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Manga / Rozen Maiden

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"You must swear by the Rose Ring... that you will protect my Rosa Mystica."
"The Alice Game is about to begin."
Hinaichigo, towards Shinku

Jun Sakurada 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 master (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.

One of Peach-Pit's most famous manga, the series has seen several publications. The manga originally ran in Monthly Comic Blitz from 2002 to 2007, but a second manga series was published in Weekly Young Jump in 2008 under the name Rozen Maiden note . 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 the 2008 manga, despite what it initially looked like, an actual continuation instead of an Alternate Universe spin-off. This time period also introduced several manga that ran through 2012-14, Rozen Maiden: Dolls Talk, in Ribon and Maite wa Ikenai Rozen Maiden in Miracle Jump. A collector's edition of the manga was announced in April of 2022 that collects the original and continuation manga, finally bringing the two serializations together under the same name of Rozen Maidennote .

A more faithful anime adaption started airing in the summer of 2013, adapting the first arc of the 2008 manga, with Studio DEEN providing the animation instead of Studio NOMAD. This anime was subtitled Zurückspulen for overseas release note .

In December 2015, it was announced that a new manga series would start being published in Ultra Jump starting early 2016, named Rozen Maiden 0. This manga takes place in the Taisho era of Imperial Japan and covers the mystery of the Zeroth Doll. It concluded in March 2019 with a total of 4 volumes.

This page covers the original manga, the 2008 Stealth Sequel, and other related works in the same canon, including Studio DEEN's anime. For tropes on Studio NOMAD's anime see Anime.Rozen Maiden.

This series provides examples of:

