Dolls in Media

Catherine, Cosette's doll in Shoujo Cosette

Creepy depictions of antique dolls abound, which is a shame, they're very beatiful and artfully made, so I thought I'd collect pretty and positive depictions of them! They'e often depicted faithfully in anime, with rosy cheeks, painted lips, and defined noses, that they amusingly wind up less stylized than the human characters!


Grevil's small bisque doll, held in his hand. It somewhat resembles his sister, having blonde hair and green eyes, wearing a pink dress with white frills.

Grevil's small bisque doll, held in his hand, in episode 2.

The heroine of the series, the diminutive detective, Victorique de Blois, is often compared to a doll, with porcelain skin, rosy cheeks, and floor-length locks of blonde hair... but she's also a pipe-smoking (in the books, the anime rarely depicts any smoke due to laws concerning depicting child characters smoking!) and rude, bossy and solitary. She is rarely ever allowed outside of her tower before the series began and then confined to her school grounds once the story begins, except with her foolishly inept inspector brother's influence... she solves the mysteries while he takes the credit. He holds this little doll while speaking of how Victorique has no permission to venture into the outside world without his influence. It is symbolic of her and has traits in common with Victorique, but with its small size and differing features, it's less disturbing than the one in the novels and manga, which is so human-sized and so lifelike, it's mistaken for Victorique at a glance!

Various bisque dolls on a shelf from episode 19 of GOSICK. All wearing ribboned bonnets that match the colours of their dresses (pinnk with red ribbon and white lace headdress for the first doll in pink and red-accented dress with white frills, the second doll wears burgundy ribbons on black with a capelet over white frills, the third doll wears yellow with orange ribbon to match her yellow with orange bows dress, and the fourth doll wears a purple bonnet with lavender ribbon while wearing a lavender dress with white frills.

Dolls on a shelf Kujou views in episode 19 of GOSICK, while considering a gift for Victorique.

Rozen Maiden

A freckled porcelain doll with long, brown ringlets from the first season of Rozen Maiden.

A nameless, freckled bisque doll with long, brown ringlets from the first season of Rozen Maiden.

All the main characters, aside from human protagonist Jun (and his older sister, Nori) are near-immortal, sentient, antique ball-jointed dolls, with magical powers, as long as they still have their Rosa Mystica rings, which the source of their power. When Rozen Maidens die, they revert to resembling ordinary dolls, rather than lifelike (if very tiny, doll-sized) girls—like this poor fallen doll seen in Suigintou's dream world. The sight of this doll disturbs the Rozen Maidens, being their equivalent of a corpse, and they express pity for her.

Each of the Rozen Maidens have their own unique style of dress and unique personalities (Hina-Ichigo dresses like a Sweet Lolita and is very cheerful and exuberant, child-like, scribbling in crayon on everything; Shinku, meanwhile, dresses in a very elegant Classic Lolita style, is proud and restrained, but also exhibits high emotional intelligence—despite her outburts—and helps Jun understand others and helps others understand him in turn, Souseiseki dresses in Ouji/Prince or Boy Style Lolita fashion, she even speaks boyishly, so she's easily mistaken for a boy, and a senile old man sees her as his lost son...).

A doll with long brown hair, light skin, hazel eyes, and frilly orange headdress and matching orange frills criss-crossing down her black dress and orange-hemmed capelet, sitting on a shelf from the dollmaker's shop in the second season of Rozen Maiden. Her grey jabot has a thin black bowtie and an ornament which matches her eye colour.

(A doll with long straight brown hair, light skin, hazel eyes, and frilly orange headdress and matching orange frills criss-crossing down her black dress and orange-hemmed capelet, sitting on a shelf from the dollmaker's shop in the second season of Rozen Maiden.)

Numerous dolls with varying shades of blonde hair (ash, platinum, and gold) sitting on a shelf in the dollmaker's shop in the second season of Rozen Maiden. The first doll has closed eyes and long straight ash blonde hair with her fringe brushed to the side in waves, she wears a big blue ribbon on her head, a with pale blue frilly trim. The same pale blue frills adorn her blue dress. A thin light blue bowtie, also. The second doll has open brown eyes and thick and long platinum blonde hair, with slightly curled fringe. She also has two braids on either side of her head. She has a flower decoration in her hair and wears a white blouse with frilled collar. A brown shawl sits around her shoulders, tied with red ribbon. The third doll has open blue eyes and slightly curling/wavy golden blonde hair that all curls around the face. A long black capelet with dark ribbon tied into a bowtie.

