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Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen Episode #01 Anime Review

5 min read

RozenMaidenZ1Will you wind or not wind? You won’t wind? Well, I’m sorry. The dolls are not going to take no for an answer.

What They Say:
Episode 01: “Tale 1”

Young Jun comes home from school to find a package waiting for him. He opens it, and although he is no enthusiast, he finds the most well crafted antique style doll he has ever seen. It’s when he winds up its key, however, that everything begins. Destructive sister dolls start their own little drama, flying in and out of his poor, repeatedly broken window, a weepy sister doll comes crying for help, a crazy disembodied, a crazy sister doll comes body snatching…it’s all a little much for Jun, but he is an affirmative action kind of guy, and he’s not the type to ignore “people” who need his help, so he dives in.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Cryptic (too cryptic) symbolism and strange missives. Sad hikikomori in his room. Ali Project opening theme. Yeah, it must be Rozen Maiden again.

After a nearly eight-year absence, there is now a successor to the two previous series of the anime based upon the original manga by Peach-Pit. But this is not exactly a sequel. The show begins not where the previous series, Rozen Maiden Träumend, ended, but instead takes us back to the very beginning, as we have a complete reanimation of the first meeting between Shinku and Jun, and even the opening battle where Suigintou tried to ambush Shinku in Jun’s room before the haughty doll could make Jun kiss her ring and activate her full power. Once that happened, however, Suigintou ran off before Shinku could fight back. It’s appropriate that we return to the beginning, since the show itself is called “Rewind,” for that is what the German subtitle zurückspulen means.

Following this, we get a very abridged version of the events of Rozen Maiden for the most part as we have seen them: the split between Suiseiseki and Souseiseki. Souseiseki’s Rosa Mystica being taken by Suigintou. The relationship between Tomoe and Hinaichigo turning sour. One major difference those of us who have not been reading the manga, but only viewed the anime, will see comes with the appearance of the seventh doll, Kirakisho, who is apparently incorporeal, only existing within on the astral plane. Hinaichigo’s body is trapped by Kirakisho and taken over by her. Her Rosa Mystica, however, was sent away by Hinaichigo before it could be eaten with her body, and given to Shinku, the sister that she loved best. Not everything is different, however as one thing that is certainly familiar is Kanaria’s continuing position as comic relief and cosmic punching bag.

With this, the stage has been set for the Alice Game to resume in earnest. The sisters seem divided in three factions at the moment, with Shinku holding two Rosa Mysticas and Suiseiseki, and Kanaria, joining her at Jun Sakurada’s house; Suigintou hiding out somewhere hidden with two Rosa Mystica in her possession (her own and Souseiseki’s); and Kirakisho in the nether-worldly astral plane. At this point, however, Jun himself enters an N-field and meets the White Rabbit, the strange Master of Ceremonies for the Alice Game. He offers Jun a new choice: will he open a door placed before him, or not open the door? This is something none of us, save those who have been reading the manga, have seen. He walks through the door and…

This episode serves as a table setter, and the episode grade will of necessity reflect that. For those who have never seen a single frame of either the manga or the previous anime adaptation, this episode provides all of the backstory that is going to be offered, as is made clear by the preview for the next episode. It might help you to quickly marathon the previous series, but then again, all of that prior knowledge may be meaningless. That’s because, as has already been known from preview information, this new series is not a sequel. We are going to go through the looking glass, as the famous Alice once did, and see a different version of the world.

There is much that is familiar here, with Ali Project again providing the opening theme, though the closer, by Annabel, is a very slow and melancholic piece, a bit different from the closers to the previous series, but very fitting for this show so far. The character designs are largely the same, though an improvement was made in the scaling of the dolls, making them more “doll-sized” in comparison to the humans, whereas in the earlier series they sometimes looked slightly too big. Great attention to detail is paid with their clothing and hair, with the fine details being animated fully.

The animation overall was quite smooth and impressive, though there was one rather odd difference from the earlier series, probably a deliberate choice. The color palette seems to have been deliberately subdued. All of the rather bright colors of the earlier series have been slightly dulled or bled out, giving everything a slightly faded look. The word that comes to mind is drab, but this is not a criticism, for I believe the production team were deliberately aiming for this effect. There are very good reasons for all this, reasons which I do not entirely wish to get into because they are tied to the very nature of what this anime is adapting. Or should I say which? Which what? We can discuss that next time.

In Summary:
Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen takes us back to the start, as we see again the major events of the story, though this time perhaps in a slightly more canonical manner. But it is a highly abbreviated tour of the past and first time viewers will likely be left wondering “what did I just see?” This confusion, however, is going to come to an end with the next episode, as pretty much everything that all of us know, except for those who have been following the manga, well, a manga for the past few years, will soon be of little use as Jun walks through that door. As a “recap” episode it’s fine, though it only makes us wait for the main event to begin.

Episode Grade: B

Streamed by: Crunchyroll

Review Equipment:
Apple iMac with 4GB RAM, Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard

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