Sakurada Jun is a boy with a trauma in his past and a strange hobby: He collects supposedly cursed items in the hope that one of them will actually turn out to be cursed. One day, he receives a letter which simply says, "Will you wind? Yes / No". Responding in the affirmative, he sticks the letter in his desk drawer and thinks nothing more of it until an ornate case arrives with a beautiful clockwork doll inside. True to his word, Jun does wind, which causes the doll to become animated.Shinku, the doll, immediately sets about correcting Jun's mannerisms, trying to convert him into her servant by default — an attempt cut short by the appearance of a stuffed clown with a pair of menacing-looking knives. Jun, fearing for his life, agrees to become Shinku's medium (her supply of power so that she can fight), and is drawn from there into the strange world of the Rozen Maiden dolls and the Alice game.The original anime series continued into a second season, called Rozen Maiden: Träumend. Season one's Big Bad, Suigintou, is supplanted by a new doll named Barasuishou, and it seems as if the mysterious Rozen, father of the Rozen Maiden, has finally appeared. The OVA, Rozen Maiden Ouverture, focuses on Suigintou's backstory, and shows that Shinku wasn't as good a sister as she'd like to think.Sadly, it was never finished because of a dispute between the producers and publishers of the manga. The anime Overtook the Manga and went to its own conclusion while the manga went on hiatus for months until it was finally Cut Short with a Deus ex Machina (and an apology for doing so).A new manga series is currently being published under the name Rozen Maiden Tale. It begins as a For Want of a Nail story starring a much older Jun Sakurada, which follows what would have happened if Jun had responded "do not wind" to the initial letter, and crosses over with the original universe. After a few volumes, the older Jun's story finishes, and the two universes separate again, with the story shifting back to the original universe, and the plot resuming where the original Manga ended, making Tale, despite what it initially looked like, an actual continuation instead of an Alternate Universe spin-off.Has nothing to do with Michael Rosen, or him crossdressing as a doll.A second anime series started airing in the Summer 2013 Anime season, adapting the first arc of Tale, with Studio DEEN providing the animation instead of Nomad.
This series provides examples of:
The Ace: Deconstructed by Jun, once you learn his backstory... when he was in school, he excelled academically as well as being good at sports and crafts, and was highly popular with the other students. Then the sheer pressure of it all caused him to mentally collapse and turn into a Hikikomori.
Alas, Poor Villain: Suigintou, twice.note First, when she is defeated in the first season, showing her incomplete body as she falls apart. Then in the second season, when she was about to attack Shinku, but held back because she did not want to hurt Megu, and finally make a Diving Save, shielding Shinku from Barasuishou's attack. Another is Barasuishou, although some call it a Karmic Death considering how she defeatedShinku.
Alice Allusion: The Alice Game and the general idea of becoming Alice, the perfect girl.
Back from the Dead: Poor Suigintou dies the most Tear Jerker way possible in three parts of the anime, only to be brought back every time by Rozen (one can only wonder whether this fact decays her self-preservation). In Träumend, all Rozen Maiden got a bit farther than Near Death Experience. Also, the animated normal doll (clown) in one of the scenes that prompted the dolls to take Jun more seriously.
Butt Monkey: The boy that keeps trying to ask Nori out. In a series all about having the courage to step forward and try he is the glaring exception that no matter how many times he gathers his courage to ask something always gets in his way; poor boy.
Catch Phrase: Lightly used. Things repeated many times during the series: Shinku's 'Jun, make tea!' and Suigintou's 'I'm NOT junk!'.
Cat Fight: Since their supernatural fights leave behind a mess of rose petals and black feathers, Unwind!Jun forbids Shinku and Suigintou from fighting like that. So they rely on badmouthing, slaps and pulling each other's hair.
Cats Are Mean: Shinku does not like cats and thinks they're the enemy of all Rozen Maidens, supposedly because one nearly swallowed the key needed to wind her.
Also subverted, when Hinaichigo slips out of the house to try mailing a letter. She falls onto a very large, scary-looking cat ... who leads her to the mailbox (was he somehow able to understand what she wanted?) and actually lets her ride him at one point.
Clockwork Creature: Granted, they're magical constructs, but it's still "Will you wind?" and they shut down when clockwork is blocked.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Jun was a sulking, thankless pile of rather childish fears and grievances, not whining only because he was too self-absorbed for it. Soon, he shocks the dolls by demonstrating talents worthy of a potential apprentice to Rozen, and powers three fighting Rozen Maiden at once without looking pale and swooning, while in all three parts of the anime we see some other mediums - one of whom was obviously more healthy - drained to within a hair's breadth of death by supporting only one.
Distaff Counterpart: Take Gash Bell. Switch demon children for cursed dolls. Switch Spellbook for Rosa Mystica. Switch 'become king' for 'become Alice'. Switch 'teen genius' for 'teen loser'. Notice a pattern yet? Be ready for serious mamodo deja vu, if you plan on watching this.
Dreamland: The -seiseki twins can enter people's dreams to go to the World Tree. Also, some masters can go to the N-Field through their own dreams.
