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AKA: Rozen Maiden - Rewind, ローゼンメイデン
Genre: Drama with some supernatural elements.
Length: Television series, 13 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed by Sentai Filmworks, but also available streaming on Crunchyroll.
Content Rating: PG-13 (Mature elements.)
Related Series: Nothing to my knowledge. (The show isn't directly related to the two TV seasons preceeding it.)
Also Recommended: Rozen Maiden, Rozen Maiden Traumend, Le Portrait de Petit Cossette.
Notes: Based on the second Rozen Maiden manga, which is an alternate retelling of the original Rozen Maiden Manga.
Rating: Three StarsThree StarsThree Stars
 

Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen

Synopsis

When receiving a letter asking him if he "wants to wind" or not, the choice is made not to. This places Jun Sakurada in an alternate timeline where he starts receiving text messages from another Jun Sakurada asking for help dealing with the seventh doll, Kirakishou. He is sent doll parts and everything else he needs to put together an alternate body for his doll, Shinku. And together, they must find out some way to deal with the seventh doll.


Review

It's actually kind of scary how many years it's been since I first watched the original TV series. Not that the "original" Rozen Maiden TV series was a particularly old show to begin with when you look at the whole picture, but that's still nearly ten years.

For those who only watched said original TV series (presumably based -- if loosely -- on the original manga), the opening episode, also basically a recap episode of sorts, will leave you somewhat confused. The plot, as it blazes past, will remind you a whole lot of the two shows, aside from a few differences. For instance, in the recap episode, Suigintou was never a "broken" doll who antagonized the others because she hated their... completeness. Also, the seventh doll, Kirakishou, has apparently always been a part of the lineup, wherein she was never really mentioned in the first Rozen Maiden series, and kinda-sorta replaced with Barasuishou, a doll similar in design if not personality. As aggravating as this episode might be for fans of the original TV series, it's also probably necessary to watch it, partially because of the sheer amount of time since the original TV series was made. (I use the word "original" not without trepidation, because I'm aware that the... "original" Tv series took its own liberties with the story.) But I was all ready to accept these changes, because as much as I liked the... *sigh* ..."original" TV series, it did kind of write itself into a corner at the end of Traumend, and maybe a reboot was just what the doctor ordered.

And therein lies the problem with this show; after a recap episode moving past the audience with blinding speed, the show grinds to a halt as it proceeds to introduce us to the life of Jun Sakurada, college student and shut-in. He does attend college...possibly... but he also works at a local book store under the heel of an asshole manager and barely manages to strike up a conversation with anyone about anything. His life is basically college (maybe), work and his small, dingy apartment, and it's absolutely miserable to watch this unfold at a pace that will put most people to sleep. Granted, that is also the point, but the show just revels in beating us over our heads about how miserable the guy is and then give us plenty of time to dwell on it while he does nothing in particular. And it just goes on and on for nearly two full episodes, only curtailed about the books he starts receiving in the mail and the whole process regarding the text messages he is receiving from his younger self.

At the very end of episode 3, Shinku finally shows up. The show is 13 episodes long.

What I'm saying is basically this; when you watched the... "original"... TV series or maybe read the manga, what did you care the most about? Because if you answered "the dolls", you might not be able to appreciate this show as much as the ones that came before. However, if you were more curious about Jun himself, his problems and his trials, you might have a much easier time with this remake. Because really, this is all basically about Jun. The moral of this show is, as you can probably tell, about personal success being the result of identifying and taking charge of your options in life, and more importantly, not just sit and wither away somewhere while thinking of work, school and/or other people as beneath you.

And already I'm torn; one of the things about Jun in the first TV series is that he was kind of an asshole whose motive for skipping school was really questionable once the truth was laid on the table. This Jun, however, had a much more legitimate reason to avoid school, I felt. His interest in costume design -- particularly the female and frilly -- immediately marked him as a bit of a creep among his fellow peers, both male and female, and his eventual departure from middle school was a good deal easier to sympathize with.

But that's just it; for more than half the show, he took all the attention away from the dolls. I said Shinku made her appearance in the end of episode 3, but their influence on the main story still wouldn't take place for a good while yet. Suigintou arrived shortly after Shinku, but outside of some minor banter between the two -- reinforcing their kinda-sorta hostility toward each other -- they spend most of their time waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

And waiting.

It takes a sinister (and depressingly predictable) trap from Kirakishou to get the dolls' stories moving, and this is finally where the show moves in the direction I wanted it to, even if it also started drowning the audience in its own technobabble. Going from short guest appearances, the dolls finally take center stage and bring the fight to the scene -- almost literally so. To be honest, it wasn't the most exciting of fights, and the following plot revelation brought that to a screeching halt... again... but the show was finally about the dolls again, and about Jun's interactions with them. And just as it looked like we were in for some excitement... the last episode rolled around, its main purpose being to give Jun his big personality development and then serve as a point of "to be continued".

If there ever was a bigger kind of tease, I have yet to see it. It's almost beautiful in its trolling genius.

From a storytelling quality standpoint, Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen (aggravating German disuse aside) is a pretty good show. That is, if you're up for some dramatic development about a guy coming out of his shell. But as a fan of the first two shows, I can't help but feel really disappointed about it. Sure, Jun and his problems are also integral to the story, but when I watch a serie called "Rozen Maiden", I expect it to be about said Rozen Maidens, and this is where it is lacking. Take that as you will. It's actually double damning that the art and animation in this show is actually pretty good, at least when it comes to the characters. The backgrounds seems to have adapted the same kind of filter processing that... kind of annoyed me in Maoyuu. No matter what, it simply doesn't look very good. But Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen still does a good job in constructing the dolls and their special abilities, and that's also why it's so aggravating to see it put to so little use. Compared to the first shows and, presumably, the mangas to some extent, it simply spends too much time moping and complaining, and that's not what I wanted to see.

Somewhat of a disappointment. Only watch this if you care about Jun and his problems, because they take center stage at almost all times.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: The show is mopey, but not particularly dark. There is also not much onscreen violence, save for a relatively minor fight past the midway point. Kirakishou and her issues is not for the youngest, though; not that the show was aimed at children anyway.



Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subtitles.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen © 2013 Studio DEEN, Rozen Maiden Production Committee
 
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