By choosing to wind the key, Jun also opens a new reality where he chose the second option, and the N-Field which forms the eerie bridge between the two. Though the first episode has some beautiful detail centred on the dolls and the ritual of tea-making, for the most part it serves as a forced and bland preface to the second. It’s here the series takes off as we meet the alternate Jun, tied up in a dead-end job at a bookshop, a college course where he feels alienated, and the social anxiety that holds him back in both. One evening, in the back room at work, he stumbles upon the first book in a series on how to make a Rozen Maiden doll. When he takes the book home to find another, with a box and a collection of doll parts, he’s contacted by his younger self who asks him to remake Shinku, as in his reality she, along with many of her sisters, have been defeated by Kirakishou, the seventh doll.
Although the mystery of the dolls keeps the story ticking over, it’s far less intriguing than how the alternate Jun develops after making contact with his parallel self. Even taking into account that Jun is older in this reality, the depth of personality that’s on display almost straight away makes him feel like a different character altogether. His dedication to rebuilding Shinku echoes the kind of hero we’re used to, but as the talents he’s kept repressed and the reasons why are unveiled, he stands apart as a ground-breaking lead who inspires a deeper sympathy. The partnership between him and the revived Shinku is also an unusual one, with her impertinent teasing, intentionally or not, encouraging him to pursue a friendship with his crush and colleague, Saito, at last.
Given the time, this fairytale about a sinister sibling rivalry set up by a twisted dollmaker blooms into something surprising. Underneath the vivid sweetness, it’s a story about inner conflicts, and the unexpected means we find to overcome them.
ROZEN MAIDEN ZURÜCKSPULEN COLLECTION / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: SHINICHI OMATA / STARRING: NATSUKO KUWATANI, MIYUKI SAWASHIRO, YUMI SHIMURA, RIE TANAKA / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 26TH