I have been a fan on Riyoko Ikeda's Versailles no Bara since I was a little girl. I was amazed about seeing a stong, brave woman going against the conventions and social expectations of her era, unlike other anime heroines on screen at that time.
Later in life, I got in my hands the Versailles no Bara manga, and I got a different sensation. Of course manga and anime are similar but not identical. The anime has a more dramatic tone focused on each character pathos; the manga has the moments of comic relief that were not included in the anime. But both share a concept that is purely japanese altough it is a history that develops in eighteenth century France: Mono no Aware.
To understand fully this concept, we must go back in time. In the Heian Period, between 794-1192 the Japanese were having an incredible artstic developement. Murasaki Shikibu wrote Genji Monogatari during these years, for instance. In those years the concept of aware emerged; it means basically sensitivity, but is way more complex than that. It is to be aware of how ephemeral things are. For instance, the Japanese do not gather in Ueno Park for Hanami because cherry blossoms are pink and pretty, they watch them because those falling petals remind them that nothing in life is permanent. The idea of Mono no Aware was finally established during the Tokugawa Period (1603-1868) by Motôri Norinaga, a scholar on Japanese linguistics and literature (besides, he was a doctor). It was defined as 'a sensitivity to things', a capacity to understand nature and other things in a unique and empathic way, which influenced every art form until today.
As some of you may have realized, one of the recurrent motifs in Versalles no Bara are, of course, roses. In the beginning of the series they are in full bloom, but near the series finale, those roses, once in full bloom, are wilting and their petals are taken away by the wind, like an omen of things to come. Mono no Aware at its best.
I would keep writing about series that incorporate this concept; besides, there are other interesting Japanese concepts that are also related to anime and manga, but I will leave that for future posts.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.