Rozen Maiden volumes 2-3

Jun may have thought that sharing his life with living doll Shinku was an unwelcome upset, but as he soon discovers, it’s a walk in the park compared with what’s to come. First, there’s Hinaichigo to deal with- a spoiled and childish doll who almost costs his friend Tomoe her life when she insists that they play together forever. And no sooner is that little situation resolved than another doll, Suiseiseki, appears to ask Shinku and the others to help rescue her ‘twin sister’ from the clutches of her evil master. Can Jun handle this influx of doll related troubles, and perhaps learn something about himself in the process?

After a promising if not particularly overwhelming start, it made sense to continue with the Rozen Maiden manga, in the hopes that my growing dissatisfaction with the anime could be erased by contact with the original material. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case, and in fact, having read the next two volumes, my opinion of the franchise was to reach a new low.

Although it was easy to write it off in the first volume as just being due to the series finding its feet, it is clear by this point that the trouble with the Rozen Maiden manga is that it is just too ‘flat’. Where the colour and movement of the anime at least lent it some degree of life, in manga form the story simply fails to come to life- the dialogue is uninspiring, the action scenes are underwhelming, and the whole thing is drenched in unfunny ‘comedic’ segments that seem to exist only to slow down the overall pace and detract from the rare moments of more serious character and plot development. At this point, the only real reason to continue is curiosity- the story is already beginning to diverge significantly from the direction taken in the anime, and I have to admit to a certain degree of interest as to the course it will take. Then again, the fact that the manga is on hiatus because apparently even Peach Pit themselves don’t know where to go next is hardly edifying.

The other great disappointment in these volumes is the artwork, which does less to elevate the story out of its mediocrity than it does to make things worse. Although Peach Pit seem willing to put the effort in for close ups and full page shots, all too often individual panels are drawn so simplistically that they look little better than a child’s scribble- arguably this could be intended to set a lighter tone, but it is a method employed so often that it looks more like sheer laziness. Likewise, backgrounds remain as limited to nonexistent as we saw in the first volume.

Final Thoughts
A flat and uninspiring continuation of the series, the next two volumes of Rozen Maiden barely manage to engage the reader, and are certainly nothing short of a disappointment. The only card the series still has to play is novelty, with the hope of seeing something different to the anime spurring the reader on when they might have done better to just walk away.

With regards to what we were discussing in the now accursed Rozen Maiden Deconstructed post, yes, it does say in volume 2 that the seven Rosa Mystica are all fragments of the original. Admittedly, though, this may not be the case in the anime.

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