Light Novel: R.O.D., Volume 6

May 26th, 2011

Yomiko and Nancy team up against the powerful Dokusensha! Finally! As you’d expect sparks fly, walls are phased through, paper is flung…and it’s not quite as excellent in book form as it would be animated.

Yomiko, if you recall from Book 5, has inadvertently handed the Guttenberg paper over to Dokusensha’s paper user, Ou-en. To correct this mistake, she has taken on the task of traveling to China to retrieve the item. In China, she almost immediately runs into British Library agent Nancy Makuhari.

As R.O.D. Volume 6 opens, the two of them sit down to enjoy excellent tea and pastries and be held at gunpoint by a disgruntled client of Nancy’s. When Yomiko shows off her skills, Nancy, who had had a hard time seeing past the goofy, book-obsessed facade, is very impressed. But that quickly turns to surprise and maybe a little fear as Yomiko’s bibliomania exerts its influence over her character and Nancy gets a quick glimpse into what madness looks like. Nancy’s no fool, she knows what she’s looking at, and backs off quickly.

And then, they run. They run in and around Shanghai, through stores and underground tunnels and buildings. And eventually, the come face to face with Dokusensha’s agents.As Yomiko’s skills with paper are mirrored by Ou-en, Nancy’s abilities to change the density of her body and things she touches are mirrored by a Dokusensha agent who can do that too. Which, although the bulk of the book is super-charged action scenes, ultimately was not great reading. There are a few reason why that may be:

First and foremost, I am a character person. The parts of these novels I like best are the characters interacting with one another. The quiet moment at the beginning, where Yomiko and Nancy size each other up over tea was more “fun” for me than the later action scenes.

Secondly, the writer, while usually quite competent, just wasn’t getting me really hooked into the action. I don’t know if he had a hard time writing protracted action scenes (which is totally understandable, as writing action is much harder than showing it) or whether he was rushed and just didn’t have energy to manage it.

Thirdly, having mirror-matched enemies was kind of…boring. We don’t get to see Nancy shine because, in the way of all good sci-fi novels, the bad guy is actually slightly better/more powerful than we are, and ahead of us in the game. You know how it goes. So we barely get to see Nancy kick ass, because she’s being thwarted at every turn. Bleah. What we like in our action is Yomiko and Nancy blowing the bad guys away, not running in second place. This sort of sucked the fun from the action for me.

Fourthly, I have come to realize that I like Yomiko best when she is with Nenene. For the duration of this book, they are apart. Nenene does have some quality time with Wendy, though. When Wendy prepares an excellent lunch for them, Nenene comments that, if she were a boy, she’d take Wendy as a lover, to which Wendy replies, “But, if you were a boy, wouldn’t you already have taken Yomiko as a lover?” Nenene flips out at the insinuation, but Wendy is firm in calling it like she sees it.

The other stand-out scene for me was when Yomiko saves Nancy and, when Nancy (who is clearly not used to be valued by anyone) asks why, Yomiko replies simply, “Because I like you.” These words repeat in Nancy’s brain through the remainder of the book, like a refrain. I felt the cloister bell of future anime series ringing in this scene.

The upshot of the action is that Nancy escapes, but Yomiko is captured by Dokusensha. In the final scene, the traitor Faust appears and gives Yomiko a devil’s bargain – either she must marry Faust, or be killed. Dum~dum~dummm~

Ratings:

Art- Typically ugh – 5
Story – Atypcially ugh – 5
Characters – The saving grace here – 7
Yuri – 2
Service – 7 for Nancy’s leather suit alone

Overall – 5

Tune in next time to find out when/how/if Yomiko escapes a fate worse than fate!

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