Title: Rozen Maiden Ouvertüre
Encompasses: Two Episode OVA Series
Published by: Madman Entertainment (Australia/New Zealand), Sentai Filmworks (North America)
Based on: The Manga Series by PEACH-PIT
Genre: Supernatural, Fantasy
Audio: English and Japanese Dubs
Runtime: 50 Minutes
Classification: PG for Mild Animated Violence and Infrequent Coarse Language
Cost: $29.95 on DVD
Special Thanks: Madman Entertainment for kindly providing me with a copy of this title for review
Journey back to 19th century London and the birth of the Rozen Maidens to witness the cruel and tragic origin of Rozen’s first doll, and how, even when left abandoned and unfinished, she still fought her own way to the Rosa Mystica and the Alice Game! But leave what you think you know behind, for this is Suigintou’s story, and what she has to say may surprise you.
Introduction and… a Personal Opinion
Rozen Maiden Ouverture is an OVA series I have some resentment toward, even if it provides interesting backstory into the rivalry between the fifth Rozen Maiden doll “Shinku” and first Rozen Maiden doll “Suigintou”. If you have rushed forward and checked the score I gave this anime, you may be surprised to see it actually gets a passing grade… the reasoning behind my first statement comes from its history. In October 2004, the first season of Rozen Maiden was aired in Japan at later merited a second season in 2005-2006 which followed on and introduced an anime exclusive character but still had an interesting plotline but gave little closure and egged on a potential third season. Instead the last we saw released in the series was Rozen Maiden Ouverture which was released as an OVA in Japan just before Christmas 2006. While the series manga release faced a bit of uncertainty in 2007, the anime storyline ended with a prequel and as a series that really got me into more serious anime viewing I have been a tad bitter ever since that the storyline was not concluded… but enough on personal feelings.
Originally released by Geneon Entertainment several years ago with an English dub, the first two seasons were subsequently made available in other regions including Australia (By Madman Entertainment). With the closure of Geneon Entertainment and their localization works, the release of Ouverture was saved by Sentai Filmworks who acquired the license to the entire anime series, and fortunately dubbed this release with the exact same voice cast along with it. Ignoring my rant in the first paragraph how does this set of two OVA episodes fare? Maybe not up to the standard of the first season however still pretty good.
One limitation of the Rozen Maiden anime series was that from straight up you are plunged into a rivalry between Shinku and Suigintou without much backstory between what caused it. Sure there was the whole Alice Game plot device to take into account but taking into account that most other dolls got along quite well regardless and that Suigintou focused primarily on Shinku I was always left with a wonder of what. This series intends to solve that mystery and takes the viewer away from the Junior-High School ex-Hikikomori who lives with talking/fighting dolls to 19th Century London in the early days of the Alice Game where alliances and friendships were not so strong… and where the first Rozen Maiden doll made her first appearance.
It is interesting to see the characters from another perspective (Well at least the four who appear in the past) and the relationship between the first and fifth dolls was a bittersweet one which added a greater dynamic to the relationship of the two. Perhaps most of all, it showed the seriousness of the Alice Game, despite all the dolls having softer sides to their personality which show while they struggle with their loyal dedication to “father” Rozen. Apart from this, the series introduces a new medium “Sarah” who really has no major role in the episodes however is present to focus on the actions Shinku undertakes which seem contradictory to the Alice Game rules.
As chronologically the events which cause the backstory are placed somewhere in the middle of Rozen Maiden Traumend – most characters from the anime’s first two seasons do make appearances – however these are mostly limited to a few lines at best.
Overall the visual quality of Rozen Maiden Ouverture is more or less comparable to that of Rozen Maiden Traumend, for which you can read my review of HERE. In short, while the animation and design quality did not live up to the standards of the original Rozen Maiden anime season… the design styles used allowed a much darker environment which suited the storyline much more-so than the initially lighter and colourful designs. Video quality on the DVD is overall pretty good and displays on a 16:9 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio.
Music / Voice Acting
The opening sequence for this release is Bara Goku Otomi (Rose Jail Maiden) performed once again by ALI PROJECT and alongside the animation are coupled well to the themes presented over the episodes. The ending sequence is Utsuemi no Kage by kukui and while featuring simple animation is quite easily the best of the three ending sequences in the series both song and design wise. In terms of additional music, there is very little in terms of original music – with a much greater use of songs from previous seasons. While they still go well together, it would have been nice to see more effort put into a new soundtrack.
Given the gap between the English dubbing of Traumend and Ouverture, I was actually not expecting them to retain all of the original English voice cast, or have all the characters sound exactly the same. In fact, unless I am mistaken about a character with only one or two lines, all of the original English voice cast have returned and all of them more or less sound identical to their original performances which I am glad they had been able to do. The few new additions to the voice cast include Christine Marie Cabanos as Sarah who given their minor roles do a good enough role of their respective characters.
When you think of Extra Content you think of clean opening and ending sequences? Commentary? Even past trailers for the season? The DVD menu for Rozen Maiden Ouverture omits this and just leaves a menu option for “Trailers” which was moderately disappointing given what could have been included. Trailers on the disc include “The World God Only Knows”, “Summer Wars”, .hack//Quantum, Squid Girl and K-ON!. These contents will of course depend on your local publisher.
Personal Opinion… without the Rant
The storyline was inevitably brief due to being only given two episodes to cover everything it, but helps boost appreciation of everything that has taken place up to this point and the rivalry between the two dolls. Despite my slight disappointment that this served nothing in concluding the series – leaving it to date still open, it was an enjoyable set of episodes and one that might be worthwhile checking out to those who have enjoyed the previous tow.
Storyline / Character Development: B
Music/Voice Acting: C
Personal Preference: B
Extra Content: D
Overall Score: B