Magical dolls rule supreme in Rozen Maiden--a sugary story that's more than meets the eye.
From the creators of DearS, Peach-Pit creates Rozen Maiden, an anime about a young middle school student named Jun Sakurada who meets Shinku, a magical "Rozen Maiden" doll with an attitude. At first glance, the series may appear kiddy or even scary, but Rozen Maiden is a charming series, filled with a nice blend of action, magic and drama.
The story of Rozen Maiden begins with a life-changing day for Jun, a middle school student that stays at home to purchase random items off the Internet, and who doesn't want to go to school. He's bratty, abusive and selfish. He lives with his older sister, Nori, who always tries to coax him back to school. However, she is always met with retaliation and hostility when she even mentions "school" to Jun. Their parents have jobs overseas, so Nori has taken over the responsibility of the household.
Jun receives a peculiar letter, asking him, "Wind up or do not wind?" Following the directions of the letter, he chooses to circle "wind up," and he puts the paper into the second drawer of his desk. Nori comes into his room, stating that there were a lot of deliveries for him, and that he should stop ordering, since items like these tend to be scams. Jun states that he enjoys buying supernatural stuff via mail order, and he simply returns them before the return date. He then pushes her out of his room, and shuts the door.
Oddly enough, he trips over a crimson suitcase that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. Almost out of instinct, he opens the suitcase. Revealed inside is a blonde-haired doll and a golden key. Seeming lifelike, he decides to wind the doll up a little bit with the key. Shockingly, the doll starts the stir, and Jun throws her cross the room. The doll is coming to life! After a few moments, the doll gets up and starts walking towards Jun. Horrified, Jun flinches, only to be slapped by her. Jun lets a scream of disbelief, and the doll introduces herself as Shinku, the fifth doll of "Rozen Maiden."
Before Jun can get a handle on the situation, black feathers drop from out of nowhere in his room. Shinku states that "she" is already here. The window pane shatters, and in comes a killer clown doll. Shinku informs Jun that it's regrettable, but he'll die here. However, if he swears allegiance to her, then she will protect him. At first, he thinks that this is some sort of prank, but his attitude quickly changes once the clown doll throws a card, cutting his shirt. He panics and decides to swear allegiance to Shinku by kissing the rose ring on her finger.
Suddenly, a rose ring appears on his finger. He now has become her "medium" (in other words, her "servant") to use her magic. She defeats the killer clown doll with the help of the other dolls in Jun's room. As long as Jun wears the ring, he is Shinku's medium that supplies her power, and thus begins the odd, yet seemingly natural relationship between the two.
As mentioned before, Shinku is of the "Rozen Maiden" doll series, created by "Father." Although the plot of Rozen Maiden may appear childish at first, there's more than meets the eye. By just the first episode, there are two questions that are left unanswered for the viewer: Why does Jun stay at home, while his older sister goes to school? Just who is this "she" that Shinku refers to, the person who sent the killer clown? While these questions are not made blatantly important by the end of the first episode, these questions are the foundation for the rest of the series.
The charm and strength of Rozen Maiden comes from its memorable and associable characters. Shinku is bossy, intelligent, has a will of her own, and she even slaps Jun without hesitation if he doesn't meet her demands. Jun, on the other hand, is your typical middle student, but he suffers from an internal conflict. He stays at home all day, never leaving the house. He's actually afraid to even step foot on the school's campus, and he spends his days buying random stuff off of the Internet. Jun meets other dolls throughout the series, each with distinct personalities and personal agendas.
Jun and Shinku's relationship is probably the driving force of the show. Although their relationship sounds reminiscent of Chobits, Hand Maid May, or even DearS, Jun and Shinku's relationship is quite different. Instead of the male character dominating by caring for or teaching some female character in need, Jun is dominated by Shinku and all of the other dolls that he will meet. This twist is perhaps the true uniqueness of Rozen Maiden.
Backed up by an excellent, Victorian-like music score and bold, colorful animation, Rozen Maiden is a definite recommendation for anime fans that would like to watch a series that doesn't take itself too seriously. It has magic, action and drama, but at times, it throws in a bit of tasteful comedy. If you liked Rozen Maiden and had hoped that it would continue, never fear! A second season of Rozen Maiden entitled Rozen Maiden ~Träumend~ is set to air in October 2005. Although Rozen Maiden is unlicensed by American companies at this time, hopefully it will come to the U.S. one day soon.