Read or Die is 3 episodes of an action-packed seinen anime about... well... books. Books and action don't go together you might say? Well they do in this anime. Featuring crazy super powers, a top secret agency, a sprinkle of comedy and a slightly complex story that might warrant this to be a seinen anime, it is very unique and possibly niche. Heck the main character has the ability to manipulate paper! But don't let that put you off, give it a go. It certainly won't appeal to everyone, but it sure can be enjoyable. Oh and no kids in this anime. What a breath of fresh air.
For a 2001 anime, the animation quality sure is good. It's a bit all over the place, sometimes it runs super smooth and looks gorgeous and other times it looks old and clunky. Judging it by 2001 standards its pretty good though. The style of animation, isn't too unique. I get the feeling there are a lot of anime character that look like the main character here. But it doesn't feel run-of-the-mill when it comes to the action shots. There is arguably no pervy stuff (fanservice), though one character does wear a rather seductive outfit with some jiggling and there is a nipple in the intro. A shame it managed to sneak in.
The music is very suitable for an anime like this. I feel like it could be a movie with this soundtrack. Good instrumentals, with orchestra and sometimes feeling a bit jazzy like something out of a spy movie. Not mind-blowingly awesome to make me want to download the soundtrack though, probably just due to my taste in music. This anime is available in English as well as Japanese. The VA for Nancy did the voice for Rei from Neon Genesis Evangelion, Drake's VA also did a side character in that same anime. Crispin Freeman (Togusa from Ghost in the Shell, Kyon from Haruhi Suzumiya and Holland from Eureka Seven, last anime I watched btw) also does a decent English accent for Joseph. Not bad, not bad at all.
Yumiko 'Paper' Readman is an agent of Library Special Operations. But the main thing is, she is an obsessive bookworm, to the point where she values books more than her own life. Her room is a mess (books everywhere) and she doesn't take good enough care of herself, her hair is in a mess. And her agent name 'paper' comes from the fact that she can manipulate paper, papykinesis if you will. And the things she can do with it... I'd never thought paper could be so strong and useful. She has trouble with finance, partly because she buys so many books and has taken up a second job as a teacher. A unique take on the bookworm character type and I'm glad it doesn't conform to the trope.
Nancy 'The Deep' Makuhari is Yumiko's fellow agent. She has big boobs and is generally a serious character who likes to get things done, though she does provide minor humour now and then. Her nickname actually comes from her ability to move 'deep' through matter and she even jokes that it makes her sound like a pornstar. Not bad for someone who dresses in such a suggestive outfit for missions. Oh and she can literally move through her own clothes, though don't expect any nudity haha!
The other characters are fairly minor. Though Drake Anderson seems to be the gruff mercenary dude. The villians seem to be a funny bunch too. Though little is explained about them.
At first glance this doesn't seem to make much sense. 3 episodes isn't enough for this, it needs more! But an interesting, unique and most importantly, unpredictable plot nonetheless. Books are being stolen by revived inventors and prodigies for reasons unknown and Yumiko has been tasked with solving the problem. Since books are close to her heart and her own books get stolen, there isn't too much issue to her motivation for the mission. The story isn't too complicated though. A decent ending and interesting twists and turns.
A unique and quirky anime that was overall enjoyable to watch. Short but sweet. Give this a try if you like niche and unique storylines and/or are a fan of seinen anime. Heck, I'd recommend any adult to watch this.
Family-friendliness Rating: 5/5 Would be a 2, but that slip of a nipple in the intro (lower is better)
Overall Rating: 8/10 (higher is better)