…The reunion came earlier than expected.
|A big thank you to Karakuri for letting me tag onto the Rozen Maiden finale. I am really surprised at how captivating the show was while watching it, and how much I enjoyed the story of unwound Jun, so I’m glad to get a chance to talk about it here.|
|No, thank you Highway for joining me to talk about this. I’m just glad that this new anime managed to convert more people into fans of this show~. …The ending is totally unexpected for me though. I guess this is how things looked from unwound Jun’s perspective event-wise, but they just kind of threw the story into the middle of another arc and ended it there for some reason.|
It really didn’t take long for Rozen Maiden to become my favorite show of the summer, and it’s never wavered from that spot. As good as the storytelling of Uchouten Kazoku is (and it’s truly excellent), it’s really the feel and atmosphere of Rozen Maiden that makes it unmatched. In fact, I really doubt I’ll go back and watch any of the earlier series, because while the story is interesting, it seems like this series was enough of a departure in style from the other ones to maybe have gained what I like about it, which would be missing in the earlier series. But who knows, maybe someday I won’t have a year’s worth of anime backlog.
From the time she appeared on screen, Shinku has been my favorite character, and when she reappeared in episode 4, she just got better. I really enjoyed the attitude, the haughtiness, her bearing, her harsh words that were always intended to push Jun in the direction he should go, and always the obvious care she had for Jun. The dynamic of Unwound Jun’s relationship with Shinku is interesting, since she knows so much about how he used to be, and knows that she wants a more fulfilling life for him, and really does guide him to that life, with the series finale really laying out all the choices that now lay in front of him, all alluring and interesting, and hopefully all fulfilling. Among the rest of the dolls, I think Kanaria may be my second favorite, with her sunny personality that was in this show, and Suigintou was ok, and got better, especially as we learned more about Megu. I really did like all of the dolls, none of them ever got overbearing in this show. Even Hinaichigo in her short scenes seemed nice.
One thing I keep coming back to also is the scale of the dolls. Everything I see about the other series makes them seem bigger, but here they had a perfect scale. It really gave them that bit of surrealism, that they were animate, yet so small. My two favorite parts of the show both really exemplified this scale. My favorite sequence of the entire show was in episode 4 with Shinku exploring Jun’s apartment, this small doll walking around, looking in the bathroom, on the desk, with just this air of mild disappointment that he isn’t doing better. And then in the penultimate episode, all the dolls standing around both Juns, That scale just gave everything that little twist.
As far as epilogues go, this was really satisfying to see. Unwound Jun went from a guy with seemingly no place in the world to a guy with a lot more options than he thought he had. The anime skipped over Jun finally making friends in college, but the idea that he has the choices of school, work, and theatre production came out nice and clear. Really, he could turn any of those opportunities into something bigger, and all he did was have to look for them. …Er, maybe not the opportunity that happened at work (and the play probably happened because of Shinku), but him finding a place a school was all his own doing. This really gave closure on how much Jun has matured and opened up, and just felt really good to watch, considering how many episodes this season spent on showing us how dull and monotonous his life was before.
I still don’t really know what they were going for with the overarching book narrative other than adding atmosphere, but that note the Shinku left Jun was really nice. Obviously, the dolls haven’t completely disappeared from Jun’s life. Shadows of their influence is physically there, like the teapot Shinku had Jun buy, and the fact that Jun helped with the play, which probably wouldn’t have happened without Shinku being there and telling Jun to go out shopping. Though they’re with Jun in spirit too, since he has the self confidence that they indirectly gave him through this whole ordeal. It really is a great place to end off on.
…And then the plot jumps like, 30 chapters to the part I was talking about where the dolls all contact unwound Jun again. Yeah. A lot more happened in between those two events than just Jun getting hurt by the roof. That whole ending makes things terribly inconclusive, but hopefully this means that there might be another new season in the future? The next arc isn’t quite as subtle as this one was (and especially not if they’re going to blaze past the whole thing with Jun finally going back to school), but I’d still like to see them make it. …I just hope that if they do, they go back and fully show exactly what happened with Jun at school, since there was a lot of self-struggle with that (not to mention the introduction of two extremely important characters from the arc). Playing the angle with leaving the viewer in the dark about the mysterious laughter might be interesting. However, for a series that just spent more than half of the season looking at unwound Jun’s life, it seems weird that they would favour the mysterious supernatural fight stuff over wound Jun’s personal issues now. Not to mention that it’s been so faithful to the manga so far, and then the last half of this episode took a lot of liberties. Even the first episode’s extreme abridging was more faithful than this. I can see why they’d maybe include flashes of these events, as a “this story continues on” type of message, but this felt as if they were trying to start a new story or something, but forgot that this was the end of the anime and had to squeeze everything in 10 minutes. Maybe if this starts up again, they can go back and flesh out the story a bit… Or completely retell it from the beginning of this arc. Or something. Anything.
…I don’t even know what I’m doing worrying about this at this point. The anime is over.
I’m really glad I tried Rozen Maiden at the beginning of the summer, and have looked forward to it capping off my Fridaynight of anime watching for the last dozen weeks. I think once again Studio Deen has far surpassed their old reputation, making an anime that was pensive, atmospheric, stylish, and quietly powerful. I hope that if the story is continued, it’s in this same vein as much as possible, and I’ll look forward to it if it is. It’s hard to think of a story about a shut-in and some dolls being so interesting, but it’s not necessarily the parts, but the setting and the story itself that makes the interest. Thanks again, Kara.
Despite this anime being way different from the original anime (which was my original gateway into the series), I actually vastly prefer this one. Maybe the slowness wasn’t for everyone, but this story telling with the focus on Jun’s life was just so much deeper and fulfilling than having the dolls have a constant battle royal in between petty household fights, while Jun angsted his way through life and generally played the punchline to the jokes. Combined with DEEN’s animation choices, everything felt way more mysterious/ambiguous (or really, any of the word choices Highway used above) as well. As for the plot, things stayed on track up until the second half of this episode (really? did they really have to end it in the middle of a completely different arc after skipping over half of it?), and overall, this was my favourite of the summer as well. It started as bias and then I fell in love with the brilliant execution. …I never thought I’d say this, but if they make another season of this, I hope it’s the exact same studio and casting as it was here. I actually want DEEN to animate one of my favourite series. Plus if there is a new season of Rozen Maiden, I’d be more worried about the status of the plot as opposed to how DEEN would animate it. Hell must be freezing over.