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Ginko: Rozen Maiden

Discussion in 'Anime Reviews' started by Ginko, Mar 24, 2017.

  1. Ginko

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    If you've been part of the anime scene for a while, you no doubt remember the Desu meme originating from this series, but the anime itself is worth your time if it slipped under your radar.

    Synopsis

    Jun Sakurada is a middle school dropout and shut-in obsessed with free mail-order product trials. For some reason he gets a thrill from the threat of being charged for the items if he doesn't return them in time. Despite being just a few years older, his sister Nori handles all the adulting in the house while their parents are overseas. She tries to get him back to school, but anytime she brings it up, he just gets angry.

    One fateful day, Jun receives a note in the mail with a simple question, "Will you wind, or not wind?". No return address or anything, just a slip of paper with a spot for him to either circle 'Yes' or 'No'. Excited that he might end up with some other cool thing, he circles 'yes', places it in his desk drawer and doesn't think much else about it. Soon after, a mysterious case appears on his doorstep. Inside it is a pristine and beautifully crafted doll wearing a red dress and bonnet with long blonde hair. He examines the doll, confused that he hadn't ordered one. He finds the key, and winds her up. He gets a nasty surprise when she wakes up and slaps him for touching her without permission. She demands he address her as Shinku, serve her tea and be at her every beck and call.

    From that point on, he is thrust into a strange world of dolls just like her called the Rozen Maidens. These Maidens were crafted by a doll maker several hundred years ago. He meant for them to have tragic lives, competing for his affections. In an age when all of them are awake, they must fight each other in what they call "The Alice Game" to acquire each doll's Rozen Mystica - think of it like their soul. The last one standing will become Alice, the perfect girl, and will have the opportunity to see their creator again and have his love. It's all a little much for a middle schooler who wants nothing more than to be left alone.

    Against Jun's wishes to stay out of all this, more Rozen Maidens start living in his house. Shinku isn't all that concerned about the Alice Game, and is perfectly content to live peacefully. She invites her sisters in and they could be a family if they wanted. Nori doesn't seem to mind. They are like the little sisters she never had. All is not well within their ranks, however. Suigintou, the maiden dressed in black with silver hair is more motivated to see their father than any of them. She is willing to fight and kill her sisters to become Alice. Shinku and the others must defend themselves from her attacks if they have any chance at peace.


    Analysis & Impressions
    In my opinion, this is what an anime with an ensemble cast should be like. Each character has a moment in the spotlight. The first season is the world builder of the Rozen Maiden franchise, where all the character interactions are explored at length. Though there are brief bits of action and drama, it's mostly a slice-of-life comedy. It's not until the second season that the real conflict begins, and it's genuinely heartbreaking to watch the Maidens live as they were intended - in perpetual struggle.

    There's some good stuff here. The soundtrack has an English Victorian feel, and it suits the series well. The action sequences are interesting if a bit silly at times when you have dolls fighting each other with showers of feathers and rose petals. Likewise the comedy is a little corny, but there are some funny moments. In one episode, the house is divided when an argument breaks out between two of the dolls over a strawberry on a cake. The situation escalates into box forts and irritating each other until one side finally concedes.

    The real selling point for me though were the character arcs. Jun goes through a lot of internal struggles through his time with the girls. Although they haven't been awake the entire time, the Maidens have technically been alive for hundreds of years and they have a long, storied history both with each other and with the people in their lives.

    Who is it for?
    If you're a fan of anime with large casts, this is an easy recommendation. It's not often enough that you have this level of interaction between characters and get to know them so well. Fans of action, drama, and comedy will also find things to like here, though the action and drama don't really take off until season two.

    Availability
    Rozen Maiden is three seasons long, plus a two-episode OVA, and available for streaming at JustDubs.
     
    #1 Ginko, Mar 24, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2017

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