Through the Forest of Thorns
A shrine to Friederike
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lay a princess in deep slumber. Closed off from the world, her own heart held prisoner, she dreams of a person to find her true self beyond the hedge of thorns. But who would — and can — cross thorns that are of her own making?
Dornenkaefig (German for Cage of Thorns) is a shrine dedicated to the character Friederike from the manga Ludwig Revolution (Ludwig Kakumei) by Kaori Yuki. As she mainly goes by Idike in the story, she will be referred to as such throughout the shrine.
I need your teeth in me, slow and vicious,
to tell me my armor is just skin, bones,
only bones. Jamaal May, “The Whetting of Teeth”
Among Kaori Yuki’s many creations, Ludwig Revolution is one of the lesser known; though available in German (Carlsen) and French (Tonkam), it has not seen an English release. Idike’s story is that of Little Briar Rose — or Sleeping Beauty as you might know it by — one of numerous fairy tales that the series reimagines. As is the case for most of the tales, it takes place within a single chapter (volume 1, chapter 3), wrapping up in roughly fifty pages. While Idike is fleetingly mentioned again a few times afterwards, she is not a character meant to stay. And yet, Idike may be the most memorable of all bride candidates that Prince Lui comes across on his wayward journey — hardly surprising, considering the refreshing frankness of her personality, and the raw way she conveys her hurt, which resonates with Lui in a way things rarely do.
I have always had much fondness for Idike’s character design, but more than that, it is her weaknesses that speak to me. Just like Lui, I think that it is persons and characters who express their pain and selfishness in a way that we cannot that show us a mirror of ourselves — an image more intimate than we may be comfortable with. And in those rare, unexpected instances of insight, we may just learn to embrace a part of ourselves that we have not previously had a chance to meet, much less to love.
Note that there are spoilers all across the site. After a spoiler-free introduction to Ludwig Revolution, Idike’s story is retold and analyzed in its entirety. In order to examine it in the context of the series, other fairy tale retellings are addressed where necessary, but there will be no spoilers regarding their twists. It is assumed that you are already familiar with the original fairy tale. If not, you can read it here.
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