Read Or Die TV

Alt titles: R.O.D. the TV

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sothis's avatar By sothis on Oct 10, 2004

Story
If you've seen the original Read or Die OVA, have no fear, the TV series will live up to its campy yet entertaining predecessor. If you haven't seen the OVA, I suggest checking it out first. Taking place approximately 6 years after the events of the OVA, ROD TV introduces us to a variety of new characters including the published author Nenene (who hasn't written a novel in years, nonetheless), and the girls of the Three Sisters Detective Agency: Maggie, Michelle, and Anita. Who does the show focus on the most? Well, that's definitely up to interpretation. At first, you assume that Nenene will be the focal point of the series, since it is her that writes the novels and needs the bodyguards (Anita, Maggie, and Michelle) to protect her. However, as a few episodes pass, the three sisters definitely become the focus. Later on, the events of the OVA start to come together in the TV series, introducing yet more characters who become a focus as well. It kind of reminded me of Infinite Ryvius, to be honest, the way no central main characters were really appointed. While it wasn't terrible, I still wish that someone/some people would have been easily identified as the lead roles.

As far as the actual story goes, it's difficult to really explain what happens without a fair amount of spoiling. Let's just say that it's chock full of lies, betrayals, nefarious bad guys, and a plot to take over the world! The series definitely feels like it has a few arcs, the first of which feels very character development/filler heavy. The girls are sent by the Chinese Intelligence to recover books that have been lost over time, and are in the hands of very dangerous individuals. After a few episodes, we barely see Nenene, and the three sisters are developed instead. Taking after series such as Witch Hunter Robin, this episodicness shuts down around the halfway point of the series, with a fairly sinister plot being uncovered for the masses. From that point on, it's plot central.

Now given the fact that it's related to Read or Die, you can expect that the plot would be somewhat out there and unique, and indeed, it was. I do give credit for the unusual plot, but I also was not completely happy with it. First of all, around episode 22 the series takes a complete nosedive into "OH MY GOD TWIST x 6,000" land. It isn't that twists aren't wanted, but these felt very unnecessary and forced at the last minute. Kind of like watching Berserk in a way, but not as messed up. These twists are twofold: first, changing some of the character interactions (totally unnecessary, given how good the plot was up to this point), and second, adding extremely farfetched and ridiculous notions to the plot, which made it lose a lot of credibility in my book. Yes, I know the show was meant to be campy and fairly unrealistic in the first place, but this was ridiculous amounts of things piled on at the last minute, which weren't needed!

Overall, a decent plot with a unique basis, a good (yet slow) flow, and several story arcs to keep you interested. Unfortunately, I felt like the story really failed at the end, and was only saved somewhat by its good (but still full of plot holes) ending.
Animation
The visuals in ROD TV were fairly unusual to say the least, with a style that definitely didn't remind me of any other series. The characters themselves had very chubby faces (with only a few exceptions), with very round hair and somewhat ecchi bodies at times. The colors used were definitely pleasing, going along with the OVA as far as a wide variety of bright and vibrant color choices. Due to the nature of the show, the "color" that ended up being the most pleasing was, of all things, white. Each of the girls commanded the power of paper in a different way, and each time their abilities were used, it flew around beautifully to create a variety of shapes and animals.

Something else to note is the wonderfully animated fight scenes, which were a real treat. They happened so quick (similar to Kazemakase Tsukikage Ran) and involved paper, so it was definitely an unusual feat each time. Anita definitely was the fastest of them all, showing us impressive moves with her small size.

There were some aspects to the animation that I didn't like, such as the simple aspects of the characters' faces. They seemed almost crude looking (Nenene, for example), with very thick lines used. Whenever a character would be embarassed, happy, or upset, they would get these bright pink oval shapes on their cheeks. Come on, is this the 70s? Why does it need to be this pronounced? Even some sort of smoothing would have been nice, because I thought this looked really tacky.
Sound
The music fit the series very well, but like many series, the title track was perhaps overused a bit. I tend to hate introductions, since they usually have very stupid music that don't tell you anything about the series. In ROD TV's case, though the music was a very good setup to what the tone of the series would be like. The song itself had a 007 flair, with guitars and synths that let you know how slick and hip the series would be. Once I saw the intro for the first time, I knew I'd be in for a similar ride as the OVA, and that's a good thing for sure. But, as mentioned, they used this track a bit too much, and the rest of the music tended to be forgettable. Still, I felt it fit the series well, so it gets a high score.

