Rozen Maiden Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Rozen Maiden

Rozen Maiden Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     August 28, 2007
Release Date: August 28, 2007


Rozen Maiden Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Suigintou begins her assault by going after Suiseiseki's spirit, Sui Dream. Later, Suigintou lays down the challenge to Shinku to gain her Rosa Mystica. The winner of the Alice Game will have a chance to see Father and become Alice! However, the loser is awarded the chance to be turned into junk? Within his world of despair, will Jun be able to save Shinku? Or will his nightmare grant Suigintou's desires? Not only Shinku's future, but also Jun's future as well, hangs in the balance!


The Review!
Suigintou forces Shinku's hand in an effort to further her goal of winning the Alice Game, thus leading to a tense final battle between the two.

Audio:
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.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, 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. Cross coloration is thankfully absent but there is some noticeable aliasing during many of the zooms and pans that occurs throughout. 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.

Packaging:
Using the same artwork as the Japanese release including the logo, the artwork here is quite eye-catching and attractive. There's a good deal of detail in the background while the colors look fantastic and rich. 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 Souseiseki and the other Shinku. 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.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
The extras get a slight bump with the final volume of the first season. Instead of just a clean opening or closing, we get a TV commercial for the series but for some reason the two included here are not subtitled. Also included and of more interest is a four and a half minute promo video for the series that has a number of scenes that really sell the show pretty well. It's all music based with no dialogue so there are no subtitling issues here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Though Rozen Maiden is something that you could easily say is pandering to a certain audience, the series has managed to not come across as completely clichéd and without merit. Using a sense of style and sophistication, it's managed to tell a simple enough story in an engaging and entertaining way. And along the way it's avoided some of the usual clichés while providing plenty of unusual material.

The final arc of the series has a bit of setup to work through first which comes on the heels of having properly assimilated Souseiseki into it. By using the situation her master is in with his wife being in a dream state, we're able to see them resolve that particular issue while opening up a much more interesting situation. The dream world that the Maiden's can access isn't surprising in and of itself, but it brings some really nice touches as it uses branches and connected trees in order to show the bonds people have with each other. These branches allow them to travel between the dreams and interact with the dreamer. The initial story doesn't have too much to it beyond resolving that particular outstanding story subplot but what it brings to the table really sets things for the remainder of the volume.

Suigintou is still the main villain of this arc as she's intent on winning the Alice Game and requires eliminating Shinku so that she can essentially go on unopposed. Whether that's actually true or not is likely to be dealt with in the second season, but for now she's almost obsessed with removing Shinku from the picture. The belief that doing so will leave her in a position to finish things out is driving her, almost to madness, but there are reasons for it. The entire concept of the Alice Game gets explored a little bit more as Shinku provides some reflective moments and explains why she and the others want so much to win, explaining part of their origins in relation to their Father. These are quite humble moments for Shinku and some of the few where she seems to truly be something more than just a cool and almost cold Maiden.

With the shift to the dream world, a good bit of character material is explored for the three main characters that have to deal with it. Shinku has plenty to deal with as there is the threat of Suigintou herself and what she's trying to do with Shinku. She also has to deal with Jun who has been drawn into a sealed dream where he's being assaulted with all the negative thoughts and voices he's heard over the years. Jun's fear of practically everything outside of his home hasn't been a huge part of the story but it's been a constant. Using that for the finale is an obvious angle and through the dream state they have plenty to work with from his past without it seeming too clichéd. At the same time, you have Suigintou trying to use one against the other in order to realize her own dream of being the winner in the Alice Game.

Rozen Maiden has also played it somewhat close to the chest when it comes to the relationship between the characters. While it goes for the obvious in some ways with the overly gothic loli stylings, it hasn't really tried to be overtly sexual or anything. There is a subtext to be sure, but full on fanservice just doesn't exist in the traditional sense. This doesn't quite change here but there are some nods towards the strange relationships that are forming. The most blatant moments come when we see the dolls changing their clothes and Jun finds he's a bit red in the cheeks from it. But instead of titillating, it's actually quite interesting because it's the rare time that you see their joints. If not for that, you usually only see them as little girls. Shinku doesn't fit into this at first but rather in a later scene with just Jun that really provides a very different view of her than we've seen in the past.

In Summary:
Rozen Maiden has some simple and basic hooks in order to draw in an audience. While in some ways it does play to a small audience overall with its subject matter of ball jointed dolls, the overall themes and actual execution are rather standard. The hooks used, and the growth of the characters over the twelve episodes, is what makes it more interesting in the long run. Though there are moments I haven't cared for, it did a good job of blending the serious with the comic relief. There were times where it felt too much like a harem show in how it kept introducing new dolls to come live with Jun, but in the end it provided a good fleshed out group for the series to work with. Though not a knockout home run of a series, it certainly entertained in a different way. The hooks are solid and they continue throughout the series rather than being something that is discarded after you're drawn in. Definitely worth checking out.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,TV Commercials,Promo Video

Review Equipment
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.

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