"I am Shinku -- the fifth doll of the Rozen Maiden."
"Desu, desu, desu, desu, desu, desu, desu, desu, desu, desu, desu, desu, desu, desu, desu, desu!"
—The Internet on Rozen Maiden
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 series continued into an anime-origina, 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's 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 chapters, the story then shifts back to the original Jun via a bridge-arc and the plot resumes where the original Manga ended, making Tales, despite what it initially looked like, an actual continuation instead of an Alternate Universe spin-off.
Studio DEEN adapted the new manga into a new anime with noticeably worse production values than its predecessors and callet it Rozen Maiden: Zurückspulen. It failed.
Zurückspulen continues from a backstory similar but not identical to the first Rozen Maiden anime and after alienating and/or confusing most of the audience with a very rushed Recap Episode as the first episode, concentrates on the older, alternate-universe Jun. As Träumend never happened, the villainous seventh doll is not Barasuishou but a new doll called Kirakishou. The parts of the plot that have to do with the Rozen Maiden dolls and alternate universes are hard to follow and feel very random even to viewers familiar with the earlier animes and are likely more or less incomprehensible to people new to the franchise.
- 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.
- Artificial Human: The Rozen Maiden dolls, even when their joints are showing.
- Enju tries to replicate this, as shown when he brings a small doll to life, when Jun is visiting his shop even though he has already done this with Barasuishou.
- Anti-Villain: Suigintou in Ouverture.
- Back from the Dead: Poor Suigintou dies the most Tear Jerker way possible in all 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 dolls to take Jun more seriously.
- Battle Butler: Inverted.
- Battle in the Center of the Mind
- Big Bad: Suigintou in the first season/portion of the manga, followed later by Barasuishou in the anime and Kirakishou in the manga.
- Berserk Button: In the first season, Suigintou does NOT take the word 'Junk' lightly, especially if it's directed to her.
- Beta Baddie: Suigintou.
- Bokukko: Souseiseki, who's commonly called Boku by fans.
- Break the Cutie: Suigintou in Ouverture.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Nori fantasizes about her brother in her sleep and wonders why he hasn't taken an interest in stealing her underwear.
- The part about the stealing of her panties is not necessarily an expression of... unusual feelings for her brother. She apparently thinks that stealing lingerie is a part of the normal sexual development of a man. Maybe...
- 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!'.
- 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, at least in the manga, 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.
- Cheerful Child: Hina Ichigo, as well as Suigintou as she appeared in Ouverture.
- The Chew Toy: Kanaria, who screws up every time without anyone noticing.
- Clockwork Creature: Granted, they're magical constructs, but it's still "Will you wind?" and they shut down when clockwork is blocked.
- Hell, they have clockwork souls!.
- Costume Porn
- 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 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.
- Cute Shotaro Boy: Jun
- Death Seeker: Megu, who has been sick, almost terminally so, for her whole life.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Arguably, Suigintou after meeting Megu.
- Different As Night and Day: The -seiseki twins; their Mismatched Eyes are even on opposite sides.
- 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. It is Better Than It Sounds, though.
- Don't Say Such Stupid Things
- The Door Slams You: Let's just say it was very in character for Kanaria, desu.
- 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.
- Erotic Dream
Nori is in bed talking in her sleep.
- Escalating War: One of the most amusing episodes in the first season.
- Evil Albino: Suigintou, she has all the conditions necessary (white hair, pink eyes, rarely if ever seen during the day, and is the Big Bad in the first season.
- Gecko Ending: Thanks to some Executive Meddling The last volume of the manga was Cut Short.
- There is no way the Zurückspulen anime was supposed to end mid-season like that.
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Nori, to Jun, in episode 11 of the first season.
- Have You Seen Father?
- Heartwarming Orphan: Megu always, Suigintou in Ouverture before her Start of Darkness.
- Actually averted for Megu. Although her personality is still as heartwarming as you'd expect it to, she's not an orphan, and her father actually shows up once in the manga to talk with her.
- Hidden Eyes: Jun's glasses occasionally fog up to create this effect.
- Hikikomori: Jun
- Idiot Crows: In episode 5, a thieving crow invokes this.
- If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him: In episode 12 of the second season, Jun says this to Shinku when she's about to kill Barasuishou.
- I Kiss Your Hand
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Suiseiseki does this to Souseiseki.
- Invisible to Normals
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jun.
