The following contains spoilers for Requiem of the Rose King, Episode 2, “My Father Is My Light,” now streaming on Funimation.
In just two episodes, Requiem of the Rose King has already disappointed many viewers in its production decisions. Those who have never read the manga are already noticing the issues in pacing and stylistic choices and it's even more discouraging for those who love the manga and have been anticipating the anime adaptation for a long time. In the first episode, the anime used a copious amount of still imagery rather than animation which immediately divided fans.
For some fans, it was worrisome because it looked like budget issues were already plaguing the production even before it finished the first cour. For others, it was a different approach to storytelling that looked like it was taking inspiration from operas or plays with stained glass art and cut-out silhouettes. It was a fresh and intriguing change but the second episode has proven that the execution has far fallen short.
In some ways, Requiem of the Rose King feels like it's going down a similarly disastrous path as the finale of Season 2 of The Promised Neverland. The last few minutes of The Promised Neverland ended with a slideshow montage with stills replacing animation. There was very little movement except for when the characters' mouths moved when they talk. Battle scenes became boring because they lose out on the action. Characters get introduced in rapid succession and feel like they've dropped out of nowhere. Although Requiem of the Rose King isn't deviating from the source material, it has taken considerable liberty with cutting out scenes from the manga that would otherwise help viewers connect with the characters.
One reason for its bizarre pacing could be because the manga is coming to an end and the anime is trying to adapt the entire series in the span of 24 episodes. The pacing allows for no breathing room and for anime-only fans, it just feels like the show is going from one summary point to another so they get the gist of the story but not the heart.
One such instance was when Richard got caught by a Lancastrian soldier. The music started off softly and tension started building up with the strings as Richard found himself caught in a corner. It was either him or the soldier and he made the choice to save himself. But the viewers didn't get to see it. There's only the sound of a sword being pulled out of its sheath and the blade digging into flesh. The corpse gets replaced by a silhouette cut out with blood. As a result, this scene lost both its impact and significance. This was the moment that forced Richard to shift his views. This wasn't just an enemy that he had killed, this man was a father, husband, and had a life with his family that he clearly loved. A life that Richard had taken in a split second.
Requiem of the Rose King isn't for the faint of heart either which created more opportunities for tension to be lost. In this particular episode, Richard got captured by bandits on his way to save his father. He's almost sexually assaulted but the bandits stopped the moment they discover his breasts. The tension in the scene was at its peak with Richard's fear of being assaulted and of his secret getting revealed but all of that was lost when the scene was conveyed through cut silhouettes, thus effectively censoring the scene. The censorship made sense as it's a truly horrifying scene but it failed to deliver on Richard's emotional turmoil regarding his gender identity: He was seen as a woman by these men.
What should have been an emotionally charged scene gets completely botched. Richard's mad race through town to save his father ends in tragedy when all he found is his father's head. This was supposed to be an extremely powerful moment with Richard realizing that the one person who had ever loved him is now gone. Except, in the scene, the viewers see Richard's face and the Duke of York's when he was still alive. When Richard kissed his father, the magnitude of what had just occurred gets thoroughly diminished.
At this point, Requiem of the Rose King is acting like a colored version of the manga with some voice acting. What's worse is that the quality of the story has taken a hit with the anime's creative direction, leaving many viewers frustrated especially since Requiem of the Rose King could go a long way in terms of LGBTQ+ portrayal. It's not clear yet why the production is so low but keep in mind that this is a two-cour anime and only a few episodes have aired. Perhaps, the anime will find its footing in the next couple of weeks and will bring fans back.