MVM, the anime distributor that got hit hard by the bad economy, has recently risen from the grave to deliver all sorts of anime goodness to the living. Among these titles, is the Rozen Maiden Series 1 & 2 Collection. With a low price tag of £29.99, this is a great deal for those who haven’t had the chance to watch the series before. For those out of the loop, Rozen Maiden follows the tale of Sakurada Jun, a young lad who shut himself away from the world, after some extreme bullying from his classmates, only to find himself in possession, or the possession of, a living doll named Shinku.
The first series loosely follows the plot of the original manga, where after meeting Shinku, Jun discovers that he has become involved in a deadly conflict between the doll and her sisters, as they all strive to earn the affection of their creator.
The series does a good job of mixing slice of life comedy with (slightly) more serious shonen action. And despite his irritating attitude, you eventually feel sympathetic of Jun’s situation. As the series progresses, you get to meet some of the most colourful characters in anime in recent years. Although some feel tacked on and unnessesary, some really do shine- Suiseiseki in particular, with her bipolar personality and the now famous quirks in the way she speaks.
In all, the first season is a unique take on the rise of the hero, in a mix of slice of life and shonen action that can entertain people of any taste.
The second season builds on this formula, rewriting the story and cast of the original to cast the illusion of a fresh experience, whilst staying true to the Rozen Maiden canon. New dolls and people enter the series, whilst others are killed off to provide a much needed sense of drama that was somewhat lacking before, upping the tone of the series to give it a much darker feel. The plot focuses more on the dolls this time around, letting Jun’s life take a backseat for the more action orientated battles between the sisters. This isn’t bad exactly, as once again it’s the dolls who steal the show and deliver the best performances.
Two new characters unique to the anime also feature also feature prominently in this season- Barasuishou who is the mysterious 7th doll who serves as the main villain, and Enju, the equally mysterious doll maker who teaches Jun the cruelty of the world of dolls, where anything less than absolute perfection is crushed into dust.
In all, Rozen Maiden is a series that anyone can enjoy. Whether it be for the emotional drama, action sequences, or even victorian fashion, there is something for everyone. Although it can feel a tad formulaic at times, the series keeps things fresh enough for you to still stay hooked. And at the low price of £29.99, you’d have to be mad to miss out on this.