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Read Or Die TV Review

by: sothis
October 10, 2004

story 7/10

Read Or Die TV screenshot 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 8/10

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 8/10

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 8/10

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 7.5/10

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.

Anime Info

Sumiregawa Nenene is an author who hasn't published a book in years. However, at a book signing in Hong Kong, things go fascinatingly awry. For starters, her guides are three sisters who operate a detective agency: Maggie, Michelle, and Anita. Then there's the attacks on Nenene's life, and her only line of defense is the three sisters -- who can all use paper as weapons, tools, and even transportation. But can their powers protect Nenene from the mysterious forces that not only want her, but all the precious books of the world...?


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About the Author

sothis's avatar

sothis

My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.

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comments

DuskFey avatar DuskFey
May 2, 2010

Yes, I noticed the blond girl's ecchi-style breasts during episode 2 and wondered how on earth this show was related to the OVA, or the first episode for that matter. Nevertheless, I shall trust that the action does indeed pick up further into the series and press on.

n00bl3t avatar n00bl3t
Sep 14, 2009

Morning.

Good review.

I got the same vibe from it, and yes, definitely watch the OVA first.

I did not even pay attention to the "ecchi bodies" that much though. (Or the chubby faces, now that you mention it.)

Apart from that, see where this anime is stalled for me and have a laugh.

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