So recently I've gotten hooked on watching some older anime, and I gotta say: they're just about as good as newer ones. Of course, there are a lot of technical differences between the two, such as the aspect ratio, the fact this it's animated on cels instead of digitally, and so on and so forth. In terms of "quality" there are no apparent differences, and that really just depends on each show individually. One of the shows I watched is 'Rose of Versailles' or 'Versaille no Bara', which is a shoujo drama set before and during the french revolution.
Totalling exactly 40 episodes, Rose of Versaille is certainly a long show, in terms of newer anime standards at least. Many might be turned away from the show because of this, and I can certainly see why. Watching fourty episodes does take a while, and not everybody has time to watch all of it. But, I still think it's very much worth it. But why? Well, for one, the backgrounds, character art, and visual aesthethic in general. The show looks beautiful, no doubt about it. It might not be filled with breathtaking sakuga or anything, but it certainly looks great. The detailed character art is one of the shows biggest strengths, with characters never really being off model, or at least I never noticed. It also sometimes breaks into some more arthouse-esque moments, and while there aren't many of these, they certainly work well as a way to catch your attention. The colour design is also fantastic, one of the most well known things about nobels in the era the show is set in is the shear amount of excess and surplus they lived in, and clothing might be the most eye catching of these. As they say, clothes make the man, and they are very important for setting the tone of a scene.
The human element of the show might be my favourite part though. One of the biggest advantages long form storytelling has over short form, is simply that you have more time. By getting to spend more time with a character, you get to know them better, and become more empathethic with them. The interesting thing about Rose of Versailles is that it's about the french revolution from everyones perspectives. Not just the nobles (though it certainly does focus most of its time on them), not just the peasents, you get to see how everyone in society had it during this time. In that way it is sort of similar to Berserk, as you get to see the events of a tragedy both before, during and the aftermath of it. But, back to the characters. Maria Antoinette gets a big role in the show, and why woudn't she. She's the queen of all people, and it does a really good job of making her position nuanced. Of course, the series does take the side of the revolutionaries, with the main character deciding to help the uprising at the last minute.
My favourite thing about art is being able to either sympathize or empathize with a characater. Being able to see their growth, the hardships they face, and the way they change throughout the course of the story. Rose of Versaille, same as Berserk, executes this perfectly, in some sense even better. One of the things that always made me wary to start such a long show was the pacing. I was afraid that such shows probably didn't actually need to be so long, and that the reason for their length was just another cost saving technique. That may still be true, as I've only watched nine shows from the 70's, but so far, it doesn't seem like it. Every episode is important and adds details and nuances, and other development that, if they had been omitted, would have made the show worse. But they didn't omit them, and I think that says something about the state of modern anime.
I've mentioned before how there is "too much anime", and while I don't really agree with that statement wholeheartedly anymore, I still think it's a worthwhile and interesting topic to discuss. While the amount of anime being produced is in some ways a positive, as it allows there to be more things that appeal to more people, it also floods the market. There are five concurrently running isekai shows this season, and this is a symptom of there being a bit too much. I almost kind of wish we went back the late 70's in terms of anime production, back when most shows were over forty episodes, and there were never more than ten shows running concurrently, and when "off season" was a thing that existed. Now every season has forty concurrently running shows, and the only shows that aren't either 13 or 24 episodes long is JoJo. Back when shows actually ran for over 100 episodes (not that I've watched any 100+ episode shows yet). It might seem like I'm saying that all modern anime are bad, and I assure you, I'm not. Modern anime has its flaws, but there have been a ton of good anime coming out these past few years. JoJo, Iron Blooded Orphans, Natsume Yujincho, Love Live, Nichijou, Outbreak Company, Log Horizon, there's good stuff everywhere and for everyone.
Well, that was one heck of a tangent.
In conclusion, Rose of Versaille is a great show and defintely deserves to be watched by many. Is it for everyone? No, but nothing is. However, if you like to watch a character grow throughout their life, getting your hearstrings tugged at, and looking at beatiful backgrounds and character art, then you defintely owe it to yourself to check out this show.