Versailles no Bara "Moetsukita Bara no Shouzou" (lost alternate final episode of anime series; 1980)
Versailles no Bara (ベルサイユのばら, La Rose de Versailles), or more commonly called by its English title, The Rose of Versailles, is an anime series that was adapted from mangaka Riyoko Iyeda's hit manga series of the same name. The series was produced and animated by TMS Entertainment and aired starting from September 10th, 1979, up until September 3rd, 1980. The story focuses on a fictionalized version of the French Revolution from the lives of a fictionalized version of Marie-Antoinette and the royal guard that was bestowed to her, Oscar François de Jarjayes.
The series lasted for 40 episodes. However, there was a time in Japan when in multiple regions, the series had been cancelled to air on its 23rd episode due to conflicts in the schedules of multiple broadcasters. An original episode entitled "Moetsukita Bara no Shouzou" (transl. "Portrait of a Burning Rose") was made and aired once in these regions in order to conclude the story of the series, and was never broadcasted again nor was put in any home media release of the series. Along with resurfaced broadcasting schedules, only testimonies and claims from the people who had seen the episode on its one-time broadcast are proof of its existence and is considered by many fans of the show as a "phantom" episode.
The "Phantom" Episode
On March 3rd, 1980, the series had a sudden cancellation from airing on various Japanese prefectures after its 23rd episode, "ずる賢くてたくましく!" (transl. "Cunning and Tough!" / "Sly and Strong!"), had aired. According to multiple fan blog posts, during a Q&A segment of an entertainment magazine during that time, a viewer had asked about the sudden cancellation and subsequently, a response was given that it was decided to be canceled of airing due to conflicting broadcasting schedules from other shows at the time and the cancellation was not exclusive around one area but in multiple areas in Japan. To suffice, and in order the conclude the series' story, the broadcasters aired an episode entitled "Moetsukita Bara no Shouzou" on March 26th, 1980, which was a very shortened rundown of the remaining latter half of the series' story that was yet to be adapted. The episode was written and drawn by a small team that is not involved whatsoever with the actual staff that had worked on the first 23 episodes, and the small team that worked on this had just made the episode in just a week. The episode only aired once on specific prefectures in Japan and was never rebroadcasted since then. In addition, there are theories that the episode was just a bunch of old drawings that were used in previous episodes or had been traced from the manga itself and were compiled into one 24-minute episode, with the voice recordings being the only thing that per se is "new". This theory had been disproven by fans of the show however who had watched the episode from rare recordings and that the episode, aside from a couple of scenes, composes of a lot of new drawings, and is entirely brand new.
The plot for the episode goes as follows: After the "necklace incident" (a fictionalized retelling of the Diamond Necklace Affair from 1784-1785) that happened in episodes 22 & 23, the series time-skips to four years after the incident had occurred in which we see Oscar and André four years after. Oscar's father, General Jarje, commanded Oscar to drive out the commoners outside, which Oscar refused. After a fair bit of arguing between Oscar and General Jarje, Oscar leaves out of rage but is stopped by André. André and Oscar then exchange words and suddenly confess their love to one another.
After the series had officially concluded in other prefectures (with a total of 40 episodes), "Moetsukita Bara no Shouzou" never had any home media release and was never included in any official series release. Years after the series had ended, speculations about the episode's existence were questioned in the early age of the internet by fans and viewers alike with most people dubbing the episode as a "phantom work" or a "phantom episode", since the episode only aired once and aired only on specific prefectures and broadcasting channels where the cancellation was taken into effect, and while recordings of the episode are likely, it was really rare to come across someone who had recorded the episode. There were even instances where fans of the series believed that they would never ever have the opportunity to watch the episode.
The chance of the episode being officially released by TMS is very unlikely, and people who possess VHS recordings of the episode were really hard to come across. However, the events of what had happened in the "phantom" episode were recalled, summarized, and written on various blog posts by fans of the series for other fans to read and answer their curiosity about said episode.
On August 29th, 2020, Twitter user @nakky16 uploaded screenshots and tweeted her reactions to the episode on their Twitter account. They also posted that they are in possession of a rare VHS tape that contained the "phantom" episode. However, Japan has very strict laws and prohibitions on copyright infringement and said Twitter user had already stated the risks of putting the episode online with the possibility of getting sued and fined.
As of March 2023, only screenshots from the episode from @nakky16 are the only available fragments of the episode appearing online and confirming its existence, but a digital upload of the episode is extremely unlikely to happen in the future.
- MyAnimeList page for Versailles no Bara Moetsukita Bara no Shouzou.
- Japanese Wikipedia page for Rose of Versailles snippet that lists information about the episode.
- MyAnimeList forums thread on Moetsukita Bara no Shouzou.
- Twitter Thread posted by @nakky16, which consists of poor-quality screenshots
- ↑ Style.fm DB for Rose of Versailles that mentions the "phantom" episode. Retrieved 07 April '23
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 November 15th, 2004 Style.fm blog post about the "phantom" episode Retrieved 07 April '23
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 garakutadarake.sblo.jp article on the "phantom" episode by user カオル. Retrieved 07 April '23
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 infoseek.co.jp article that mentions the "phantom" episode by user マグミクス. Retrieved 07 April '23
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 @peps! blog post about Moetsukita Bara no Shouzou's plot. Retrieved 07 April '23
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 BIGGLOBE blog post about Moetsukita Bara no Shouzou's plot. Retrieved 07 April '23
- ↑ Japanese Wikipedia page that includes the channels where the series had been cancelled from airing at March 3rd, 1980. Retrieved 07 April '23
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 BIGGLOBE blog post about the sudden cancellation of the series. Retrieved 07 April '23
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Livedoor blog post on the "phantom" episode resurfacing. Retrieved 07 April '23