Welcome all to our next review! Today we will be covering what is frequently considered the black sheep of Rozen Maiden franchise, Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen. Also known Rozen Maiden (2013), this is the last part of our mini-series covering all the seasons of the Rozen Maiden anime. Beware of minor SPOILERS as always.
Now without further ado, let us begin the review!
Summary: Jun Sakurada receives a strange letter which asks him whether he will wind or not wind. He chooses to wind and soon he shares his home with several living dolls called Rozen Maidens destined to fight each other. Meanwhile, a different Jun Sakurada from an alternate world makes the opposite choice. Years later his decision comes back to haunt him in the form of mysterious text messages from himself asking for help. -AnimeNewsNetwork
Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen has a plot that is a bit more complicated than the previous Rozen Maiden anime. While this definitely makes the plot line more interesting, dealing with multiple worlds, as well as providing a bit more backstory about the nature of the dolls’ existence, it does not handle these concepts as elegantly as one might expected. There is a very rushed introduction episode, which unfortunately assumes some prior knowledge of the manga, and the first few episodes have slowed down, but still very fast. There is also considerable time lapse numerous times in the early episodes, which can feel like chunks of the story were missing (granted the time lapse skips over some parts that would’ve been very slow to watch). The pace evens out about midway, and from this point the series is significantly easier to watch and enjoy. However, the starting episodes can be a huge turn off to some. The show is also slow to explain some concepts, and fails to explain some points brought up. The most plot takes place later in the series, like the other seasons. Finally, while the initial conflict is resolved, there is a cliffhanger ending that introduces a whole new conflict, causing the viewer to feel confused and dissatisfied. All this being said, the series does a good job with the actual story telling (pace aside), and is quick to captivate with the complexities and mysteries surrounding the Rozen Maidens. The mood of the entire plot is very serious and suspenseful, filled with a sense of urgency, and even with comedy bits, it never strays from that mood.
One very strong point is that all the characters of Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen are developed, to at least to some degree. Most even manage to escape the trap of being static from their introduction onward. The cast is as diverse as ever, with all the dolls, and frequently motivations for the characters is very clear. This allows the viewer to easily connect with one or more character, and enjoy their growth and development. The main character adult Jun is the most flawed character depiction wise, however, as he is somewhat nonreactive early on in the story, even to some things that would scare a normal person, or at least make that person doubt their sanity. His lack of emotion is fixed as the anime continues, turning him into a much more human and relatable character. While this may be the writers hinting at Jun’s depression, it is hard to be definite at this. While the influx of so many characters late in the series can bother some people, these characters still receive strong development.
The biggest problem it seems for old Rozen Maiden fans to reconcile is the differing animation styles between the old Rozen Maiden and Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen. While the style is simpler and more reminiscent of the manga style than the original Rozen Maiden anime, I believe it suits the purposes of Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen. It leaves the scenes significantly less crowded, and being less stylized, it does not distract the viewer from the story, which is something that cannot be afforded. This aside, the animation is pretty good, and comes with some incredible visuals.
The soundtrack for Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen matches the animation style very well, and the opening and ending set the mood and tone of the anime very well. While the uniqueness of some of the soundtrack present in the original Rozen Maiden anime is lost, it is nonetheless quite beautiful.
This anime plays with a variety of themes already present in the old Rozen Maiden, such as identity. However, the themes are expressed throughout and worked upon so as to develop alongside the characters and plot. Primarily, Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen toys with the contrasts of regret and redemption. This not only applies to adult Jun, but to many other characters. This creates some interesting comparisons to as to each of them earns their redemption from regrets. The series also deals with accepting fate, something everybody has to deal with at some point in their life. The show makes these themes obvious to the viewer, and expresses them in many ways.
Final Score: 8.6/10
Final Grade: B
Rozen Maiden (2013) was the hardest of the series to get into. It starts off by completely changing everything that happened in the first two series and time skipping all over the place. After that they add multiple universe, which is a plot element that I honestly am not fond of. It takes the series about 5 episodes to pick up speed, but once it does it is worth the wait. Once the show starts picking up it has a very entertaining and interesting plot. The characters are reintroduced and have great development, both old and new. I honestly loved the animation style too. It may not be for everyone, but it was breath taking and probably one of my favorite art styles in anime. One thing that was very disappointing though was the end, it kind of just ends out of no were that will leave you feeling like you were cheated out of an ending. Out of 10 I would give it a 7.5. I recommend this to anyone who has seen the other Rozen Maiden seasons, it may be hard to get through at first but it is probably the best of all three seasons. – B-Ro
In my last review, I said that the first episode of Rozen Maiden season 2 instantly won me over, and convinced me that the anime had improved. Well, episode 1 of this season couldn’t have had more of an opposite effect. I despised episode 1 when I first watched it. It basically tries to sum up what happened in the first 2 seasons, but it was seriously rushed, and it rewrote so much of the plot. Season 2 ended on a big cliffhanger, but season 3 said “screw it, we’re restarting”. That was what infuriated me the most. I was really hoping for a continuation of season 2, and it still saddens me that I won’t get to see that… After the dust settled from episode 1, I found myself slowly, but surely, getting more and more into this new story. First off, this season’s revamped visuals are simply stunning. There were so many beautiful moments, and it created a world that I wanted to immerse myself in. The story, once I got past the fact that it was it’s own, is actually quite good. I loved the multiverse aspect, and found older Jun extremely interesting (though i wish they had shown more other Jun as well), and they really improved on his backstory. I also loved the way they treated the villian Kirakisho. They do an amazing job at making her this constant presence, lingering over the universe with her thorns, watching and waiting for the best chance to attack, but not without subtlety messing with things. The villian was quite unsettling, and I loved that. The trademark large amounts of comedy bits in previous seasons isn’t in this season. There are a lot of funny parts, but this season is a lot more serious, which is different, but good. Different but good is a great way to describe this season as a whole honestly. I do wish the other dolls were in it more, but when they do arrive, the anime gets extremely good. They all still have the same personalities and voice actors as far as I could tell. Saito at the bookstore was also a welcome addition, as I loved how she interacted with Jun. For the third time, ALI PROJECT performs the opening, and again it fits in quite well. The closer is performed by one of my personal favorite Japanese artists Annabel, and while on its own I find it quite good (but not her best), tone-wise it fits the show perfectly, and it has incredible visuals. I still find the second closer my favorite, but this one is still great. The background music lost the original and unique instrumentation of the first two seasons, but it is still extremely beautiful from an atmospheric standpoint. The anime really heats up in the last few episodes, and I loved this build up to the climax as well as the climax itself. I also thought it ended quite nicely, at least until they added a cliffhanger…. So now I guess there are two separate Rozen stories I will never see the true end of… Anyway, I really enjoyed this season once I got used to what it truly was. Not a continuation, but a redo of sorts. I still feel bitter about the old story not concluding, but this season, on its own merit as a Rozen Maiden story, ended up doing a lot right, and even better in some cases. This is an anime that I cannot wait to rewatch, because I will insrantly know how it works the second time, and just enjoy it as its own story. It’s artistic, beautiful, and extremely emotional. It’s a must for Rozen fans, just go into it with the right mindset.
Final Comments: Despite the apparent stigma, Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen excels in many points such as themes and characters that gives it its own charm. However, while it possess a very complex and interesting plot, it suffers many flaws in the execution.
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