Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
85 of 87 people found the following review helpful
Cheer "The Paper," the most ingenious anime heroine in years29 April 2003
- Published on Amazon.com
R.O.D. (READ OR DIE) is quite an imaginative and delightful three-episode Japanese OAV (Original Animated Video) series that deftly mixes sci-fi, adventure, comedy, history and a love of rare books. Made in 2000, it's set against a marvelously detailed background of urban settings like Tokyo, Washington DC, and New York, along with the massive Victorian-style (but secretly high-tech) British Library headquarters, as well as a diverse fleet of retro-style aircraft and seacraft. Overall, it offers the kind of fresh, unpredictable and literate entertainment that caters to the restless tastes of the more discriminating anime fans in America.
The heroine is a 20-something woman named Yomiko Readman, a shy, self-effacing bookworm who is a teacher and obsessive collector of rare books. She traipses about in a long skirt and overcoat, lugging a large briefcase behind her on a wheeled cart everywhere she goes, even when chasing super-villains. She's also a secret agent known as "The Paper" who has the extraordinary power of turning any kind of paper product into a lethal weapon or protective barrier. One of the special thrills of this series is the way this talent is used so often to ingenious effect in the course of the three episodes. When the Library of Congress is attacked and robbed by a famous Japanese inventor cloned back to life, Yomiko is assigned by the British Library to retrieve the stolen books. The enemy is soon revealed to be much wider in scope and encompasses a host of other historical figures brought back to life, including a certain famed composer. World domination is not their aim but something much more sinister. The plot is rather complex, but never wavers off track as the action moves from Tokyo to D.C. to New York (including a harrowing scene at a pre-9/11 World Trade Center) in the first episode alone, venturing to India in the second, and to a massive techno-fortress which rises out of the central Pacific Ocean in the third. The writing is consistently clever, the heroine relentlessly charming and the characters and multiple historical references always intriguing. There's also an elaborate title sequence that's the best seen in any anime since "Cowboy Bebop," along with a jazzy early-'70s style-TV theme that gives it some added color. The release of all three episodes on one DVD is a welcome signal of the possible resurgence of the OAV format, which allows for limited-run series of various lengths like this one.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
High quality, lots of fun31 May 2003
- Published on Amazon.com
Read or Die is a breath of fresh air amid the anime releases in the United States: it manages to combine high quality on the technical side with interesting, likeable characters and an interesting story. First off, this is obviously a high-budget production: these three episodes (which is the complete Read or Die direct-to-video series) sport character designs which are attractive, animation which is top-notch, and great sound and music. Moreover, Manga, the studio releasing Read or Die in the US did a wonderful authoring job on the DVD, in contrast to some of their releases (e.g., Macross II). On the technical side, Read or Die simply screams quality. Fortunately, that quality is matched by the quirky, likeable characters and the quirkier plot. The heroine, Yomiko Readman, is a book-obsessed woman with the power to manipulate paper (which is far more interesting than it may sound). She is also a secret agent for the British Library. When cloned historical figures try to steal her newest book purchase and destroy the world, she is assigned to stop them. Yomiko is the most interesting heroine of the last several years of anime releases: she is a woman, not a girl; she is not overly sexualized; she is capable and strong without pride or arrogance. The only real flaw in Read or Die is that, because it's only 3 episodes long, the weird little plot is somewhat opaque. Moreover, many of the historical figures will not be familiar to a US audience, but this is a quibble, really. The show is not about the villains or their purposes, it is about Yomiko and hers.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The Pen is mightier than the Sword!14 Dec. 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
I am constantly impressed with the level of animation that is coming from overseas. I think it is because they are going places that our native animators are afraid to go. We still see cartoons for children, where overseas they see it as a form of entertainment for both adults and children. Why can't they see that it is a form of cinema that will and can take us to places that live-action never will, and give us characters that no actor could ever conjure up? Who knows? I hope that one day we get there, but until then I can sit on my comfy couch and watch amazing cinema like that of Read or Die.
To begin, this was a fantastic story. I loved the literary references throughout the course of the film. I loved that there was so much to see or do in the story that you never really knew where it was going to go next. This was a very unpredictable story that left so much up to the imagination. It was futuristic, yet somewhat present day. There was a feeling that you were seeing on old novel opened for the first time and remastered for today's generation. It was breathtaking, uncontrollably mesmerizing, and spellbinding to say the least. I mentioned before about the imagination that this film held, well let me say that it flowed like water from this Read or Die. It is hard to explain, but if you watch so much live-action cinema, it is hard to comprehend, but there was more alive in this film than I have seen in any of Spielberg's epics. Keep in mind that I am also relatively new to the Anime genre, and probably am missing some of the better stuff, but for a newbie like myself, Read or Die was perfection in its purest form.
