Reviews: Rozen Maiden Overtuere and Tokyo Marble Chocolate

OVAs are annoying to review, if only because they’re over so quickly that I quickly add to the number of reviews that I have to write. But they’re generally so much better than a full length series! It isn’t just that they’re produced with a greater budget and over a much longer time frame, resulting in better production values, but more care also seems to be put into what they choose to cover. And the other benefit that we don’t ordinarily allow too much in a series – flexibility in storytelling technique.

I mention the latter because that is the only way I can describe the format of Tokyo Marble Chocolate. Although it’s the first time I’ve seen a show like it, it’s probably not an uncommon one – seeing the events on the same day from two different perpectives. And in telling the story of a girl and boy over one Christmas day(?) in Tokyo, it works well to make an endearing drama of an innocent, if clumsy love.

Chizuru has trouble maintaining relationships (one reason suggested is that she tends to test her boyfriends) whilst Yuudai has great difficulty finding the courage to do the most normal things, including saying the three magic words. To both these insecure adolescents, their relationship needs some sort of change, and both are determined to do something about it during this date. However, an unexpected occurrence – an insane mini-donkey – shows up to wreck havok on their carefully laid plans. The first episode, マタアイマショウ, follows Chizuru as she realises how her weakness of putting her desires first have contibuted to her bad luck with relationships. 全力少年 then shows how Yuudai found the courage to make up for a mistake he made, and thus achieve that which he was never able to do (well, I assume he eventually did, anyway).

(credit to Concrete Badger for the above screenshot)

Part of the charm of this simple story lies in its characters. Both their faults aren’t so easy to forgive when one thinks about it, but the series of misunderstandings and mishaps result in Yuudai overcoming one of his greatest fears, making Chizuru realise that she shouldn’t force her feelings and wishes on him. In witnessing the development that both these characters undergo, the viewer is drawn into rooting for fate to pull them together again. And of course, who can forget the adorable mini-donkey?

The episodes, both of which start and end at the same point, can probably be watched in either order. However, watching マタアイマショウ first seems to work a bit better in terms of what the viewer is privy to. Either way, this is something that should touch most hearts – much in the way that 耳をすませば does. Highly recommended. 9/10.

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The other OVA that I have yet to review is one that I saw absolutely ages ago: Rozen Maiden Ouvertüre. Though set during Träumend, as the title suggests, this OVA covers events prior to those of the series, as Souseiseki narrates the history between Suigintou and Shinku.

Like all OVAs that derive from a TV series, only fans of the series will probably watch this. However, anyone who’s read the manga may also appreciate this segment of the story having been animated. Viewers (and readers) may have long wandered exactly when and how the bad blood between Shinku and Suigintou was created – i.e. what drove Shinku to call her fellow doll “junk” and why it hurt Suigintou so much. Suigintou was indeed the first doll that Rozen created. However, for some reason, he left her unfinished whilst he lovingly crafted her sisters and prepared to pass them to their mediums. When the first round of the Alice Game starts up, Suigintou is still piteously seeking “Father”. That is when her first meeting with Shinku occurs. Although she introduces herself as the “first Rozen Maiden”, Shinku believes that an incomplete doll cannot be labeled as such. However, she dedicates herself to teaching Suigintou to walk, at the same time departing other skills that a ‘lady’ needs, such as making tea, so that the other doll may live happily for the rest of her life (short though Shinku expects it to be). Unfortunately, when Shinku answers a challenge from Souseiseki, Suigintou follows and ignorantly interrupts the fight, begging Souseiseki not to hurt the one that was so kind to her, only to be cut in half. Without a stomach, she simply crumbles, and is dragged through some unknown portals. In the dream she then sees, Father gives Suigintou her Roza Mystica, conveying upon her the full status as one of the Rozen Maiden. However, when she meets Shinku again, the latter cannot believe this development, revealing to Suigintou that she never thought of her as an equal. Hurt, Suigintou destroys the the precious broach that Father gave to Shinku. (see Garten’s reviews for a much more complete summary, with loads of screenshots too.)

Ouvertüre is, in my opinion, the best of the Rozen Maiden anime arcs released so far. Short and succinct, it nevertheless fully demonstrates the characters of several of the dolls. Out of these four, Souseiseki comes off as the worst – an arrogant (though not quite as much as Shinku), tom-boyish doll who barely even cares for her medium. Shinku, with her arrogance, and Suigintou, with her spitefulness, both contributed to the enmity between them. Whilst Suigintou should have been more grateful to the one who helped her walk, it is incredibly difficult to accept aid that is offered out of pity, and the agitation built up from seeing the other dolls loved whilst she herself was neglected would have been aggravated by Shinku’s pointed refusal to see her as one of the Rozen Maidens. Suiseiseki, on the other hand, keeps rising in my esteem, cementing her place as my favourite doll, despite how annoying she was during the first series. Animation-wise, the OVA format really benefits it, as production values look gorgeous. As for the music…I’ve unfortunately left it for too long.

Whether you see this or not will probably depend on what you think of the concept of Rozen Maiden, or, if you’re a manga fan, of the anime series. But whichever camp you are from, I think this OVA is well worth seeing, even if you don’t want to sit through the two series in order to appreciate it. (Hint, use wikipedia, or Garten’s blog.) 9/10.

About karice
MAG fan, translator, and localization project manager. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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