Rozen Maiden 2013 – Up Your Puppet Arsenal
The old Rozen Maiden anime chose not to follow the original manga. Instead it invented its own plot, featured a unique Rozen Maiden doll not found in the manga and ended with an open ending. In a yet bolder move Rozen Maiden 2013 ditches the old anime completely, strictly following the manga instead. It also jumps straight to the 8th volume in the manga, a move that will not doubt confuse most of the viewers. Of course, none of these issues hold it back from being one of the best anime to air this season.
Rozen Maiden 2013 isn’t for everyone. You need to have read the original manga, or at the very least watched the first season of the anime to even understand half of what you are thrown into. If you were expecting this to be a reboot or a remake you’re definitely out of luck. The decision to completely ignore the original anime and begin telling the story past the middle of the manga is a bold one. Regardless, Rozen Maiden is back, and arguably better than ever before.
Sakurada Jun and Shinku are fighting a desperate fight against the seventh Rozen Maiden doll Kirakishou, and they are losing. After Kirakishou traps them both and renders them unable to fight they devise an out-of-the-box plan to get them out of their bind. Meanwhile in a parallel dimension a Sakurada Jun who chose not to become Shinku’s medium exists. After recovering from his hikikomori tendencies on his own Jun is now a university student with a part-time job at a used bookstore. One day he finds a strange magazine about doll-creation which lead him to obsessively build a doll. Following the magazine’s instructions adult Jun builds Shinku from scratch (well, her basic skeleton that is). He is then contacted by kid Jun and is given instruction that will help him awaken Shinku into life. Adult Jun agrees to help kid Jun in his battle against Kirakishou. But he has nearly no knowledge about the Rozen Maiden dolls and Kirakishou is following his every move.
Rozen Maiden will feel both foreign and nostalgic to fans of the original anime. It’s the franchise’s first foray into the HD zone, and looks fantastic. Studio Deen really pushed their budget and expertise to strengthen the grim, realistic atmosphere in adult Jun’s world. And it shows. The characters look crisp, the backgrounds have grudge patterns (which is awesome by the way) and the CG merges seamlessly with the digital art. Above all I was super happy to hear Ali Project singing the opening theme like in old times. Although incorporating Ali Project’s songs in anime is a hit-and-miss process it is an indispensable part of Rozen Maiden and the perfect way to welcome us back into this gothic-lolita world.
Despite an initial blunder brought forth by a rushed and unfocused first episode by the end of the second episode of Rozen Maiden 2013 I was already hooked. The sober reality of adult Jun’s life is easy to relate to and a 180 degrees on the way kid Jun has been living. The show seems to has matured alongside Jun. Gone are the frivolous childish fights between the dolls. They are replaced by adult Jun’s attempts to rebuild his life. When the Alice Game bits are thrown in for good measure they are always dreadful (sometime outright scary) ordeals. I won’t be surprised if adult Jun ultimately finds himself torn between the need to help kid Jun and his efforts to live a normal life. After all he isn’t a hikikomori kid confined to his house anymore. There’s also one cunning contradiction baked into the story. Shinku explains to adult Jun that since he never chose to wind her the Rozen Maiden dolls never existed in his world to begin with. Those who watch the series carefully already know this is incorrect – Jun’s coworker is seen walking about with a Rozen Maiden spring tied around her neck, hinting at a not-so-surprising plot twist later on.
If you’ve never read the Rozen Maiden manga or watched the anime you will find Rozen Maiden 2013 to be well out of your reach. If, however, you have fond memories from the older series and are willing to see the story unfold in a new direction Rozen Maiden 2013 will welcome you with open mechanical arms.