Rozen Maiden Träumend vol 2

UK Distributor:  MVM

BBFC Certificate:  12

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  £15.99

Episodes:  7-12 (of 12)

Audio Options:  English 2.0, Japanese 2.0

Subtitles:  English

Release Date:  23rd August 2010

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)

The final volume of Rozen Maiden (well, until someone licenses Rozen Maiden Ouverture) is upon us, and the epic tale of a boy and his doll collection draws to a close.

Things start off relatively brightly this time too.  Shinku is almost like a different doll, gone are her arrogant and aloof ways and instead she is helpful and polite to Jun, even going so far as to try her hand at baking cookies.  Her reunion with an old acquaintance in the last volume has given her a new peace of mind and a resolve to not fight her sisters in the Alice Game, a lead that Suiseiseki and Hina-Ichigo are all to happy to follow.  Their intention to continue their carefree and peaceful existence with Jun and Nori is not something that goes down too well with Bara-Suishou, the creepy doll is determined to fight and become Alice and she isn't taking conscientious objection lying down.  Shinku's pacifism is set to face a stern test as Bara-Suishou and the mysterious Trickster Rabbit step up their attempts to engineer a conflict, and their methods play on the emotions of two dolls you may not expect to be easily turned.  One of the two has formed a bond with a terminally ill girl and learns that the power of the dolls' Rosa Mysticas - the very thing that gives them life - could save her.  The other struggles to reconcile the feelings of responsibility to her creator and the love she has for her sisters, but a vision of her distraught father threatens to drive a wedge through the centre of Shinku's alliance.  As Bara-Suishou carefully arranges the pieces it seems that the dolls' fate to destroy each other in the Alice Game is unavoidable.  But why would their creator, someone who loves all of them equally, want them to fight?  It's a question Shinku and Jun are desperately seeking the answer for, but with some of the dolls already stepping on the path to destruction it could be too late to stop the Alice Game from claiming her sisters' lives...

The main Rozen Maiden storyline draws to a close in this volume and it's quite an impressive conclusion.  The battle the dolls have been trying to avoid for most of this series is no upon them, and once again the series proves itself to be more complex and interesting than you would expect from an anime about sentient dolls.  Rozen Maiden Traumend's strength is that it's shifted the focus away from Jun and onto the dolls, whereas once the series focused on bringing Jun out of his shell and reconnecting him with society it now

focuses on the dolls battle against a pre-destined fate.  What this volume does well is make you care about what happens to them, Hina Ichigo, Kanaria and Suiseiseki have mainly been reduced to comic relief since their introduction whilst Souseiseki has been the calm sensible one and Shinku the matriarch, but this time all of that changes.  A colossal wedge is engineered through the middle of their group and it forces all of the main characters to face their inner selves and make some very tough choices. 

Souseiseki's cool demeanour slips as Bara-Suishou forces her to confront her sense of purpose, whilst Suiseiseki, despite her bullish attitude, is probably the most fragile of all of them and despairs at the possibility of fighting her sisters.  Shinku feels she has turned a corner and can just avoid the Alice Game by avoiding to fight, but this stance can only last whilst there is a united front, and as Bara-Suishou's attacks increase she is faced with the very real possibility that her pacifism could lead to the death of her sisters.  Hina-Ichigo is living on borrowed power and is the most vulnerable of all the dolls, her earlier defeat means that isn't strong enough to stand up to her sisters and the thought that death could be near terrifies her nearly as much as watching her family fracture before her eyes.  Kanaria has quickly learned that she is not as strong as the likes of Shinku and Bara-Suishou, and has lost some of her will to fight, whilst the final doll has found something to fight for but knows that she could lose it if she exerts too much power.  Each doll's soul is laid bare as they try to cope with their individual battles, and as the sparks start to fly things don't necessarily go in the way you may expect.

 I have enjoyed Rozen Maiden Träumend probably more than the previous series, there's a hell of a lot more character development this time round and a much more intriguing set up.  The first series was pretty much a battle between Shinku and Suigintou, where Jun gave Shinku both something to fight for and - as he grew emotionally - an increased source of power.  This time he is more a support character, finding out background information, asking pertinent questions and providing emotional support for the dolls.  The

dolls themselves drive the story and the series becomes a lot more interesting because of it, they all have their own problems to overcome and for once there are no real easy answers.  The motivations of the mysterious Trickster Rabbit remain ambiguous throughout and Bara-Suishou's relentless determination to defeat her sisters makes it quite hard to see where the series will go until the very end.  It's this uncertainty that kept me watching, and the conclusion of the series wasn't quite what I expected either.

Like its predecessor, Rozen Maiden Träumend is likely to be overlooked by many anime buyers.  However, if you can look beyond the cover image of cute little girls in frilly dresses you will find a surprisingly involved and emotionally charged anime series that features superb animation, well developed characters and some really absorbing moral dilemmas.  It's not without its faults - Bara Suishou still isn't as effective a villain as the cackling Suigintou, there are too many unnecessary comedic episodes and some of the voices in the English dub are pretty annoying - but as a whole Rozen Maiden has been a very good series with appeal to both sexes.  Rozen Maiden Träumend vol 2 has been the best volume of the series so far, a worthy conclusion to the storyline and - with six episodes on the disc - great value for money.  Don't pass it by.


After a barren first volume it's good that there's at least some extras this time round.  Unfortunately all we get a pretty standard clean closing sequence, a couple of trailers and some Japanese TV ads for Rozen Maiden.  Better than nothing I suppose, but not that inspiring.


Feature:   Extras: 

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