Greetings! Welcome to the next review. RishRaff Reviews has decided to revisit the Rozen Maiden franchise recently, and to help herald that in, we are reviewing the 2 episode OVA called Rozen Maiden: Ouverture. As always, beware of minor spoilers that may be in the review.
Now without further ado, let us begin the review!
Summary: When Jun buys a brooch as a present for Shinku, the fifth doll, she refuses to accept it at any cost. Souseiseki, the fourth doll, then recounts the story of how Shinku and the first doll, Suigintou, first met. This tale tells of the cruel and heartbreaking circumstances surrounding Suigintou’s birth, and how the many misunderstandings between her and Shinku shaped their longstanding rivalry fueled by Suigintou’s unfettered hate towards Shinku. -MyAnimeList
The actual plot for Rozen Maiden: Ouverture actually is pretty solid. It avoids many of the issues plaguing all the seasons, like poor pacing with a plot heavy ending, a cliffhanger ending, and a fairly consistent mood. It benefits from being told as a prequel of sorts and helps it dodge many of these problems, because the viewer knows what the end result will be before the anime really even starts. The biggest issue facing the plot is the framing of the plot. What I mean is how the anime presents the actual story. They present it as flashback to explain some largely inconsequential melodrama. The OVA also absolutely requires the context of Rozen Maiden: Traumend, aka season 2, for all aspects despite having no impact on or adding anything to the story of Traumend. The OVA largely exists to build characters, not add to the plot of the full season.
The development and growth of Shinku and Suigintou are the point of exploration for Ouverture. It is extremely well done, with motivations being made clear (without the exposition dumping) and the growth is organic. The character growth presented for these two is done as a backstory, so it is interesting to see their development from starkly different characters to the more familiar characterizations we all know. Other than these two, however, all the other characters are throw away. They literally serve no purpose other than being either a) meant to create some kind of context for the plot or b) fan service type cameos. It would not have taken much to flesh out the side characters a little more and just get rid of the unnecessary ones, but I digress.
The animation is done the same as the original season and Traumend, so it maintains the same feel. The Victorian era urban background is interesting, and allows for decently easy placing of the setting even without explicit statement. It is slightly dated, and the scaling of the dolls is less consistent, but overall still solid, especially for an OVA.
The incredible thing about the OVA is how it expands upon the soundtrack from the first two seasons. The opening and closing fit much better with the general mood and tone of the anime than other seasons, and is also much more fresh and their own songs.
While 2 episodes is not a lot of time to explore themes, Rozen Maiden: Ouverture does a really solid job of this. Throughout, we see Shinku struggling with themes of purpose against personal desires. Her relationship to Suigintou allows for a look at familial themes, even if one is not technically “family.” The most interesting aspect is that the anime actually explores a bit of a morality/ethical crisis, looking at whether it is better to preserve someones ignorance or reveal the truth. The anime has a definite answer to the question as well, rather than leaving it open ended, which can sometimes be a rare occurrence with most ethical questions in any media. The thematic exploration is in surprising amounts for the short run time, but still ends up being rather shallow, and only really become significant when regarded in the context of the other seasons.
Final Score: 8.2/10
Final Grade: B
Rozen Maiden Overture was very interesting little bonus in the Rozen Maiden series. I love the development of Suiginto as well as the rivalry between her and Shinku. It had the same dark feeling Rozen Maiden usually has with very little light heartedness. I loved this about it too. Also I love that the annoying characters (Hina and Kanaria…) had very little screen time. The animation is in the style of the original series and not 2013, which for me does not matter. This is a great edition to the series. Out of 10 I would give this anime an 8.5. I recommend this anime to anyone who loves Rozen Maiden. – B-Ro
If I had to briefly describe Rozen Maiden Overture, I would call it “perhaps the best disappointment I have ever seen”. It’s certainly good. After all, it’s an extra helping from Rozen Maiden in its prime. Simply being able to see a little more of that universe with its unique atmosphere made it worthwhile for me. It was also great to finally see the backstory of Suiguintou, who is certainly the most compelling and interesting character in the Rozen cast. The animation was expectedly great and the music was awesome, complete with some new tracks. The opening is my favorite Ali Project song I’ve heard so far, and the closing was equally amazing, being one of my favorite Kukui songs off of Leer Lied *cough cough check out my Leer Lied review cough*. However, I just wish there was more to the OVA, hence the “disappointment” part. I liked the backstory between Suiguintou and Shinku, but I wish they had devoted more time to really develop it. Maybe, for starters, they should have gotten rid of the first half of episode 1. It was cool to see the full cast for that part, but it was so unnecessary. It was just fanservice and a flimsy justification to tell the actual story that frankly wasn’t needed. They also had the actual story take place in a very interesting English setting, but they really didn’t utilize it. It could’ve taken place in the normal Rozen Maiden setting and it probably would have had the same effect. Maybe my expectations were too high, or maybe the premise just had me way too excited.. It’s still the Rozen Maiden I know and love with some extra add-ins, but I really think they could’ve done more. It’s still worth a watch if you’re a fan, and it certainly made me excited to properly rewatch the series
Final Comments: Proving some needed character development as well as welcomed soundtrack additions, Rozen Maiden: Ouverture is a good addition to the franchise, but still suffers from primarily plot and thematic issues.
Thank you very much for reading our review! What did you think of Rozen Maiden: Ouverture and how it fits in with all the other Rozen Maiden anime? Be sure to comment below! Also, there will be an announcement in the next few days regarding RishRaff, so be looking out for that. Anyway, our next review will be Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid!