Posted on 30 September 2013 with categories: Rozen Maiden 2013

The best ending of the season? I think that was from Gatchaman Crowds, closely followed by Silver Spoon. Rozen Maiden had the potential to top both of them, but no, they had to come with that damn cliff-hanger!

And that is pretty much the only complaint I have about the final two episodes. The character development really was great, for a lot of the cast. Hina Ichigo, beautifully redeemed herself for a season of absence, Jun grew in both his versions and Suigintou… the reason she did not take Souseiseiki’s Rosa Mystica promises great things for the future.

The same goes for Jun: he always looked up to his younger self, and now it becomes apparent that younger Jun was great because he just never challenged his own weaknesses. Putting him in a coma will have a great effect on the rest of the cast, and put them into the roles that he previously occupied. Which brings me back to how this is the end of the season.

So yeah, whoever is producing this: you had better have planned a second season, instead of using this as a stupid sequel hook, putting off the decision for a sequel based upon whether or not the sales are right. Nothng has been announced yet, and that cliff-hanger could have been completely omitted and we would have had a satisfying finale. A bit of anime original aftermath for Jun, and Voila! That would have worked easily, and Tomomi Mochizuki can write that without a doubt to make it leave a good impression.

It’s not like I can hunt you down or something… but yeah. I’m watching out for that sequel…
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 19 September 2013 with categories: Rozen Maiden 2013

Rozen Maiden, I applaud you. This series definitely has the best plot of the Summer Season series. In these three moments, this series really displayed that it was building up to something.

It’s great to see series that actually pay off. There are too many series that seem to be building up to stuff, only to not really do anything and go for a standard climax that just boils down to “defeat that bad guy” while doing drama things. Things like those are boring, and most often just pointless. Yeah, I guess that it’s all about the satisfaction of seeing an all-powerful being break down and all. But we’ve all been there. You need to spice things up.

I usually try to stay away from using other shows as examples, but ah. Screw it. I’m going to list some series that did this wrong (in my humble opinion, of course!). Slight spoilers may follow, but I’ll try to be as vague as possible.

K is a good example of a show that started off with promise, but didn’t do anything with it. And yeah, I know that it has a sequel coming, but that is no argument: I’ve said before that I don’t want to sit through an entire season if it’s just going to be build-up. It had all this build-up about these kinds… yet all of it didn’t really amount to anything: it was all very predictable, the characters took the most predictable turns in order to try and prevent things from going stale… not once did I feel like the creators were being really creative in where the plot was going.

Another area where this series could have gone wrong is in devolving into plain bad storytelling and devolving into plain stupidity. For that Tamako Market is a good example: you build up this nice and interesting family, who live in this interesting neighbourhood, only to completely derail the plot with that stupid prince subplot that never really went anywhere. And in the end, none of the build-up was really used.

Here, however. The first half of the series focused on the world of Jun who didn’t wind the key. It withheld a lot of characters. It put the entire cast of the show on a bus, save for Shinku and Suigintou, and focused on the intimate development between a very small set of characters. In these three episodes the characters went back to the other dimension, and it was glorious. Instead of one group of characters completely dominating the other, everything was balanced! Every character got his or her chance to shine and make impact!

A great example: in the second season of the original Rozen Maiden, Suigintou also made way for a different villain. However, here, her role as an anti-hero is SO MUCH BETTER. I love how she pretty much acknowledged that the reason why she held onto Suiseiseiki’s Rosa Mystica is pointless, and that she’s all doing it for “Father”. She’s neither good nor evil, she just has a huge price and doesn’t care about anything other than herself, and the creators haven’t overdone this by making her derail into either good or evil so far: she stayed true to herself, yet she also developed slightly, in the way that she stopped letting her pride get in the way of things that really don’t matter.

Also, Jun. I love what the creators did with him. For a while it was a bit weird how he created this new body for Kirakishou and all, but his development really put everything into place. The entire series is about people being trapped, trying to get out. In the past three episodes, a lot of characters actually succeeded in that. Jun did so by finally making decisions for himself. Going after his own feelings, rather than going with the flow. And the thing is: episode nine emphasized that his strongest bond is NOT necessarily with Shinku, the main doll of the series. Instead, Souseiseki is the doll HE made for himself. Not a replica or anything, it’s something he put together, outside of Shinku’s knowledge. The end of episode 11 remained vague about the outcome with the much hinted collapse of Shinku that could go either way here.

These episodes had so many things intertwine with each other, Really well done!
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 27 August 2013 with categories: Rozen Maiden 2013

Now that I’ve caught up four episodes of this series, I’m seeing even more what an amazing story this series has. It just took Rozen Maiden, and made something completely different out of it while still staying true to the original. That’s great, rather than just doing the same thing all over again. Of course, going into a different direction from the original when done bad, becomes really, really bad. But these kinds of series: they have their own idea and they just went for it, even though it’s completely against the mainstream.

What I think caused this, is that the original fans of Rozen Maiden have grown up, and therefore the series got to be aimed at older audiences. And it really was cleverly done: the annoying characters are nearly entirely removed: Suiseiseki is just gone, Kanaria has made a few apppearances in which she had a really good role, and Hina Ichigo is practically dead. The characters got older, and the themes got much, much more geared towards mature audienes.

All of the cute girls fighting is gone now, and it has made way for the focus on being trapped. Nearly every single character in this series is trapped, in one way or the other. Old Jun is trapped in his daily life, Shinku and Suigintou are trapped in the old world, a ton of characters are trapped by that seventh doll, who in her turn is trapped with her lack of body.