(Numerous dolls with varying shades of blonde hair (ash, platinum, and gold?) sitting on a shelf in the dollmaker's shop in the second season of Rozen Maiden.)

Numerous dolls decorating the shelves of doll-obsessed working woman Kusabue (Micchan) Mitsu's room, sitting on lace and behind lace curtains adorned with red ribbons, and some sitting in her windowsill, with the pink curtains pulled back, in the second season of Rozen Maiden.

(Numerous dolls decorating the shelves of doll-obsessed working woman Kusabue (Micchan) Mitsu's room and some sitting in her windowsill in the second season of Rozen Maiden.)

Sesame Street - Daddy Dear

The doll sitting next to a lowercase d, surrounded with flowers, while three butterflies fly over to rest around it. The gif is then reverse-looped, so the butterflies fly back off-screen.

(The doll in the Daddy Dear segment, sitting next to a lowercase d, surrounded with flowers.)

There's an old-fashioned doll in this adorable and imaginative Sesame Street segment (note: music) from 1972, focusing on words beginning with the letter D, with a song that portrays a back-and-forth between a very inquisitive little girl and her frustrated, but patient, father trying to get her to go to sleep. He calls her "little dolly" at the end and we see the same doll at the beginning and end, when she finally goes to sleep, so she represents the daughter, as neither father nor daughter are shown.

The doll closing her eyes, the image rippling to convey a sleepy sort of dizziness, and then the camera moves slowly away, leaving her shrinking away, lying against the dark background, asleep.

(The doll in the Daddy Dear segment, eyes closing, the image rippling to convey her sleepiness, before the "camera" moves away, leaving her to sleep in the dark.)

The Dolls' House

The Dolls' House by Rumer Godden is a thoughtful book with wonderfully unique main characters who are all dolls (their current owners, two little girls named Emily and Charlotte, appear now and then too, but are written more like secondary characters) and is told from the point of view of dolls. Dolls are depicted as timeless and unaging beings (no matter how many years go by, they are always the same age they were made to resemble) who can only wish and hope their owners respond to those wishes.

Our main characters, Tottie and her mix-and-match family of dolls, live in a shoebox at the start of the story and very much wish to have a proper doll house, especially as the winter months begin... Tottie tells them of a Victorian dollhouse that belonged to the girls’ grand-aunt she once lived in.

You can borrow the book from the Internet Archive's library (signing up is free!), the old version illustrated by Tasha Tudor is available.

Tottie seated.

(An illustration by Tasha Tudor of Tottie sitting.)

The main character is Tottie, a wooden Dutch doll. She's a very sensible and strong-willed doll, an old hand-me-down.

Mr. Plantagenet, looking down, with Tottie placing a comforting hand on his shoulder.

(An illustration by Tasha Tudor of Mr. Plantagenet being reassured by Tottie.)

Tottie's doll father, Mr. Plantagenet, is quiet, nervous, and troubled, as he used to belong to two rowdy boys who mistreated him, tore a glued instrument out of his hand, chipping his paint, and their dog chewed off his foot... he was then abandoned for years and now hates the dark and drafts.


(An illustration by Tasha Tudor of Birdie with her feather duster.)

Tottie's doll mother is Birdie, a celluloid (early plastic) doll who came as a gift in a Christmas cracker, covered in feathers, looking like a dancer. She's flighty and easily distracted, but easily satisfied with simple things. and she seems to have a fixation (it honestly reads to me like a special interest) in birds and feathers. She's fascinated with anything related to them and even misses a giant mess all around because all she can see and focus on is a bird.

She also has a resilient spirit and is a wonderful mother.


(An illustration of Apple by Tasha Tudor of Apple in his crib.)

Tottie's doll brother is Apple, a ruddy-faced, adorably adventurous, plush velvet 3-year-old boy who often gets into trouble, falling into places he shouldn't.
They also have a dog called Darner, because his backbone is made of a darning needle and the girls have to handle him carefully not to prick themselves! He's not a doll, I'm just mentioning him for completion's sake. ^^


Lastly, there is Marchpane, a very vain and very self-absorbed antique doll, finely dressed in a wedding dress and with real hair elegantly pleated, who once occupied the dollhouse belonging to the girls' grand-aunt.

The wax doll, Tottie, and the French walking doll.

