Rozen Maiden Deconstructed

deconstructed

A year ago, in the dark and distant pre-Azure Flame days, I finally got around to watching both Rozen Maiden and the then recently aired second season Traumend. Despite some inconsistencies in the plot, on the whole I felt it had been an enjoyable experience, and in my mind, Rozen Maiden was firmly marked as an eminently worthy series.

The recent release of the Overture OVA, however, made me rethink my position- whilst I couldn’t deny that I had indeed enjoyed those episodes, I could no longer ignore the fact that the anime was filled with annoying plot holes. Where most people would merely grumble about these and move on, what else could I do but subject the series to the most intense scrutiny for no particular reason other than the fact that I felt like doing so?

The Plot, or where it all starts to go wrong

(although it should be fairly obvious, there will be spoilers for both anime and manga from hereon in)

At its heart, Rozen Maiden is the tale of seven animate dolls created by legendary doll maker Rozen, and brought to life by the magical Rosa Mystica. For reasons best known to himself, Rozen split the original Rosa Mystica into seven parts so that each doll could come to life, but in order to realise his vision of the perfect girl, Alice, the dolls must fight until the victor gains all seven. At this point, Rozen disappears, leaving the dolls alone until one becomes Alice and finds him.

For plot purposes, we should discount the fact that Rozen can even create living dolls in the first place, but even so, a number of questions remain. Quite apart from the issue of where the Rosae Mystica came from in the first place, why split them into seven parts just to have them reassemble again (for that matter, why spend so much time and effort on seven dolls when six of them will be ‘killed’)? Why leave the dolls on their own to fight over several eras (based on evidence from the series, they were created decades before the present day) instead of getting it over and done with? If Rozen is still living to this day, where is he, and why isn’t he dead yet? Even if, as some theorise, he put himself into the world of the N-field (more on this below), how did he do so?


Possible explanation: A vital part of creating Alice is the life experiences the dolls gain during their time in the human world. Rozen knew this, and is patient enough to wait until such a time when they have accumulated enough experience in order to end the Alice Game.


These general issues aside, further questions arise when we consider the first and seventh Rozen Maidens- Suigintou and Kirakishou. Even a man as mysteriously gifted as Rozen can make mistakes sometimes, and his first attempt at creating a Rozen Maiden was less than spectacular. As the Overture OVA shows us, Suigintou was unfinished and left on the shelf, but despite being abandoned by her ‘Father’, he later returns to give her a Rosa Mystica anyway. If he intended for Suigintou to become a full Rozen Maiden with Rosa Mystica, why not finish her and give her the Rosa Mystica straightaway?


Possible explanation: Suigintou’s pain is somehow important to the creation of Alice, although it’s hard to justify why the perfect girl would need a psychotic side.


If that was bizarre, however, it is nothing when compared to the seventh doll, Kirakishou. It is perhaps a bit of a stretch to even call Kirakishou a doll when she actually has no physical body and thus can only live in the N-field (it isn’t easy to explain the N-field, but basically it is a sort of dream world created by people’s hearts and desires). It is unknown just how Rozen could create such a doll, or even why he didn’t give her a body in the first place.


Possible explanation: Rozen was either physically unable to realise his vision of what Kirakishou should be using real world tools, or he didn’t start work on her until he put himself in the N-field.


These basic flaws lie at the heart of the Rozen Maiden universe, but even so, they seem no more offensive than those of many series, and could perhaps have been accepted if not for the franchise’s great plot black hole, more commonly known as Rozen Maiden Traumend.

Traumend, a whole new exercise in inconsistency
A series plagued with issues from start to finish, Traumend can perhaps be explained by the fact that the writers never expected it to exist, and then did not realise that they would be required to leave things open for a third season. The result- a mess of plotlines and mixed up manga chapters.

Suigintou Repaired

A callous disregard for the future saw Suigintou destroyed at the end of season one, but with so many fanboys, her resurrection for Traumend was near guaranteed. Although she was presumably repaired by Rozen somehow, exactly how could he do this or why he would ‘reset’ the situation when he presumably wants to dolls to defeat each other as per the Alice Game remains unexplained within the context of the series.

rozen-maiden-traumend

For those unwilling to do the maths, this is approximately 67 years, and is a line borrowed from Shinku and Suigintou’s first reunion in the manga. Placing it in Traumend is a pointless blunder, however, as it means that it has been 67 years since the first season.

