Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen is the 2013 anime adaptation of Rozen Maiden’s second manga series. The manga, also known as Rozen Maiden, by Peach Pit began in 2002 and its first series of eight volumes has been previously adapted into two anime series and two specials. Zuruckspulen is the third series and adapts the second manga series of Rozen Maiden. Zuruckspulen comes from Studio Deen this time round, the previous adaptations being by Nomad, and is brought to the UK via MVM Entertainment.
“Each decision we make in life leads us down a different path. Have you ever wondered what would be if the path not chosen weren’t lost to the chaos of the universe? For Jun Sakurada, just such an opportunity is presented to him in his darkest hour: a chance to communicate with a future version of himself who did not win the key and bring forth the Rozen Maidens, and a chance to fix the shattered remains of his own world.
For Jun-who-did-not-win, the messages from his younger self represent a beacon of light in his mediocre and disappointing existence. When the adult Jun discovers a box with parts and building instructions for a familiar red-dressed doll, the goal becomes clear: revive Shinku in his world to save both worlds from succumbing to the evils of Kirakisho, the seventh Rozen Maiden in a desperate search for a body and master. The Alice Game will become a war of dimensions as two worlds hang by the threads of fate.” – MVM Entertainment
Zuruckspulen is an anime adaptation of the second Rozen Maiden manga which is a sequel and alternate timeline to the first. For fans of the previous anime outings of Rozen Maiden, this is where things get confusing. The previous adaptations didn’t follow the source material faithfully and so the first episode, that recaps the original manga series, won’t quite match up. If you happen to have read the first manga series of Rozen Maiden then you’ll be in good hands here. That being said, even a newcomer will find it easy to jump straight in at this point given that it’s an alternate timeline, though it is still very connected to the first.
The first episode can feel very haphazard as a recap, even for those familiar with the original manga series. Trying to fit in an entire series in one episode is a hard task but it does the job, albeit at an alarming pace. The story begins anew from the second episode with a familiar Jun Sakurada choosing ‘not to wind’ and so creating an alternative timeline to what we have seen before. This Jun then goes on to lead a life without Rozen Maidens. That is until our new adult Jun discovers a subscription magazine with doll parts and feels compelled to start building – sealing his fate.
Having only read the original manga series and not the series that this adaptation is based upon, I cannot remark on whether this series is more or less faithful to the source than previous attempts. This new adaptation is by a new studio, Studio Deen, so perhaps we are in better hands. I can say that the series does work well and blends this alternate timeline and the knowledge I have from the original manga.
Visually, the series is rather basic, employing a style that is very close to the manga and a common sight of that era. Although the series won’t be winning any awards on the visual front it does use what it has effectively. The picture book-esque style in parts works well with the theme of Victorian dolls that are the focus of the series. This release includes both English and Japanese audio options in 2.0 stereo that are accompanied by yellow subtitles. The opening song, “Watashi no Bara wo Haminasai” by ALI PROJECT, fits well with Rozen Maiden’s image and style making for a good combination but it’s far from their best. The ending song, “Alternative” by Annabel, is also a good effort. Extras included within the release are the standard textless opening and closing animations. Trailers for Patlabor: The New Files, Log Horizon and Love Live School Idol Project are also on-disc.
Rozen Maiden fans will no doubt be excited by the news of a brand new entry to the series. Those familiar with the original manga and or the second manga series will feel right at home here. However, those that have only experienced the previous anime adaptations may feel a little lost and confused. That being said aside from the first episode the series is very accessible even to newcomers. An alternate telling and sequel of sorts, Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen makes up for its lack of visual appeal with good old fashioned storytelling.