Rozen Maiden – Anime Review
Rozen Maiden is one of those animes that really surprises you. It’s about Jun Sakurada, a strange boy that has abandoned his school and has locked himself away from society. In Japan, kids like this for some reason or another have been labeled with a condition the Japanese call “hikikomori” (or as wiki puts it an “acute social withdrawal”), they never leave their house and in some rare cases do not even interact with their families.
With Jun’s parents overseas he lives with his older sister, a clumsy lacrosse obsessed high school student, Nori. His hobby is to order supernatural items off the internet from x-ray specs to voodoo dolls and before his grace period is up he returns them to the supplier for his full refund. While ordering off the internet, Jun discovers a letter in his desk drawer, he quickly responds to it and a small suitcase appears containing an exquisite doll named Shinku. Checking the doll out he uses the key to wind her up and she comes alive.
Jun has not much time to comprehend what the heck is going on before a crazy possessed soft toy clown appears at his window and starts throwing razor sharp playing cards at him. For Shinku to protect Jun he must make a promise to become her servant, and thus the adventure begins.
Anime is known for it’s strange and in-depth story lines and anime creators have this amazing way of thinking up random ideas and getting them to fit together. The Director of Rozen Maiden, Matsuo Kou has really balanced this anime out. The depth of the characters and their interactions with each other really keep you watching as they interact and develop close relationships with other. There is also a good balance of seriousness, comic relief and action to make this a throughly enjoyable anime.
Even though I really enjoyed the first season of this anime, I found the translation in the English dub a little inconsistent and annoying when dealing with “untranslatable words”, words that can not be translated easily into english. This could make it a little annoying for people that know a little Japanese.
One of the words they kept in the english translation was “kun”. Kun is a polite way of addressing a younger person in Japanese. Jun is referred to as Jun-kun by his sister as a way of respecting him while showing him some affection. Though great to see his name left as Jun-Kun it seems pointless when one of the words they changed was ‘chibi’ and replaced it with the word ‘runt’. The word chibi is kind of like the word runt but with with an emphasis on cuteness. In Japanese when one of the Rozen Maiden dolls calls Jun chibi she says it as a cute thing with a small hint of affection. Jun hates being called chibi because he is a boy and should not be small and cute. In english the word runt is more harsh and completely changes a joke that runs throughout the whole series.
In other animes like FLCL and Azumanga Daioh when confronting an untranslatable word they do their best to translate it for the english dub. Translators also provide some sort of notes that describe what they mean in detail, be it a book or as an extra on the DVD. In the English dub Jun’s sister, Nori, says ‘soft rice cake filled with strawberry’ also known in Japanese (and your local Asian Supermarket) as Strawberry Daifuku. This happens a little throughout the series but not enough to annoy the crap out of you.
The animation is immaculate, the dolls are well designed with amazing costumes though the humans in the series are portrayed more simply. For dolls, who are mostly seen as fragile and weak outside of this anime, they kick ass and the battles scenes are animated quite well. The dolls can also enter dreams through a large mirror. The scenery in these dreams are in such detail and really portray the personalities of the characters.
To sum it up, even though it looks cute with dolls and magic, it can have some pretty dark moments, including Jun’s psychological problem. When first watching it I was thinking to myself “right… an anime about dolls”. But it really captivates you from the first episode onwards with its characters and crazy story line. It’s an enjoyable series that will entertain people early teen and up.
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