Read or Die, Volume 5 continues the story from Volume 4. Indeed, it begins the very next day after a giant paper dragon has swum up the Thames river only to be defeated by British Library Agent Yomiko Readman.
Dokusensha has upped the ante for the Guttenberg Paper – they have kidnapped the Queen and are demanding the Paper in return. And they demand that Yomiko be the one to make the exchange.
Joker decides that Ziggy Stardust, British Library boffin and Faust should create a fake to make the exchange with. Faust disagrees strongly and is put under house arrest as a result. Ziggy also disagrees, but the fake is made. Just before Yomiko leaves to make the exchange, Faust goes out on a “date” with her in the British Museum, where he says that he is troubled, but doesn’t say why.
In the meantime, author Sumiregawa Nenene is also under house arrest in Yomiko’s apartment. Because Yomiko cannot explain what is going on, she simply confines Nenene to her room, sets Wendy to watch her and doesn’t return for days. Nenene moves past sulking into depression and eventually abandonment, all of which is quickly shaken off when Yomiko returns…to say goodbye. Nenene tackles Yomiko in an embrace, then proceeds to yell at her for keeping her locked in a room! Yomiko apologizes, but insists she stay there for her own good. Yomiko leaves after promising to return, soon.
Yomiko heads over to Picadilly Circus, where she once again encounters Ou-En, the young Asian man she had met in Hay-on-Wye. As the police and army close in, he uses his Paper abilities to cut down all of the surrounding military. Yomiko can only watch, stunned, as it happens too fast for her to even respond. Ou-En takes the Paper but, as they part, they each take a slice at the other. Yomiko manages to make a pretty severe cut on Ou-En’s neck, but he contents himself with a lock of her hair, and tells her that he’ll “see you again in China.”
When Yomiko returns to the British Library, she learns that the Paper had been switched and she had handed over the real Guttenberg Paper…and that Faust is missing, presumed to be a traitor. Yomiko reminds Joker that he mentioned they had an agent in China. She asks to go there to get the Paper back. He agrees.
In China, Yomiko leaves the airport and finds herself in front of a book store, where she purchases some books – only to have them stolen from her. As she gives chase, the thief is stopped by an attractive woman who identifies Yomiko immediately, then introduces herself as the British Library agent in China…Nancy Makuhari.
Meanwhile, Wendy and Nenene settle into Yomiko’s apartment in Tokyo, where she has asked them to wait for her. Nenene wonders why the nameplate says “D.N.” and suddenly realizes that they are in Yomiko’s late lover, Donny Nakajima’s, apartment. Wendy is shocked to learn that Yomiko had a lover at all, but something shifts in Nenene and she decides to spend the time writing a new book, since that will make Yomiko happiest. As she clears a space to write, she finds an old, dusty diary with the name “Donny Nakajima” on the inside cover. …
In an epilogue, we meet a man named Joel who lives in an apartment on Baker Street in London, who can hear Nenene yelling at Yomiko through the walls. And boy, if they weren’t two women, he’d be sure they were lovers, because that’s *exactly* what Nenene sounds like – a jilted woman yelling at her missing boyfriend.
Volume 5 was not as riveting as some of the previous volumes, but it had a lot of story-building. We hear a story about Yomiko’s father from an ex-colleague in MI6. We get a deeper look at Dokusensha, Faust’s story is expanded – as opposed to Gentleman’s, which is where I supposed it would go. And the betrayal by Faust guarantees that he’ll be back. Volume 5 also introduces Nancy, something that will change this series forever.
While the beginning and middle were a little weak, man does this series have awesome endings. I read 200 pages for the last 20, every time. ^_^
Art – 5
Story – 7
Characters – 7
Yuri – 4
Service – 2
Overall – 7
Gee, Yomiko and Nenene sound like lovers to an outside listener? I’m shocked. For the record, even Wendy can see that Nenene doesn’t just like Yomiko. In a scene that echoes a similar scene with Anita from ROD The TV some years later, Wendy asks Nenene if she loves Yomiko and Nenene has the exact same problem with answering honestly. From *our* perspective (and Joel’s) it’s obvious that she does.