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Rozen Maiden Review

by: sothis
January 16, 2005

story 5.5/10

Rozen Maiden screenshot Rozen Maidens are an elite handcrafted line of dolls that have an interesting feature: sentience. Each one is rather unique (and dressed to kill in gothic-lolita garb, straight from the fashions in Japan), and all of them battle in something called the Alice battle. Whoever beats all the other dolls gets to "meet father", but saying any more would be spoiling.

Anyways, one of these dolls ends up in the hands of Jun, a young man who has dropped out of school, and resorts to buying and returning things on the internet for fun. Shinku, a beautifull doll, arrives one day unannounced, causing much havoc to enter Jun's life. Throughout the story we see several dolls enter Jun's life, some are funny and others are irritating as hell. We also see many Rozen battles, including a very important one with the "ultimate bad guy" of Rozen Maidens.

It's hard to classify what type of series Rozen Maiden is. It's sort of a harem comedy, regular comedy, battle fighting series and slice of life. This indecisiveness is part of what made the plot uninteresting, I think. The premise was definitely unique, but at the same time, I found myself very bored after only a few episodes. The first episode was interesting, though it seemed like it was going to be a Chobits clone. Luckily, because of Shinku's no-nonsense personality (as opposed to a completely brainless sexpot), it didn't end up being so. Unfortunately, after the first few episodes, we are thrown into a sea of filler episodes that do nothing more than show off the pretty gothic clothes. For example, one episode was the dolls acting out Snow White, and another was the girls fighting because Hina Ichigo (one of the top most annoying characters ever) was offended because another doll offered her a food she hates. Again, the point was just to show off the dolls and their appearances, but I found this to be totally useless and boring.

There is a little humor to be found in the realm of harem comedies (as in, Jun getting slapped around by a dominant female, even if it IS just a doll), but nothing random or otherwise gut-busting. What would have been considered a very interesting and unique plot (gothiced up dolls fighting for an unusual victory they may achieve), ended up falling flat due to at least half the episodes being filler, and many things ultimately left unexplained. We find out, for example, a little more about the dolls and why they are created, but not a lot about "father" or how any of this corresponds to Jun, who the dolls concur has strange powers that most humans do not. The story could have gone in so many directions, but it instead remained scattered and uninspired.

Interesting idea for a premise? Yes. Executed well? Absolutely not. Filler may fly in slice of life series, but for the type of show this was supposed to be, it interfered and watered down the actual plot. Not to mention some of the characters were annoying, and in general, felt like a poor excuse to show off some pretty graphics.

animation 8/10

I'd be lying if I said the graphics weren't quite impressive. Borrowing heavily from Japan's version of the gothic style (dubbed gothic lolita over there), the dolls were all dressed in beautiful victorian maid's outfits of all different colors, looking quite a bit like, well, dolls. Shinku wore a beautiful rich red dress with green highlights, while the main villian wore darker colors and had black wings. Everything about the dolls was gorgeous, and so were the various backgrounds. The characters entered several people's dreams at times, each dream world being a lush and vibrant world in some way or another. One world was full of broken clocks, and another was full of giant toys such as rubber stamps and piggy banks. This odd combination of super cute and dark reminded me of something Tim Burton would make, in a way (though a lot more on the cute side). This mix of tones also fit how the dolls looked and acted perfectly, especially Shinku. She was very bossy and snobby, but looked incredibly adorable.

The fight scenes were equally as impressive, with floating feathers and flying objects used as weapons that were a bit... odd. 100 yen coins, cards, and other non-weapon-like things come to mind. All in all, beautiful animation -- it's too bad the plot didn't follow suit as far as entertainment.

sound 8/10

The audio reminded me quite a bit of the music in Maria-sama ga Miteru, to be honest. Orchestral and with a victorian flair, the music fit the beautiful and gothic tone of the series well. I can't think of any other type of music that would have worked better, on that note.

The voice acting was fine, with one exception: Hina. Her character's squealing obnoxious nasal childlike voice made me want to stab her vocal cords out with a fork. Every time she was on screen she was whining about something or crying, which got INCREDIBLY obnoxious after the 18th time.

characters 6.5/10

Though there were a variety of characters, I didn't find most of them to be all that interesting. The few that shined were definitely Jun and his sister Nori, both of whom started out seeming normal, and ended up having an extensive past filled with sadness and growth. Jun, especially, is incredibly developed by the end of the series, and you feel like you've gotten to know Nori quite a bit, too. The ending is fulfilling in more ways than one for this reason.

The dolls, on the other hand, seemed fairly generic and boring as far as personalities go, with the exception of Shinku. It's rare that a female is portrayed in such an assertive, domineering way, and Shinku pulled it off very well. She forced Jun to become her servant, and was hilarious in how she ordered him around. The other dolls seemed to have stock personalities that didn't jump over any major boundaries for uniqueness. Hina, as previously mentioned, was one of the most annoying characters ever with her extremely immature attitude and nasal, whiny voice. I wish she had been eaten by some sort of monster early on in the show, so my ears would have been spared.

The other thing I didn't like about the characters was the relationship between the dolls and Jun that formed. At first, the girls seemed fairly self sufficient and independant. Later on, it seemed like it digressed into a typical harem situation, with them all being enamored with Jun, and needing him to take care of them. I liked it better to begin with, with the independence, as the dependency cheapened the point of the series, I thought.

overall 6/10

Overall, I wasn't impressed with Rozen Maiden. I found it to be boring and besides the animation, a waste of my time. Nevertheless, my score is based on the beautiful animation, appropriate music, and idea behind the plot. Unfortunately, the plot wasn't taken advantage of as much as it could have been, leaving a confusing and scattered mess within a slice of life harem comedy of sorts. Watch it for the artwork and music, but don't expect much else out of it.

Anime Info

In an era when ordering on the internet has become the norm, online vendors have a new favorite customer: Sakurada Jun! From voodoo dolls to x-ray specs, there's nothing this middle schooler can't get enough of -- until a strange package arrives one day. Inside is a sentient doll named Shinku, who is one of a special hand crafted set of dolls called Rozen Maiden. Luckily for Jun, not only does he get to keep her, but she's decided he'll be... her new servant?! Join Jun as he struggles to keep his sanity in a house full of dolls who all want his servant skills for themselves!

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About the Author

sothis's avatar

sothis

My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.

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comments

Calahan avatar Calahan
May 15, 2013

Well I had to give up on this anime after just 3 episodes because I found three out of the four main characters (encountered by that point) simply unwatchable due to being uber annoying on every level.

Guess those who enjoyed this anime must have a far higher tolerance level than I do for putting up with incessantly annoying characters.

Lithiumpowered avatar Lithiumpowered
Oct 13, 2012

pretty much just going to watch this because i want to know what the eff the desu thing is all about

hoffstyle avatar hoffstyle
Dec 8, 2011

I have to admit, I only watched it out of curiosity knowing about the desu meme and what I found was an actually charming and strange little series that sucked me in. From the music to the animation to the story that actually gets excellent in about the last 3-4 episodes. My only gripe so far is the failure to truly explain why Jun avoids school because from what I can gather it didn't seem all that traumatic imho. That and the mindless filler between advancing the Alice Game plot. Still this is a well done anime.

MrAnime avatar MrAnime
Nov 19, 2011

I'm going to check this one out. I'm kinda curious about this one.

Riskfritt avatar Riskfritt
Oct 1, 2011

I cant fully agree, i just loved it.

Good story and it was nice thrue the whole thing and the best anime i ever seen.

But i guess its much about taste to ^^

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