Laplace
Although he can take the form of a normal human, Laplace’s actual appearance seems to be that of a humanoid rabbit, with no purpose beyond declaring the Alice Game ‘open’ or ‘closed’ in any given era. Exactly why the Alice Game needs to stop and start, let alone the reason for leaving it in the hands of a bizarre rabbit man, remains undisclosed.

The Alice Game begins now
Leading on from the last point, we have the fact that the Alice Game is declared properly ‘open’ in Traumend, despite Shinku talking about in the first season as if it were already in progress. One consequence of this is that at an arbitrary point in the series, Hinaichigo loses her Rosa Mystica to Shinku (who defeated her as far back as episode two of the first season), leading to a tearful goodbye which is entirely derailed by its random placement in the Rozen Maiden timeline. It is true that Shinku refused to take it in season one, but if she had no choice but to do so once the Alice Game was ‘opened’ at the start of Traumend, why did it then take most of the series for Hinaichigo to lose it?

Enju
One of the biggest “now he is, now he isn’t” moments in anime came from Enju, a blonde doll maker who turned out to be a jealous apprentice of Rozen, rather than being the man himself. One must wonder how Enju survived as many decades as Rozen himself, not to mention how he managed to create his own Rozen Maiden copy, Barasuishou, without a part of the original Rosa Mystica.

‘Actually, there is another way’
As if to add insult to injury, the closing instalments of Traumend seem to indicate that there is a way to avoid the Alice Game and thus the destruction of six of the seven Rozen Maidens. The story is certainly flawed as it is, but to add such a predictable cop out to the Battle Royale is the most disappointing thing since the ending of Mai-HiME.

A Problem for the Future
Assuming there is a season three, a rather large problem arises; in the manga, Kirakishou enters the real world by consuming Hinaichigo, but in the anime, Hinaichigo has died and yet Kirakishou remains in the N-field. Exactly how this can be resolved if the anime has a third season will remain unknown until the point at which it actually airs.

Final Thoughts
Even though Rozen Maiden’s problems run deep, many of them could be exorcised if only Traumend and Overture did not exist. Even as I continue with the manga in the hopes of seeing the story ‘as it should be’, I must lament the disappointing place that this once enjoyable anime has ended up in.

19 thoughts on “Rozen Maiden Deconstructed

  1. You call those big plot holes? Unexplained – yes, but plot holes? 😛

    C’mon, surely there are other shows (with better holes) that you could analyze… 🙂

  2. Oh and I forgot, I don’t think it was the announcement of the ‘start of Alice Game’ that made Hina-Ichigo to go bye-bye. It was when Souseiseki lost her Rosa Mystica to another doll (Suigintou) when Hina-Ichigo’s game result finally took effect.

  3. Hmm, I see the issues you raised more of a result of an unfinished story rather than plot-holes. The story is far from over and maybe we should all be praying for a closing season instead of dissecting an obviously incomplete tale. 🙂

  4. Well, I don’t think the 67 years thing can be attributed to anything more than a blunder…

    Yes, a lot of the other issues may have explanations to come in the future, but the point of writing this was to highlight the fact that the very lack of explanation for these rather arbitrary plot points is affecting my enjoyment; it’s going to need a spectacularly well thought out third season (and future manga volumes in the case of that storyline) in order to tie everything together properly.

  5. I don’t think it’s really possible to use manga for anime questions ATM – Traumend was quite the departure from manga storyline (even though PEACH-PIT helped on the anime, too).

    Hopefully another season will get made to explain some points from the anime, but I don’t want to get my hopes up.

  6. Sorry if it isn’t clear, but I was trying to consider Traumend separately and just point out problems in both storylines…hopefully all will be resolved satisfactorily someday, but for now all we can do is wait.

  7. Also, I’m quite sure that the “67 years” was said in the first season, not in Traumend. Other than that, I mostly agree with the strange story points you bring up.

  8. well…The issue of the last meet of shinku and suigintou were 67 years ago is because suigintou lost her memory after burn in the first season and in traumend we can see she is remembering.and suigin tou problem is because some doll needs to moving on the game.kira kishou was created without a body because the presence of bara suishou in the game is crucial so was a good idea put a false doll for hide the real one.

