Exactly 5 years ago today I posted a review of the first R.O.D. Light Novel. Here I am 5 years later, reviewing the last volume of this never-to-be-finished series.
As we begin R.O.D. – Read Or Die, Volume 11, Yomiko is trekking across China with Ou-En; his boss, the head of Dokusensha, the deathless immortal known as China; her bodyguards the Five Sisters. They have been deserted by the deathless immortal Faust and are being chased by deathless immortal Gentleman.
Joker is protecting the Queen, who is a deathless immortal, from…threats. Drake and his team are joined by Nancy (whether they want her or not) in the hunt for Yomiko.
Nenene and Wendy are in India, meeting a friend of Wendy’s, named Shark, an occult enthusiast, who is going to get them across the Himalayas into China to find Yomiko.
Bets on which of these plots gets wrapped up by the end of the book?
More interestingly, a good chunk of the book is taken up with a flashback look at how Yomiko became The Paper. Donny fails to carry out a mission as The Paper, and tells Joker that he’s just not into it anymore. Yomiko is known to the members of the British Library Special Division from a party some years ago. Upon watching a video recording of the night that Yomiko and Donny danced in the Library (from Volume 9,) Joker realizes that Yomiko also has paper-user skills. He tells Donny to bring her in, where she interviews for a staff position. After an interview in which she vehemently states her love for books, she is accepted. She and Donny are assigned to serve the rest of the team their afternoon tea. (She and Donny drink Lapsang Souchong, if you care. I do.) Six month pass and Joker relents on his punishment. He reinstates Donny as The Paper, and assigns Yomiko to him as support and a protege. Joker discovers that his assistant Marianne is a traitor and has to capture her, (presumably opening up the position for Wendy when/if she returns.)
We have one last glimpse of Yomiko, flying on a paper airplane of her own making, across the Chinese landscape, vowing to resolve the whole situation peacefully, Gentleman be damned. It’s all about the love of books. Read. Or Die.
In the final scene we indulge in one last flashback. We see Donny entering his apartment where Yomiko sleeps peacefully (and naked, we are assured) in his bed. So we know for reals that they were lovers.
“To Be Continued” the last page assures us. It lies.
Well, that was fun.
It was an interesting exercise to read this book knowing in advance that nothing at all would resolve. But probably only because I know that ROD The TV exists and rewrote the entire story so it made sense. It vaguely amuses me that this book was published in 2006 and in all those years, Kurata Hideyuki had energy to work on Read or Dream, the ROD manga, the Read or Dream manga, ROD the TV and R.O.D. Rehabilitation.(all of which have been reviewed here in the R.O.D and Read or Dream categories)..but not the final novel of this series. I sympathize, but dude, you spent two whole novels digressing, you could have just finished it!
Art – Never any pictures of the good scenes
Story – 5 Exposition and setup for a climax that never comes.
Characters – 7 They deserved (and eventually got) better
Yuri – 0
Service – 4 A few scenes were we are are told in detais about torn clothing and nakedness. And Nancy.
Overall – This book, had it been the first of a two-part finish would have been a 7.
The series overall is still an 8, a score that rests solely on the broad shoulders of ROD The TV.