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Preview Image for R.O.D. (TV Series ) Read Or Die: Vol. 1 (UK)
R.O.D. (TV Series ) Read Or Die: Vol. 1 (UK) (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000070993
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 3/10/2006 22:08
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    Review of Read Or Die: Vol. 1

    9 / 10


    In this era of mega-budgets and digital effects houses, it`s occasionally tempting to ask what the point of animation is. Given enough money and effort, anything you can imagine can be turned into a live action movie. Well the simple answer is obvious. You`re not always going to have enough money. Another thing is that live action is still constraining in many ways. Take a show like Gunslinger Girls, a story about young girls turned into cybernetic assassins. No matter how much money you have, getting that idea to fly in morally conservative Hollywood would be impossible. Finally, contrary to my earlier statement, some flights of the imagination are so fanciful, so extreme that even if you bring them to celluloid with real live actors and props, the execution will be difficult if not impossible. There are some degrees of fantasy that defy realistic interpretation. R.O.D. The TV is one such story, which I can only envisage working as an animation. When your heroes are Paper Masters, able to manipulate paper to their will, paper cuts are fatal and a paper aeroplane can break the sound barrier. Now can you imagine Vin Diesel wielding a sheet of A4 in anger?

    Michelle, Maggie and Anita are three such paper masters, and they run the Paper Sisters detective agency, using their formidable abilities to fight crime. They are also committed bibliophiles, well all except Anita, and their love of the written word is something that dominates their lives. Their adventure begins when they meet author Nenene Sumiregawa. MVM present the first four episodes of this series, sort of related to the Read Or Die OVA and the Read Or Dream manga, on a dual layer disc, complete with some extras.

    1. The Papers Have Landed
    Author Nenene Sumiregawa travels to Hong Kong for a book-signing event. She`s met at the airport by chauffeur Maggie and guide Michelle, who announce they are big fans. They deliver her to the hotel in time to see her penthouse suite explode. There soon is a message from a mad bomber, who hates her books, threatening her life. Maggie and Michelle offer their services as representatives of the Paper Sisters Detective Agency to safeguard her during her stay, as well as putting her up in their apartment. It`s a far cry from a penthouse suite though, flooded with tomes, and barely enough room to breathe in. Nenene also meets the youngest sister Anita, who through typical sibling contrariness is no fan of books and is unimpressed by the visiting dignitary. The next day, security is lax and the mad bomber gets close to Nenene. It`s a chance for the Paper Sisters to reveal their startling abilities.

    2. Rise Up, Of Dregs of Humanity
    The sisters have discharged their responsibilities to Nenene and escorted her home to Japan. But before they can return to Hong Kong, Nenene`s editor offers them indefinite employment as her bodyguard. Their stipend is barely enough to live on, not helped by Michelle`s bizarre spending habits, and they decide to gatecrash Nenene`s apartment. Not long after, their client decides to dispense with their services.

    3. Let`s Meet In Jinbo-cho
    Nenene is baffled at her new tenants synchronised tooth brushing, but she`s getting used to living with her bodyguards. He bodyguards on the other hand forget the first rule of protection; accompany your client everywhere. Soon they are searching an unfamiliar city for Nenene, and the distraction when they wander into the bookshop district is immeasurable. Maggie fights temptation, Michelle gives in completely, and it`s left to Anita to remain focussed on their duty.

    4. The Seventh Grade Course
    Nenene decides that a girl of Anita`s age needs to be in school. Her first day is a mixed one; she makes new friends, but manages to offend the sister of a rival author to Nenene. Michelle on the other hand is worried about Anita, so she decides to go to school undercover as an upperclassman. While all this domestic nonsense is occurring, the school library is a venue for something much more nefarious.


    You get a 4:3 regular transfer, which is clear, sharp and with strong colours. I didn`t notice any problems with artefacts and the like, other than the usual banding associated with animation. R.O.D. The TV is something of a schizophrenic series in terms of its animation. It`s an Aniplex series, and if you are a fan of Full Metal Alchemist, you`ll see some of that style in the character designs. It`s also apparent that this is a computer animation, meaning that the traditional cels have been dispensed with and the show animated on the computer. The action sequence are astounding, with the first episode taking the cake when it comes to fluid and energetic animation. That said, the character moments, the dialogue scenes are wholly more static, and lack the fluidity associated with earlier cel animation or the more recent, refined computer animations.


    You get a choice between DD 5.1 English and Japanese as well as a DD 2.0 Japanese soundtrack. Translated English subtitles or signs accompany these. They are effective surround tracks, with plenty of oomph for the action sequences. You get to hear Japanese reggae for the end theme, but the incidental music is quite special, reflecting the style of the show well.


    It`s an MVM disc so you can expect bright menus, as well as trailers for Samurai Champloo and Paranoia Agent. The previews, which are normally at the end of each episode, get consigned to their own section here. You`ll also find a gallery containing 22 images from the show.

    The most substantial extra is the audio commentary from three of the English language producers for the first episode. They talk about the series and its origin, and where it stands with regards to the Read Or Die OVA, and the Read Or Dream manga. It`s a nice informative commentary that doesn`t outstay its welcome.

    Incidentally, if you want to see the creditless title sequences, just turn the subtitles off completely while they play.


    As children, when faced with the perennial problem of bullies, we`d inevitably try to use wit to defuse the situation. In retrospect, the phrase, "I`m a black belt in origami" is hardly the epitome of originality. But if there were a martial art in paper folding, its mastery would result in something akin to what we see in R.O.D. The TV. These girls truly are black belts in origami, and their dexterity with a sheet of A4 has devastating consequences for whoever crosses their paths. Ditzy Michelle becomes the incarnation of Athena, wielding a paper bow and arrows, while Maggie has a veritable menagerie of paper creatures at her beck and call.

    R.O.D. The TV has an impressive start for an anime series, setting its tone of light and dark early on, and giving a demonstration of the girls` abilities in stunning fashion, as they have to protect Nenene from bomb wielding stalkers. At the same time we get an introduction to their characters from the off, scatterbrained Michelle, introverted Maggie and acerbic Anita. We also realise that Nenene is going to find living with these particular bodyguards wearying to say the least. The following three episodes see the sisters uprooted to Japan, and having to settle down in a new city. After the action of the first episode, these are very much character episodes, with little of that visual shock and awe that began the series. Still, the tone of the episodes is light, the characters entertaining and the situations delightful.

    This early in the series, its balance is definitely shifted to the comedic, and I found myself laughing constantly through these episodes. But there is something going on in the background. The sisters` past is briefly alluded to, and there seems to be more than meets the eye. Nenene`s interest in them is down to the fact that her friend Yomiko was a paper master who has been missing for years, and she has been discretely looking for her ever since. She has also been suffering from writer`s block. Meanwhile, there are shady characters being introduced, and agenda being revealed, an organisation hunting for a mysterious tome, and a grey-haired girl willing to do what is necessary to achieve that goal. None of it is coherent at this point, but it all points to an interesting story that will develop over the next few volumes.

    R.O.D. The TV gets the best possible start with this volume, four episodes that are relentlessly entertaining, filled with delightful characters and an interesting story. Best of all, these are heroines that save the day and read books too. Paper wielding bibliophiles! Now there are some positive role models for today`s education deprived youth.

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