The Black Tulip and the Star of the Seine: two paladins between court intrigues and French revolutionaries
In pre-revolutionary Paris, a beautiful young girl named Simone, the fifteen-year-old daughter of a couple of florists, is about to make some life-changing encounters. Thus we introduce the story that we will face in this new chapter of our column dedicated to the anime of the 80s, which bears the title of The Black Tulip – The Star of the Seine. We are in 1984 when this animated television series arrives in Italy which in Japan was broadcast almost 10 years earlier. A story that will thrill many and that we will find at times very similar to that of the famous one Lady Oscar. But what is Il Tulipano Nero about?
The Black Tulip: the plot
Simone meets the mysterious fighter
Maria Antoniettaqueen of France, e her husband Louis XVThe are returning to Paris and that is why the preparation of a great ball is required at court. The coffers of the court are empty, however, it is impossible to give a dance and please the queen without asking the population for a further sacrifice. When a group of guards led by commander Jeroule he then asks the population for a series of products without paying immediately, a small revolt is staged that leads to the capture of Mirandthe best friend of our protagonist Simone Lorène. When a group of citizens goes to protest, Jeroule is ready to exterminate them but it is at this point that a mysterious savior appears who announces himself as The Black Tulip. It is he who saves the citizens and it is to him that Simone asks to save his friend taken prisoner. The Tulip promises to do the best of him and, in the end, succeeds in the feat. From this moment, Mirand will be a great admirer of the masked fighter and will decide to fight for injustices.
Simone becomes The Star of the Seine and fights alongside the Black Tulip
The first turning point in history comes when the Comte de Vaudreuil (father of Robert, true identity of the Black Tulip), who takes Simone to heart, reveals to his parents that the girl is actually the daughter of nobles. She then announces to them that she wants to take her wing under her, devote himself to her training and train her in fencing, which she will need to protect herself in this moment when the country is in turmoil. Plus she asks them to send the girl to a convent. However, the young woman learns the whole truth about her past when her parents are killed in revenge by a lady to whom they had sold flowers. The girl thus decides to go to the convent which, in reality, is also a school for noble girls. Meanwhile, Mirand, now a rebel fighting for the revolution, is once again captured and taken to the Bastille. Simone then asks for help from Il Tulipano Nero who, however, invites her to give him a hand to save him. So he gives her a costume to conceal her identity, a name by which she will be known from now on by all: the Star of the Seine.
Simone’s true identity
Simone begins her adventure in the role of La Stella della Sienna, ready to fight injustices alongside the Black Tulip, of which, however, she does not know the identity. Meanwhile, while her friend Mirand, finally free, leaves for the new world, the count de Vaudreuil obtains from the emperor the papers to adopt Simon. However, he is attacked by ex-friend Hans Kaunitz, who knows the truth about the girl’s identity and therefore steals her adoption papers from the count. It turns out then that Simone is the illegitimate daughter of Emperor Francis Ifather of Marie Antoinette, and of an opera singer, so it is the younger half-sister of the queen. He will meet her, without recognizing her, during one of her missions as The Star of the Seine, and will listen in passing to a tune she hums that she immediately seems very familiar. It will turn out to be the melody of a music box that their father gave to both of them and that, therefore, has always linked them. Only some time later Simone, having found the music box, will understand that the one she met was his sister but does not know that it is the Queen of France.
The conspiracy against Robert and the return of Mirand
When things in Simone’s life seem to have taken a good turn, a new problem turns his life upside down. Robert is involved in a conspiracy and, framed, is sentenced to exile. He must leave France and abandon the noble title which, therefore, Simone also loses. But it is just after that that the man decides to reveal to her that he is the black Tulip. It will be thanks to the help of the Star of the Seine that Robert will find a useful witness to exonerate him from the accusations and to regain his noble title. Meanwhile Mirand, who had left for the Americas, returns to France and just as the country is on the verge of revolution. The king decided to convene the National Assembly made up of representatives of the clergy, nobility and the Third Estate. Mirand himself, not without difficulty, will be unanimously proclaimed representative of the Third Estate. However, he will be arrested shortly after and taken to the Bastille, unleashing the ire of the people. Thus began a revolt to free the captured representatives. Thanks also to the intervention of the Star of the Seine, Mirand is freed and the Bastille taken by the people.
