Read Or Die TV Vol. #5 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, March 23, 2006
Release Date: Monday, March 13, 2006
What They Say
Running for their lives, our heroes seclude themselves in Yomiko's parents cabin deep in the woods to plan their next steps. Yomiko then enlightens everyone about what happened during the British Library incident and Anita in reacquainted with her past.
Meanwhile, Joker, who has been aware of their every move, sends another agent with his own unique abilities to retrieve the remaining book in his plan.
17 - Sweet Home
18 - Confession
19 - The Family Game
20 - Bonjour Tristesse
It's time for the lines between good and bad to be drawn, as Yomiko finally explains what happened to end her time at the British Library and the secret behind Joker's plan to revive Mr Gentlemen.
Audio is provided in three versions - 5.1 and 2.0 Japanese language tracks, and a 5.1 English track. I listened primarily to the Japanese 5.1 track. Audio is extremely clear and makes a lot of use of the front channels to provide depth and direction to both dialog and effects. Music comes across particularly well, although the rear channels don't get as much use as they could have. There were no obvious audio glitches.
Presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame format, the video continues to be of very high quality. Great use is made of backgrounds and vibrant colours to produce a disc that just looks great. Subtitles use a yellow-on-black font and are clear and readable. Two tracks are provided - one full translation, and a songs & signs track for dub watchers. There were no apparent problems either with the transfer or the subtitles.
No packaging was provided with our review copy
The main menu is a simple static screen, as before using an open book as its main theme. Nancy features on one 'page', while the other page has options for Play, Episodes, Extras and Setup. The show's theme tune plays throughout. The Episode menu has a static screenshot for each episode (there's no option to select individual scenes), the Setup menu is plain text against a line-art background, while the book theme continues onto the Extras menu, which features a line-art image of Yomiko.
Along with the usual clean closing credits, art gallery and promotional spots, there's a commentary from Taliesin Jaffe (ADR director for the series).
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Yomiko's confrontation with Wendy " which wasn't going Yomiko's way " is interrupted by Drake, who creates enough of a distraction to allow Yomiko and the others to escape. He's been hired to protect Yomiko, but he's not saying by whom. Needing somewhere to regroup and figure out what to do next, the gang head for the countryside and Yomiko's parents' cabin, but even there they're not beyond Joker's reach as Junior soon arrives to try and steal back the final book.
Junior's always been a bit of an enigma " on the one hand he's obviously working for Joker, while on the other his friendship with Anita has shown there's a different side to him that hasn't really had a chance to flourish under Joker's and Wendy's care. There's also his obvious connection to Nancy, and it's Nancy who's able to thwart his plan to steal the book by stopping him from phasing through things. On learning that Nancy's his mother, he's left with a choice to make about whose side he's really on, and while he seems to choose to be with Nancy and the others, not everyone's convinced by his sudden conversion.
Junior's appearance also leads to Yomiko finally explaining what had happened at the British Library several years earlier, and the events that led to its destruction " she had learnt from Joker that he planned to use Junior as the new receptacle for Mr Gentlemen's personality, as his unique heritage made him ideal for the process. Being unwilling to see her friend's only child sacrificed in such a way (the process would erase Junior's own personality), Yomiko snapped " and the rest is history. As well as Junior's origins, this sequence also touches on Anita's past, as she was apparently in the Library when Yomiko let loose on it. This goes a long way to explaining her fear of fire and dislike of books, and when she realises Yomiko was responsible it creates a lot of tension from Anita's side, but it's yet to be revealed what Anita was doing there and how she eventually came to be meet Maggie and Michelle.
While Yomiko's telling her story, Joker's plans for world domination are beginning to gather pace, with country after country being "persuaded" to submit to the UK's influence. Precisely how Joker's managing this isn't entirely clear " there's reference to first draft of the "Perfect Language", and bookstores seem to be playing a key part " but whatever he's doing his influence is growing rapidly. All that he needs to bring the plan to its final fruition is Junior and the final book.
This section of the story is really quite slow " the cabin scenes and revelations are played out over the course of two-and-a-half episodes, and while it's all essential information, I did find myself wondering when the pace of events would begin picking up again. That happened with the final episode on the disc, which takes the whole setup of the "good guys", adds one major story twist, and leaves you wondering where on earth things can go from here.
Keen to have Junior and the book back in his hands, Joker dispatches one of his agents, Mirror Man, to contact Junior. Despite his apparent changing of sides, Junior seems to suggest to Mirror Man a way of retrieving the book " and so Anita and Yomiko wake up the next morning to find the house empty, with Junior and the others winging their way to Joker and only Mirror Man behind. The following events " three major happenings in quick succession that leave both Anita and Yomiko at the end of their tethers " also left me at the edge of my seat and hugely annoyed that the disc ended just there. If you hate cliffhangers, be warned, this disc is a killer.
The first three episodes here almost lull you into a false sense of security, that everything's going to work out in its own time, before the final episode changes gear so quickly you're almost left wondering what the hell just happened. There's enough information given out about past events here that the line between "good" and "bad" finally seems clear, but if this disc has taught me anything it's to be careful about what you think you know. The story has now reached what seems to be a key turning point, and the next volume can't come quickly enough.
Japanese Language 5.1,Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,Episode 18 Commentary (Taliesin Jaffe),Art Gallery,Clean Ending #2,Japanese Previews #17-20
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Read Or Die / R.O.D.