Stay Tuned – Read or Die (OVA)

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Stay Tuned is a new section that will focus on anime reviews and other anime-related stuff that don’t belong in my rants.  Hope you enjoy reading my first anime review.

One complaint that people have about anime is that a lot of shows are formulaic and follow the same pattern.  This can be said for a lot of action shows.  Stuff that you hear is that the fights are drawn out too long and that they usually follow the same pattern.  Hearing people screaming and standing at each other is not uncommon.  Of course, there is the god-awful pacing.  How about seeing the same sequences over and over. There are a bunch of other things that you see in action shows, but that’s another story.  It is for this reason why I have trouble watching a lot of the longer action shows like Bleach.  Every once in a while, an anime that feels fresh will come along.  The Read or Die OVA is one of them.

Read or Die follows Yomiko Readman, a bibliophile (a person who is obsessed with books) and a Paper Master, someone who has the ability to control paper at will.  Codenamed “The Paper,” Yomiko is a secret agent for the British Library, an external intelligence agency working within the actual British Library and its Special Operations Division.  Basically, in this alternate world where the British Empire has remained a major superpower, the British Library is similar to the M16.

rod_2The plot of the OVA is that someone is bent on procuring a rare lost Beethoven manuscript and has enlisted a few of history’s most extraordinary personalities, through stolen DNA, to aid on the endeavor.  Only one organization has any chance of stopping them, and that’s the British Library.  There are three main agents in Read or Die.  There’s Yomiko Readman, who’s obsessed with books and a bit of a slob.  Then there’s Nancy Makuhari, codenamed “Miss Deep.” (winky)  An expert in firearms, Nancy has the ability to phase through objects.  She and Yomiko quickly become good friends.  Finally, there’s Drake Anderson, the tough guy and explosives expert of the group.  Overseeing them is Joker, the commander of the Special Operations Division of the British Library.  Like any good spy novel / movie, Read or Die takes our characters to different places across the world from New York City to India and finally to an iron fortress in the middle of the Pacific Ocean as they take on all sorts of interesting bad guys.

The Paper

The Paper

That’s pretty much all the plot you need to know about Read or Die because the OVA is action-packed.  It literally begins with a boom and ends with a bang.  You know when the White House is blown up in the first few minutes of the series that Read or Die is not your ordinary action show.  That and when Yomiko fights Jean Henri Fabre riding a giant mechanical grasshopper in the middle of Tokyo.  Yomiko can manipulate paper in all sorts of ways, like forming a sword out of dollar bills or using a suitcase full of paper to make a giant paper airplane to fly around New York City.  Stuff gets blown up and bullets, paper, and fists fly everywhere.  The animation looks great, making it a treat to watch.  The fight scenes are well done and everything is done in such detail that you can enjoy what’s going on.  Just as good as the animation is the soundtrack.  It does a good job at capturing the mood, whether it is the opening with the feel of a spy movie or the music that’s played while Yomiko is strolling through some bookstores in Tokyo.

Guess who stands out in this pic.

Guess who stands out in this pic.

One reason why I love the OVA so much is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and doesn’t get too ridiculous at the same time.  You have characters like Wendy the clumsy assistant, comedic situations that arise out of Yomiko’s love for books, and some of the most creative fight scenes I’ve seen in any anime.  I recently rewatched the Read or Die OVA a few days after finishing Read or Die: The TV because it’s been a while since I saw the OVA and I wanted to see what I thought about it now.  The TV series focuses a lot more on plot and character development, but I enjoyed the OVA a lot more with its non-stop action.  Everything moves along so quickly that you’ll start watching the first episode and soon before you know it, you’re at the end of the final episode.  The OVA feels awfully short at only three episodes, but there is not a moment where you wish the anime would hurry up and pick up the pace.  Plot twists get thrown at you like a curveball and fights happen instantaneously.  It’s for this reason why Read or Die feels more like a 90-minute movie than an OVA series.

If you plan on watching Read or Die: The TV, watch the OVA first.  The plot will make more sense and you’ll better understand the characters and why they do the things they did later on in the ROD universe.  Watching the OVA after the TV series made for a fresh experience for me.  It was a lot of fun recognizing all the familiar characters and locations.  Now, I should read the Read or Die and Read or Dream manga.  If you can get other people to watch the OVA with you, do it.

Have fun watching Read or Die.  I sure did.

Score: 8/10

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~ by WanderingMind on August 22, 2009.

4 Responses to “Stay Tuned – Read or Die (OVA)”

  1. Read or Die OVA was pretty great. I remember catching a glimpse of it on Adult Swim and then when I fount shit like torrent I stumbled upon it too.

    For some reason, there are a few out there that our right hate the TV series but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I also got the 4 manga Vols of Read or Die and Read or Dream.
    Of course Dead > Dream since Dream didn’t have a plot at all. Just mostly random chapters and events but it was still enjoyable.

    If I remember write the Time line for R.O.D. was:
    1-Read or Die manga
    1.5-Read or Dream manga
    2-R.O.D. OVA
    3-R.O.D. TV

    This may warrant a re-read and a re-watch…

  2. I thought the OVA was okay the first time I saw it, but I enjoyed it a lot more the second time I watched it. I think I appreciated it a lot more this time and decided to watch it with subs instead of the dub.

    On a side note, Robin acted way different in the TV series and I preferred her in the OVA.

  3. I loved the OVA, but haven’t really touched the series since they were showing R.O.D. TV on G4 a few years back.

  4. Nice review and it was a fun read,did you know that the same guy who did the music for this series did Persona:Trinity Soul? That’s the Persona anime said to take place after the events in Persona 3 and trying Persona 3 to Persona 4 or so I heard something like that.

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