The situation worsens when Marie Antoinette’s guards discover that Robert is actually the Black Tulip. The man is captured but it will be the queen, who is fond of him as a friend, to free him. Back with Versaille, Simone joins them and here Robert reveals to her and the queen that they are actually sisters. If Marie Antoinette is moved, Simone initially reacts badly, but then collapses in tears in his arms. Meanwhile, the situation in France is precipitating. The hatred of the population towards the Monarchy is absolute and Marie Antoinette, now abandoned by everyone, leaves Versaille and takes refuge in a residence outside Paris. When, however, the friend Count of Fersen reveals that her children are also at risk, the queen decides to escape, an action that will decree her end. The escape will be stopped by the revolutionaries: king, queen and children will be imprisoned. Shortly thereafter, the rulers will be guillotined but, before dying, Marie Antoinette entrusts her children to Simone. She frees them and, together with Robert and Danton, they leave Paris for good.
The Black Tulip: curiosity
Lady Oscar’s “substitute” Star of the Seine
Thirty-nine episodes, directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino and Masaki Osumi, accompany us in the history of revolutionary Paris, a theme that in those years was of great interest to the Japanese people. It is no coincidence, in fact, that the history of The Black Tulip and the Star of the Seine is so similar, in themes and setting, to that of Lady Oscar. In fact, it happens that the strong Japanese interest in the French revolution pushes insiders to take an interest in the famous manga Lady Oscar by Ryoko Ikeda. Too bad that the author does not decide to sell the rights, so we arrive at the decision to create an anime set in the same historical period but with different subjects.
The arrival in Italy and the case of the title
In Italy the Star of the Seine arrives thanks to the enormous success obtained by Lady Oscar – which later became an anime. In fact, it makes its debut on our screens a few years after the one in Japan. Looking at the anime in its entirety, it might probably come as a surprise that the title is The Black Tulip and not The Star of the Seine which is actually the true protagonist of the story. Robert / Tulipano Nero actually appears above all at the beginning, introducing Simone to the mission as a fighter, only to appear less and less. A stratagem probably born to attract a male audience to the vision of the cartoon, taking advantage of its frequent presence of the character in the first part.
The Star of the Seine manga comes after the broadcast of the television series. Written and illustrated by Asuka Morimura, it was published by Big Bird Comics in 1975 in three tankōbon volumes but remained unfinished. A comic adaptation different from that of Morimura initially arrived in Italy and published starting from 1984 in the Corriere dei Piccoli. The original manga was announced in 2018 and released in a two-volume box.
“Blows here, blows there, what will happen, what will happen!” sings the theme song of the Black Tulip, whose title is The Boys of the Seine. Written by Alessandra Valeri Manera and Augusto Martelli, it is sung by Cristina D’Avena and is, to date, one of the most popular anime themes of the 80s. Curious is the error present in the second verse of the initials: July 14, 1789 (the day indicated for the beginning of the French revolution) is instead indicated with July 4 (Independence day in the United States of America).
Simone Lorène – protagonist of the story and Star of the Seine, she is the younger half-sister of Queen Marie Antoinette of France.
Paul Lorène and Julienne Lorène – Simone’s adoptive parents, die murdered.
Robert de Vaudreuil – he is the Black Tulip, he is a noble and will become Simone’s half-brother.
Count de Vaudreuil – Robert’s father, he will adopt Simone after the death of his parents (who are also adoptive).
Danton – a little boy abandoned by the Circus where he worked, he becomes a faithful helper of Simone.
Maria Antonietta – Queen of France, she will discover Simon’s half-sister.
Louis XVI – king of France.
Jeroule – main antagonist of the series. Cruel commander of the Parisian police, he is the cause of the greatest injustice to which the Parisians are subjected.
Mirand – Simone’s great childhood friend, he later became the leader of the revolutionaries and representative of the Third Estate at the National Assembly.
You want to relive the stories of others 80s anime? We got excited with the story of Pollyannawe took a blast from the past with Ryu the cave boybetween Sorgenti Maledette with Ranma 1/2in the witch magic contest Bia. We went to a dystopian future with Conan and we are passionate about the sporting challenges of Holly and Benji, Lots And Mila and Shiro. But also a lot, more!