Sunday, 17 June 2018

Rozen Maiden volume 1 by Peach Pit (Manga, Young Adult, Fantasy, 10E/10E)

May 2006, Tokyopop, 192 pages, Paperback, Personal copy 

Book summary from Publishers Weekly on Amazon 
The genre of "awkward young man meets bizarre/supernatural/extra-dimensional/space alien female and all manner of wacky hijinx ensue" has been endlessly rehashed, from the prototypical Urusei Yatsura to countless knockoffs, including Peach Pit's own DearS. This volume goes down that familiar path, adding only a slightly more sinister edge than its predecessors. Jun is a high school dropout who spends his days ordering items from the Internet and sending them back for laughs, but his feeble prank backfires when he receives a "Rozen Maiden" named Shinku. The doll comes to obnoxious life when wound up by a key inserted into her back. Instantly treating Jun with disdain, Shinku attempts to groom him into her manservant while revealing that the antique mirror owned by his parents is actually a doorway into the "N-Field," the nexus of alternate realities. Charged with protecting the living doll by "the Spirit Hollier," Jun and Shinku embark on a transdimensional odyssey, the purpose of which will presumably be made clear in the next installment. Peach Pit's cutesy/goth manga art is coupled with a story that hits all the usual notes.

Nayu's thoughts
Sadly I only have this volume in the incredible series that I first saw as an anime. It can get a bit creepy, but overall it is a fun read, looking at what life is like for shut-ins who feel they can't face the outside world for some reason so literally don't leave their house. I adored the anime, primarily because of how cute Shinku is-just look at her gorgeous dress! She and the other Rozen Maidens who are way more than a living doll have similar styles but immensely different and strong powers. I like how Shinku has her own tiny tea cup, how she can run out of energy then needs recharging (if only I could recharge my energy low body in the same fashion)
This is what Shinku looks like when Jun first gets her, so sweet and gentle. She can be those characteristics, but not that often!
Just like the anime in the manga it is funny how obsessed Jun's sister whose name I've forgotten becomes with Shinku, trying to take care of her every need, and being overly enthusiastic about it. While I'm not 100% comfy with Shinku treating Jun as her slave, I like watching their bond grow, not just because of the ring that's a symbol of their relationship which keeps them together but Jun genuinely cares for her and wants to make sure she is ok. Having his own toys attack him is on the creepy side, but what he does to later fix one is a touching moment. He may have a lot of issues to deal with but deep down he has compassion for others which hopefully one day he can give himself.

There is a lot of humour, both from how Jun/Shinku/Jun's sister interact with each other, how Shinku learns about the world including her mistake in the bathroom, how Shinku is so particular over tea preparation, how much Jun's sister dotes on Shinku that it balances the darker and weirder parts of the story.  I think I prefer the anime because the manga is a little different (& not in colour...) but overall I love it and look forward to collecting more in the series one day! 

Suggested watch
Another anime which is similarly convoluted although doesn't involve living dolls is Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning I've seen the anime but not read the manga. 

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