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DVD Review

DVD cover

Rozen Maiden Traumend Volume 2


Starring (voice): Asami Sanada, Miyuki Sawashiro, Noriko Rikimaru and Sakura Nogawa
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 02 August 2010

The Rozen Maidens are in disarray as the villainous Bara Suishou, vengeful Sougin Tou and hapless Kanaria assail them in an attempt to hasten the Alice Game, a competition to attain perfection that only one doll can survive. Meanwhile a mysterious dollmaker and his assistant invite Jun to view their work and the trickster rabbit known only as Laplace’ Demon makes his move. Suspicions mount, friendships crumble and the dolls come face-to-face with their own mortality as Rozen Maiden reaches its conclusion...

The second and final DVD release of Rozen Maidens’ second season represents a missed opportunity on nearly every level. It’s a mess of unresolved subplots, squandered thematic material and botched plotting and comes as a real disappointment after the promise of season one. From a cursory look online the events that take place are a significant deviation from Peach Pit’s original manga, making this yet another anime adaptation that wastes its compelling source material instead of sticking to the script.

You could study this disc with a view to drafting a list of how not to write a television series. Jun, the first series’ protagonist, has virtually nothing to do with the main action. Whenever he appears his presence feels like an afterthought, as though the writers had no idea what to do with him. This is a serious dramatic oversight, as his psychological rehabilitation at the hands of the Rozen Maiden dolls provided the backbone for the original run and was the only real source of emotional engagement. The antagonists don’t fare much better: Bara Suishou and Sougin Tou have barely any motivation. The former is seeking to enact her master’s ambiguous revenge against a character that barely even appears in the story, while the latter’s relationship with a terminally ill hospital patient is never given enough space to make her either three dimensional or sympathetic. Without strong characters to interpret and drive events the narrative feels lifeless and inconsequential. And while Shinku is as an engaging and complex a character as ever, her conscientious objection to the Alice Game only serves to hint at a much better ending than the one delivered here.

The Alice Game - at best a thematic conceit as opposed to coherent world building - is not only left unresolved, it is undermined by an eleventh hour revelation that’s so far past ‘out of the blue’ that it approaches outer space. It’s a tell-tale sign that the series was inherited from Peach Pit by lesser writers, betraying as it does their lack of a sense of consequence, their disinterest in the series’ complex Jungian subtext and the puerile desire to shock that’s behind most superficially clever plot twists. It’s a photo finish fake-out that opens the door to the worst kind of deus ex machina: one that guts the series of any kind of genuine tragedy, hits the reset button and makes the whole of preceding run of episodes seem utterly pointless.

I’ve avoided providing spoilers, but please: take my advice and find some for yourself. Make an informed decision as to whether to waste three hours of your life on this. Or even better... watch the infinitely superior first season and then switch to the manga, forgetting that this woeful nonsense ever happened.


Seth Cooke

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