  9. elric, that first point does make sense, I just wished that had been clarified in the series…but Bara isn’t in the manga, so why does Kiraki only exist in the N-field there?

    kacpy, it was just to point out plot holes in anime and manga- even if you consider them separately there are some problems, imo.

  10. Something else consider at the end of the 1st season Shinku did not take Sougintou’s mystica same as with Hina Ichigo and that she was restored prior to that era’s game truly starting when Sougintou defeated the 4th doll and took the first mystica to be taken in the game from it’s owner.

    Personally I have enjoyed the entire season and instead of plot holes see interesting questions mostly regarding what is Laplace’s true role in the game? It wouldn’t surprise me if it turns out the Alice game was his invention hence why Rozen told Shinku there was another less muderous way to become Alice.

    Last note regarding why Rozen would appear to Sougintou in the OVA? He may have been unaware she was alive and had managed to pull herself together with that incrediable will of her’s untill she came into contact with the other Rozen Maiden. At that point he decided that she had demonstrated she was worthy as he told her in the 2nd season.

  11. My take on “another way”…

    I thought that seeking the other way was the whole point of Shinku’s conduct in the game: she does not wish to play the game as it is “supposed” to be played, by taking Rosa Mystica from her sisters.

    From the OVA, it certainly seems as though Shinku is Rozen’s favorite. As Arvanna said, it could be that Laplace is the one who sets up the game… perhaps so much that he was the one who gave Rozen the Rosa Mystica to begin with.

    It is possible that Rozen does not want to see his life’s work–his daughters–destroyed by playing the game and granted/encouraged/gambled on Shinku to seek another way. This may be why Shinku would be his favorite.

  12. The 67 years “plot hole” was hardly a hole at all. Suigintou suffered from amnesia which relaxed itself throughout that episode of Traumend. To her active memory, some time during WWII was the last time that she and Shinku fought, but during the episode, she came to realize that she had indeed lost to Shinku with Jun present, very recently.

    Watch the episodes more closely before you start throwing holes around. That was just a blatant disregard of information regarding that episode.

  13. At least I don’t have a blatant disregard of politeness.
    Since I was not the only person to question the 67 years issue, perhaps the episode itself should have made it clearer. And since it was a line taken from an early manga chapter, it should have appeared earlier in the anime anyway.
    Now perhaps you’d care to explain why Suigintou was fixed in the first place, without once using the word “fanboys”.

  14. Now to get rid of all your ‘holes’.

    1.) The Rosa Mystica are not all just parts of one thing, they’re all seperate. We also have no proof that Rozen himself wants them to fight, the only ones who talk about the game are Enju and crew. Why is he still alive? It’s an animoot/manga. People can live forever if they’re magic, it’s one of those things you just don’t question.

    2.) As said several times in the series, Rozen lost Suigintou’s plans and thus didn’t finish her. He gave her a Roza Mystica eventually since he of course DID start making her, so why not?

    3.) I think the ‘started working on her while in the N-field’ is the best explanation.

    4.) I’m personally assuming Enju fixed her, as they say only ‘father’ can repair people, but Enju WAS his apprentice. Enju could very well have had the ability to make Rosa Mystica, and maybe he had Suigintou’s all along.

    5.) That screencap is from episode 2 or 3 of the first season. The second time she says that is in the episode she comes back, where she obviously has amnesia.

    6.) …That’s not in any way a plot-hole, it’s just something unexplained. There’s also no proof that Laplace is working with/for Rozen, just Enju.

    7.) The Alice Game is always on, from what I understand. Laplace just said that since they all thought every doll was ‘awake’, so it was perfect timing to actually begin in earnest. As for Hina, she only loses her ability to gain power from Shinku after Souseiseki loses her rosa mystica, the first true ‘loss’ in the game.

    8.) Maybe Enju is a recent apprentice of Rozen, or, since the Rosa Mystica seems to be a sort of Philospher’s stone, they’re just usin’ their magicz to keep alive. There is no reason to assume he can’t make Rosa Mystica.

    9.) Since Laplace and Enju are the only ones constantly talking about the Alice Game, it’s possible that Rozen didn’t originally intend to do it that way, but thought it might be a decent alternative after Enju and Laplace were tricking the dolls to try and prove that Enju was superior.