In live-action films I always mention the characters, and am normally nervous to mention them in animation (because it is actors voicing not really acting), but I need to applaud the animators in this film. The way that the characters in this film carried themselves, to their facial expressions, to the intensity that they brought to the screen is equal to that of most live-actors out there. There was enough back-story and future story for these characters that you knew them, you honestly knew them as if they were real. This was a character-based film. While some may argue with me on that topic, it was about friendship, love, and a desire to read and be successful. These are not emotions that you feel or see with just simple drawings. The animators went above and beyond their call of duty with this film, and it was demonstrated through cunning visionary and smart characters.
With a gripping story that took us all over the world (showed the vast horror that could be found, instead of just making it centralized) and characters that literally jumped out of the screen with heart-pounding animation and style, there is only one more thing to say about this film. The action. Growing up in a post-Matrix style film world, it is getting harder and harder to see fight sequences choreographed without the use that made The Matrix so popular. I continually see more and more films ripping off the "bullet-time" effect and making their money back on just that one effect alone. While I do realize that this was ... yet again ... a cartoon, the action in it seemed more real than in most action films. Sly and AH-NOLD have nothing on "The Paper" as she uses brains and strength to outwit her opponents. This continued to keep my attention throughout the entire film and nearly pushed me to watch it again. I know there was something that I probably missed the first time because my jaw was stapled to the floor. The action sequences were, for lack of a better word, beautiful. Like a ballet gone wrong, this film stepped into the screen with simplicity, violence, and this subtle delicacy that is unmatched in American cinema today.
Overall, this was an impressive film for me. I loved everything about it from the beginning to the end. Again, perhaps it has something to do with my amateurish nature around Anime (which is going to change soon), but this is one of the best that I have seen. It left me satisfied, yet with this strong desire to watch again and again. Not many films do that to me, so it was great to see something as powerful as this pull me into the Anime world. I cannot wait for my next adventure!
Grade: ***** out of *****
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Crazy, Weird, a breath of fresh air22 April 2003
- Published on Amazon.com
The plot was pretty twisted but I liked it anyway. Yomiko Readman, a.k.a. "The Paper" is a special agent who is working for the British Library, helping them to put an end to a gang of villaneous clones of made-up famous people from history bent on destroying humanity and stealing its rarest books. Yomiko is nuts about books and reading and her superpower is that she can manipulate paper into just about anything she wants it to be. She can cause it to become as hard as metal or she can bunch it all together to form objects ect. She even carries a briefcase around thats full of paper(unsuspected ammo). She teams up with another couple of special agents, including the lovely Ms. Deep whose superpower is that she can pass through solid objects. Together they take on the evil clones. So yes, the story may seem weird but it works and thats whats important. It was a highly enjoyable superspy romp around the world with superheroes taking out supervillians with some of the craziest diabolicol schemes ever devised. The music in the series was awesome! Music in an anime is very important to me, it has the ability to draw one into the story and the mood of the show. ROD's music does just that. Its got a kinda upbeat spy/thriller thing going. Animation was amazing! Extremely detailed characters and environments, beautiful colors, backdrops and clean lines. The characters were all great, either very suave, sophisticated, mysterious, or dangerous. Parental Guidence: There is no nudity, only Ms. Deep cleavage. Language if I remember correctly was mild. Violence is moderate. For the most part it wasn't very graphic, the worst scenes that come to mind are a bad guy getting shot in the side of the head with some sharp object. This was shown from the front so it wasn't graphic. Then there was a suicide scene that showed people cutting themselves and blood running all over. Both instances happened very quickly though. Also Ms. Deep sometimes kills by "phasing" through people. I'd recommend for 13+ My only gripe with the show was that it was only 3 episodes long! If you watch the show not knowing what its about, you may become a bit confused as I was as you are thrown straight into the meat of the story without even knowing that the characters are supposed to have superpowers. I started out watching the show thinking Yomiko was just an ordinary book-lovin citizen and was pretty darned confused when she turned around and started fighting with paper and then I couldn't at first figure out her connection to the British Library or that she was an agent all along. But if you read this review, you'll have a better understanding of the show before it shoots you right into the plot. I say all this cus I almost quit watching when all these things started happening - just glad I didn't :) On a happy note, I read in Newtype that theyre coming out with a new ROD tv series in Japan and they may be keeping Yomiko in it! I look forward to it
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Right when you thought it was safe to read...19 Dec. 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
OK, this anime is a tad silly. But it is also filled with tons of action, humor and good artwork. After watching R.O.D. TV (disc one), I had to go see what OAV started it. The plot is super-James Bond, the characters are detailed and with such voice actors as Amanda Winn-Lee (from Plastic Little, Ghost In The Shell TV series, and Burn-Up), Tricia Dickson (from Hellsing, Spirit Of Wonder, and Haibane-Renmei) and Crispin Freeman (do I HAVE to list his work?).
If you are a fan of R.O.D. TV, of James bond movies, or just enjoy a good "End-Of-The-World" storyline, this is the DVD for you. There is a link to R.O.D. TV's main character at the very start of the first episode of the OVA. You just have to look hard enough!