- Journey to the Center of the Mind: N-Fields
- 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.
- Loony Friends Improve Your Personality
- 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.
- Mega Manning: Taking another Rosa Mystica grants the owner's power.
- Mismatched Eyes: Suiseiseki and Souseiseki.
- 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.
- Musical Assassin: Kanaria.
- Musicalis Interruptus: Happens in episode 11 of the first season, during the fight between Shinku and Suigintou.
- Names to Know in Anime: Suigintou has two famous voice actresses - one in the audio dramas and one in the anime.
- 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!
- Noble Demon: Suigintou.
- Odd Couple: Jun and Shinku. The nature of their relationship is rather ambiguous.
- Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Rozen Maiden: Träumend and Rozen Maiden: Ouvertüre.
- The Subtitle of the former is Gratuitous German and means "Dreaming", while the latter means "Opening/Beginning".
- The Ojou: Even though she has no real family, Shinku is every inch an ojou.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Suigintou seems to believe she has sole rights to defeat anyone and everyone, particularly Shinku. She actually dies because of it in Träumend.
- "On the Next Episode of..." Catchphrase: "Swear to me on this rose ring."
- Ordinary High School Student: Sakurada Nori (and Jun), who actually are reasonably normal. More so with the reboot manga, where Jun is a much more ordinary university student, while he'd been quite academically gifted in high school.
- Parental Abandonment - Jun's parents throughout the show were always away.
- Perpetual Molt: Suigintou.
- Phantom Zone: N-Space.
- Photographic Memory: The dolls recall exactly how long it's been since they last met down to the second.
- Pimped-Out Dress
- Pinocchio Syndrome: 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.
- Really 700 Years Old: All the Rozen Maiden dolls. Of course, it helps that they're, well, dolls.
- Recap Episode: The first episode of Zurückspulen. It's not bad as it sounds, but even worse.
- 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 Continuity Reboot manga above, he took the Blue Pill It is revealed to be and Alternate Universe. The main universe characters try to get support from the Jun that did not wound and thus drag the war in his reality.
- Replacement Goldfish
- Ridiculously Human Dolls: Justified due to their Magitech nature.
- School Play: Episode 10, "Snow White".
- Screwy Squirrel: Suiseiseki.
- Show Within a Show: "Detective Kun-kun".
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Souseiseki is calm, collected, thoughtful and doesn't overuse her Verbal Tic; Suiseiseki is loud, naughty, haughty and overuse her Verbal Tic.
- In the manga and Ouverture it's rather obvious that Souseiseki is violent and aggressive and Suiseiseki is timid and avoidant.
- Träumend too, where Souseiseki goes so far as to threaten to cut down Suiseiseki if she got in the way of the game when Suiseiseki is trying to convince her not to participate.
- In the manga and Ouverture it's rather obvious that Souseiseki is violent and aggressive and Suiseiseki is timid and avoidant.
- Slap Slap Kiss: Mix of abuse and affection in relationships between some dolls and their mediums. Also, see the first OP translation here .
- 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.
- Something About a Rose: Kirakishou has one growing out of one of her eye sockets; Barasuishou has a rose eyepatch much like it.
- Spot of Tea: Shinku wants her tea, servant.
- Start of Darkness: Rozen Maiden: Ouverture, which details Suigintou's past.
- Tall, Dark and Bishoujo: For the standard of Rozen Maiden character height, Suigintou kinda counts, except she's white-haired. But the rest of her outfit is DARK.
- 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
- Trickster Archetype: Suiseiseki.
- For a more sinister example, Laplace's Demon.
- Tsundere: Suiseiseki, Shinku, possibly Suigintou.
- Twelve-Episode Anime: Both Seasons 1 and 2, Rozen Maiden Traumend, are twelve episode anime.
- 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.
- Villain Decay: Suigintou is a threatening villain in the first anime. In Zurückspulen it gets to the point where the extent of her "villainy" consists of calling Shinku names, slapping her, and maaaybe pulling her hair when their sister rivalry boils too high.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Basically the motivation for every doll except Suiseiseki, who loves her sisters more than her father.
- What Do You Mean It's Not 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.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: the eventual fate of Barasuishou and Enju, even if the former crumbled to death.
- White-Haired Pretty Girl: Suigintou & Kirakishou (though the latter has occasionally been depicted with light pink hair.
- X Meets Y: Pinocchio + Highlander, desu (like this).
- Yandere: Kirakishou.