Monday, 25 January 2016

Rosiel: development and symbolysm

Photo, concept, manipulation, frame design, styling: GothicNarcissus
Model, hair: Edoardo Marreu
Additional resources: Myruso (wallpaper)

Oh boy, Rosiel. Everyone familiar with Kaori Yuki’s work (and their sisters too) know this name: the infamous Inorganic Angel whose insanity and obsessive love for his twin sister Alexiel set in motion most of the events in Angel Sanctuary. A most charming psychopath, but also a tragic figure with a tormented background, he is definitely one of my favourite characters from the manga, if not the favourite character. Oh, and I ship the Hell out of Rosiel x Katan.

Rosiel from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary.
The story of how a character with the same name ended up in my project is pretty simple: Kaori herself mentioned in the side notes of her manga that she found out there was a Fallen Angel called Rosier in the popular lore. And there he was indeed, mentioned in A Dictionary Of Angels by Gustav Davidson, who cites Sebastien Michaelis’ Admirable History of the Possession and Conversion of a Penitent Woman as the source. His description is pretty specific: he is the former number two of Dominion, resides in Hell and is the Demon Patron of tainted love and seduction. Whoa: so much information about a Demon was not to be overlooked. Besides, as Marina Diamandis says, “L.O.V.E., E.V.O.L. – love is evil”, there needed to be a Demon of Love. I also really love the name – and here we’ve got a side note: the R and L sounds are the same in Japanese, so in thr manga Rosier and Rosiel are phonetically and graphically the same word. It is interesting to note that the official lore says that Fallen Angels often change their name from -el to -er after their Fall, so technically both are viable anyway. I ultimately decided to go with the latter to keep it consistent with others from my series (like Furcifel, Azazel or Mephistophel), but mostly because I was fond of Kaori Yuki’s character and I wanted to pay a tribute to him.
The similarities end here, though: I have such a degree of respect for this character and its importance in the Angel Sanctuary plot that from the very beginning I decided to do a completely different rendition more closely based on the original lore. No electric wires, no flowy perwinkle hair, no insanity – just the Demon of Tainted Love and an Incubus (the female version of the Succubus). And also the Demon in charge of the power of Uranus because I like lame puns.
An early concept draft of Rosiel.
Now, according to the file information, the concept sketch above is dated 19th March 2011: that’s at least just how old the idea for this Demon is. Back then I was discussing it with a fellow Angel Sanctuary’s Rosiel fan and dear friend of mine, with whom we decided to do the shooting: that’s the actual sketch I did on Windows Live Messenger to show him the pose I had in mind. Most of the styling and the actual concept came up that night, including leather trouses and posing bare-chested with red ribbons, which simbolise love and sexual tension – also a nod to Japanese folklore that depicts love as a red thread binding the little fingers of two lovers.
It seemed a rather easy photo to take considering the casting went so smoothly, except the shooting kept being postponed over and over. Because there was no time, because there was no place, because my firend’s hair wasn’t long enough or the colour wasn’t right, because he was busy, because he didn’t feel like doing it, and on and on we went. I even mentioned in my 2013 FAQs on deviantART that the work on the series had slowed down because I needed to pressure a couple of friends into organising the shootings, but 2014 went by with me asking without any sign that the thing would be done and then there came 2015, my most artistically frustrating year to date, in which I was generally little productive.
Now, I tried to write to my friend a few times hoping an Infernal Lord would shake me from my block, but both he and I are difficult people who often need some alone time, which resulted in a general lack of communication all through the year. Either we didn’t go further than pleasentry and he disappeared before I could bring up the subject, or he didn’t reply at all even on unrelated matters, stalling the work completely. I grew more and more frustrated with the situation until, after the Mesmerism debacle, I decided that I was having no more shit from anyone at all so screw him, it was high time for a recast. All things considered I didn’t even bother telling him, but after five years I doubt he’ll notice or care anyway: I did more than a fair share of attempts to shoot with him, if he did care he might as well have brought up the subject himself at least once.
As usual, I came across Edoardo through social media rather than modelling platforms. I had the thought he would fit the role ever since, but he was blonde at the time: that would have made him too similar to Furcifel and clashed a bit with the colour scheme, so I wasn’t really sure and didn’t ask him immediately. Then last month he went brown and I had no more doubts: I wrote to him, he immediately liked the project and the idea, we scheduled a day for the shooting and everything was done in, like, fifteen minutes, fine and dandy. Despite his worrying that he wouldn’t do a good job due to lack of modelling experience, after I styled and directed him he got so much into the character that he immediately managed to get the languid, relaxed pose and the alluring, mischievous expression we needed. At long last, Rosiel was done, he was fabulous and I have absolutely no regrets about the recast.
Not being in The Lesser Key Of Solomon, Rosiel lacks a seal of his own. I chose one version the Seal of Beleth because it has heart-shaped motives in it. Seriously, that’s it. Also, I initially planned to blend it behind one of the red ribbons, but while I was editing I changed my mind because I wanted those hearts to freaking show – that and I loved the challenge of blending it onto the shoulder.
The theme colour, perwinkle, is a direct tribute to Kaori Yuki, as it is the colour of her Rosiel’s hair in most official illustrations. My friend and I had originally agreed to use a PJ Harvey song but what can I say, last year Susanne Sundfør came out with her masterpiece, Ten Love Songs, from which I chose Darlings (after a tough fight with Slowly) to best represent the idea I had for this Demon.

So here we are, twenty-eight down and two to go. Lucifer is going to be the very last work from the series and meanwhile I’m trying to settle things to recast the last of the Seven Satans. The approaching end of the Infernal Lords series honestly scares me, but I already have a new magnum opus in the cards afterwards, so I hope that will push me to complete it. Let’s see how things turn out next month.

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