Requiem of the Rose King is written and illustrated by Aya Kanno and stands as a gothic fairytale interpretation of the Shakespearean plays Richard III and Henry VI, Part 3. The series follows the character of Richard III during the tumultuous Wars of the Roses (1455–1487), where the Kingdom of England is torn between the House of York and the House of Lancaster. Each claims their leader to be the rightful king. Last volume, Richard and his allies consolidated power and Richard has escaped an assassination plot. But the most important element is that Buckingham and Richard have come closer to bringing their covenant to fruition. With Richard poised to take the throne, the story has shifted from political intrigue to the weight that comes with wearing the crown in Requiem of the Rose King Volume 13.
Published in English by VIZ Media’s Signature imprint, Requiem of the Rose King Volume 13 is easily the best part of the story. While political discord and assassinations are an important part of the series, the change from that to the battle Richard has with his own identity is the strength of this volume. Richard stands between class, between gender, and between good and evil. The series up until this point has focused on exploring his background as the low-class adopted son and the way the world views him as a demon. This volume deals with him fulfilling his roles as king versus following his heart. The former leads him to his wife’s bed and the latter into Buckingham’s arms.
In the opening of the volume, Buckingham and Richard stage a performance that draws the love of the people and solidifies his claim as King. The public calls on him to become king and he responds. Edward V and his younger brother are sent to the Tower of London after failing to kill Richard. Richard’s coronation is in the clear now that his political enemies have vanished. The bulk of Requiem of the Rose King Volume 13 explores who Richard is as a person and his desires, both male and female. With Buckingham, Richard has finally learned acceptance since he began his covenant and the physical intimacy that comes with it Having been shunned by the world, the acceptance and love that Buckingham offers Richard has morphed from a chase for power into a dalliance that is becoming true love.
That said, he must also fulfill his kingly duties with his wife Anne. But, when he attempts to, Richard finds himself unable to show her the real him. This volume is as much about Richard accepting his identity and his desires as it is as him finally receiving the crown. This is complicated when Anne begins to get suspicious about Richard’s identity, giving into the rumors she has heard and pushing him to tell her the truth by using his coronation celebration to confront him in the most passive-aggressive way.
The romance in The Requiem of the Rose King Volume 13 and Kanno’s illustration of it is emotional. The volume carries an air of tragedy that only a dark fairytale can. Kanno balances beauty and darkness on a fine line with their art. While we see romance at the forefront of this volume, we also see the rumblings of more assassinations and more plots. While not the focus, it’s clear that something will emerge after the dust settles from Richard’s coronation.
Overall, Requiem of the Rose King is a series that I would recommend even to non-manga readers, due in large part to how Kanno has expertly adapted Shakespeare’s material. While those who are drawn to this series for its politics may be sad with this installment, it hit every note for me. The beauty of this volume can’t be understated, a lull in the darkness of the story that’s sure to rise in volume 14.
Requiem of the Rose King Volume 13 is out wherever books are sold November 10, 2020.
Requiem of the Rose King Volume 13
Requiem of the Rose King is a series that I would recommend even to non-manga readers, due in large part to how Kanno has expertly adapted Shakespeare’s material. While those who are drawn to this series for its politics may be sad with this installment, it hit every note for me. The beauty of this volume can’t be understated, a lull in the darkness of the story that’s sure to rise in volume 14.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.