Review by: Kiki Van De Kamp
Publisher: Geneon Entertainment (FUNimation Entertainment)
MSRP: $29.98 US
Running Time: 100 minutes
Rating: 13 and Up
Release Date: December 9, 2008
The Alice Game begins … and dolls will die.
Having been a fan of Rozen Maiden for a long time, I was genuinely surprised by its second season, or chapter, called Traumend. While the first chapter had no shortage of doll violence, Traumend pushes the boundaries to the point that there is now doll death and I have to say that it might not be pretty but its downright mesmerizing. The Alice Game begins and nothing will ever be the same again.
The Rozen Maiden series tells a most interesting tale of humans that obtain a number of beautiful dolls that are nothing short of special or magical. When these dolls come to life, they change the lives of the owners but all is not peaceful for the dolls or the owners. You see, the doll creator known as “Father,” has set up a trail for them that will have doll fighting doll to win the title of Alice that represents the perfect doll ever made. In order to become Alice, another doll must defeat a fellow doll by absorbing another doll’s Rosa Mystica. Sadly, what remains of the doll without their Rosa Mystica is simply an empty, lifeless, ordinary doll.
In Volume 3, it becomes clear to the lovely doll Shinku that the Alice Game (the event that would determine which doll becomes Alice) has begun. Still insisting that she doesn’t plan on fighting or lifting her cane against another doll, Shinku wants to try to convince the other dolls to defy Father’s wishes. This, of course, doesn’t inspire Suiseiseki who still feels a bit down that her twin Souseiseki is out there somewhere ready to jump into the Alice Game with her big shears. Jun and his sister Nori even try to cheer her up by throwing a little somen party for the dolls. Meanwhile, Shinku has a vision of Barasuisho and it becomes a reality when the girls face off against her once friend as well as Suigintou.
Oh, but the confrontation turns ugly immediately and when Souseiseki shows up she puts up a big fight that proves that she is in it to win. While her sister pleads with her not to continue the destructive path, it is Suigintou that quickly turns the tables and the end result is a tragic one. If the first Rozen Maiden was surprising, the ending of Episode 9 is even more so. As tragic as the events in the first episode of this four-episode volume is the truly heartbreaking moment comes in Episode 10. It is here that Jun and the others realize that Hinaichigo doesn’t have to long to remain as a living doll due to the events of the last volume. Jun takes her back to her medium Tomoe as a farewell and it is there that she watches Hinaichigo slip away. Let me just say that I couldn’t get through this episode without crying.
Once I was able to continue without bawling, however, the next two episodes are not only intense but they lead to more heartbreaking moments. Jun sets out with the dolls for a showdown in the real of the Father after having encountered the rabbit demon. Even Suigintou, whose intentions are to become Alice by any means necessary visits Megu in the hospital for the final time. Once on the other side, the dolls do battle, including the weakest doll, Kanaria, who makes a valiant stand.
In the end, however, it does come down to two dolls and as Jun tries to convince the man he thinks is Father to stop the “Game” the outcome of the fight is a major twist in the series. I will stop here because what happens after the final battle of the Alice Game is downright shocking albeit a bit on the confusing side. Let’s just say that Episode 12 will not let you down in the slightest.
Volume 3 of Rozen Maiden Traumend is truly an unforgettable, emotionally-charged and exciting four episodes that make up the second chapter of this wonderful series. As a fan, I couldn’t have asked for a better volume than this one and yes tears rolled down my cheeks by the second episode but this is what makes a great anime series? Rozen Maiden Traumend is the kind of series that easily hooks you into its magical world where even a doll knows the value of life and the things that are worth fighting for in this world and the world of their creator.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Father is one seriously twisted doll maker for wanting to see his creations destroy each another in the Alice Game. Only one can become Alice in the four episodes follow a tragic path that will have Jun fighting to save his friends and Shinku breaking her promise not to do battle with other dolls. Longtime fans of the series will want to have Kleenex nearby thanks to Episode 10.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
The 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen looks good even on my HDTV and the series looks just as exquisite Traumend’s other two DVDs. I’ve always loved the animation found in this series and it still works beautifully.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
This is the case where the Japanese and English dub cast equally do an excellent job with the voice work. Shinkichi Mitsumune’s music is simply as stunning as the animation itself. The opening and closing theme songs are simple OK, though.
The only extras come in the form of three trailers. I do love the fact that Geneon Entertainment includes two English subtitle streams.
I thought I have seen and loved all that the Rozen Maiden series has to offer its fans like me but along comes Volume 3 of Rozen Maiden Traumend to show us that there is no shortage of surprises in this excellent series. Volume 3 is nothing short of electrifying, emotional and sweet. In short, it’s that a one-of-a-kind anime experience that make us love anime even more.