R.O.D. The TV Vol. 3
I love books, but I never dreamed that such an addiction could be realized to the extent that it is in R.O.D. This series is set four years after the events that transpired in the OVA, Read or Die. However, while I suggest starting this series with the first volume instead of jumping into disc three, a viewer can enjoy R.O.D. without having seen Read or Die.
At the same time, I have to say that anyone who enjoys R.O.D. will certainly enjoy Read or Die. This television sequel to that part of the storyline is just as good as the work that preceded it - and given the fact that it has a significantly longer running time than its predecessor does, there's even more to enjoy than the OVA had to offer.
From what I was able to glean from commentary track, there's a distinct reason why the TV show is called R.O.D. and not Read or Die: The TV. This series is meant to be a bridge between the OVA and the manga series, called Read or Dream. Read or Die was mostly concerned with Yomiko Readman, a secret agent for a covert government agency involved in assignments of the highest importance to worldwide security. As her name might suggest, she was an avid reader, carrying around anything with text in it wherever she went. The newest popular fiction, obscure biographies, or even technical manuals were all fair prey for Yomiko's ravenous literary appetite.
Read or Dream, which hasn't yet been domestically released here in North America, focused on the Three Sisters detective agency. The three sisters are Anita King, Maggie Mui, and Michelle Cheung. Perhaps the disparate last names gives it away - either that or the fact that the three look nothing alike one another - but they're not actually blood relatives. However, they do have a skill that connects them to Yomiko. All three are Paper Masters, or Kami Tsukai.
In the world of R.O.D., being a Paper Master is somewhere between a highly advanced martial art and an almost mystical talent. Paper Masters, depending on their level of skill, have the ability to manipulate paper in various ways to use it for a variety of different purposes. The Three Sisters utilize skills that complement their personalities. First of all, there's the oldest sister, Michelle. While she's always pleasant and comes across as a bit of an airhead, she never fails to be straightforward in demeanor. Thus, she folds paper into a bow and arrows, serving as the group's primary offense provider.
Maggie is tall and strong, but she's awfully shy. An instinctual nurturer, Maggie's best with paper when using it for defense. This usually comes in the form of paper-made familiars that she uses for transportation or augmentation of her own strength.
Anita, the youngest of the sisters, is also the most emotional. She has a zeal for righteousness, and her ethical strength is only topped by her headstrong way of displaying her beliefs. She's quick to risk her life for the right reasons, though she doesn't often realize that her sometimes rash decisions force her sisters to put their safety on the line as well.
They are, of course, fully aware of her temperament, and while they may not voice it, they often feel the same way she does.
The sisters are the true stars of the show, though its plot revolves more around Nenene Sumiregawa, a very popular author and friend of Yomiko Readman. Nenene has had a terrible case of writer's block ever since Yomiko disappeared four years before the show begins. However, one of her books is being made into a movie in Hong Kong, and the threat of terrorist attacks from readers who feel threatened by the popularity of a female writer inspired Nenene's publisher to hire the Three Sisters to protect her.
But that's only the beginning. This disc shows just how deep the story really goes, tying up more loose ends than I realized were there, and opening new paths that the plot just has to follow.
The show features frequent action sequences, though it's also a bit of a spy story, a grade school drama, and a comedy. While the action is consistently top-notch, I think my favorite episode so far is on this disc, the one that shows how the sisters met. It was a slow-paced episode, but never before had the personalities of the three sisters shown so much depth as that particular storyline.
It's hard to convey how much I adore the characters and story of R.O.D..
Animation for the show is just as amazing, with plenty of attractive characters to keep viewers' eyes happy, smoothly animated fight scenes, and detailed backgrounds that are impressive for a TV series. With all the pretty girls in this show, it's no wonder there's a strong yuri-leaning fanbase for R.O.D.. Even though Nenene has explicitly said that she doesn't swing "that way", there's plenty of fodder here for volumes and volumes of yuri material.
Voice acting is great on both audio tracks, and it's obvious that the English voice production crew really cares about this project. More concern is given to meaning than mouth flaps, and that's something I can really appreciate.
Read or Die's excellent main theme reappears in this series (whenever the Three Sisters need some inspiring background music), along with a good deal of funky and classical new tunes to keep the action moving. Geneon has already released the soundtrack CD for this show in the US, so I'd recommend picking that up if you like the show. There are some great instrumental tracks on there. It might not give you the ability to cut walls with sheets of paper, but it will pep you up.
Extras aren't spectacular, but I've enjoyed the single-episode voice commentaries on each of the three volumes so far. This time it's with the North American production crew, and they offer noteworthy insights to the show as well as their own methods.
It also makes me happy to hear how much they respect Joss Whedon. I know I do too.
So as a fan of literature as much as I am of anime, this is one of the most satisfying shows I've ever seen. I love the characters, the plot is exciting, fresh, and yet obviously inspired by some literary classics. The production values are stellar, and when writing the dub, the English scriptwriters had Buffy dialogue in mind.
It's awfully hard to top that.
R.O.D. is a wonderful multi-genre series, and it easily lives up to the considerable hype it has generated in the fansub world. Do us all a favor and support this series so that perhaps, one day, we'll have more of it to enjoy.
At least they might get the manga over here quicker.