    10.) Kirakishou could still use Hinaichigo’s body, I don’t see the problem there.

    wait what

  15. 1) Hmm, I read that they were divided parts of a single Rosa Mystica. As for ‘you don’t question’, well, I am questioning it. If you’re content not to question, you may as well ignore this article.
    2) But why call her a failure, leave to her to flounder around and only then give her the Rosa Mystica? Surely completing her from memory or building a new doll from scratch would have been better than randomly changing one’s mind about an unfinished work.
    3) Fair enough.
    4) If he had the Rosa Mystica, why fix her instead of just taking it to give straight to his creation Bara? In point of fact, why has neither Enju or Rozen tried putting multiple Rosa Mysticae into one doll in the first place instead of going through this convoluted method?
    5) Okay, so according to the timestamp I did make a mistake with the screencap.
    6) Forgive me, but when I see rabbit men, I expect an explanation eventually.
    7) ‘Actually begin in earnest’? How convenient.
    8) Wasn’t that Enju in Overture? Magic is truly a great way to explain many things. Funny you should mention the Philosopher’s Stone, though, as I will soon be writing an FMA/RM crossover for Tuesday Rumble.
    9) So everything is set up in a big fight just to prove Enju’s ego and Rozen wanted the dolls to decide who got to be Alice by playing cards… Even if Traumend does digress, the Alice Game originates from the manga, and Enju isn’t even around in that.
    10) Well, first she has to get out of the N-field and to the body…

    As I said somewhere above, yes I hope in time everything will be explained and clarified to my satisfaction, but for now I’m afraid I’m of the mind that the anime writers and possibly even Peach Pit themselves will be pulling answers out of their backsides because they haven’t thought far enough ahead.

  16. Just as a forward note, I’m going by the animoot. The Manga is so different that it literally is a different story entirely, the characters act almost completely different.

    Also, some backstory on Rozen to help explain some things. Rozen is based on the Count of St. Germain(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comte_de_Saint-Germain), who is said to have perfected the Philosopher’s stone, and have made a homonculus with it that had intellect and reason, as well as the ability to move(Hence the whole “rosa mystica” thing, also explaining the long life, as the Philosopher’s stone was said to be able to make an elixir to make humans younger), as well as claiming to be hundreds of years old.

    1.) Well, I’ve answered the age question, and I’ve never seen or heard anything about them being seperate parts of a whole one.
    2.) Rozen never said Junk was a failure, Shinku did. If everything is for the sake of creating Alice, then pain/loneliness/etc. IS crucial to being human, explaining everything else.
    4.) Well, Bara may have her own one. Enju may just have made a new one for Suigintou, not had her originally intended one. They just seem to be memory/power storers, like batteries. Maybe putting more than one in at once causes explosions/malfunctions, as seen with Bara.
    6.) There probably will be one~
    7.) I’m pretty sure that’s what Laplace said, so.
    8.) Yes, but considering Rozen is obviously hundreds of years old, 150 years or so is pretty recent.
    9.) It’d make sense, people go to absurd lengths for ego. I consider the manga to be a completely seperate story, as there’s completely different character personalities/events.
    10.) Suigintou managed to send feathers out of the N-field while in it, don’t see why Kirakishou can’t just send vines through it and aet Hina’s body.
    tl;dr

  17. Most of the “plot-holes” you have stated would only be valid if the manga or anime has truly ended, which they haven’t. So at most they can only be called unsolved mysteries.

    Rozen still being alive isn’t that hard to imagine, this series does have a magical basis, not like living dolls are very realistic in the first place.

    Suigin Tou being a mistake by Rozen is only your conjecture. She is *incomplete*, for reasons unknown to us.

    Suigin Tou being repaired is not a fanboi fix, as it was intended from the start when Shinku refused to take her Rosa Mystica, I can’t imagine Rozen leaving something like that lying around.

    As for the “For those unwilling to do the maths, this is approximately 67 years, and is a line borrowed from Shinku and Suigintou’s first reunion in the manga. Placing it in Traumend is a pointless blunder, however, as it means that it has been 67 years since the first season.” You have completely missed the point, for she is referring to their first battle 67 years ago. She did not initially remember her recent battle with Shinku because of her repairs.

    Enju making a living doll isn’t all that “amazing” or “plot-breaking” either. Suigin Tou herself managed to achieve animation without a Rosa Mystica. This within itself is enough proof that the Rosa Mystic, whilst special, is not a requirement for a living doll.
    Enju’s long life is also not really anything big, purely because it’s something that is well within the realms of the world this series is based in.

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