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Rozen Maiden Season 1
Violence: mild
Sex/Nudity: none
Music: C +
Runtime Episodes: 24min/12
Overall Rating: C +
Artwork: A -
Story: C +
Comments: Based on the Manga written by Peach-Pit (two authors)
Voice Acting English: B
Voice Acting Japanese: A -
Genre: fantasy, dolls
Extras: clean opening and clean closing, DVD credits, previews for Petit Cosette, Paradise Kiss, Strawberry Marshmallow, Karin, Hellsing Ultimate, Ergo Proxy, Kamichu, and Black Lagoon.  47 seconds of Rozen Maiden commercials, a 4 min 21s promo video that is more of a music video with footage from the series with an extended version of the opening song.  A short promo for season 2.

Date Reviewed: 12/25/09 Last Updated: 1/18/10

Basic Premise: 7 dolls with human masters must battle each other for the right to become Alice in a game called Alice.  Jun Sakurada is a hikikomori, an extreme social recluse, who becomes the caretaker for a very rare and exquisitely well crafted Rozen doll named Shinku.
Review: This is a rather childish anime rife with cliché and lame jokes, poor character development, and the anime is annoyingly different than the manga and yet I keep coming back to this anime time and time again.  In fact I am the proud owner of all of the manga as well as the anime.  The real question is what keeps bringing me back to this series?  It is also really popular in Japan as well and is rumored to be the President of Japan's favorite anime.

It is the story of Jun Sakurada who is a hikikomori.  For unknown reasons he left during his first year in middle school and became a social recluse withdrawing even from his own sister and spending almost all of his time on his computer ordering things online and then returning them before just the before the grace period ends.  His sister is very concerned about him and does everything she can to encourage him to return to school, but Jun's only response is to lash out in anger towards her.

Jun gets a strange offer in the mail asking if he will wind or not wind and to circle the answer and a spirit will come from a parallel dimension and pick up the letter from his upper right desk drawer and return with a Rozen Maiden.  Jun does so and almost instantly a very ornate carrying case is found in his room and inside is a rather large doll that comes almost to his waist when he stands it up.  After Jun winds it up the doll comes to life and almost immediately the two are attacked by a doll whereby Shinku, the doll, offers to protect him if he will swear upon her ring.  When he does so Shinku protects him and claims that he is now her servant.

There are 7 Rozen Maiden dolls.  They all are destined to fight each other for the privilege of becoming father's daughter.  Throughout the series we see Jun forced to socialize as more dolls begin to live at the Sakurada house.  Jun has his ups and downs as he becomes more and less of a hikikomori.

Even the music is only ok, but I keep coming back to this series!  Well, I have put a lot of thought into the reasons for this and have come up with a few reasons.  The animation style is ok, but the colors are very colorful and contrasting.  I mean the colors of the eyes of the dolls are quite eye catching and are an eye candy in and of themselves.  Every scene be it clothing or dream is filled with amazing colors that I find myself remembering and popping the DVD in again and again.  Kinda weird, but that is certainly not the only thing that draws me back.

There is a very very subtle dark undertone to the series.  For one the dolls are destined to battle to the death.  You don't really think about this with the over abundance of cutesy characters and scenes and childish jokes, but it is there none the less.  There is also the subtle fact that this show is directed to an older audience.  It would be the same thing as if you were to see a warning that the Smurfs is not intended for children under the age of 13.  I have seen enough anime to know that there are warning labels there for a reason.  It might be nudity or themes of suicide or a particularly violent scene.  In this case there is a doll who will lose an arm and face feelings of worthlessness.

The character development is also very subtle, but unique.  You need to look for it.  There is Jun, who is the main character and a hikikomori.  Have you ever heard of a hikikomori as the main character in anime or a cartoon or even as a topic dealt with in animation?  I have not.  Shinku is a doll who believes strongly in the importance of etiquette, which has its own appeal.  I find it interesting that the dolls "live" many years and never grow old or mature.  In the manga Shinku secretly wishes she could mature as I am sure is true of all of the dolls.  How do you live so long and not mature?  The dolls are also deeply cultured, which not something you see in characters today.

There is Father himself the dolls creator.  He is very mysterious, but there are a few things we know about him.  For one, if he is alive he is hundreds of years old at least.  He is also obsessed with bringing to life his daughter who was never born, but exists only in his mind.  He has become, or always was, a master artisan who creates exceedingly rare, beautiful, and intricate dolls which shows in the animation.  The animation in the series may not be the best, but every care was taken to get the dolls right when making this anime.  He doesn't create dolls for the same reason as others do.  For him it is to bring forth his daughter, but he has always been unsuccessful.  In the end his greatest creation was the Rosa Mystica which gave his best dolls a measure of life.  After the last of them were created Father disappeared.  I suspect that he will only reappear when the Alice game is concluded.

One last thing.  You have to think this is at least a bit of an odd anime if it is about a boy with his living girl dolls.  I suppose with how the dolls dress and the dolls being in the form of young girls that this could be classified as Lolita Goth.  I have only a vague idea of what that is, but I am sure you can imagine.  Young girls dressed in historical, innocent, yet often dark clothing with personalities to match.  Yes, that is the case here, but honestly it is not something I really notice or care about.  I guess people who are into that sort of stuff might notice and care, but I do not.

There are several significant differences between this and the manga.  In the manga where one character dies the same character lives in the anime.  The bear in the beginning that attacks Jun is a clown doll in the anime.  The quest for a certain doll's arm with Hina was very abridged in the anime and happens during a battle scene.  Suiguintoh is the last and youngest doll created in the manga whereas in the anime the reverse is true.  Souseiseki has a much greater roll in the anime as opposed to the manga and her master has a wife that comes back to life as opposed to living alone with an inanimate doll.  In the anime the story seems to be for their artificial spirits which give them their powers as opposed to the Rozen Maiden rings, which give life.  These are a lot of rather significant changes.

Overall, despite all of its shortcomings, the series seems to have something to it that keeps sparking my curiosity.  There is something about the characters that I find has a lot of potential.

Conclusion: Before trying this anime out try reading the first volume in the manga to see if you like it; that or rent it first.  

Publisher: Geneon
Related Website: http://rozen-unyu.net/index.html audio dramas translated.
Where Found: amazon, rightstuf, pretty common.
Copyright: 2004/2007
Author: Peach and Pit
If you enjoyed this anime try: none yet


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