Welcome everyone, to our next review! I, RishRaff, have returned to do the review. Today we will be covering the anime Rozen Maiden, specifically the first season. The next two review entries will be the second and third seasons, respectively, so look forward to those. As always, beware for potential minor SPOILERS!
Now, without further ado, let us begin the review.
Summary: Due to a deep trauma at school Sakurada Jun has refused to return. He spends his time in his room, surfing the web and ordering anything that takes his fancy, only to return the items just before payment is due. One day, he finds a web site that tells him to put his order in a drawer of his desk. He does so thinking it to be a joke, only to find that the letter disappears and a strange package arrives soon afterwards. It contains an exquisite doll, that, when wound, comes to life. She treats him as a servant of little worth, but over time helps him come to grips with his fears and in the life-or-death fights that soon follow her arrival. -AnimeNewsNetwork
Rozen Maiden sets up a rather interesting and unique plot, though it flops somewhat in the execution. One immediate flaw is the actual conflict and drive of the conflict is not immediately clear in the story until several episodes in. This can cause the first several episodes to feel dull or unnecessary in some ways. Due to this, the plot is very end heavy, in that the primary portion of the plot takes place in the later episodes. This creates an uneven pacing within the series. The mood of the series also appears indecisive at points, being more lighthearted initially but transitioning to a more serious tone rather quickly, in sharp contrast to the start of the show. However, the series can be applauded for the successful application of the plot points it desires to communicate, once they are made clear.
The characters are pretty diverse within the series, especially between the dolls. While this allows for the viewer to connect with some dolls and despise others, the human characters appear rather bland in who they are at first. This is troubling for the main character Jun, who receives rapid and heavy development in the end, which appears to come out of nowhere. The dolls do also face some trouble in terms of characterization, as none of them show sufficient growth or development as the series goes on, with their initial characterizations upon first meeting remaining their only defining factor throughout. Most of these characterizations are mostly stereotypical also.
The show has fairly decent animation, though it does show its age in some ways. The human characters are kind of simplistic in their designs, but the backgrounds and various colors of the series alleviate this.
Rozen Maiden can be somewhat misleading with its soundtrack. Starting with its opening, it seems to present the series as a horror, though it not really like this at all. Additionally, it feels limited with its soundtracks, being somewhat repetitive but also not always matching the mood of the scene. Nonetheless, the ending works well for the series, better suiting the general tone of the anime.
Like much of the series, the primary themes are present much heavier in the later part of the series. Trials and overcoming pain are quite large themes, as it is what drives Jun in much of what he does. This is present with other characters as well, such the old man who owns Souseiseki. Identity is another big part of the series, both as the dolls seemingly lack an “identity” in a sense, and them seeking that is what defines the conflict. Jun’s own past pain also is part of his identity, and also an excuse for him. The series struggles with making it clear what genre it is trying to express at some points, between the soundtrack and the plot layout.
Final Score: 8/10
Final Grade: B
Rozen Maiden was an anime that was hard for me to get through. When I first saw the opening I had high hopes for it, because it looked like it would be a horror anime. Sadly that was not the case. On top of that it was very slow, it took about five episodes for me to get into it. Even after it picked up a bit it felt like it had to have an episode of absolutely nothing before something big happened. The characters were kind of bland too. While they did grow on me it was not till the end that I started to like them. With that said once I got past the fifth episode it was not all that bad, it picks up some and the premise was interesting. Out of 10 I would give this anime a 6. I would recommend it to people who want to see something new and are willing to push through the first couple of episodes. – B-Ro
Rozen Maiden is an anime that has its flaws, but in the end comes together quite well. First off, i found the concept quite intriguing. The idea of these European dolls coming to life with special powers is awesome, and I was quite excited to see where they would take the concept when I started watching. Let me talk about the OP. It was performed by ALI PROJECT, who also did the OP from Another. Her vocal style works just as well here, and the dark imagery is quite cool. Unfortunately (or so I thought at first), the show isn’t actually very dark. I was surprised to see the focus on the boy Jun, and the setting mostly confined to his normal house (and not a castle or something). It also took me a while to understand the conflict enough to have interest because the first few episodes stuck to being more lighthearted than all conflict focused. It was never “bad” per se, just unexpected, and in hindsight I’m glad they established things slowly rather than charging in. As more dolls and plot points were introduced, I slowly got used to the show’s tones and liked it more and more. As I watched, I realized that each character was growing on me slowly. I got used to Shinku’s bossiness for example (which did annoy me a little at first) and grew to love her character. I slowly started relating to Jun more and more as well, and realized that the show being largely about him wasn’t a bad thing. He has a lot to his character, and he really develops well. All of the other dolls are really well designed, each bringing something new to the table, and Jun’s sister Nori was funny while providing a lot of interesting moments. While this show goes for laughs a lot, it’s the not afraid to get serious, and does a good job at doing such. As the show goes on, the original concept gets explored more and more, as well as the conflict. I loved the more creative settings and visuals that were explored. The villian Suigintou is very interesting in a dark kind of way (aaaannnd she pretty much looks like a female Sephiroth, which is quite cool). Once the conflict really heats up, it’s really something to watch, wrapping up with a conclusion that was exceptionally good. I won’t spoil anything, but it makes the more character developing rather than plot developing beginning worth it in my mind. Now the rest of the soundtrack… For starters, I love the closer. Really cool sound and awesome visuals. I’ll probably buy the track eventually. The soundtrack on its own is also fantastic, having a piano focus with some atmospheric drones and fitting harpsichord qnd orchestral sounds mixed in. The tracks themselves aren’t the problem…. the problem I had was with the editing. Especially at the beginning, there would be a lot of scenes that weren’t supposed to be funny, but weren’t extremely sad either, and this emotional piano music would start playing. It just didn’t fit the mood at all… It kind of annoyed me, and it almost felt like they weren’t able to record enough music (or didn’t record anything for this kind of semi serious mood), so they just went with the piano track that sounds like it should be used during a big emotional moment when it was just something like a girl talking about her garden. Which is a shame, because again this is a great soundtrack on its own. This got better at the end, when the emotional music actually had really emotional moments to accompany (it also felt like they brought in a lot of new tracks into the last episodes, which were all welcome), but I still noticed weird musical choices (like the upbeat orchestral going to commercial break music cutting into an actually emotional scene). Definitely didn’t ruin my experience though. When it comes to Rozen Maiden, there ended up being a lot to like, especially considering that I know there are more seasons. With everything they hinted at, and the things I hope they improve upon, I couldn’t be more excited to see season 2! Hopefully it gets darker, and has more Kun-Kun! I know those two requests are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but oh well… it can be done…
Final Comments: While the series presents a rather interesting concept, Rozen Maiden is frequently unclear in what it is trying to do. This is evident in the soundtrack and heaviness of plot late in the series.
Thank you all for reading! Be sure to check us out on FaceBook and Twitter! The links are in the menu on the right side of this page. The next review will be season two, Rozen Maiden: Traumend.