to her character, unlike in the earlier maiden warrior tales, and Oscar also helps usher in a permanent change to French society by supporting the French Revolution.
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