Yuri Anime: R.O.D. – Read or Die

February 19th, 2017

How surprised am I to find I have never reviewed R.O.D. – Read or Die here? Very surprised. Although, in retrospect, I guess it’s not all that surprising, as it was released on DVD here in the US in 2003 (by Manga Entertainment! Wow, that was a long time ago) and we were talking more about anime on the Yuricon Mailing List than here on Okazu back then. When I pulled the DVD off the shelf, I found it had a little blue sticker on it, which denoted the fact that we had shown it at Yuricon in June 2003. ^_^ 

Friday I had a visit from one of our Superheroes, Alice D, and, while we were chatting, playing phone games, eating cookies and watching stuff, I decided to start my next epic rewatch, this time of the R.O.D. series (plural.)

And so I am watching R.O.D. – Read or Die for the first time in more than a decade.  And in that decade, I read all the novels, both the R.O.D. and Read or Dream manga series and watched the R.O.D. The TV series, so my perspective is somewhat different than it was back in those heady days of the early 2000s. Check out my reviews here on Okazu, from 2003-to 2014 when I finished the last novel that existed at the time. We’re supposed to get the final novel in the next year. If I were Kurata, I know exactly how I’d end it, too.

R.O.D – Read or Die, introduces us to bibliomaniac Yomiko Readman, AKA “The Paper” a secret agent for the British Library. While cloned geniuses from the past are engaged in an effort to destroy everyone in the world, special agents from British Library, The Paper and Miss Deep are hard at work, protecting humanity from a plan to make us all listen to Beethoven’s “Suicide Symphony.”

This 3- episode OVA is action-packed. From the first moment we see Yomiko use her paper powers to the last, we have to marvel at the creativity of the animators. This is especially true for the fight scenes, in which Yomiko’s obsessive bibliomania and skill with paper each serve an important place in the narrative.

The most interesting quality of the animation is the color palette, in which green and purple feature significantly in and around a London background. The animation itself does not hold up all that well to be watched at higher-res than existed when Studio Deen first did the work. If I have a specific criticism of Studio Deen it is that – their animation rarely seems to wear well with the passage of time.

Of course I asked myself as I hit the play button, “Are Nancy and Yomiko actually into each other?” I mean, it’s been 15 years since we first watched it. Maybe we made that up in our heads!

As we wrapped up, Alice and I agreed that no, we really didn’t make that up. There was a very definite chemistry between Nancy and Yomiko and no amount of rationalization was making that disappear. Yomiko makes Nancy question her affection for the leader of the I-jin, Nancy makes Yomiko see another person the same way she had only ever looked at books. Or so we thought.

Because of course, Yomiko already has a lover, although we in the OVA audience don’t know that. And that lover is already gone from her life, although we don’t know that, either. And soon she will be asked to guard a young novelist and her feelings will be unguarded once again. (Correction: This series is post- Nenene, as I missed the content of the notes in Yomiko’s apartment, thanks Sean, Matt and Shannon for the correction. I was chatting with Alice and the notes were subtitled in black so I missed them completely.) And then the world will explode and everything we thought we knew about Yomiko Readman will be rewritten. 

Ratings:

Art – 5 /cough/Not so good/cough/
Story – 9 Really everything you could ask for from a fantasy-action series, although I could do with less boob movement. Bras work, guys.
Characters – 9 This was the Yomiko we all fell for, not the creepy obsessive of the novels
Yuri – 6 Yup. Definitely. Not our imagination.
Service – 4 Breasts that act as if bras and gravity do not exist.

Overall – 8

It was great fun to re-watch this after so long. More well-written than I remembered, less well-animated than I remembered, and definitely Yuri. ^_^

Special thanks to Okazu Superheroes Alice and Louis, who were both loads of fun for me this weekend!

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6 Responses

  1. Shannon Luchies says:

    Random nit-pick: this is after she net Nenene. There’s a note in her house from her, which we see when Yomiko gets the money out of the book.

    Anyway…

  2. Mariko says:

    Funny, I only quite recently watched this series for the first time! I of course searched here to see what the community thought but as you point out, 404 on that front until now.

    I watched the TV first, and then sought out the OVA. It is quite bold how drastically different the roles of the British Library and the people there are between the series. (Don’t want to say too much!)

    I watched R.O.D. in the immediate aftermath of the election, whilst struggling with the depression and other emotional fallout from that. On the one hand, it may have been the best possible choice (it’s a love poem to books and the joys of knowledge, with smart female heroes who kick ass). On the other, it may have been the worst (it features fascist leaders committed to a kind of master-race groupthink, book-burning and other forms of knowledge suppression). But I can say for sure that it captured my mood eerily well, especially the TV. It hurt a little to watch. The kind of stultifying boredom of Nenene trying to write while lonely and in pain. The elegiac quality of the days the sisters spent cooped up reading. I think any rewatch would be tied up with some unfortunate emotions but I think overall I enjoyed it.

    Also, I find that as someone weaned on fansubs, animation flaws at high resolution are pretty much impossible for me to notice. All I was thinking about was the cool paper fights. XD

    • I can completely sympathize with both the positives and negatives. Since I’m trying to do epic rewatches of my collection, I keep reaching for the action series. R.O.D. scrathces several itches. I’m the least audio/video-phile person I know, but with the new disk player it is literally impossible to miss the animation failures. Big screen, high-res player.

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