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Rozen Maiden: Ouverture Anime DVD Review

6 min read

The first meeting of Shinku and Suigintou sets an anger that lasts over the eras.

What They Say:
Journey back to 19th century London and the birth of the Rozen Maidens to witness the cruel and tragic origin of Rozen’s first doll, and how, even when left abandoned and unfinished, she still fought her own way to the Rosa Mystica and the Alice Game! But leave what you think you know behind, for this is Suigintou’s story, and what she has to say may surprise you.

Contains OVA episodes 1-2.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is rather straightforward as we get the two languages included here in stereo encoded at 224kbps. The show has its strong suits when it comes to the audio in that the opening and closing sequences are a lot of fun and very well rounded. There are also some very good action scenes, albeit brief ones, where the forward soundstage comes alive very well. But the majority of the show is simple dialogue driven stuff with one or two characters at most talking and generally a center channel based feeling. The characters do speak clearly in both languages without any noticeable problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback. While neither track really shines brightly when it comes to what it wants to do, it does serve the material just right and left us pretty happy with it.

Video:
Originally released at the end of 2006, the transfer for this two part OVA release is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The TV series has long suffered a lot of cross coloration problems that were fairly distracting and left me worried that this release would be more of the same.The OVA release thankfully does not appear to suffer significantly from these issues as the cross coloration is pretty much non-existent and the line noise is very minimal overall, though there in several scenes. The materials for this simply look to be in better condition for this than the TV series which looks like a port of what we saw with the previous editions as that’s what the material available is like. Getting a cleaner and smoother looking OVA presentation that’s on its own disc doesn’t hurt either

Packaging:
This single disc release comes in a standard keepcase that lets Suigintou take the cover art in total, giving it a great look that really gives her an air of innocence that’s really appealing. While the black border isn’t really as distinct as it could be here, almost a little murky, it helps to define the character artwork it surrounds. It’s the kind of artwork that the more I look at it, the more I like it and am drawn to it. The back cover is a pretty dark piece overall with the black background and the look of Shinku fading into it. The layout is pretty standard but works well with a few shots along the right and a summary down through the middle that’s short and a bit hard to read with the soft white on the black background. The remainder is standard stuff with a breakdown of the production credits for both the Japanese and English side as well as a solid technical grid that covers everything cleanly and clearly. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The main menu is done with a split screen effect where the left side has the character artwork with a lot of really nice detailed artwork. The right side breaks down the episode numbers and titles as well as language setup submenus and other special features that may be on the disc. The whole thing is nicely framed by a black panel with some pink edging as well as a few hints of green to give it that classic novel feeling. The character design artwork is quite nice though and definitely an appeal, especially as the key bits of the opening song plays along to it all. Submenus load quickly and everything is easy to access. The discs also read our players’ language presets with no problems.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After enjoying the two seasons that were released for Rozen Maiden previously and enjoying the various re-watchings that I had gone through over time as well, I was really interested in checking out the previously unreleased two episode OVA series. The show was pretty well defined in its TV run but there were still little areas that were never fully covered, or clearly, which is what this release offers. What helps with this a bit more is that the OVAs came just about a year after the end of the TV series and had the same people behind it, so it was really just an extended look at things that fits in seamlessly with what came before.

The two part story here is largely flashback material, but its present day material takes place square in the middle of the second season of the TV series, Traumend. The gang hasn’t fully met Kana yet, though there are references to her, and Hina-Ichigo only gets a little bit of time. The main focus here is on Shinku as Jun has picked her up a little something for her that ends up setting her off as she simply doesn’t like changes. And it reminds her of the past at a time when she’s dealing with more than enough issues. The little rift it creates between her and Jun is simple but effective because they’ve constantly had this kind of problem due to a conflict of personalities. What helps is that Jun gets filled in on the reason for Shinku’s anger through Souseiseki, who essentially narrates the story.

And that flashback story is a lot of fun as it largely takes place in 19th century London where Shinku is going up against Sou and Sei. But what frames it is the true origin of Suigintou. Watching her as the first doll, incomplete, watching as Father finishes off Shinku and disappears with her is a strong moment, one that defines Suigintou well as she does her best to find both of them when things go into the 19th century London era. The early fights that the Maiden’s have are fun to watch since it’s kept simple, but also because we get to see another medium that Shinku used in a young girl named Sarah. Having this play out while having Suigintou come into Shinku’s life gives the two a certain kind of bond, one that we know gets shattered as time goes on. Seeing the two getting along so well only to see it turn where it has to in such a short time might feel a little rushed, but it works within the constraints the story sets itself.

In Summary:
The two part Rozen Maiden OVA is definitely a welcome addition after all this time and Sentai Filmworks deserves credit not only for bringing it out, but making it so that fans could get it separately from the new set but also making sure new fans get it all in one whack as well. This release covers an interesting part of the dolls history while tying into the second season of the series as well. We don’t get a lot of time with all of the dolls so fans of Hina-Ichigo may feel shorted, but with its focus on Suigintou, it really drives home her problems in the series and gives it that extra little nudge to flesh it out. Revisiting Rozen Maiden’s TV series has been fun, but I really enjoyed getting exposed to some new material, even if it’s five years after it originally came out.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A

Readers Rating: [ratings]

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: December 6th, 2011
MSRP: $29.98
Running Time: 50 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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