Jun Sakurada is a troubled middle school student. While his parents are away on a business trip, he and his sister Nori are alone at home. Jun decides to drop out of school for personal reasons. Now, he spends his days at home in his room surfing the Internet, and purchasing merchandise from various websites. One of his packages ends up being a beautiful doll, but he doesn't remember ordering one.
After removing her from the suitcase, Jun winds the doll up and she suddenly comes to life. The doll reveals herself as Shinku, The Fifth Rozen Maiden Doll. Jun is forced to make a bond, and become her medium through a ring called the Rosa Mystica. He soon finds himself having to deal with his own demons, plus help Shinku survive a life or death game with her dueling kind called, "The Alice Game".-summary
Without a doubt, a series that is not for all taste. I'll make it known right now. If your anime must be of the same breed as Ninja Scroll, Godannar, Burst Angel, or even Ghost in the Shell. Then there is nothing here for you because Rozen Maiden is not a very dark, or heavily action driven show in the first place. I will say it more than resembles and blends Angelic Layer and Azumanga Daioh. This is due to its style concerning cute characters, fighting dolls, some drama, and over the top comedy. There are action scenes present, but this is clearly not the selling point.
At its core, Rozen Maiden is mainly character driven. Several more dolls soon appear with each having their own distinct personality. There are plenty of characters with each of them given a good amount of time to develop. The character development is very strong by giving viewers a chance to choose which character can be a favorite. This is done through the exceptional writing, which provides the characters with very real and down to earth emotions. To include, the great voice work for both languages brings out their appeal.
There happens to be two plots taking place during a stand alone episodic format. This is actually where one of my cons concerning pacing issues will be addressed. One of the plots takes place with the origin and purpose of "The Alice Game". This game is a one on one battle between each of the dolls for their Rosa Mystica. The loser will become a regular doll, in the process, being robbed of all life. The victor will come closer to becoming "Alice", which happens to be the perfect being, in order to meet their "father".
The lead villain named Suigintou is determined to win the game by any means necessary. Her first conflict with the other dolls will grasp the attention of the action fan. This plot may seem to be dropped, but it's woven together with some of the stand alone episodes as well as the secondary plot. The secondary plot deals with the dolls helping Jun break away from his solitude. This is where I believe serious action oriented fans may either hate this series, or not really care for it because the minor pacing issue can have a negative effect, but if the viewer prefers character driven stories and is already sold on the characters, especially after the over the top comedic episode five. Then getting through the rest of the series will be easy since it really does end strong in my view.
Rozen Maiden does touch on certain themes. I also feel they're tied up pretty well. Several questions are answered but not fully, and they're only answered to the point where they make sense, which adds to the mystery. All depending on the viewers taste concerning Japanese comedy. The comedy can be hilarious or annoying. I found a majority of it to hit the right mark. Most notably for me in the dialogue. Some of the characters use very mild foul language, but I don't consider it to be real potty mouth.
The character designs are gorgeous for each of the dolls, even for the dark character of Suigintou, with the colors of their dresses displaying their personalities to some degree. I also liked the backgrounds and artwork for Suigintou's dark dimension, which is littered with destroyed toys. However, it is inconsistent because sometimes the dolls appear to be a different height, which happens to be very noticeable. The animation overall is very clean and fluid during the battles. This also goes for small details such as facial and eye movments. The soundtrack has a nice melody that accurately captures the moment each time with some nice violin pieces. The standout song for me is by far the ending theme called Tuomei Shelter.
The first season ends on a strong note, and in the process almost makes the second season a must see if you're already sold on the characters. If rthe characters gripped you, then more than likely you'll enjoy the second season. Unfortunately, I don't feel it's as strong as its predecessor. This first season contains 12 episodes and has a 300 minute runtime.
-Character development & good interactions
-Beautiful character designs
-Minor pacing issues
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