As far as the voice acting, I think everyone did a good job, especially Anita and Nenene. Those two definitely had the most attitude about daily life, and their voice actors portrayed it very well. I can't really imagine a dub VA doing the same job well.
Characters
Ah, the characters -- definitely the crux of the series to be sure. As mentioned in the story section, the series had a hard time deciding who were the main characters, and this made for a fairly fragmented viewing as far as I'm concerned. Regardless, the character development was very deep and complex, and was told over a long period of time, so it had time to sink in and interest you. My one qualm with any of the development was the sudden developments near the end of the series (that weren't necessary), but this admittedly was small compared to the rest of the series. The relationships between the characters were very strong and solid, especially with the sisters. Later, when characters are introduced at the halfway point, there are a whole new slew of character dealings that come into play, some of which will make you smile, and others which will surprise you.

I guess my only slight annoyance was that the series seemed to be an advertisement for lesbianism. I swear, all the characters seemed to be in love with their female buddies on some level, and I didn't really get why. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with being a lesbian, but I don't understand why that was such a focal point of the series (or at least, the way the characters interacted and talked about each other, it damn well seemed like a focal point).
Overall
ROD TV definitely lives up to its predecessor, but might discourage fans who want all the action that the OVA had. Since about half is just character development and episodic, it might put people off early on. The plot does kick in eventually, but ended on a weak note, in my opinion, hence the 7. Although the music and animation was great, and the premise unique, I still felt quite a nose dive from episodes 22 on, and that definitely effects my score. If you liked the OVA, check this out. If you like campy entertainment, check this out. ROD TV is good, I just don't think it was exceptional.
7/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
ohtoriakio's avatar By ohtoriakio on Oct 5, 2009

ROD the TV was a very interesting watch for me. At first I was not sure I would like it as I had started a few anime series at the same time and it did not jump at me as being awfully great, and I did not watch past the second episode at that time. A few months later, I decided to watch episode 3 and 4 to see whether the rest of the series was worth a shot. What a great surprise it was after those episodes! As soon as I finished them, I could not stop myself from putting more discs in and watching the rest.

This speaks volumes for the story as I am not usually one who has to impatiently and compulsively watch a series so quickly. The episodes tend to end on captivating cliffhangers (a tool employed to great effect in shounen classic Saint Seiya) that have the audience on the edge of their seat and the ride pays off some healthy dividents throughout the series. The suspense of the middle section of this anime has not been matched in any action series I have ever seen so this anime really breathes new life into a rather stale genre (not saying that Noir or Madlax are bad shows but their pace are no match for this series').

The animation of Read or Die the TV can be summed up in one word: SUPERB. All the way through, there is consistency in the way things are drawn and animated, which is a great achievement for a series of 26 episodes with not so much as a recap episode thrown in. The battle scenes are especially stunning in this anime as the fluidity and depth of field of the medium is brilliantly explored. The backgrounds and the character designs are also excellent and remain so throughout. The only thing I was not a fan of was the fanservice of the series. It was not excessive so it was never a big issue but it did affect how seriously one perceives the show in a couple of spots.

Read or Die's only sore spot is the soundtrack, as it is an adequate one but not one that stands out. The scores suit their scene effectively but they are not powerful enough to warrant a purchase of the soundtrack. The sound effects are great during the battle scenes and when objects move (which is important here as a lot of travelling and levitation takes place), and the voice acting is also very accomplished.

With a professional seiyuu cast, characters are brought to life successfully and Read or Die delivers just that. The main cast of Maggie, Michelle, Anita and Nenene are voiced so well that they are distinct characters, and on more than one occasion the performance allows you to feel the anguish of the characters without it sounding overdone or melodramatic. The episode previews are actually a great demonstration of the eloquence performance of the cast.

The characters of R.O.D only ever suffer from sounding one note in a few places because some of them are underwritten. This is to be expected when the story has to cover so much and the cast is fairly large, but it still affected how some of them came accross even if it were just a minor quelm. Characters like Anita, The Paper and Maggie suffered in that sense a little bit because the writing did not call for them to be more than one-note characters most of the time. A few efforts are made to make them a little more believable throughout and especially towards the end, which was convincing enough but not quite as engaging as it could have been.

As mentioned, R.O.D has a whole lot of story to tell and it does so very well for most of its run. Some elements could have been explored a little further, such as why the British Library and especially Wendy were so devoted to their cause but what was given was convincing enough to not leave plotholes which was the most important thing. The inclusion of later characters was also done smoothly which was great but it does not really come as a surprise since this show's writers are some of the best out there when it comes to pacing a story. The twists were also well paced and brought in to consistently engage you more and more in the title.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this anime and I think it can easily be enjoyed by many because of its broad appeal, so it is an easy recommendation. Keep with it if you are not too sure about the first few episodes as it just gets better from there, and delivers one of the best action anime series of all time.

9/10 story
10/10 animation
8/10 sound
7/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
Uriel1988's avatar By Uriel1988 on Feb 22, 2010

Enjoying an anime is always nice; better yet is when a series ends up exceeding your expectations. Such is the case with 'R.O.D. the TV'. This is a surprisingly entertaining adventure with likable characters and a jazzy soundtrack that should be checked out by anyone who enjoyed the action-packed OVA that came before it. To those who haven't: I strongly recommend you do, it's a terrific action-anime first and foremost; but it must also be noted that the second half of this series builds heavily on characters and events that transpire in the OVA.

