R.O.D. - Read or Die (2003)
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Critic Reviews for R.O.D. - Read or Die
Audience Reviews for R.O.D. - Read or Die
(Lazily copied from my animenfo review, which is why it's so fucking long.) Schlocky, but at the same time absolutely delightful. Read or Die certainly has an interesting premise: a girl who fights by manipulating paper? Come on, just try and tell me that you've heard of this in some other media. I dare you. Unfortunately, this plot wasn't taken as far as it could have been, and the main character herself is not exactly a treat to put up with. Read or Die manages to win out over its lack of coherency with an overall fun presentation and some excellently-developed action. The story is...campy. Definitely campy. And utterly absurd camp, at that. I mean...the antagonists clone internationally renowned geniuses and use them for evil purposes, the likes of which include Beethoven and a firebreathing monk. In order to fulfill the final ambitions of The Big B himself, they need to repossess a pricy German work of literature from a confused substitute teacher who had just happened to buy it. However, what they don't know is that she has the uncanny ability to control paper, which she can very easy manipulate as a weapon of ass-kicking on her every whim. ...Yeah. I didn't call it absurd for no reason. This sounds like the type of thing that could either languish in cult-hit obscurity or be a bizarre, inordinate success, and judging by its popularity here and elsewhere ROD has definitely attained the latter status. It doesn't matter if the plot is confused and muddy; the premise itself is just FUN regardless. The execution is great as well, cramming a surprising amount of development and complexity into a three-episode OVA series. It definitely makes me want to look into the TV series, that's for sure. Plot holes were left, no doubt about it, the biggest of which in my mind was "How the hell can she do that with paper?", but I'm sure these are explained in the manga or at least the TV series. ...maybe. Unfortunately, the biggest pitfall of ROD's presentation is Yoriko herself. For someone who reads so many books, one would think she'd be a little more...intelligent. Most of her lines are polite requests for the villain to cease and desist whatever he's doing at the moment, which, in the tradition of kowtowing anime girls, gets old rather fast. There are a lot of more interesting routes that this character could have taken, but instead she is merely reduced to a shallow and stupid excuse for delivering oohs and aahs. With that said, her power is truly badass and has to be seen to be believed in some cases; it's only a shame that such a unique premise is housed in such an unremarkable personality. Furthermore, not only is her stupidity exploited for no apparent reason, but she is also rendered hopelessly lovestruck with the other female lead for purposes unknown outside of fanservice. Miss Deep, as she is referred to, is not terribly interesting herself. Despite her ability to pass through solid surfaces (which makes for some rather gruesome murder scenes at times), she's just as stock as well, having a very typical "I'm too cool for you now let's finish this mission" demeanor. The I-jin are designed very freshly and are interesting characters in their own right. Of course, they don't get any sort of development to explain their personalities, and they sure don't have a motive for wanting the entire world to commit suicide, but as flimsy as they are they're still really damn cool. That's what this anime is about in the end: being cool despite a noticeable lack of explanation for it. Though it's always better when an anime has depth to it, it's also a nice change of pace when an interesting concept with few pretensions comes along as well, much like the Read or Die OVA. Keep your brain in check and get ready for a rather enjoyable ride.
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