Wednesday, 20 April 2011

ローゼンメイデン トロイメント/ Rozen Maiden Träumend

Twelve episodes simply weren’t enough for this wonderful series. The director has made comments suggesting that there won’t be any more, but given the show’s huge popularity and the fact that the ending left the plot wide open for a new series, possibly going back to the manga storyline, it seems likely there’ll be at least a little more animated, and I for one cannot wait!

Picking up where Rozen Maiden left off, Träumend restores Suigintou (for reasons still not quite lucid) and introduces the remaining dolls created by Rozen, a dollmaker able to bestow apparent life upon his creations. For all his skill, Rozen demands his creations fight until only one is left, each taking something from the last, in order that the last one standing will become ‘Alice’, the perfect girl.

But it is not the Mai-HiME/Battle Royale-style contest that drives this series. Indeed, the majority of the dolls take up a pacifist stance for most of the series, and cohabit with Jun, a human boy chosen as several of the dolls’ 'medium' – the source of their unearthly powers. This is why the somewhat kitsch concept works so well – the dolls all have distinct, amusing personalities, and their living together makes the tone of large parts of the series more akin to a sitcom than a combat-driven action story. Every one of the dolls, except the sociopathic Barasuishou, are extremely likeable, with their own distinct appeal and flaws. It’s the characters that make the story special; you really care what happens to them.

Aesthetically, it’s hard to fault. The dolls are designed in a fantasised Victorian style, with heavy influences from the mostly Japanese craze of Gothic Lolita, and they look can creepy, adorable, stylish and silly as their personalities, or even simply the situation demands. The music is great, from the unforgettable ALI Project opening to the generic but driving guitar rock of the battle scenes. Fight scenes were very over-the-top, but also undeniably cool.

Everything is wound up pretty quickly towards the end, but even if some of the twists are pretty much deus ex machina (one scene coming over as more of a Christian allegory than Narnia ever did!), they’re clever and unexpected enough for the near-reset ending to work well. The fake Barasuishou is destroyed, with one teasing glimpse of her real counterpart from the manga in the final montage again hinting at the possibility of a third series.

There hasn’t been a weak episode in the whole season. It moved at its own pace, with a simple but elegant overlying plot, and has provided more humour and more hard emotional hits than any other current anime. Highly recommended.

My only complaint is that I want more!

(originally written 30.1.06. In the event, there was an OVA released after this, Ouvertüre)

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