Posted by psgels on 6 July 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



This review is going to be different from usual. Solaris has written up an in-depth essay about the themes and characters of the Rozen Maiden series. There are quite a few spoilers though, and near the end there are also some manga-spoilers, so be careful with that.

———————————————-

Alice Game and Rozen

Rozen and Alice roots were cleverly untold by the authors. We got only suppositions and random clues about them. That helps the reader immagination to build his own explanation about that matters like it happens in Haibane Renmei anime. Rozen and Alice are meant to support the anime’s topic which is the relation net between the dolls plus Jun. Rozen and Alice are only plot devices and not the central topic of the anime. So, everything works well even by lightly developing them.

Given that the personal relation among the dolls are fairly more interesting. They are coupled and for every couple one doll is given a thesis and the antagonist doll has got the antithesis.
Themes developed are ideal and imperfection with Shinku and Suigin Tou, Conflicting identity of the gardener twins, personal growth and delaying into childhood for Hina and Kanaria.
There’s also the theme of the imitation that longs for self awareness in the story of Barasuishou. Those themes are the real focal point of the show. There’s yet another doll to be developed, but her story came abruptly to an end due to manga being quit. Lucky enough they started another serie of Rozen Maiden. I hope to read more about it.

Manga has much less fillers than the animated serie and it comes out really more dramatic. Events flow better and there are many less humor breaks, that were added in the anime to lighten the mood. Indeed Rozen Maiden is Noir.

If you read the manga you’d catch many hints about Alice Game. They tell us in vol 2 each Rozen Maiden has a fragment of a single Roza Mystica. The goal of the Alice Game is to rebuild that Roza Mystica. The winning doll may be then achieve perfection, that is to say become Alice. It could literally mean the winning doll would be changed into a human girl, but I’d rather think that outcome is more symbolic. Alice Game is a metaphor of the life and its goal is death of the other dolls, that is, Alice is a trascendental simulacrum of transformation, or trepassing life into the realm of pure ideal. In other words if you just win the Alice game you die and become a happy angel. That is. Beware my dear Shinku, beware! :)

Furtermore there’s this enigmatic Rozen fellow. We have many hints about him, but his identity is yet undercover. He’s hidden, but watches the Alice Game from afar, not yelding any interference with his own presence. People associated him to a kind of godly figure for the dolls, but think about it: Doesn’it just resemble the setup of a kind of mystical experiment where Rozen is the master and the dolls are the specimens? An Occult scientist, an Alchemist.

As a matter of fact, in the 5th volume of the manga, they suggested Rozen could be the Count of Saint Germain. He was an enigmatic man, supposedly alchemist, surely a fake, but is told he really discovered the long life elixir. It’s also told he’s still alive today. Of course he’s a legendary figure right now, but there are some philosophical theories are inspired by him. Theosophia, is the science of manipulating natural phenomena by the study of the divine. It’s aim is to enhance human towards perfection. Uhm, doesn’t this sound a bell? Does Alice game resemble a Theophysic ritual doesn’t it?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the authors really took inspiration by this Count of Saint Germain to build up the Alice Game. That’s a really interesting mix of religion, alchemy and mystichal scence.

But that is not all. There’s another enigmatic character with uncovered whereabouts: Laplace Demon. He’s the controller of Alice Game. He interacts with the dolls or Jun, in the place of Rozen. The Demon has full power over the world dream and can open dimensional doors at will. His names comes from the Math Scientist Pierre Simon Laplace, the one who made up the well known Laplace Transform. Laplace was a determinist*, that is to say he believed science to be exact, or that you can calculate everything by the means of mathematical analysis. Given an infinite accurate representation of reality and an infinite amount of compute power, it is possible to calculate future and past by the laws of classical machanics. Laplace Demon is such an automaton who posses such capacity of calculus. Therefore he knows the past and can predict future, has the knowlege and power of destiny. It’s uncasual he’s the perfect arbiter for the game of the doll’s destiny: Alice Game.

Laplace Demon is clearly alike to Lewis Caroll’s White Rabbit. Lewis Caroll was another Math Scientist, and novel writer, as we already know him. Rozen Maiden took a lot from Lewis Caroll’s Alice fantasy story. N-Field or Dream World is the modern version of the wonderland, a place where physcal laws are bended and leave infinite possibilities (aka infinite destinies). The fact Laplace Demon used to speak by quizzes and his words are to be interpreted leaves no question: The dream world is the place where one can defeat his own destiny and long for an higher ideal of self, but also on the exact contrary, it is possible to loose oneself and be doomed to insanity. The issue is to choose the right door, the right possibility. Thus the Laplace demon will always present you with two alternatives. To wind or not to wind, your is the choice, as the Laplace Demon already knows the infinite implications of both choices.

