R.O.D. the TV Vol. #6 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, April 01, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, April 19, 2005

What They Say
Twisted Fate! A devastated Anita returns to her school seeking consolation and help from old friends, but Mr. Carpenter's impact upon the world has left scars that will haunt Anita forever. With no place to turn, Anita makes a pact with The Paper to stop Mr. Carpenter and save what's left of her life- a life that he seems to know better than she does!

The Review!
As ROD gets closer to the finale, the separation of the group brings new revelations as they struggle to get back together.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. In a continuing trend, albeit a slow one, this series sports a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix that makes good use of the surround setup. While not as active as some other recent 5.1 series we've seen, the additional clarity to the soundtrack in general is a real plus here in allowing for not only the vocals to be sharp and price but for the simple fluttering of the papers across the forward soundstage. Right from the opening song, the audio here is just a solid mix that sounds great even on small tinny speakers such as a portable player. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2003, ROD the TV is presented here in its original full frame aspect ratio. The transfer for this show is practically flawless as far as my setup is concerned. The visuals are striking to begin with as the show has a great sense of color and utilizes backgrounds in a near painted sense, some backgrounds being direct lifts from the OVA release itself. Colors are beautifully vivid and solid, cross coloration is non-existent and I'm hard pressed to recall any aliasing during camera panning moments. Some of the dark night time sky sequences are just great to look at as they maintain a very solid feel and avoid macroblocking. This is a transfer that you can simply lose yourself in once it starts playing.

Using the character artwork from the Japanese release, Yomiko gets to take the cover this time without her usual jacket on, allowing for what little fanservice you can get from her by showing off her chest this way. It's a cute image since she's smiling and has a book in hand but it's probably the mildest of the entire run so far. The back cover goes for the case work format as along the top it lists seven color coded tabs for each volume. With this being disc one, we get a series of images and typed up notes related to these episodes next to a brief paragraph giving the gist of the shows premise. The discs features and extras are all clearly listed just above the big chunk of production information. The insert has a neat black and white illustration of Yomiko and opens two a two panel spread with some small pictures and messages from the Japanese staff about their intentions and what they wanted to put into the show. Amusingly, as much as I like all the packaging, it's all getting tossed so the disc goes into the limited edition book casing. The reverse side of the cover has a nice double panel spread of the trio and Yomiko with all of them fiddling over Anita.

With a style that fits the show perfectly, Nightjar scores big with this new series. From the opening animation moment (very brief) of the series logo flashing in and papers fluttering about, it settles to a very detailed image of an old book with ornate writing and artwork where in the center clips from the show play to the action theme from the show. The selections are laid out as a table of contents, though a touch hard to read due to the moving lighting at times, it's all very in-theme and you can imagine any of the girls just poring over such a piece. The layout is pretty intuitive and easy to navigate with fast access times and quick loading submenus. Unfortunately, the release did not register our players preset language selections in regards to the subtitles, resulting in Japanese language with English on-screen text subtitles instead of full translation subtitles even though the language menu indicated it was set up properly.

The extras are somewhat minimal in a way with this release. The original previews for the four episodes are provided in the extras section and we also get a series of production artwork that you can manually move through. The big extra once again in this release, though with an appeal to only part of the market, is a commentary track by some of the voice actors and staff at New Generation Pictures that runs for one episode.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the last two volumes of the series, things become very frustrating in a way due to the show dropping down to just three episodes and they're three episodes that go by very fast at that. The series is hitting so many different marks at this point where it's keeping the action going, still trying to keep to the kind of slow atmosphere that it's been good at generating and then providing numerous revelations that explain so much of what's been going on that things just feel almost over packed into the episodes. If it wasn't for the quiet moments it'd be a real roller coaster ride.

With the group separated, the different agendas start coming into play. The world is changing rapidly around them as Joker puts forth his plan for the new Library system to be installed throughout the world that will provide only one kind of information and change the language for everyone into their Perfect Language. Control the information and control the world is something that they've taken to a new level here and with the way Joker has taken over Dokusensha and manipulated that new power base to get what he wants from around the world, it's a fascinating maneuver in this world setup.

Anita finds herself in the most awkward position as she's the only one that survived the helicopter incident and ended up back within the city and under the watch of Wendy as they need her to find the missing book. Their strange offer of bringing her into the new world after she reveals things by erasing her memory and giving her new friends, family and identity is curious but it points to just how ambitious the groups plans are to take over and redefine the world in the British Empire's name. Anita's sorely tempted, especially as she sees how her friends are around her and the way they're changing, but the need to avenge her sisters becomes her driving force, enough that she'll team up with Yomiko with whom she blames much of this on and work with her to fight against Joker.

We don't get to see much of Nancy or Drake until they show up where Junior and Michelle are hiding out but once they are there, things start to become really interesting as some of them continue to hold secrets about themselves and the relations. Junior's outbursts towards Nancy are the most interesting since he keeps skirting the edge of revealing exactly what their relationship is but Nancy's not altogether swift enough to figure it out based on what he says. The really big revelations come later on when Joker is part of a hostage crisis there and he's as blunt as he can be about a number of subjects that strike deep to almost everyone there about who they really are and how they've all been pawns all along. Things like this can really throw off a series since it changes everything since the first frame when we met them, but it fits in so well with what's been going on here and I think only serves to strengthen the characters resolve and bond that it's not a bad ploy to pull out of nowhere, especially considering the way the relationships have been in the past since we've met them ourselves.

The more interesting pairing I think is that of Maggie and Nenene since the two haven't really said or done much by each other over the course of the show. They've been together and conversed, as much as Maggie does converse, but this is the first time they're really thrown into a pinch with just each other and I liked how it show just how different they are but at the same time have the same sense of what needs to be done and a matter of fact way of doing it. Maggie's still my least favorite of the main trio, especially since when you first see her here you wonder who the new male character is, but she had some good material when it comes to the section that highlights these two here.

In Summary:
There is just so much going on here and the revelations are at the right spot to make the most impact before the show goes into its final climactic episodes that it does provide for plenty of discussion about it as well as anticipation for the ending. These three episodes just flew by and were filled with great moments of quiet importance and loud action. The way everyone was thrown about after the events of the last volume and still found a way to come together again is just right and only serves to strengthen the bond that they all share. This set of episodes does a great job of bringing in the required new knowledge and setting things up for the final confrontation. Very recommended.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Previews,Art Gallery,Episode Commentary (US Production Staff)

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Read Or Die / R.O.D.