  • Alice Allusion: The Alice Game and the general idea of becoming Alice, the perfect girl.
  • All Men Are Perverts: At first, Nori mistook Shinku for a robotic sex doll.
  • Almost Kiss: Between Megu and Tomoe. The former was just teasing the latter.
  • Artificial Human: The Rozen Maiden dolls, even when their joints are showing.
    • Another would-be dollmaker shows up in the 2008 manga, but his attempts are firmly in the uncanny valley.
  • Astro Clone: The Rozen Maiden dolls and their relationship towards their creator, Rozen, greatly resembles this. Like Tenma, Rozen lost a child, his daughter Alice, and set about trying to bring her back to life using a doll body. He ultimately lost track of his original goal and when each doll failed to live up to his expectations (of being the perfect girl) he abandoned them. Rozen sees them all as his daughters as do they see him as their father and each other as sisters.
  • Back from the Dead: Over the course of the manga, Souseiseki, Suiseiseki, and Shinku each experience this. The ending of the manga takes this further with all of the dolls, except Shinku, coming back from death.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: When it's not happening in the real world, fights often happen in the N-Field, which is an alternate reality closely tied to the human psyche.
  • Become a Real Boy:
    • The dolls want to become "Alice", the perfect girl - however, they seem to want to do it more to please Rozen than for the sake of being human.
    • Suiseiseki makes a comment at one point over the concept of mortality and wanting to be a human rather than a doll concerning her time left to exist. She later becomes smitten over the idea of going to school and has an Imagine Spot involving her as a human.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Several lightnovels introduce a few historical figures as earlier masters of several of the dolls.
    • In Die Zwillinge, a man named Rudolph (more accurately, Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II) was one of Souseiseki's former masters. He was more interested with the dolls than his empire and loved doing anything that wasn't his duties as emperor. Their contract would unfortunately be cut short after his brother staged a coup for the throne and in his grief, the bond between him and Souseiseki shattered.
    • In Rot-Schwarz, Alice Liddell is Shinku's master. It's also revealed that Mary Shelley was one of Suigintou's former masters. The two were close until Shelley came up with the idea for her novel, Frankenstein. Shelley explained that she felt a connection between the relationship between her and her father, and between Suigintou and Rozen. Suigintou holds her relationship to Rozen as sacred and was offended by Shelley comparing the two and, at least to her, basing Frankenstein and his creature off of them. During this conflict, Suigintou would break the contract between them.
  • Big Bad: Suigintou in the first portion of the manga, followed later by Kirakishou.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Some parts of the N-field, but particularly Kirakishou's castle which also houses the Miniature Garden.
  • Bury Your Gays: Suigintou and Megu's interactions with each other are very heavily coded as romantic to the point that during the forming of their contract they recite wedding vows to each other as Suigintou puts her ring on Megu's hand. They both end up dying in the final chapters of the manga, during which they confirm their romantic feelings for each other, though Suigintou is later revived.
  • Catchphrase: Lightly used. Things repeated many times during the series: Shinku's 'Jun, make tea!' and Suigintou's 'I'm NOT junk!'.
    • DESU!
    • KASHIRA!
  • 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?".
    • The N-Field contains animals of this nature. There's notably a giant clockwork beetle in the sequel manga and a bird in 0.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The 2013 anime series' first episode crammed the story of the first seven manga volumes into roughly 22 minutes.
  • Costume Porn: The clothing of the dolls and some of the other sewn outfits made over the course of the series qualify.
  • Creepy Dolls: From the Rozen series, we have Kirakishou. Suigintou used to be one before being revealed as an Anti-Villain. Then there's Kirakishou's new "sisters".
  • 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 masters - one of whom was obviously more healthy - drained to within a hair's breadth of death by supporting only one.
  • Cut Short: This was the fate of the original manga. Although, the next manga ended up continuing the story.
  • Death Seeker: Megu, who has been sick, almost terminally so, for her whole life.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen:
    • Suigintou after meeting Megu. Megu's interactions with Suigintou open her up in ways previously unseen. It's because of her that she got more understanding towards other characters as the manga went on.
    • Hana in 0. She starts off closed off to others, especially to her own family, and it isn't until she meets and interacts with Souseiseki that she begins to wear down and open up to others.
  • The Door Slams You: Let's just say it was very in character for Kanaria.
  • 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.
  • Enigmatic Minion: Laplace's demon.
  • Escalating War: One of the most amusing chapters in the first manga.
  • Fairy Companion: Sorta. The artificial spirits, little wingless Navi-like lights, are this to the dolls.
  • Flashback B-Plot: The lightnovel Die Zwillinge has lengthy flashback sections between Suiseiseki and Souseiseki and a particular set of previous masters. In the present they are both being torn apart by their differing opinions on Kazuha Yuibishi, Souseiseki's new master, but think back on these previous masters they both liked. The flashbacks further highlight things they learned under these previous masters that they incorporate into the present day.
  • For Want of a Nail: The Rozen Maidens need to be accepted by their masters to exist in the world. Rozen Maiden (2008) is a world without Rozen Maidens since Jun chose to not be Shinku's master.
  • 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.
  • Have You Seen Father?
    • He reveals himself towards the end of the manga.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: 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 later events suggest she's not that heartwarming, either.
  • Hidden Eyes: Jun's glasses occasionally fog up to create this effect.
  • Hikikomori: Jun. Unwound!Jun grew out of it years ago and is going to college.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: In the manga it's more like "I kiss the ring in my hand."
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Suiseiseki did this to Souseiseki when she believed that Souseiseki was under a hateful influence from her master.
  • Interclass Friendship: Between the rich young master of the Rose Mansion and the working class siblings Kiku and Hana.
  • 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. The second manga was initially about what would happen if Jun answered otherwise, before the manga became a Stealth Sequel.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jun. Also Shinku.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: The N-Field. Since it has strong ties to the human psyche, some locations within it can directly interfere with the human mind, most notably the Dreamworld.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Almost all the lady dolls do this.
  • Little Miss Badass
  • Living Toys: Starting from the Rozen Maiden themselves, but not limited to them.