Thus said isn’t Alice game really a setup for a kind of mystical experiment where the stage is the Dreamworld, Rozen is the observer, Laplace is the controller and the dolls are the specimens?

Btw read the articles about St Germain Count (and Theosophya) and about Laplace on Wikipedia.

Dolls Stories

The dolls always repeat that it is possible to meet their father after the completion of the game. But what does it mean to end the game? In a Christian world that means to die and be granted to eternal life in the glory of God. So Alice game is the game where you long for death to transcend ones self towards an immaterial ideal of perfection. Brrr scary!
You really can’t ask a novel more than character development. It’s too easy to build up unchangeable and static chars. On the other hand it’s hard to make chars so dynamic they look alive. I said before the dolls come in pairs, so here’s how.

But let’s leave the game for now. How do the dolls face their deadly destiny? They spend most of their time in daily life, completely disregarding the game and its implications. Most of the dolls are just happy playing with each others and fear the game the most. The real meaning of the Game is uncovered only at the end of the second series, with the occasion of the fake final. Jun, that is the external spectator of the sad play suffers and is mad about all the death those pityful beings had to suffer. What was it for? What was the meaning of that? And Rozen’s answer was that was not the only way. The answer is not in death, but rather in life. At the end the real meaning of the alice game may be not to play, or play another life, but eventually play a life. Cause playing means to live to a doll, an artifact made for playing. That’s a positive meaning I suppose people didn’t think about. Everybody is mad cause the authors never said much about Alice Game and we fan are fantasizing over it, but that game is really an unimportant aspect of the show. What is really important are the personal stories of the dolls.

Shinku vs Suigin Tou

Rozen and his game are only a stage for the doll’s play. Some play to become a complete being, being pushed by a great sense of inferiority. On the other hand some other fights for making sure of her superiority, which is everything but a simulacrum of ones solitude. Shinku is doomed to be the best of the five dolls, thus not knowing what exactly means to be the best. So she continues to fight and look everybody with despise and superiority. Shinku and Suigin Tou are two opposite entities like images in the mirror that cannot understand each other and thus they hate.
But this is only the incipit. The development comes rather unexpected by pairing the two dolls with their nemesis: Jun is a rather unperfect human. By interacting with him she will find her place and her family. On the other hand Suigin Tou watches all the other dolls being completed and happy. She suffers from that and despises everybody. By being paired with a ill girl she will learn she’s not the only suffering soul in the world and will grow.
This will maybe lead to a reconciliation of the two archenemies.

The story of the mirror twins

With respect to Shinku and Suigin Tou, who are in open contrast being two complete opposite, the twins are built alike. But that’s the only surface. The twins girls resemble the faces of a coin, alike but different, sister yet deadly enemies. Every aspect of a doll is projected in the mirror on the other one. Yet they cannot be separated, they seem to share the same life, the same power. Their power is also complementary. The Gardener Scissors are useless without the Magic Watering Can and viceversa. They’re doomed to be together forever, but yet to fight cause of the Alice Game.

In Rozen Maiden the natural harmony between the two images at the mirror can’t be left unperturbed. The alice Game, which is the natural destructive aim to perfection, is also matter of the twins. How do an absolute command like fight is related to the complementary twins? How can one twin kill the other without self destructing herself? Action and reaction. The two faces of the mirror still reflect two opposite choices about that. One, taking over the couple’s armony above all, refused to fight, but the other, responding to the absolute command, longs for the fight. But that’s fake, cause the real desire moving Sousei Seki is to break from the chain of the twin life in search of self awareness.
Sousei seki and Suisei seki also appear different at the start of the story. Sousei Seki appears righteous and fair, the true strong one of the twins who protects her sister twin. Suisei seki appears wicked, spoiled and pretty evil. She’s mischievous and appears weaker than the sister. But that’s still a wrong image, like a fake mirage you see above cold lakes in north winter lakes. The image appears high in the sky and upside down (Morgan Fairy effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fata_Morgana_(mirage)). Twins image is really “puidedown”! Jun is a catalyst that let the dolls discover their true self and feelings.
And so, beyond the fake righteous and selfsacrifice tendencies of Souseiseki you find a soul that struggle to let her inner self prevail. She’s burning for love and hate toward her sister’s unconditioned and overwelming love. Suiseiseki, on the other hand is the true strong pair of the twins couple. She’s not evil, but sweet loyal and strong! And it’s all thank to Jun if she could awaken this side of her char. She loves her sister so much she sacrificed the ideal of Alice that is her (and any doll’s) imperative categorical.

