Read or Die - OVA
In an alternate history, the British Empire is still a world power. Key to staying that way are the various organizations connected to the government. One of those is the British Library. Special agent Yomiko Readman (codename "The Paper") seems like an unlikely source to help solve a new wave of terrorist activities targeting various libraries, but she's quite versed in literature and has a deadly talent that allows her to manipulate paper in unusual ways. For this project, she'll need some help however. It's apparent that the terrorists are after specific books, but for what information? And if the terrorists collect it all, will they be able to stop them?
I'm not going to lie. The reason I decided to watch Read or Die was because of the title. I wasn't sure what it was about, but there does seem to be a lack of anime titles about librarian terrorists... although, despite the title that's not what this is about. Anyway, I didn't have high hopes for Read or Die and figured it would be mediocre at best but watching the intro sequence I was surprised at how catchy it was, and especially... stylish! This anime had potential with good designs, cool animation, and even decent music. But is that enough? What about the story?
Read or Die can be distilled into a simple spy thriller action movie, in a linear plot like you would expect in a James Bond film. The first difference is in the environment, where the villains and two of the heroes have unusual abilities you'd expect to see in a comic book. The main character Yomiko (a.k.a. The Paper) is a book obsessed girl who has the unusual talent of being able to manipulate paper in really interesting ways. While this ability is extremely powerful, she is otherwise just a normal girl and even a bit clumsy. If you need high profile action, that's just what her teammate Nancy (a.k.a Miss Deep) delivers. She has the ability to pass through objects, which sounds simple but she uses this technique in very clever ways that I just loved to watch. On top of this the story revolves heavily on books and libraries which gives Read or Die a unique flavor.
Anime titles used to have inventive and creative action sequences on a level you'd never see in conventional film. More recent anime seems like it's been sapped of this creativity. ROD offers some exceptionally cool and well choreographed sequences that is a rare treat.
So what are the bad points? Some minor characters are given more attention for no reason. On the other side of that, Drake is partnered with Nancy and Yomiko, but doesn't seem to do much. At only 3 episodes, it tries to pack a lot of details into it's plot which is a little hard to digest at times, but it mostly seems to work. It seems like a little more breathing room would have done this one some favors. These are only minor problems though.
Spy thriller plot, spliced with anime creativity and a few unusual super powers. A fun watch that isn't very deep.
Yomiko: Stop the launch of this rocket, surrender yourself... and give me back my book!
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reviewed by archen in 2011