Jun Sakurada recieves 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.
This is quite possibly one of the most cruelest adaptations of an anime to date. The Rozen Maiden series was great the story was amazing and the characters very relatable. But this fell short of that in so many ways the stories main focus was on a much different and quite frankly a less relatable older Jun whose main goal in life was whining. The music and general pitch of the series was at an alltime low it made me want to turn down the volume just as opposed to listen to it any further, and the animation was just a disaster none of the dolls had noses and Suigintous dress was so black it was like staring into a black void on the sceen. This might be great for everyone else but to me is fell short of all expectations.
Certainly a very different show from the previous ones. No guarantee you will like this just because you liked them. Rozen Maiden Z (Hah) tracks closer to the manga than the previous shows, from what I understand. I never read the manga, so I'm evaluating the show purely on its own merits. I enjoyed it as much, if not more than the previous adaptation. Bottom line, I give it a solid four stars. This one deals with an adult Jun, and has a definite feeling of despair running through it. Not sure I'd call it grimdark, but it's definitely somber. In this show, kid-Jun chose NOT to "wind it" and adult-Jun ends up working a dead-end job at a book store, only to come across a book on dollmaking. As he progresses, he starts to get text messages from someone claiming to be his past self, and he is gradually drawn into the Rozen Maiden world. It's a parallel timeline/universe thing, so if you don't like that premise you probably won't like this show. The alternate reality factor adds a bit to the story I think, certainly making it less simplistic than the previous shows. It's pretty easy to see why adult-Jun makes some of the choices he makes, if you honestly look at the situation from his perspective. Note the show does not keep the fast pace set by the first episode. I'm told this is because roughly the first ep and a half is basically a review of manga events, setting the stage for the rest of the show. The pace for most of the show is actually kinda slow. There's very little silliness to distract you from the slow pacing. Also: ends on a cliffhanger. And who knows if there will be any continuation. Stop at ep 12 or about half way through 13 if you want to avoid it.
My review may not be quite as critical as someone who read the manga, as I have not yet. But then, judging it as a show is also a worthwhile thing. It works to compare to manga if it somehow fouls it up bad enough, is a poor transition, and/or most importantly fails to measure up adequately to the strengths that made the manga worth reading, or for that matter, any adaption from some literary source to a tv show or movie. That being said, right from the start, the series struggles to get off the ground. It takes way too many liberties as if the viewer had already watched a season or two that was actually connected to season 3, and that is where it really messes things up. Perhaps because there were already 2 previous seasons, this season tries to skip ahead and imply maybe to some degree that it is in fact some sort of continuation of the earlier series though quirky as it maybe with a few events somehow altered. Obviously, few viewers will be fooled by this half hearted sloppy attempt. First of all, things move way too fast. The entire first season is in a sense compressed into 1 or 1 and a half episodes in short order summary form. That however, is and feels rushed. The audience is thrown headfirst into the middle of the story without any sort of set up to prepare them. That is a bit like throwing passengers off a commercial airplane with no parachutes and thus no preparation, no emergency to pre-empt the need, and no parachute training to ensure they would do it right. So viewers hit the pavement hard with no foundation of the story or well with way too little at least. We get almost no time if any to understand any character or watch them develop like we did in season one and in a way in season 2 with regard to the new characters. From that moment on the we are still rushed until we get to a sort of middle ground in the story and then it finally begins to pace things. Oddly enough, sometimes the pacing then becomes too slow and mundane. Moving the viewer from breakneck speeds to Driving Miss Daisy model T-esh speeds is too much of a switch for most of us to enjoy nor understand. On the flip side, this season does a slighty better job developing the girl on death's bed character as you meet some of her family and her motivations and fears, you delve deeper into what drives and separates #7 from the other dolls in much greater depth and reason behind her motivations. You meet an older Jun but at the same time you wonder about his sister Nori, and his friend Tomoe who are neglected. Surely we would want to know what was different about them and meet each at least once. We would want to know how this is different and the relationship between Saito and the young Jun. Would they have met no matter what? Was she his one and only true partner or was Tomoe? Or did events somehow change his destined partner? Foreshadowing is certainly implied here but no answer is given and we are let down and left disappointed. Some sort of hint or clue would have been far more welcome. At least they gave a small clue about Nori, his sister. Yet it was not very satisfactory. For example, given how strong her connection and relationship to dolls are in the young Jun's world, I might have rightly expected that Nori in the older Jun world would deserve to meet one or two dolls. Maybe even Tomoe or Saito. But alas that promise is left dying in the wind. The growing romance and relationship to Saito is a nice romantic love story angle that is honestly depicted much better than in seasons 1 or 2 that was implied far more vaguely with Tomoe. So there are some positives, but unfortunately