Grow or not grow

Hina and Kanaria are the last couple of dolls having antagonist feeling about something. This something is life and growth in their situation. Look how the two dolls are introduced. Hina is a selfish doll eager to play to death. Her behaviour is that of a little girl who doesn’t know anybody else to play and when she found one she attached herself to him/her in an obsessive manner. Hina is completely closed into herself and fears the world outside her own box. She’s also doesn’t trust humans and fear abandon. She has a reason to fear it, as she was abandoned by her former handler, maybe cause of the WWII. We know that from the manga, where we also meet a descendant of Hina’s former handler who claims possession over her! After Shinku defeated Hina, she was forced to live with jun’s family. Hina never appreciated this life. She was a scared crybaby, but being forced out of her own shell let her grow up as an individual. Hina comes to like (or love) Jun as well and undestands she has to grow stronger for her and those who love’s sake. There’s a very nice filler episode that shows up this: In an episode Hina wants to send a love letter to jun. She has to move out of the house in the world that she doesn’t know and fears. She will gain strength and walk outside and deliver the letter. That was a touching episode, narrated from the point of view of the child Hina. So a normal walk outside becomes a real adventure for this childish doll. A first walk in life outside the boundaries of one’s know world.
On the other hand Kanaria is extremely scared of the Alice game. She knows she has to fight, but she’s so unwillingly doing it. All of her behaviour is a game that shows insecurity and fear. She’s so nice when she attemped to inflitrate Jun’s house without much convinction and always finds herself scared away :). Once again she’ll find security and stength in Jun’s group. So, the theme of these two dolls is clear: they represent the fear to grow and to relate oneself toward the others. Hina represents the positive path in life: fight and struggle to grow rather than Kanaria indulges herself into childness and play.
BEWARE HUGE MANGA SPOILER: She will be forced to grow when she will remain the last doll fighting on Juns side against the dreadful Kirakishou.

Barasuishou and Kirakishou. (MANY SPOILERS)

These two last dolls are the “last bosses” of the anime second serie and of the manga. Kirakishou is depicted as a white goddess of death. She has no body but an astral body. She lives in the NField and she’s very powerful. Barasuishou is the fake doll who fights to prove herself a doll better than the original Rozen Maidens. The theme is stil perfection here, but it’s seen in a different way than in the case of Shinku and suigin tou. Barasuishou longs to surpass the perfect bodies of the rozen maiden, while kirakishou is the perfect rozen maiden herself. Barasuishou would be the Kirakishou she could never be! Kirakishou is a perfect ideal of the Rozen Maiden, but she has got no soul nor body. If you put it with the alice game, Kirakishou has the power to wipe out all of the Rozen Maiden and become Alice, but somehow she winning the game doesn’t look right. Kirakishou is complete evilness and has no emotions. How can she be the perfect Alice being? She lacks something that all of the other dolls acquired by living: feelings. Kirakishou has never lived herself other than in the Dream Field. She hasn’t lived any experience. Even Suigin Tou has grown up with experiences, thus should be more suited as a potential Alice than Kirakishou. But this cold hearted doll is going to win it all at the end of the manga! What it will be of the alice game is yet to be told. Hope the sequel of the story by Peach Pit will be published some day.

———————————————-

As for my own comments, I’d probably rate Traumend around 85/100. The depth of the cast of characters is really something that you don’t find in many series, but it does suffer from some pacing issues: the first season was perfectly paced and kept you on the edge of your seat. Traumend instead has one relative light part with lots of slice of life that takes up about eight episodes, which is then followed by a really dark part. It could have been mixed a bit more, although I also see that the fillers are also crucial to the dolls, showing them as they try to play and resist the Alice Games.

3 Responses

  1. Avatar JuJu says:

    w0w nice review out there solaris ;P. Easy to read , linear nad LONG XD.

  2. Avatar tealovertoma says:

    This is why I

  3. Avatar Solaris says:

    Thank all those who were enough patient to read it all and to Psgels who decided to publish the notes.
    Those were indeed just some notes i wrote for Psgels to point out some topics i found relevant.
    Feel free to comment/discuss at will

Leave a Reply

Star Crossed Anime Blog

8 User(s) Online Join Server

Featured Posts

Fire Force 12 – Eve of Hostilities in Asakusa

Welcome back to Beni town!  After a two week break, Fire Force has awkwardly picked back up with its penultimate episode (for the first cour).  Missed Shinra and the gang?  Unfortunately, there’s some Catgirl this week, but aside from that, we have another solid effort all around.  Let’s get into it!