'R.O.D The TV' is best described as a combination of X-Men and James Bond, with a dash of Cowboy Bebop. The story revolves around three girls: the happy-go-lucky but surprisingly perceptive Michelle, the tall-and-silent Maggy and the spunky Anita. Together they form a group of private-detectives called 'The Paper Sisters'. The 'Paper'-part is a reference to the special ability of these girls: each of them can manipulate paper in a special way that might have your morning newspaper turn into a deadly dagger or a swimming swan. Origami on steroids so to speak.

The series starts off by having our heroines protect and eventually move in with a novelist called Nenene Sumiregawa, a writing prodigy with a severe case of writer's block and some emotional baggage caused by the sudden disappearance of a close friend a few years ago. Over the course of the series the sisters solve cases and do their best to get along with Nenene. The first half is mostly comprised of establishing the characters and 'case of the week'-episodes in which the Paper Sisters solve random cases (tone ranging from lighthearted to horror-ish, much like Cowboy Bebop) to pay their bills. The second half presents a more cohesive and more serious story built upon the established characters and plot threads of both the first half as well as the OVA.

All in all the narrative does a great job of keeping the whole thing going. It never drags aside from a rather slow beginning and there are plenty of interesting twists and events to keep it engaging. Even better is that R.O.D. the TV manages to juggle between all the characters and (sub)plots with the finesse of an A-class circus-clown, ultimately providing a satisfying end to the whole affair.

Another part of why the series works so well is because of the characters. The Paper Sisters quickly prove themselves to be quite endearing as individuals (Anita in particular) but they shine brightest when working together, particularly when trying their best to help their often grumpy but well-meaning employer Nenene. Speaking of which, Nenene (referred to as 'sensei' by most of the cast) also proves to be a surprisingly well-developed and interesting character thanks to how well the series portrays how loneley (because of her missing friend) and under pressure (considering all her fans are fiending for a new novel) she is. Sadly the antagonists don't fare quite as well. They manage to be entertaining and menacing but their motivations remain largely unexplored (the main antagonist in particular is a very missed opportunity) with the exception of one minor villain whose character is remarkably well fleshed out.

The visuals and audio are remarkable. The OVA was also an absolute delight in this regard and it's nice to see the TV-series continue this proud tradition. The detailed art, distinctive character designs, fluid animation (NB: I watched the series in 2010 and feel that its animation can easily compete with contemporary stuff), excellent sound-effects, jazzy soundtrack (again very reminiscent of Cowboy Bebop) and solid voices make for an overall product that's well above-average as far as production values is concerned.

On the whole, R.O.D. the TV manages to be a deftly plotted, fun-packed adventure with likable characters packed in a stylish prestation. It could have been a great series if it had few more fight-sequences, a better developed main antagonist and a more spectacular finale. As it stands, though, I still recommend anyone who enjoyed the OVA to spend some time with the Paper Sisters.

7/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
7/10 overall
james4888's avatar By james4888 on Oct 13, 2010

three sisters engage there lives with eachother as true sisters even though they arent related. One of the sisters is a succsesful writer but hasnt published a new book in years.

7/10 story
8/10 animation
9/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
triplestrike's avatar By triplestrike on Sep 11, 2011

Excellent. Now that we've established that...

Read or die follows three sisters and an popular author. The author looks for an old friend and continues to write. The three sisters are paper masters, this basically means they can manipulate paper to do awesome crazy stuff (think green lantern except he needs lots of paper and the skills to manipulate it properly). During the story the sister will randomly have their own episodes where they go on missons, these seem random but hold purpose later.

Characters. Are great! Real, authentic, believeable and honest. Most mesh well together but the ones that don't, dont' for obvious reasons.

Sound/Music. Amazing. Possibly the best I've heard in an anime to date. The opening theme sents the pace with a jazzy exciting beat, read or die will continually use music to match the mood and build excitment throughout, they do this masterfully. Also the voices (i watched the subbed version, so if you are watching the english dubbed, i don't know how it'll sound) match so well with each character, even though i don't speak japanese i can tell the tones and understand each characters general emotion. Voices are so perfect.

Animation is great. Smooth free of flaws, it follows explosions, detailed paper construction, and fights without flaw.

Overall this is really really great. Music and voices are so marvelous, the characters are really great, and work so well together. The story really picks up after episode 13 and things become EPIC. With a little bit of sillyness, some growing up, dire situations, and creative stunning battles, read or die balances battle and emotion with precisly as it shound be. Also has lots of book references so prepare for that. DON"T SKIP THIS ANIME IT IS GREAT

9/10 story
9/10 animation
9.7/10 sound
9.6/10 characters
9.4/10 overall