the negatives heavily outweigh the positives. The animation and style are much lower grade and quality than in the prior 2 seasons. The writing and character development are so thin they are nearly none existent for all but a couple characters. The story evolution is so rushed, jumbled, and sloppy it is hard to follow let alone understand or have any idea what is going on unless you watched any of the other series or read the manga. if you had no background, you would probably be quite utterly lost. It never really finds it's footing though it nearly corrects its errors about midseason when the pacing finally slows down to reasonable levels. But by then it would be too late for many would be viewers to maintain an interest in this show. They should have started over if they were going to go to such a different route and follow the manga more closely and so differently from the prior two seasons. It is honestly very rare that a series is better without following the manga then a sad attempt to follow it. Truly how much effort does it take to follow an original story so close to it's actual original story? I would have rather seen the series pick up from season 2 or start the story over completely and at the right pacing. Shinku is a bit more relaxed and paced in a sense but also a tad more dull as she spends much of her time drinking tea and staring out windows doing essentially nothing until Suiginto comes then they spend half the time fighting like children, which is a bit ironic as well. Shinku is usually the most mature character of them all and to see her flip flop is a bit odd. it is different too from the way they faced off more antagonisticallly in the first two seasons. Jun in this series also gets a huge lift and a sense of accomplishment and self worth not seen in the prior seasons. His climatic end game development is much clearer here, but at the same time, his power waned. In the prior two seasons, his ability to create is given a much broader range from dolls to clothes. And he can make dolls from scratch not like in season 3 where he can not. Yet in the prior two seasons, it is implied that he has some magic power of his as well by his connection to the dolls. This is not seen in season 3 so though he is older, he is also much weaker. It is reinforced frequently when he wishes he wound the key and calls his younger self strong and acts so dependent upon his advice. There is a strange ironic twist there. Jun however from his communication to his older self is far too mature. it is clear he has gone through the events of the first two seasons. This actually makes the whole thing much murkier and far more confusing since it is also quite clear that this is in fact not a continuation of the same series the way seasons 1 and 2 were made. Yet they skipped ahead none the less and confuse and lose the viewers even more. How can he be so experienced and calm? The series went from meeting Shinku for the first time again, then at some point skipped ahead but to where, I am not sure. That is because though it is a similar story with essentially the same characters, it is most definitely not the same story. Acting as though it is a continuation is more than just a bit confusing. Part of the problem is, because it is a different story and story arc from the original series, I can not really say where exactly the story picks up. Is it mid way through season 1? is it at the end of season 2? Is it a few years into the future? I have no idea, and unfortunately for the show, they offer no clues as to where if anywhere this fits in the previous story. Normally that would not be a huge problem but they did not restart the story, rushed through at least most of season one in a sort of episode summary review with some slight changes, then skipped to somewhere unknown. It is strongly inferred therefore that though, it might be claimed this is a new series with a new start, they are in fact picking up somewhere along the way where the last series either mixed or ended with. That is a lousy way to base a show upon. The creators are just as lost as the viewers. They should have picked one. Renew the previous season and pick up where it left off, OR restart a new series based more closely on the manga. I am not totally sure what they did, maybe they rolled a dice of some random ideas and just forced them together. The result is a sloppy, muddled, nose dive into parts unknown from parts even less known. Althouugh in its own way, it is fairly good and has some merit, it is far outshined by the previous seasons and it is as if they try to tell a short story in a couple sentences rather than a few chapters. Whats good is oddly the things the previous series lacked to some degree, whats bad is where the previous series was good. It is almost too perfect a fit. Characters that lacked depth or certain say background qualities get that addressed in season 3, story event evolution was absent save a summary and the ending event. There is some cross over where both series' either did a good or a bad job. This is hardly worth making a series out of. It would almost be more full filling to start watching the series about episode 5 then it would make more sense and might fit haphazardly as a continuation of the previous season. Though that may not totally right all whats wrong with the series it would certainly be a better fit. I am not sure where exactly it would be best to start watching, just that skipping the rushed review episodes and other rushed and hurried events leading up to the closing story arc would suit it better. Overall, sloppy and rushed, it would be good if its objectives were predefined as one (continuation) thing or another (new story start completely), instead it did neither despite its claims and it did a rather clumsy job of it. Admittedly, the last half or third or so of the series is not so bad and it did have some modest improvements over the previous seasons, but over all, the previous seasons did a much better job of making an anime than season 3 did.
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