Vinland Saga – 14 [The Light of Dawn]

This is a big week for Vinland. One of the best episodes, not just of the season, but the year for me. So many things just came together to really nail it. As this week Askeladd makes us question who we are rooting for, and really throws the brutality of war in our face. Let’s […]

Mononoke – 10 [Goblin Cat, Part 1] – Throwback Thursday

Hello all, apologies for the delay, and welcome to the final arc of Mononoke! This is perhaps the most unique one yet. As we skip forward to a modern era, set the entire thing in a single location, and have ourselves a murder mystery. So, lets dive in! Right off the bat, as always, I […]

Vinland Saga – 12/13 [The Land on the Far Bank/Child of a Hero]

Hello again everyone and welcome to a double feature for Vinland Saga. Apologies for the missed week, but even I am not totally immune to sickness. So this week we cover episodes 12 and 13. Where we learn quite a bit about Askeladd, Canute finds his voice and winter starts to turn. In we go! […]

Dr.STONE – 14 [Master of Flame]

And so begins the 2nd cour of Dr.STONE, complete with a whole new OP and everything. However for us, we are just picking up right where we left off. With Kinro’s fight, Senku’s science and an old friend returned. Let’s dive in! In general I think this week was better than the last. Yes, the […]

Mononoke – 9 [Japanese Chimera, Part 2] – Throwback Thursday

And so ends another arc of Mononoke, in a way I never would have expected. As this week we solve a murder mystery, once again question our perceptions of the world, and get another new “favorite arc”. Apologies for the wait, sickness waits for no man, but let’s dive in. Starting off, as always, the […]

Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note – 13 [FINAL]

I can’t help but feel disappointed when the epilogue of  Lord El-M skips the entirety of the epic use of Rhongomyniad, and Hecatic Wheel smashing into each other. It doesn’t make for an exciting climax when the antagonist just simply teleports away before those two noble phantasm meet each other in a violent explosion. I […]

DanMachi2 – 12 [ Goddess/Child (Song of Love) ] FINAL

DanMachi2 is the kid in class who everyone knows is smarter than their grades reflect.  If only they would get it together and take things seriously.  In the finale of this mess of a second season, DanMachi finally rouses itself and delivers an episode worth watching.

Dr.STONE – 13 [Masked Warrior]

This is a difficult week for Dr.STONE, with what it has to follow up. Everything from production to the story just couldn’t seem to meet the same highs. As we start the Grand Bout, progress the cure-all and Kinro learns a thing or two about science. Let’s dive in! Starting off, I hate to do […]

Latest Reviews

Mix: Meisei Story Review – 75/100

Mix is, by my count, the eighth Mitsuru Adachi work to be adapted to animation. I’ve only seen one of the other seven, so it may not be my place to say this, but Mix probably ranks around the middle of those eight. Its main cast is complex, but the non-baseball players among them slip […]

DanMachi2 Anime Review – 40/100

“Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon” burst onto the anime scene as something of a B-tier cult classic.  2015 saw Season 1 massively outperform expectations  – ignoring the occasionally shoddy animation – to bring excitement and mostly fan service (and the cosplayer favorite: the Hestia ribbon).  Now, four years later, the […]

Kimetsu no Yaiba Anime Review – 80/100

It’s hard to find a more ubiquitous genre in anime than Shounen. Maybe romance/moe-blobs, but it’s a close race. With series like One Piece and until recently Naruto, being a constant presence each season/year. Often this makes it difficult for newer series to break into the anime market in a meaningful way. With the recent […]

Youjo Senki Movie Review – 85/100

Outside of a very few exceptions, I have come to despise the isekai genre with its predominantly self-inserted overpowered male protagonists, massive harems, fan-service bait and overused fantasy settings. Youjo Senki is none of those things and it has gained a very special place in my heart where it features the combined arms of a […]

Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel – II Lost Butterfly Anime Review – 91/100

Long time no see and strap in cause this is going to be a long one. I will preface this review with the assumption that you have seen the first movie of this trilogy and this movie as well as the assumption that whomever is reading this knows what a command spell is. So basically […]

Serial Experiments Lain Anime Review – 78/100 – Throwback Thursday

Serial Experiments Lain is weird. It is a series unlike any other, wholly unique in anime, both modern and historical. Every aspect of it, from presentation to narrative, is best described as an experience. It is because of this that I believe Lain is a must watch, if only to experience a piece of anime […]

Penguin Highway (2018) Movie Review – 89/100

You’re walking along in your neighborhood, going about your daily routine. It’s a fine morning. The sun is shining brightly. But suddenly, you see something strange. You squint your eyes; even rub them, to make sure it isn’t a mirage before exclaiming with excitement, “Oh, look. It’s a bird. No, it’s a plane! No no. […]

One Punch Man Season 2 Anime Review – 34/100

Often at the start of one of these reviews, I will wax philosophical about a series. Attempting to slowly draw you, the reader, in to whatever topic or anime I am discussing in that review. This time, none of that. This time, I have to come out and say from the beginning, that One Punch […]

Dororo Anime Review – 55/100

In the modern anime sphere, getting a complete story, start to finish, is a rare thing. As is getting an adaptation for an older work. Dororo however has, through the grace of Twin Engine, managed to get both of these. Based on the 1967 manga of the same name by legendary Mangaka Osamu Tezuka, Dororo […]