As a result, a lot of this series is just characters, waiting to be set free. Some take action, others just sit there, unable to do anything, but I really like this theme, and how well this show explores it by showing so many different perspectives. And it’s expecially fascinating to see how everyone deals with it. The small comforts they find, what they use for their hope, or the things they try to escape this emptiness. And also how they relate to the other characters, who are going through the same thing they are. Very touching stuff.

Oh, and the comic relief is still there, it’s only much more subtle. It actually juxtaposes the dolls against real life quite well. My favorite joke was how Shinku and Suigintou made this big mess of Jun’s room, and how after getting told off they actually kept the place clean, despite their huge egos.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 31 July 2013 with categories: Rozen Maiden 2013

I love how different this series turned out to be from the original Rozen Maiden! It still has the same characters, but the atmosphere, the execution, and the themes are completely different here. That’s what a good sequel should be: avoid the tried and true and go into its own direction! It also really helps that this direction is much more mature now.

These past two episodes: they’re really well detailed! Heck, over the span of three episodes we’ve just seen one doll, and even she appeared at just the end of the third episode. In the meantime we get a full look into the life of the grown-up Jun, and into his mind. Because of this we can really see how meeting with Shinu is subtly changing him. There’s enough tension between his job, and taking care of Shinku as well, not to mention how Shinku said at the end of episode four that this can only last for seven days. The whole interplay between young and old Jun is also very good.

What’s also different: there is quite a bit of symbolism added in the narration, ranging from that kid’s story that always pops up in the middle, to various visual symbols when characters are explaining things. The question now is what will happen next: they’re obviously building up to something. Will they be able to use this build-up?
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 14 July 2013 with categories: Rozen Maiden 2013

Rozen Maiden’s new series is weird. Really weird. The first episode was this vague recap that wasn’t a recap. And now the second episode pretty much contained the best transition into an alternative retelling that I’ve ever seen. Seriously, as a Rozen Maiden fan, this just blew me away.

I just expected something that started similar with the original Rozen Maiden story that then diverged a different way. I totally did not expect this episode to show what would have happened if Jun didn’t order Shinku’s suitase. They skipped like eight years or something! He’s an adult now! We just got to see how he grew up!

I love this, he actually managed to escape being a hikkikomori, and now he’s in this state in which he needs to deal with the fact that he basically threw a very important part of his life away. You can really see that on one hand, he’s bright, but on the other hand he just stopped learning for so long. I love how he struggles in his life like that, showing some of the conseuqneces of his actions in the first seasons that didn’t involve the dolls. The biting reality of that one manager also really help. Yeah, he’s a jerk, but damn that guy raised some good points.

The thing is also: I totally have no clue whatsoever what to expect from this series. In every other series, I can at least suspect the directio they’re going in. Here, I’m blank and my best guess is that they need to get rid of that seventh doll. But beyond that, I have no bloody clue. This episode really surprised me many times here!
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

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  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:10 AM)
    Seeing Hoffman in before the devil knows your dead and his character being dependent on drugs, that was another thing that hit me a bit knowing the circumstances of his death. Watching most wanted man I could also see that he was wearing out physically.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:00 AM)
    This is not Anno bitching about otakus jacking off to his characters and turning around and selling Rei panties, this isn’t the idiots at Shaft throwing around meaningless camera angles and the oh-so-symbolic teeth brushing scenes, this is a human being looking you in the eye with fear and telling you that he’s dying; morbid, honest, moving and remarkable.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:55 AM)
    Given my rants regarding Birdman it should be clear that I’m a sucker for these rare instances where the line between movie and reality get blurred- when an actor looks at a camera and just bares their heart out. This is the realism that reality tv tried but could never capture. this is art in one of its most sincere forms.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:50 AM)
    Oh yeah Hoffman was a massive talent and a beloved actor, so I don’t take it lightly when I call Synecdoche his greatest role ever. Given his death and knowing the circumstances of his life at the time imbues this performance with a chilling sincerity that just breaks your heart and leaves you in awe.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:42 AM)
    Oh Andrew Niccol, oh how the mighty have fallen.
    Hoffman showed up in Capote and most wanted man, the latter which I especially love and there need to be more thrillers of that vein coming out.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:37 AM)
    It’s funny how they also each have a Nicolas Cage movie. Kaufman has Adaptation and Niccol has Lord of War. Although despite the usual Cage antics neither of those movies is really that bad.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:33 AM)
    Eternal Sunshine and The Truman Show are the two roles where Jim Carrey really demonstrated his acting chops well outside of his usual comfort zone. But Kaufman moved forward from Sunshine with the superior Synecdoche, while Andrew Niccol went from doing Truman Show and Gattaca to doing young adult garbage like The Host *wretches*
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:28 AM)
    @Emma: yeah you’ll most likely enjoy it. On the surreàl scale it lies somewhere between Birdman and Holy Mountain, so although it’s peppered with symbolic imagery and thematic shots it’s still a personal story about a man’s struggle when faced with his own demise. Although a lofty statement, this is in my onion philip seymour hoffman’s best performance, and his untimely death adds another incredibly rich level of nuance to this movie.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:20 AM)
    @Bam: Adaption, Nicholas Cage =< a guilty pleasure actor to watch for the most part and little more.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:12 AM)
    @Bam: The more you mentiom Synecdoche, the more interested I get. Malcovich was a creative idea for a film and Eternal sunshine was a good spin on the romance genre which gave Jim Carrey a film worth acting in.
    Riki-oh if anything is just a heck of alot of fun.

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