Rozen Maiden Review

Story:
Jun is a shut in. After experiencing a large amount of bullying in school, he closes himself off from the world and does nothing all day but order strange things off the internet. Unfortunately for him, a seemingly harmless piece of junk mail lands him in a contract with a living doll named Shinku. Sworn to her, Jun must now supply her with energy for her never ending battles against other Rozen Maiden dolls as they fight for the chance to become the perfect girl: Alice.

Violence:
Because this show is about a bunch of dolls fighting one another, there is violence. However, it is usually limited to the dolls. Occasionally Jun gets hurt as well, a scrape or a cut. However there’s no fear of a blood bath in this show. The worst the show has to offer is a plastic arm breaking off a doll or a tiny bit of red to show a small paper cut.

Language:
It’s unfortunate to note that the language is the only part that got it bumped from 10+ to YA. And even more depressing is the fact that only one character uses bad language. Although it’s blissfully rare for her to get so bad that she drops the “illegitimate-son-word” (as I term it), it still happens more than it should.

Nudity:
Again, there’s not much to fear in this sector. The closest thing to nudity would be the dolls without clothing on, which is seen during their creation. However they have the detail-less form of a mannequin and thus there really isn’t any nudity involved.

Theology/Mythology:
The dolls all strive to become Alice, a perfect girl, so they can meet their father, or creator, again. Also, the way they refer to this “father” makes him out to be rather supernatural. In one scene he is described as “changing forms over the centuries” and thus being immortal, like the dolls. However this aspect of the show is never fully explained by the end and is largely left to interpretation. Another odd character is LaPlace’s Demon, who isn’t a “demon,” but a large rabbit in a suit. Like “Father,” he isn’t explained in the series. Though he too is implied to be supernatural.

Personal Impression:
Rozen Maiden is a wonderful show, though a bit odd at times. Jun has an actual legit background that makes sense and the dolls each have to come to terms with why they were created and if they want to risk the deaths of their own kind for a shot at “perfection.” Jun’s bullying comes from academic failure, a pressure that is very real in Japan and for some kids in America. As for the dolls, they were built to love their father and also to fight one another, things that seem contradictory at times. The reality of losing each other has a very realistic affect on them. Aside from the characters, the story itself is compelling, the music well done and the artwork solid. It may not be a trend setter in many areas, but it manages itself well enough. It should be noted, however, that this series ends without much of a conclusion. This is also true of its original manga version. So if you enjoy some beautiful doll battles and interesting characters, this show is a good starter. Although you might find yourself a bit unsatisfied with the open ending.

Personal Rating: Young adult

Episodes: 26 + 2 OVAs
Languages: Subbed and Dubbed
Official rating: TV14
Genre(s): Mystical, fantasy
Website: N/A
Legal streaming: Anime Network (English dub)
Screen shots:
   

Extra: Safe samurai and why series should be upfront

One may well wonder why I have not reviewed Bodacious Space Pirates. Well, simply put: because I dropped it. Why, you ask? False advertizement, my friend. As I stated in my last Extra, BSP looked like a good clean show, something that doesn’t often come from Japan these days. And as far as violence, language and such goes, that remained true. However, the series decided, over half way through, to change into Yuri (girl on girl stuff). Now I realize there are people out there that swing that way. I’m not one of them. If I had known that was where the show was headed, I wouldn’t have even picked it up. Unfortunately, I didn’t know, which was the problem. Sad to say that after two girls lip locked each other it became clear where it was going. Looking back there were signs, although, like so many Japanese things, it was vague. The male characters were all old, robots or already married and the rest of the cast was pure female. Also, there was more than one awkward moment between girls. However, the series remained clean and such awkwardness is not uncommon in anime (see my review on Angelic Layer). Thus, at the time, I thought it was just me being paranoid. I wish I had been right.
It’s sad to think that shows like this need to wait so long before showing their true colors and it makes it all the more necessary to really do your research on a show these days before jumping in. Because after spending hours watching BSP and liking it, the pain of being ripped off was all the sharper. Honestly now. Unless a show is some kind of thriller, it should not go through a genre change over halfway through.

Thankfully my summer viewing did not end there. FUNimation was wonderful enough to upload Samurai 7 for free viewing and thus I happily undertook the challenge. And after seeing the whole show I must say it was a good run indeed and, thankfully, exactly what it advertized (expect a review soon). And now I am watching Ramen Fighter Miki via Crunchyroll. It’s nice to be in clearer waters. Very nice indeed.

You can watch Samurai 7 on FUNimation’s YouTube channel or via Hulu.

Angelic Layer Review

Story:
Misaki has just entered middle school in Tokyo and is excited by the idea of one day seeing her mother again there. But she isn’t in the large city for long before she witnesses the fight of a beautiful white angel. Entranced by its grace, Misaki soon finds out that it is not a person fighting but a doll called an angel. Thus Misaki runs full speed into the world of Angelic Layer, a game in which small dolls controlled by humans fight for a chance to see the champion and mother of Angelic Layer, the controller of the beautiful white angel Athena.

Violence:
Even though this is a “fighting” show, its age group is pretty young so there isn’t any blood in any of the scenes. The angels are usually the only ones who fight and the damage is limited to scratches and torn clothing.

Language:
There is no cursing in this show, wonderfully.

Nudity:
There is no real nudity here. When an angel is being made it is only a base form and thus has no clothing. However, it has the same features as a mannequin and thus is not suggestive in anyway. A few of the angels’ outfits are a bit skimpy, but nothing grossly inappropriate. A few short skirts and leotards. Nothing worse than what one would see at the beach.

Theology/Mythology:
If one wishes to over analyze this show, Athena might be likened to a symbolic version of a goddess. However, the show never really goes into this any further than calling her Angelic Layer’s queen of queens. It’s never mentioned again and has no holding on the story.

Personal Impression:
This show is cute and refreshing, though if anyone wants a complex tale, they should look elsewhere. Although the second half of the series addresses the sad details of Misaki’s mother and their strained relationship, the story itself remains very simple. The fighting and music (which is, at times, reminiscent of Pokemon) is sub-par, but it’s hard not to cheer on Misaki and hope for the best for her. It should be noted though that this series was written by Clamp and so there are, on more than one occasion, some awkward moments. Namely, moments between Misaki and other female characters. There’s a lot of blushing for no reason. Nothing ever occurs however and thus the moments just feel very… weird. Also, some characters’ relationships with one another, though clean, are complicated and likely to go over the heads of younger viewers. Similarly, not all characters have the best of pasts making for some surprisingly dark undertones. All in all, this show is a wonderful break from the less appropriate and more violent shows of today. Though watching it may leave behind a strong wish for the Angelic Layer game to be real.
*Note: this series is out of print currently, however you can still get the old DVDs for good prices. ^_^

Personal Rating: All ages

Episodes: 26
Languages: Sub and Dub
Official rating: PG
Genre(s): Fantasy, fighting, dolls
Website: N/A
Legal streaming: N/A
Screen shots: