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.
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