Elegant Gothic Lolita: Character designs; Suigintou is the only one who qualifies as both lolita and fitting the gothic subtype's palette, however. Souseiseki has the colors, but her clothing is more in keeping with the ouji/kodona style.
Grew Beyond Their Programming: Or starting instructions, anyway. Which may or may not be intended. Even Suigintou, who grew beyond her loyal monomania toward Rozen and vengefulness toward Shinku to really care about Megu.
Actually averted for Megu. Although her personality is still as heartwarming as you'd expect it to be, she's not an orphan, and her father actually shows up once in the manga to talk with her. Also events in Tale suggest she's notthat heartwarming, either.
Hidden Eyes: Jun's glasses occasionally fog up to create this effect.
Hikikomori: Jun. Unwind!Jun grew out of it years ago and is going to college.
Idiot Crows: In episode 5, a thieving crow invokes this.
Invisible to Normals: The N-Field and its influence on the world. Kirakishou uses this trope to her advantage.
It Began with a Twist of Fate: The manga started with Jun answering that yes, he will wind. Rozen Maiden Tale was initially about what would happen if Jun answered otherwise, before the series became a Stealth Sequel.
Living Toys: Starting from the Rozen Maiden themselves, but not limited to them.
Loony Friends Improve Your Personality: With Unwind!Jun, we can see how Jun's life could have been empty and meaningless without the dolls. After Saito manages to become his friend and the dolls enter his life, the trope starts going again.
Morality Pet: Megu for Suigintou. First, her medium's problem is obviously similar to her own, second, it's someone she can love without any conflict with "Father"s requests - which, in light of Ouverture, may be a part of the trouble.
Mundane Made Awesome: Episode 5 of Träumend is full of these moments. A couple examples are when Kanaria holds a gun up to Suiseiseki's face and it turns out to be a water gun, and when Hina Ichigo tries to put her letter to Jun in the mailbox complete with Slow Motion Fall.
Ordinary High-School Student: Sakurada Nori (and Jun), who actually are reasonably normal. More so with the reboot manga, where alternate!Jun is a much more ordinary university student, while he'd been quite academically gifted in high school.
Rozen. He DOES appear personally at the end of Traumend however, if only for a brief few moments. In fact, he's nice enough to allow the dolls another way to become Alice, without the need for the Alice Game.
Red Pill, Blue Pill: The plot kicks off by asking Jun whether or not he wants to wind Shinku up. In the reboot manga, he took the proverbial "blue pill." The reboot turns out to be an Alternate Timeline, and the main timeline characters try to get support from the alternate Jun, thus dragging the war into his reality.
Replacement Goldfish: In the manga, all seven dolls are failed attempts of Rozen of recreating the original perfect doll girl after she got broken.
Shoot the Medic First: A variation of this occurs in regards to the mediums. While not medics in the strictest sense, they are a major source of the dolls' power in-universe, explained in-universe that the doll and the master share a soul as long as the contract is valid. If the medium dies, so does the doll, as exemplified by Souseiseki attacking her master in the manga.
One chapter of Tales has a garden of talking, giant roses. Some are quite rude, other are more decent, all love to gossip.
Next chapter, Shinku and Kanaria found a crockett field with the Queen of Hearts shouting "Who ate my tarts!?"
Show Within a Show: "Detective Kun-kun". Every single one of the Rozen Maidens has shown to be huge fans of the show, including, hilariously, Suigintou. The exception being Kirakishou, who probably hasn't ever had the opportunity to even know it exists.
Sibling Rivalry: All the dolls are sisters and they fight against each other, trying to take the life source of the other. Subverted with Suiseiseki who loves her sister so much she refuse to fight them, unless to protect her most beloved twin sister. Played for drama when they are fighting to save their mediums, yet Suigintou and Kanaria are to stubborn to even stay with Shinku, Suiseiseki and Souseiseki and fight together against Kirakishou.
Small Name, Big Ego: Kanaria constantly refers to herself as the smartest of all the Rozen Maidens...a shame none of her plans ever actually work. Perhaps because she's only slightly more mature than Hinaichigo.
Verbal Tic: Every last one of the Maidens, though it's more prevelant in the original Japanese then the dubbed version. The "desu!" tic of Suiseiseki is totally nonpresent in the dubbed anime, for example, while the characters trying to figure out what Hinaichigo's "unyuu" actually is forms the plot point of an early episode.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Mix of abuse and affection in relationships between some dolls and their mediums. Also, see the first OP translation here .
"Well Done, Son" Guy: Basically the motivation for every doll except Suiseiseki, who loves her sisters more than her father. Eventually, Shinku comes to feel the same way as Suiseiseki and in the manga, Souseiseki also comes to share the sentiment.
You Kill It, You Bought It: The sole mechanism of the Alice Game: The winner takes the loser's Roza Mystica and gains her powers, while the loser becomes a normal doll. Subverted when Souseiseki's Roza Mystica starts hurting Suigintou, who stole it (Suiseiseki was the one meant to take her twin's Roza Mystica) but Hinaichigo's accepts Shinku smoothly. After some time of meditation, Suigintou understands that the real way to win the Alice Game is for the losing doll actually willingly giving her Roza Mystica, something that just can be done via trust and creating a bond.