The fantastic and wacky happenings in Read or Dream, Volume 3 have not been altered from when I originally reviewed the Japanese edition, so please click that link for an overview of plot, character, and random references to Betty Davis…and now that I look at it, Kojak, as well. ^_^
So, as the story hasn’t changed, let’s focus on the reproduction to English. In this and this alone, the volume takes a pretty bad hit. The original has a dust jacket, underneath which is a short story on the cover of the book proper. As there is no dust jacket in this version, that story is reproduced in the book in black and white. Not deadly, but…the lack of color pages means, no cool Paper Sisters mini-poster page, which I very much like, and more importantly, the lovely color reproductions of the novel covers are turned into a totally skanky black and white page which is hard to see. It sort of killed the joke, too. I liked it better when we were allowed to make the connection ourselves between those shockingly shoujo novel covers and the ROD The TV anime series.
Let me try to explain why I feel so strongly about what is, in reality, one stupid color page.
In the anime, the one single thing that fills the entirely of the first 13 episodes is that Yomiko is NOT there. Her absence is a constant presence, if you will.
In the manga, in *this* volume particularly, there is also a person whose non-existence sort of fills up the empty spaces. That person is famous author Sumiregawa Nenene. In this volume, the fact that the beginning of the anime is reproduced almost exactly, but that the author is NOT Nenene pretty much shapes the whole story – and the story to come in the next volume.
So the color page with those novels by Nishizono Haruhi instantly brings to mind the fact that she was the author that debuted right after Nenene, won the same award as Nenene, and constantly pops up in the anime to be a thorn in Nenene’s grumpy side. Those covers also bring up memories of Haruhi’s irritating little sister pimping her sister’s books in Anita and Hisa’s class. In other words, those novel covers are memory markers. They provide a link to key moments and people in the anime. And those novel covers are reproduced in the *beginning* of this volume of manga, where they can ping those memories before you even start reading what will turn out to be a cool alternate universe reading of those very same situations and characters.
In the English edition, those novels are reduced to a comment that these are some novel covers drawn for the anime by the artist for this manga and placed in the back of the book. Thus losing every bit of tension, of anticipation, of memory that they stimulated.
I am just about 100% sure that no one but me cares, but I really think Viz blew it on that. That color page may not have been intended to be the stimulant it was…but I like to think that Japanese artists, writers and publishers *are* that intelligent. Sadly, Viz was not. Boo on them.
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Art – 8
Yuri – 4
Service – 7 (lots of ass shots…what’s with *that*? Maggie in a suit.)
Overall – 7 (one point off the original score for Viz missing a great opportunity to up the quality of their reproduction and get the point of that page.)
This and Volume 4 make great reading. I really enjoyed the direction the story takes here, and I don’t think it gets weaker in the next volume. Another enjoyable afternoon read.