I have written another review! This time for Hyakujitsu no Bara aka Maiden Rose by Inariya Fusanosuke
Two soldiers from warring countries are bound together by their pledge to each other as Master and Servant. Taki Reizen is a division commander with noble beauty, who bears the fate of his country. Klaus von Wolfstadt is a captain with rough temperament and nicknamed “Mad Dog”. He has sworn his loyalty to Taki as a Knight; abandoning his country and family to follow him and fight alongside him. Their turbulent relationship is constantly challenged by cold and disapproving voices. What will come of love and emotions made brutal by the violence of war?
“Take me with you. It’s simple, I don’t mind if you make me yours. –Yes, that’s right. You have the scent of a flower.” (Klaus. Vol. 1, Chp. 1)
Hyakujitsu no Bara or if you prefer, Maiden Rose is a compelling story of a bittersweet, turbulent and forbidden relationship, in the midst of a storm of war and mistrust. Twenty years-old, Taki Reizen is the commander of the 15th Armoured Division “Maiden Rose” and a lord of noble descent. Klaus von Wolfstadt was Taki’s roommate, when he entered Luckenwalde Armour School to study abroad, and now he has abandoned everything in order to protect and serve Taki as his knight.
“To cast aside your nationality and renounce all privilege. To accept your master and become his possession. That is what it means to be a ‘Knight’.” (Vol. 1, Chp. 1)
The first time I came across Hyakujitsu no Bara I was enamoured by the beautiful artwork. Inariya Fusanosuke-sensei’s art and style is so distinctive and easily recognizable—and, like most manga-ka who has their own unique style, it is a matter of taste. Inariya Fusanosuke draws her men manly, with prominent features and bulk. They are the kind of though men that stand on their own two feet, even if they are bishounen (pretty boy). She loves army men.
I find the plot or rather the war/geography and political side of the story, a little confusing. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve had to go back a re-read just to get my head around what is actually happening, but luckily enough there is always two-sides to a story and therefore plenty of layers to unfold as Inariya Fusanosuke uses flashbacks to help us understand the characters and relationships better, adding in depth characterization and back stories.
“No one is valued just for their beauty anymore. They’re only trampled, indulged in, and killed.” (Klaus. Vol. 1, Chp. 1)
Maiden Rose takes place in the late 1920’s an alternate time-line of warring and prejudice. I use the word alternate time-line or AU because it is not made exactly clear which war the Maiden Rose series is taking place in and as I mentioned before, the war and geography side of this story is kind of vague and hard to understand. That being said, we know that Taki comes from the East and that Klaus comes from a Germany-like country, and both Taki and Klaus are also considered nobility in their own right.
“The Shinka is the flower of the emperor—the Maiden Rose… his bloodline and his purity receives the protection of the Gods. Because his body is a vessel for the Gods themselves.” (Suguri. Vol. 1, Chp. 5)
Taki is the emperor’s nephew—his bloodline has remained purged of all impurities except in wedlock; for Taki to become tainted is strictly forbidden and punishable by death. For Klaus to even touch Taki is considered taboo, then again, Klaus becoming Taki’s ‘Knight’ is also looked down upon. Their relationship would be considered a crime, a sin; while Klaus is seen like a lowly enemy who acts as the Raizen’s lapdog, he is actually bowing to be his forever and taking the responsibility of “tainting” him, everything for the sake of that forbidden love. This is a situation that puts a strain on their already troubled, unhappy relationship. It contributes to each other’s pain and their lack of connection is confusing Klaus to no end; not really understanding why Taki continues to be so cold and rejective toward him, thus pushing Klaus to his limit and even forcing himself on Taki.
I know that rape is used a lot in yaoi manga and I usually do try to avoid that forceful approach for romantic development. Nevertheless, Maiden Rose doesn’t present it this way, but as a consequence of the extremely difficult situation the couple is in; sensei makes up for this non-con by showing Taki and Klaus’ past relationship, an insight to their real feelings and how they ended up in such extreme circumstances. They may be bound by a contract of Master and Knight, but their bond goes beyond that, for example the fact that Taki cannot allow himself to indulge in Klaus, but refuses to let him go even when Klaus forces himself on him and that Klaus would gladly put his own life on-the-line for Taki.
“I won’t have anything stolen from me. My land. My pride. My wish. I won’t allow anyone to disgrace me that way. Not Eurote. Not the Brass. And not you, Klaus. …The call of your voice is my everything. Will you grant me my wish? On my name as your Knight, I swear it.” ( Klaus & Taki. Vol. 2, Chp. 8 )
To sum up, Hyakujitsu no Bara (Maiden Rose) is a bittersweet tale of two bound by a contract of fate, plagued by violence of war and prejudice. There is plenty of drama and a lot of angst, not to mention explicit sexual scenes and blood, so if you are a fan of Yaoi with a plot, men in military uniforms, or even master and servant relationship then this is a must read.
“Klaus—some people are like flowers whose sweetness we cannot defy.” (Vol. 1, Chp. 3)
This series really is one of my favourites, I fell in love with the artwork first and soon started to appreciate the story as the chapters and characters showed signs of development and Taki and Klaus’ relationship made more progress. Not to mention the added bonus of the ‘Pawpads’ extras or chibi omake as I like to call them, where by Taki-tachi are all super deformed and help lighten the dark theme of the main story of the Maiden Rose series.
Hyakujitsu no Bara (Maiden Rose) Manga Volumes 1-2 are licensed by Juné/DMP. Maiden Rose was also animated in 2009 as a two-episode OVA of Volume 1, Chapters 1-5 and produced by PrimeTime.
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I would also like to express a big thank you to choutomaraseru, who provides some of the most informative translation notes on Maiden Rose and without these I would never have be able to fully understand the series and its characters.
Story and art by Inariya Fusanosuke, graphics and review by Angie, edited by Queen2408. Quotes, translation notes and scans used by East-27/choutomaraseru