Read Or Die

Rating: 4 Rampages

Episodes seen: 2 of 3 Miss Deep and her cleavage

Synopsis:
Based on the novels and manga by Kurata Hideyuki. The story begins with the White House being blown up by a mysterious old man, using some very cool CG lightning. We then meet our heroine, Yomiko Readman, a super book-otaku who is also code named “The Paper” and works (part time) for a secret organization. (Side note: her name, Yomiko, means approximately “child who reads”, so her name, Yomiko Readman is a really bad pun on her obsession.)

Yomiko is your typical anime ditz - completely oblivious to the world around her except as it relates to her books. But woe betide anyone who gets in her way - she also has the very cool power to control anything made of paper, thus her code name, which leads to some very original battle sequences. And, of course, she’s not alone as she teams up with fellow agents with similar powers and sillier code names like Miss Deep. Together, they track down the mystery of the old man, but first, they have to get Yomiko’s precious rare book back!

The Paper

Review:
Herself the Elf sez: This is one of the coolest new shows I've seen in awhile. It's sort of, as Carnage put it, like 'The Authority meets Gatekeepers meets James Bond'.

First, we've got an extremely groovy opening song, set to visuals that look straight out of a James Bond flick. The music is really neat all around, really well suiting the high-energy feel of this show. Which brings me to the action, which hits fast and furious right out of the gate and is just awesome. Read or Die's got fluid, smooth animation and some of the coolest and most original fight scenes in anime. The characters all have really original and fascinating powers, like Yomiko's ability to do pretty much ANYTHING with paper, or the varied and bizarre people she and Miss Deep have to fight. It's really refreshing and fascinating to see totally original superpowers, and it really adds to the appeal of this show. You really don't know what's going to happen next, and you can't wait to find out.

There's also an amazing amount of detail with regard to background and environment. The characters travel around the world, and wherever they go you really feel like they're THERE. The art and design are very strong and clean, with a definite sense of style. The story is also very well written, with a lot of depth and complexity but without falling into the trap of so-complex-you-can't-follow-what-the-hell-is-going-on that is so prevalent in anime. It's also got a healthy dollop of humour, often very underplayed and subtle, that really brings out what I like so much about this show. It's wild and crazy and cool, but doesn't treat its viewers like idiots. It's interesting and intriguing as well as being cool, and doesn't hit you over the head with every idea just to make sure you 'get it'.

At first glance, Read or Die could possibly be written off as 'just another action/spy show', but this would be a big mistake. The brilliance of the characters, design, world and the way it's all put together work just brilliantly and raise this show to a higher level. It's kind of weird sometimes, with some sequences or enemies just so bizarre that you have to laugh, but on the whole everybody I've talked to is totally hooked on this show, and so am I. I'm told there's only 3 episodes, which is a crying shame, but nevertheless it's an absolute must-see. Strongly recommended.

Availability:
Licensed by Manga Entertainment. Release date unknown.

R.O.D. - THE TV

(aka Read or Dream)

Rating: 3½ Rampages

Episodes seen: 1-5 of ? Read or Dream

Synopsis: Set after the end of Read or Die, the TV series follows Nenene, a minor character from the OAV, and her career as a writer while she searches for Yomiko, who has mysteriously disappeared. Nenene acquires a trio of "bodyguards" -- the three Paper Sisters: Michelle, Maggie, and Anita, who also have the ability to manipulate paper just like Yomiko. They're kind of ditzy, though, so things often go amiss. But who is behind the attacks on Nenene? And what is Joker really after?

Review:
Herself the Elf sez: Not bad, not bad at all. The art and animation are nice and clean just like in the OAV, and the awesomely cool action scenes and camerawork are here as well. The music is groovy and catchy just like in the OAV (although the opening song isn't quite as great). And this time around there are not one, but three cool paper-manipulators.

I wasn't too impressed with the sisters at first--they're really competent during fights, but complete morons and a pain in Nenene's ass the rest of the time. Each is a blatant stereotype - one is the classic ditzy girl, one is quiet and shy, and one is a tomboy. Sometimes their behaviour is so dumb it's hard to believe--did they live on the MOON before they met Nenene? Yomiko was kind of scatterbrained, but she wasn't stupid--she just had different priorities and was easily distracted. That made her cute.

It's not all bad though, and as time goes by the girls do seem to be getting better. I'd prefer if they'd focus more on the suspense and action rather than the comedy, but I'll keep watching to see how the show develops. With supremely cool actions sequences, groovy music and great art, Read or Dream looks like it will be a worthy successor to Read or Die.

Updated 22-10-03