The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Rozen Maiden

Title: Rozen Maiden
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Company: Rozen Maiden Production Committee/Nomad/TBS
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 7 Oct 2004 – 23 Dec 2004

Synopsis: Paranoid and overly sensitive to other people’s opinions, Sakurada Jun locks himself in his room and lets no one into his heart. Skipping school and making all attempts to avoid others, he amuses himself by purchasing occult toys, dolls and other paraphernalia. One day he finds something that doesn’t merely claim to be supernatural – a bona fide living doll. Within minutes, this doll, Shinku, calmly tells the young Jun to become her servant or die.

The Highlights
Animation: Beautiful art hampered by a low frame rate.
Music: Ranges from the unforgettable intro to the generic outro.
Drama: Relatively shallow but works exceptionally well.
Character chemistry: Produces sparks from the get go.

Fanboyism does not smoothly lend itself to objectivity, but there are some shows that deserve all its buzz. While the plot may be simple and the characters clichéd, all it takes is one element to tip the scales from mediocrity to something truly special. With charm as its lifeblood, Rozen Maiden is sure to win many over with its energetic atmosphere and quirky, fun loving characters.

The unorthodox intro song should you give you a healthy dose of what to expect. While not quite as morose, the show is largely about living dolls decked in a beautifully dynamic array of clothes and personalities. Jumping from a lighthearted tune full of frivility to a brooding tone of self-deprecation, the show often oscillates from two separate poles, often mirroring the protagonist’s psyche.

For those expecting a perpetually dark atmosphere representative of the gothic Lolita subgenre from which the show openly hails, prepare to be disappointed. Rozen Maiden is more about the characters at play than in conflict. Small, everyday conflicts evoke extreme responses from the dolls. Ordinary spats turn into wars of attrition fought on a stairway, with toys as ammunition and food as a supposed peace broker. While the frame rate does not fully match up with all the zest and energy, the exquisite art and music truly bring these playful scenes to life.

Despite all the pomp and fanfare, the show is not all fun and games. When the final toy is thrown and the losses tallied, reality sets in and the emotionally vulnerable Jun shirks. Sadly, this is where several qualms come into play. For anyone who has ever been burdened with great expectations, Jun is a relatable character. The fact that he violently throws aside other people’s kindness, however, becomes grating. On the flip side of the coin, the antagonist could have used more meaningful screen time. It’s a real shame to use such a deep character as a mere plot device.

Regardless, anyone who feels jaded by the lack of originality in recent anime should give this series a try. Although not exceptionally deep or pushed-to-the-edge-of-your-seat dramatic, the show is very entertaining. Who knows? After a few episodes, Rozen Maiden may even win you over.

The Rating: 7
7/10

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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