(An illustration by Tasha Tudor of two large dolls at either side of Tottie at the exhibit, a wax doll to her right and a French walking doll with a parasol to her left.)

There are other minor characters, like the dolls Tottie meets at the exhibit, including a very proud French walking doll who mocks and teases Tottie for being such a cheap, tiny thing, and a more timid wax doll who is more gentle with Tottie and falls absolutely in love with the museum caretaker's daughter... but while the little girl is similarly taken with her, the wax doll is only meant to be displayed and sadly cannot be played with. Dolls in this story seem to envy ones that have children who play with them (it's a little like Toy Story in that way!), being played with and spending their days in a dollhouse makes them feel alive.... being shut up in a museum, only admired, makes them feel like mere "things," even the vain and proud walking doll calls such a place "cold."

A stop-motion adaptation was aired in the 80's on British television channels and continued to air on syndication into the 90's, it seems the villainous doll's antics haunted a lot of kids in those eras!

A Little Princess

It is difficult to imagine Sara Crewe—the quiet, thoughtful, imaginative, once-spoiled-and-doted-on child who copes with the loss of her old life by imagining she is a princess and telling stories—without her beloved doll, Emily, one of her father's last gifts to her and one of the only possessions she was allowed to keep. Preferring books to dolls, she seldom buys any and when she does, it's a great affair. She names Emily before she "meets" her and they visit several stores, trying to find her.

"Perhaps she had known her. She had certainly a very intelligent expression in her eyes when Sara took her in her arms. She was a large doll, but not too large to carry about easily; she had naturally curling golden-brown hair, which hung like a mantle about her, and her eyes were a deep, clear, gray blue, with soft, thick eyelashes which were real eyelashes and not mere painted lines."


"So Emily was bought and actually taken to a children's outfitter's shop, and measured for a wardrobe as grand as Sara's own. She had lace frocks, too, and velvet and muslin ones, and hats and coats and beautiful lace-trimmed underclothes, and gloves and handkerchiefs and furs."


"He got out of his bed in the middle of that night and went and stood looking down at Sara, who lay asleep with Emily in her arms. Her black hair was spread out on the pillow and Emily's golden-brown hair mingled with it, both of them had lace-ruffled night-gowns, and both had long eyelashes which lay and curled up on their cheeks. Emily looked so like a real child that Captain Crewe felt glad she was there."

This is how Sara and Emily are depicted in the World Masterpiece Theater* anime, A Little Princess Sara. Emily is said to be a French Jumeau doll in the anime, with expressive eyes and an open mouth.
*World Masterpiece Theater is a collection of anime seies by Nippon animation adapting classic books from around the world, primarily geared to children; despite often covering tragic stories, they often temper this with a Ghibli-like romanticizing the little things that make life beautiful, imbuing the stories with a spirit of hope and perseverence... all series before Cosette also have a similarly Ghibli-like art style, given staff in common.

Here are some other dolls shown in the shops visited in episode 2:

Shoujo Cosette

In the most recent World Masterpiece Theater anime, Shoujo Cosette, an anime based on Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, Jean Valjean purchases a doll for Cosette, which she names Catherine and always carries with her.

Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

Some dolls we see in episode 8: Nursery, where Alice shows Yune the nursery she played in as a child.

little heart

A short and sweet independant animation about two ball-jointed dolls from two shops at opposite sides of the street (you can watch it on the animator's YouTube.). The setting is vaguely vintage, western-inspired, but doesn't seem to fit a specific era as far as I can tell. The focus is on the dolls and their relationship, anyway... it's very cute!


While not intended to be a doll herself, Suwano Chibineko, the heroine of The Star of Cottonland, is as tiny as a doll, with a dreamy airbrushed blush and painted lips, giving her a very bisque doll-like appearance—as she's actually a kitten who imagines she could one day be human! The cats in this classic shojo series are stylized as tiny, cat-eared and cat-tailed humans (nekomimi), but in the more innocent way the concept began rather than the more sexualized depictions common now.

This similarity likely inspired the decision to make a couple of collector's item bisque dolls based on her.

"White Dream Chibineko." This bisque/stuffed catgirl was a limited release of 500 pieces, released in 1985. Dress variations are blue, yellow and (probably) pink.

"Yumemiru Chibineko." The 2006 rerelease of the above.
The source of the above pictures and infomation, with more to read and see, is shoujodolls.

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