As Jun Sakurada fights and lives alongside the Rozen Maidens, special lifelike dolls made to battle each other, he enjoys a rare break in which he is told a story during the events of Rozen Maiden: Träumend.
When Jun buys a brooch as a present for Shinku, the fifth doll, she refuses to accept it at any cost. Souseiseki, the fourth doll, then recounts the story of how Shinku and the first doll, Suigintou, first met. This tale tells of the cruel and heartbreaking circumstances surrounding Suigintou's birth, and how the many misunderstandings between her and Shinku shaped their longstanding rivalry fueled by Suigintou's unfettered hate towards Shinku.
The stage is set in Rozen Maiden: Ouvertüre in 19th century London as the story delves into the past of these one-time friends and the secrets that they hold.
I'll let you know right off the bat I am extremely biased toward Rozen Maiden: Ouvertüre. One, as of this moment, this is the only thing on my anime list that I've rated a ten (not even Rozen Maiden or Rozen Maiden: Träumend gets this honour); two, I think Tanaka Rie (Suigintou's seiyuu) is spectacular; and three, my favourite doll is Suigintou.
Now, to the important stuff: Why do I like this so much?
Simply enough, it explains why Suigintou is the way she is. Haven't you watched or read enough things where there are incredibly evil antagonists, and you hate their guts, but you
have no idea why they're doing what they're doing?
Suigintou starts to change in Träumend but as viewers we still don't understand where her attitude comes from. Those who have watched Rozen Maiden will know why Suigintou's particularly sensitive to certain insults, but Ouvertüre tells us the real reason, and I am inclined to believe even Suigintou-haters will empathise (or at the very least, sympathise) with her, even if only for a fleeting moment.
And even though the events in Ouvertüre take place before both Rozen Maiden and Träumend, I highly suggest watching Ouvertüre last to fully appreciate it.
In other news, the art and animation's wonderful, and as for "sound", I tend to weigh the seiyuu's performance more heavily than the music. Both Tanaka Rie and Sawashiro Miyuki (Shinku's seiyuu) were outstanding in Ouvertüre. And I'm not kidding about that at all. I don't think it's possible to watch Ouvertüre and come away thinking, "The seiyuu could've been better than that."
I do wish it were longer-- for how can two episodes sate the insatiable? -- but I think it's a suitable length for Ouvertüre as far as things go. The point of Ouvertüre isn't to answer and explain all the unanswered questions thus far; it's to give Suigintou character development.
And in that regard, I think it's succeeded in a most spectacular fashion.
Anime: Ouverture was animated by the same studio that did the other two seasons (Nomad), directed by the same guy (Kou Matsuo), and ran on Japanese TV from December 22nd to December 23rd, 2006. Again, this may or may not correspond to the manga; since I have yet to read it, I'll have to get back to you on that.
Story: Ouverture focuses on the first meeting between Shinku and Suigin Tou, mainly through a flashback as Sousei Seki tells the tale to Jun. The flashback part takes place back in Victorian England, and the modern day part takes place between
episodes six and eight of TrÃ¤umend.
Wow. It's amazing, seeing what a violent 180 everyone's personalities took to become what they are today. Well, everyone except the Sekis, really.
Still, I felt that something was missing from this OVA. But that falls more under Length. Overall, though, the plot for the OVA was pretty good, about the same as the writing for Traumend. Definitely dark, definitely revealing, but it felt like there could've been more.
Art: This is the pinnacle of the art that Rozen Maiden has shown thus far. The tones are definitely darker, and it's absolutely beautiful.
Music: No original music for this OVA; instead, it uses music from the previous two seasons. Except for the OP (again, done by ALI Project), which is probably my least favorite of all their OPs. Again, though, the ED (done by kukui) is made of awesomeness, and is my favorite of the three.
Length: The OVA really feels like it's missing something. The plot only starts picking up in the last third of the first episode, and it wraps up pretty quickly in the second (and last) episode. If it had been given an episode or two more, it probably would've had a chance to really shine. (Personally, I would've liked a whole twelve-episode series centered on Suigin Tou, but hey, that's just me. :P)
Seiyuu: Ouverture keeps the same seiyuu from the previous two seasons, so I don't feel the need to repeat what I've said the last two reviews.
Overall: Ouverture is a pretty good OVA, but it's not ZOMG material. Maybe if it had been given a few more episodes, it could've been.
I am not exactly sure when this series actually ends up starting as there are many characters from Traumend but yet there is also a lot more information about the Alice Game that Jun doesn’t seem to know at the end of the series. There is also a lot of information on Suigintou.
Because of the fact that most of the story revolves in a different era then the rest of the series, it makes it so the animation is a lot different as well. I believe the story is actually in Europe as well meaning a different look to the backgrounds. The personality of
the only few human characters we see also show this different world well in how strict they are to their daughter in how she acts. The young girl, Sarah, who is Shinku’s medium in that time can’t seem to act like a child at all. She is always talked down upon by her mother and her father doesn’t seem to notice her all that well for the times we do see them. On the other hand, Sarah is also quiet harsh, especially about the ideas of Shinku fighting. She seems almost to light up when the subject of fighting dolls comes up a bit.
The other part that is in the normal world is pretty much normal to the slice of life storyline but it is very short.
The animation is very similar to the other seasons except since most is a flash back, we have a sort of slight sepia tone to it. The area in the flashback is very early 20th century Europe and has a very gray looking area. The N-field that they fight in is also a bit gray even if it still retains its color. No matter if they are looking back in time or the normal time, the dolls still seem like they are not part of the human world. They still seem more detailed and stand out.
The opening song is actually a lot more calming then the first two. It has an even more haunting presence to the song, I think because it sort of focuses more on Suigintou and her feelings rather then the others. The ending has a bit more of an up beat then the opening which is opposite to the other seasons.
Though this was a very short ‘OVA’ (or at least I think it was an OVA), it had a lot of information that I really do think was needed about the dolls and the Alice Game. It still had a lot of questions but it answered more then it gave.
Overture is basically a backstory explaining why Suigintou hates Shinku so much.
Story: I've pretty much summarised it up there. It is explained nicely in the 2 episodes, and you see the transition from when Suigintou and Shinku first meet, and they are friends, all the way to Suigintou explaning her hatred of Shinku at the end of episode 2. The events leading up to it make sense, and do actually fit together to form a coherent story, unlike some back stories which just appear to be totally random.
Art: I didn't think it was as good as the first series'. I haven't seen
the 2nd yet so I can't comment on it. The colours weren't as good and it just seemed more amateurish.
Sound: Again, not as good as the first series. The theme song was again excellent. (though I am an Ali Project fan). The soundtrack obviously wasn't memorable as I'm sitting here struggling to remember anything about it even though I only watched it last night.
Character: The chracters were the best thing about this, particularly Shinku and Suigintou. Suigintou's change in attitude was very well done, as was Shinku's pleas with her to understand. I actually felt really sorry for Shinku at the end, as she struggled to get Suigintou to understand her. Shinku's past medium Sara, was a little irritating in her expectations of Shinku though. All the other characters only got a token amount of screen time, so I'm not going to comment on them.
Overall: Don't watch it before anything else, but once you've watched the first season, it's a nice explanation behind Suigintou's hatred.
This is my first review so constructive criticism would be appreciated! ><