Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Maiden Rose - An Unsettling Study of Power, War, and Sexual Assault

Maiden Rose by Fusanosuke Inariya

Maiden Rose is a military-action-romance about commander Taki Reizen and his loyal knight, Claus von Wolfstadt. Set in an alternate Japan in the year 1928, Taki and his soldiers defend their nation from foreign invaders in a seemingly endless war. For mysterious reasons, Taki refuses to pursue his affections for Claus, but remembering bygone days when Taki expressed his love, Claus continually forces himself upon Taki in hopes of arousing repressed feelings. Between moments of brutal intimacy, these two men fight side-by-side to hold their forces together and protect their people.

This manga delves deeply into the sacrifices that come with leadership, the pain of war, and the damaging effects of unequal power dynamics in relationships. The pages hold a sinister atmosphere augmented by the setting, style of dress, and weaponry, all of which point to the forerunners of the Imperial Japanese and Nazi armies of World War II. Theoretically, Taki and Claus are good guys in the story, but their resemblance to real life war criminals is disturbing.

In addition, the manga features several rape scenes which technically pertain to the story but are largely erotic episodes for readers that fantasize about such things. Whether literarily necessary or not, these graphic scenes are very unsettling and often denigrate the idea that sex shared between men can be tender, loving, and meaningful. Interspersed between these traumatic experiences are moments of tenderness between Taki and Claus. This addition to the motif that rapists are actually lovers tragically reinforces a culture that accepts rape. Let it be stated here clearly: sexual contact between people should always be mutually consensual; when it is not consensual, that is rape; rape is never okay. Not ever.

Maiden Rose is composed of four volumes. With all the graphic and violent sexual content, I would not have read this manga before being eighteen-years-old. In fact, were it not necessary to write this review, I probably would not have finished the first volume.

Review by Aaron Walsh. Add your review of "Maiden Rose" in comments.

1 comment:

ivanova said...

Love this review. Just the kind of thing I would want to know before reading a book/deciding not to read a book. It's hard to write a respectful negative review.