The game is underfoot as pressure mounts of the maidens to take up the fight, especially as Suigintou reenters the picture.
What They Say
Life returns back to normal within the Sakurada household, however, there remain a few dolls still intent on becoming "Alice." Barasuishou is an enigma as she manipulates events in the background and Kanaria finally makes her attack, proving that she's a force to be reckoned with, while Souseiseki grows restless with the current situation, trying to understand why the others aren't preparing for the Alice Game.
Meanwhile, one girl suffering from a debilitating illness meets an angel and swears upon a certain ring. An angel that was once called junk...
Rozen Maiden has two stereo mixes included for its release, both of which are encoded at 192 kbps. Each of the mixes are fairly standard and in general don't really stand out all that much but are quite serviceable. With the show being mainly dialogue based that's complemented by some light instrumental music there isn't a lot really required here. The opening and closings tend to stand out the most since they're full in their design but the main show comes across clean and clear. We didn't have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Filled with lots of bright vivid colors and plenty of stills where it's filled with dialogue, Rozen Maiden has a lot of very good looking scenes that just shine. Backgrounds maintain a very solid feel while the bright colors in the foreground and character animation are equally solid. Unlike the first season, there's a bit of cross coloration to be found throughout here. It's more prevalent during the last episode or two but is visible across all of them to some extent. There is some noticeable aliasing during many of the zooms and pans that occurs throughout as well. Though not horribly distracting by any stretch of the imagination, it's the only real flaw to the presentation. The majority of the show looks very smooth and clean while providing a great looking presentation overall.
Using the same artwork as the Japanese release including the logo, the cover is quite attractive with lots of bright bold colors and great designs. Suigintou and Shinku are paired up for this cover and each of them has something of a good regal look to them as they contrast each other in color and vibrancy. Both are quite striking in general and even more so when you’re able to look at them like this. The back cover uses a similar style to the Japanese release but not the same as it provides a brief summary of the premise. Four shots from the show are included with the episode titles while the bottom portion features the discs basic items and extras. The production information rounds out the bottom along with a solid looking technical grid that makes it easy to identify the runtime and language options as well as the aspect ratio. The cover has artwork on the reverse side where one panel features Shinku while the other side has Suiseiseki. The original logo is along the spine here as well. The insert features artwork from another Japanese cover but doesn't open up unlike the first insert. The back of the insert provides a rundown of the release dates for the six volumes that the series will be released across.
Nightjar is brought in to handle another menu design for Geneon but ends up with something fairly mild once again. With no audio attached to the menu, the main screen is a static piece that features the artwork from the cover but expanded a bit to allow for the menu navigation along the right. Access times are quick to process and the navigation is simple but quite effective, especially with individual episode access from the main page. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.
The extras are minimal but not surprising with this volume as all we get is a clean version of the new ending sequence.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Getting back in Rozen Maiden Traumend after the delay was something I didn’t expect too much problem with. The first season wrapped up well and the second season started off with some fluff before deciding to get going on the whole Alice Game thing once again. So I was somewhat surprised that it felt like, at first, that some of the magic of the show wasn’t what it was once before. Thankfully, as the cast began to act up more and have more fun, the charm came back just as the story started to turn serious once again.
The structure for these four episodes does feel a little off as it’s working through a couple of things while trying to keep it light at first. There’s the undercurrent of issues that plays out, and admittedly getting back into that after a year took a little bit. The opening episode does do a good job of reacquainting you with the cast though as it’s mostly about the fun. Souseiseki is being her usual polite self and is writing a letter to the grandparents thanking them for everything they did and that has Hina thinking she needs to do the same for Jun. With some truly awful handwriting, she puts it together only to be frustrated by Suiseiseki who doesn’t want to be left out. She starts telling Hina about the evil mailbox it must go in so she can go write her own letter and hand deliver it. It’s all quite fun and with Shinku watching over it all, it’s almost ideal for getting back into the characters and their relationships.
The three episodes after that do mix in the occasional bits of humor, but they tend to revolve around Kana’s encounters with the group. She’s continuing to try and “capture” everyone so they’ll obey her and come to her masters house but she’s terrible at it. She often ends up coming across as a joke or is simply incapable of doing any real damage. That she does this as Shinku comes to a realization about how dangerous the Alice Game is doesn’t help, but Shinku’s change in personality allows her to approach Kana in a manner that is very unlike Shinku. The way Shinku handles all of it is surprising to the other maidens, but as part of her growing changes since meeting Jun, it all makes perfect sense. These changes aren’t exactly subtle here but they’re not pushed hard either, so it does tend to feel natural overall.
Where a good bit of this volume tends to focus on is with the plans that Barasuishou is working on. Her manipulations seem to point to using Enju to achieve her goals and she’s manipulating the other maidens in the way that she wants. In particular, she’s pushing more towards the Alice Game to get them all fighting, something that eventually does push Souseiseki into deciding that she’s going to be the one to take the prize because “Father is crying” over not creating his perfect Alice doll. Contrasting this is how Barasuishou is also playing a game with Suigintou about what’s going on, pushing her lightly into resuming her conflict with Shinku to get the Game going again as well. What Barasuishou is up to isn’t completely apparent but she’s found the way to manipulate several of them with only the smallest of words.
Most of what these episodes are about is setting up the stage for things to come. With most twelve episode series that actually have a storyline throughout them, the second set of four is all about putting the story into proper perspective and moving the characters into their proper positions. The re-introduction of Suigintou into the show is interesting after we see her change in attitude once she starts to bond awkwardly with Meg. Before that though, I was disappointed that the character was back as things were seemingly settled to some degree in the last show. I tend to dislike shows that recycle the past villain, even a good one, and had hoped that Barasuishou would be more openly active here rather than playing the manipulating game. Still, with everything that’s in motion, it’ll be interesting to see it all formally tied together in the next and final volume.
There are a lot of things going on in these episodes and it’s all coming together slowly, but in a way that you can see. The way that Jun is now studying and observing under Enju brings him close to the source of the current problem easily, but the standard problem abounds in this show: Nobody talks to each other about anything important. With all the tea that the characters drink and the meals that they have with each other, you’d think certain key things would come up over time and that someone like Shinku would connect the dots. This set of episodes is all about bringing out the little subplots, stringing them up nicely and showing how it’s all going to come together.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Closing
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.