Rozen Maiden: Ouvertüre is the two part OVA that sits somewhere between Rozen Maiden and Rozen Maiden: Traumend. Set in Victorian England, Ouvertüre tells the story of Suigintou and Shinku’s first meeting and how Suigintou’s almost irrational hatred for Shinku developed. In terms of the story, it is for all intents and purposes a prequel; however some elements are spoilers for Rozen Maiden’s second season, so my advice to viewers is to watch this only after you’ve seen seasons one and two.
Rozen Maiden: Ouvertüre begins back in shut in Jun’s house, with the dolls living out their daily lives. It appears as though he’s not yet started going back to school, and Shinku is learning more and more about the modern world, starting with mail order DVDs. As her rose brooch has fallen off, she demands than Jun go fix the problem after sorting out payment for her weborder mini haul. Whilst out shopping for thread with a friend, he meets a super creepy single dollmaker who appears to be nameless yet mysteriously knows all about the Rozen Maidens. Just to mess with Jun, he then sells him a beautiful brooch that looks very similar to the one Shinku used to wear. Cue fit from Shinku when Jun returns home and tries to get her to wear it. Souseiseki, ever the mature adult of the Rozen Maidens, then approaches Jun and thus begins the backstory of Shinku and Suigintou.
The series paces itself well, with the story continuing at a comfortable pace and explaining the relationship between the two dolls and how it came to be how it is in the present day. As it’s a two part OVA, there is very little, if any, filler and the time is used well. The two parts are definitely darker and more tragic than the two full length series, however it restrains itself from becoming depressing but interspersing sad scenes with whimsical and lighthearted moments. Admittedly, aside from Suigintou and Shinku, there is very little character development but as this is only a two part OVA it’s forgivable. The artwork style looks good, and although it looks a little dated now, works well with the series’ tone.
Rozen Maiden: Ouvertüre’s OST perfectly matches the mood of the two part series, with ALI Project providing suitably angsty opening and ending themes. Instrumental pieces don’t grate on the nerves as some soundtracks tend to do, and match the storyline perfectly.
First a disclaimer: I am a firm fan of subtitles over dubbing any day, so my opinion may be a little biased. However, the dubbing for Rozen Maiden: Ouvertüre firmly reinforces this opinion. Admittedly, Jun and Shinku’s voices aren’t too bad, but the rest of the cast seem to be either incredibly screechy and shrill; or flat and monotonous. Thankfully, MVM have also included the option for Japanese audio, so this is easily fixed. MVM have also managed to improve their subtitling since previous titles, with text now more legible than their old white lettering style.