Rozen Maiden

TV (12 eps)
Fall 2004
3.696 out of 5 from 11,613 votes
Rank #3,159

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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StoryRozen 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. AnimationI'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. SoundThe 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. CharactersThough 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. OverallOverall, 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.


NOTICE: This review covers both seasons and its side story, as they are directly connected and not that different to deserve different reviews for each. THE STAFF - Animated by Nomad, a minor studio which has never produced something great. Its most famous shows is this one and a rather silly mediocrity, called Chocotto Sister. - Sountrack by a bunch of screaming banshees called Ali Project, who sing the same terrible tune again and again with slight variations in a hundred different anime. I hate them; they don’t make music but white noise. - Directed by Matsuo Kou, who also never produced anything great but is still a bit famous for his work in Kurenai and Natsuyuki Rendezvous. - Based on the manga by Peach Pit, who have lots of their works adapted to anime (DearS, Zombie-Loan, Shugo Chara). As you can tell, they are not exactly good in what they do. Rozen Maiden is a piece of genius art that manages to hide all its weird themes in a dollhouse for little girls. It also manages to mask all its myriads of fan catering crap under a rug called “deep excuse of a story” so you can show it to the police officer without being arrested. Genius indeed. Unfortunately I am Sherlock Holmes when it comes to analyzing series and the first place I usually search with my little magnifying glass is under the rug. And OMG at the skeletons I found hidden there (no wander the floor felt uneven when I was walking on it). First of all the story. We have a meek boy who was bullied in school and for that reason became antisocial, dropped school and now lives in his house sewing clothes and ordering various antiques from the internet. One of them is a Victorian doll, which turns out is alive and part of a game of life and death with others of its kind for the sole winner to be able to meet its master and become a real child. Thus starts a rough adventure for the boy, who has to not only deal with a cursed object, but also become friends with another being while fighting its phobia of people, as well as surviving the war and saving what he considers important. Now the premise is extremely interesting. It appears to be the tale of how a man needs to find a way to trust people again, and the quest for an artificial human being to find acceptance from its creator as a real person and not an object. It is also about the unlikely relationship of two very different people amidst an inhuman war for supremacy, where friendships are tested and backstabbing is allowed if winning is everything that matters. It is about friendship blooming in the battlefield, trust overcoming spite and hatred, feeling alive through the care of others, THE MEANING OF HAPPINESS ITSELF!!!… But wait, I said this is what it “appears” to be and not what it actually is. For you see all the stuff I have been describing so far are the excuse. The premise, the rouse, the hook. They are definitely NOT what you actually get while watching the show. For this show is practically one big FAAAAN SERVICE show for the low ranks of anime fans, a completely shallow and hollow piece of poop that is rubbing at your face a dozen fetishes as a cheap method of selling. And if you don’t believe me… 1) The lead character Although presented as a meek boy who needs to surpass its phobia of others, he eventually is nothing but a representation of the average goddamn NEET hikikomori no-lifer of Japan. He is useless at everything, acts like a girl, wears glasses and down to it is completely useless to the plot. Not to mention how he is just playing with dolls??? What kind of a twisted fetish is that? Don’t the inflammable types or those huge pillows work for him? What I am trying to say is that the show hardly cares about him as a character. He is supposed to be the protagonist but he ends up being nothing more than the Mr. Vanilla Ice Cream lead for all the wimp viewers to identify with. The dolls get all the focus; his phobia is hardly looked upon, and during the second season he is nothing but background decoration. A COMPLETELY USELESS CHARACTER! 2) The lead doll Although presented as a dark version of Pinocchio in drags, she is in effect nothing more than the stereotypical snotty tsundere loli we have seen a billion times already. Plus making her a doll is nothing but a poor excuse to make pedophilia legal, as well as relationships with plastic fake girls. Her development is predictable, and her role is mostly to give the viewer something to fap to rather to think about the dark regions of the human nature. 3) The story Although presented elaborate and complicated at first, it is mostly aimless comedy with moe dolls and a poorly directed war which is resolved fast and unimpressive. Most episodes are fillers and only the first and last ones of each season offer some sort of plot. And still, by the end of the second season nothing is concrete or resolved, while the side story is again nothing but filler. 4) The other dolls Slight variations of the lead one, with just different fetish on each. Basically they are all the same character so who cares. They are mostly an excuse for the boy to increase his dollhouse harem. 5) The desus OMG I CAN’T STAND THEM; THEY ARE ALL OVER THE PLACE; MAKE THEM STOP, MAKE THEM STOP! Overusing this damn Japanese finishing speech quirk can only be interesting for a few times before becoming a reason to cut your wrists. You practically hear DESU-DESU-DESU all the time. Including your nightmares. So there you go; you practically have porn, masked as a mature story, masked as a toy for children, and if that is not sick then I don’t know what it is. Don’t be fooled by the exterior of the pretty dollhouse for princesses; inside it is just a brothel. But I can understand why it is so easy to fool myriads of viewers into believing it is a serious and mature (HAHAHA) story. The Victorian era themed clothes of the dolls, the nightmarish backgrounds with the staircases and the thorns, the songs performed by the screaming banshees, and the whole goth-loli feeling just goggles up the superficial thinker who comes close for a better look. And who can say no to those cute loli dolls-desuUuUu? They are not great or memorable but have their aesthetics done properly so they are a nice flytrap. Too bad it is all done completely superficially. In all I am not impressed as so many others were with it. It does very little with its potential and to the most part it is nothing but mediocre aimless tsundere loli comedy. Disappointed, if not infuriated as well. SUGGESTION LIST Cossette no Shouzou (this is how you do a goth loli psychological dark story right) Fate/Stay Night (some dork meets some chick in a death game and we get weird relations)Welcome to the NHK (some actual good use of the NEET / hikikomori premise) Chobits (artificial girl wants to be treated as real, plus comedy and romance)

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