OP: 「私の薔薇を喰みなさい」 (Watashi no Bara wo Haminasai) by ALI PROJECT
I’ve been blogging on RC for 1.5 years and there’s never been a series I’ve been more adamant to blog than Rozen Maiden. As a quick declaimer, I’ve seen the original two seasons and the OVA, but I haven’t read the manga so all my comparisons would be to the original series. I’ve always had a sweet spot for Rozen Maiden and I’m a fan of Peach-Pit (the creators of the series) so I warn you now that sometimes I might come off as biased or a fangirl. I’ll also try and explain as much as I can along the way… especially after this premiere episode.
As a general overview, Rozen Maiden is a story about 7 dolls. Their creator is a man named Rozen and he’s put a “soul” into each of his dolls (called Rosa Mystica), hence why they come to life after being wound. Unfortunately all the dolls are born “missing something” and they’re forced to participate in a game called the “Alice Game”. The goal is to capture one another’s Rosa Mysticas and be the last doll standing. This last doll becomes “Alice” and is meant to represent the ultimate girl that Rozen had envisioned when he created his dolls. The story starts in modern day with a boy named Sakurada Jun (Sanada Asami) and unknowingly, he circles a random piece of paper which delivers a suitcase to his doorstep. This suitcase happens to contain the 5th Rozen Maiden doll – Shinku (Sawashiro Miyuki). Jun winds her up and ta da! She’s brought to life.
That’s the background story in a nutshell for all those confused and aren’t familiar with Rozen and his dolls. There are a lot of technicalities with the show that I feel like I should also explain. Each doll is meant to create a bond with a human in order to use their powers and thus the human becomes a medium for the dolls to use their energy. In Shinku’s case, Jun is her medium and to solidify that relationship, Jun wears a permanent ring (he can’t take it off!). This scene in the original series proved a lot more powerful than the quick 30 seconds they devoted to it in this premiere. It’s also made clear that Suiseiseki doesn’t have a medium and Hinaichigo’s medium is a girl named Tomoe. I also want to mention the use of N-Fields. This is similar to an alternative dimension that the dolls create or created by Laplace – the rabbit. Yes, the rabbit has a purpose but I won’t spoil that yet. The N-Field is often used to pull dolls in and this is where Kirakishou (Chiba Chiemi) exists. The 7th doll does not exist outside the N-Field because she was never given a concrete body by Rozen and thus why she killed Hinaichigo.
Now if you’re still puzzled and confuzzled… that’s probably cause you’re missing a lot of character development and context to certain actions. Souseiseki (Morinaga Rika) does die early on in the series and she does have an elderly man as her medium. She has a strong relationship with her twin sister Suiseiseki (Kuwatani Natsuko) – who is famous for using “desu” at the end of all her sentences. Unfortunately Suigintou (Tanaka Rie) steals Souseiseki’s Rosa Mystica upon her death and keeps it as her own. Hinaichigo (Nogawa Sakura) is one that I was surprised passed away so soon since she stuck around in the original series. She has a close relationship to Shinku and thus why you see her giving away her Rosa Mystica to Shinku at the end. This would’ve been a very touching scene for me if not for the fast-paced episode.
Indeed, this episode was extremely fast-paced. If anything, it felt like a random collection of all the “need-to-know” facts of this show that took 2 seasons to develop previously. If I wanted to be pickier about it, I would even say that they changed a lot of elements in the original series, just to keep it in line with what happened in the manga. It’s definitely a first episode that the original fans would appreciate more and I dislike how the show alienates new audiences from enjoying it as well – just because there’s so much missing. If you feel differently, I’d like to hear your thoughts but I’ll try and explain more as the story goes along for people that are following too.
So… is this a sequel or is it a remake?
My answer to that is… it’s definitely new material. Whether you’re a fan of the original or a new viewer, this season is going to be a new story and I’m looking forward to it. This episode can be seen more as a recap, but next episode definitely takes a step into an alternative dimension. This closely resembles the new Rozen Maiden manga that’s currently on-going. It’s going to show an older Jun in university and he stumbles across a kit to create dolls. In the original series, Jun was also commended by Shinku for resembling Rozen in the sense that he brings dolls to life (and he can sew very well). Anyway, I’m not going to spoil anymore but those are my final thoughts about where the series is probably headed.
I know there’s also going to be comments on the animation, and I’ve always been worried about Studio DEEN myself. I feel as though the backgrounds look very washed out – almost like waterpainting and makes the animation feel cheaper than it is. The character design themselves also don’t look as solid or brightly colored as I remembered from Nomad – although that’s nothing that I am too concerned about as long as the animation remains consistent and the quality doesn’t decline. Having Ali Project do the opening theme is quite reminiscent. I’m not really a fan of their style of music because I find it too minor and offtune, but it was definitely more over-exaggerated in the original series. If you watch the first opening, it also looks more gothic than the theme of this series.
TL;DR version – I would definitely recommend this for old fans (or even old viewers that have seen the original). For new viewers, I wouldn’t say that you have to go and watch the prior seasons, but it might help build up context and understanding. The new material looks promising and definitely not a moe/comedy/slice-of-life type of anime that most people might be expecting from Rozen Maiden. Yes, it’s about dolls – but I would say it’s more about the mystery and fantasy elements that bring the dolls to life.
ED: 「Alternative」 by Annabel