“Your mischief has gone far enough, Lil’ Strawberry…”

–Doll Shakedown in Rozen Maiden

Manga >> Peach-Pit’s Rozen Maiden (Vols. 1-3)

I decided to take a trip in the Wayback Machine to a series that I have almost finished at this point (due to my avarice in gobbling up each installment): Peach-Pit’s Rozen Maiden. With the creators’ suggestive-sounding nom de plume, a rather shojo feel throughout and a downright creepy Gothicism, you think that I would despise it. But all things considered, Rozen Maiden is an intriguing little work. The blurb on the back advertises it as a “metaphysical comedy,” and it definitely does not disappoint.

The beginning of this series is where its strength lies–enter Jun Sakurada, an obstinate, oversensitive, emo lad who for some reason or another has chosen to withdraw from school, his friends, and his loving sister Nori. To give the audience some idea of how utterly petty Jun is, we find him doing the only thing he loves nowadays: buying cheap crap over the Intarwebs, then hastily returning it before the “risk-free trial period” expires. Yeah, he rolls like that.

In his computer desk one day, a note appears with the question of to wind or not to wind. He chooses “wind.” By “wind,” they mean “wind up a doll,” and by “wind up a doll,” they mean “bring said doll magically to life.” Over time, all seven of the dolls are expected to accumulate in his home, eventually destined by their creator, the Dutchman (?) Rozen, to battle for supremacy. Even… to the death?

Against all odds, this is all carried out with almost saccharine sweetness at times. From the tough-girl-with-a-heart-of-gold Shinku (who makes Jun her “manservant”) to the precious Hinaichigo (“Lil’ Strawberry”), all main characters are fully explored and given backstories in “the N-Field” (apparently synonymous with Jung’s collective unconscious!). Jungian references are my big weakness, sorry.

As always, the fragility of the various dolls and the deadliness of their capabilities are frequently drawn upon for dramatic irony and cognitive dissonance. The rather hallucinatory design of most of the work can get under your skin if it weren’t for the (sometimes forced) comedic relief segments. And for those who think it looks creepy, I have to say… that’s the idea. It’s not just Gothic, it’s Gothity-Goth-Goth Goth.

And that says nothing of the series’ broken villainess, Suigintoh. We don’t much about her this point, save that she’s bad news. Oh, and she’ll tear your arm right out of its socket. (Read and see…)

So pick up a copy of Rozen Maiden… get in touch with your effete feminine side today!

Final Grade: A-.

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