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.