    • It is quickly established that ordinary toys and plushes have the sentience to be worried over their owners. The Rozen Maiden dolls can naturally make them animate.
    • Tefuko in Rozen Maiden 0. She was an ordinary doll until she became infused with some of the Zeroth Doll's dreams.
  • Loony Friends Improve Your Personality: With Unwound!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.
  • Love Makes You Crazy / Love Makes You Evil: All crazy and evil characters are motivated by love!
    • Averted with Suiseiseki, who loves her sisters too much to be motivated by her father's love alone. Played straight with Suigintou and Kirakishou however.
  • A Magic Contract Comes with a Kiss: In order to maintain a presence in the real world, the dolls need to make a contract with a human being. This specifically involves kissing a ring in order to form the contract.
  • Magitek: The dolls are essentially just ordinary wind up dolls but with the key difference being the Rosa Mystica that grants them their unique abilities and sentience.
  • Morality Pet: Megu for Suigintou. First, her master's problem is obviously similar to her own, second, it's someone she can love without any conflict with "Father"s request, which may be a part of the trouble.
  • Muggle in Mage Custody: Inverted with doll masters in general, who are ordinary humans owning magical dolls. Played straight with Jun and Shinku though, since despite formally being Shinku's "master", Jun is de facto more of a slave to her (she often sends him for tea and slaps him when he disobeys her orders).
  • Musical Assassin: Kanaria. She is able to summon a violin and use the soundwaves to attack with.
  • Noble Demon: Suigintou.
  • Nobody Poops: The girls are shown eating and drinking copiously, but none of them ever use the bathroom. In fact Shinku at the beginning doesn't even know what a water closet is!.
  • Odd Couple: Jun and Shinku. The nature of their relationship is rather ambiguous.
  • Oddly Named Sequel: The original Rozen Maiden manga was followed by a new Rozen Maiden manga about a year after ending. They are spelled differently in Japanese, but both read as Rozen Maiden.
  • The Ojou: Even though she has no real family, Shinku is every inch an ojou.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Nori Sakurada (and Jun), who actually are reasonably normal. More so with the sequel manga, where Unwound!Jun is a much more ordinary university student, while he'd been quite academically gifted in high school.
  • Parental Abandonment - Jun and Nori's parents are always away.
    • Both of Megu's parents. Her mom has been mentioned as having left the family for good because she could not handle the stress of having a terminally ill daughter. Her father occasionally visits, but he too cannot cope with Megu's illness.
    • Rozen. He does show up towards the end of the manga and expresses his regret for abandoning his creations.
  • Perpetual Molt: Suigintou, to the point that her presence is usually signaled by a few loose feathers drifting onto the panel/frame.
  • Phantom Zone: The N-Field.
  • Photographic Memory: The dolls recall exactly how long it's been since they last met down to the second.
  • Pimped-Out Dress
  • Polar Opposite Twins: The -seiseki twins; their heterochromia are even on opposite sides. Souseiseki is calm, collected, thoughtful and doesn't overuse her Verbal Tic; Suiseiseki is loud, naughty, haughty and overuses her verbal tic.
    • Souseiseki is very obviously hawkish and aggressive and Suiseiseki is timid and passive.
  • Real Event, Fictional Cause: Although never directly stated, it's heavily implied that the tremors happening in Rozen Maiden 0 will eventually lead to The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, which is being caused by the effects of the Zeroth Rozen Maiden doll's dreams consuming reality.
  • Really 700 Years Old: All the Rozen Maiden dolls. Of course, it helps that they're, well, dolls.
  • Recurring Extra: Kanaria.
  • 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.
  • Reflective Teleportation: Any reflective surfaces - mirrors, glass windows, water puddles - can be used as portal gates to the N-Field, a Dream Land that reflects the subconscious minds of people and their desires and sorrows. The main cast use these surfaces to travel to and from the N-Field in order to resolve conflicts related to the Alice Game.
  • Replacement Goldfish: all of the dolls are this to Rozen after he lost his daughter due to an illness. He spent a long time mastering alchemy and dollmaking in order to bring her back, but ultimately lost track of his original goal and ended up trying to create the perfect girl instead.
    • Tefuko is revealed to be one in Rozen Maiden 0. Her mother had a human daughter also named "Tefuko" who died.
  • Ridiculously Human Dolls: Justified due to their magitek nature.
  • Shoot the Medic First: A variation of this occurs in regards to the masters. 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 master dies, so does the doll, as exemplified by Souseiseki attacking her master in the manga.
  • Shout-Out: To Alice in Wonderland.
    • One chapter of the 2008 manga 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 Team: Between the dolls at times, but notably:
    • Suigintou and Shinku put aside their rivalry and become one during the fight with Kirakishou at the play and then again late into the manga when they enter Kirakishou's world.
    • After Suiseiseki arrives to the Sakurada household, she and Shinku usually plot together on what they'll do next regarding the Alice Game, forming a team that lasts for most the rest of the manga.
    • An interesting variation occurs in Rozen Maiden 0 where the two sets of siblings in the Sui-Sou Detective Agency form sibling teams during team split ups (Suiseiseki and Souseiseki forming one team and Kiku and Hana forming the other).
  • 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 masters, 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.
  • Stealth Clothes: Kanaria wears this at one point while trying to sneak into the Sakurada home.
  • Stealth Sequel: Rozen Maiden (2008). While it originally seems to be a For Want of a Nail take on Rozen Maiden, it quickly establishes that the universe of this manga is connected to the universe of the first. The story even goes back to the original universe after some time and completely resumes where the old manga left off.
  • Suck My Rose: Kirakishou has one growing out of one of her eye sockets; Barasuishou has a rose eyepatch much like it.
  • Thank the Maker: All the dolls, more or less.
  • There Can Be Only One: The goal of the Alice Game.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Shinku has tea, while Hinaichigo adores strawberries or anything with strawberry filling (her "unyuu").
  • Trapped in Another World: Jun goes into the N-Field with Kanaria, looking to find a way to save Shinku and the others from Kirakishou.
  • Trickster Archetype: Suiseiseki.
    • For a more sinister example, Laplace's Demon.
  • Tsundere: Suiseiseki, Shinku, possibly Suigintou.
  • 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 masters.
  • "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 Souseiseki also comes to share the sentiment later on.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Suigintou.
  • Yandere: Kirakishou.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: The sole mechanism of the Alice Game: The winner takes the loser's Rosa 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 Rosa 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 Rosa Mystica, something that just can be done via trust and creating a bond.

... desu