Read Or Die TV Vol. #7 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, July 28, 2006
Release Date: Monday, August 07, 2006
What They Say
Despite the success of the global brainwashing, Mr. Carpenter's plan to restore Great Britain to its position as the dominant world power remains incomplete. To execute the final stages, he takes his prisoners back to the British Library with only the remaining Paper Masters to oppose him! With the constant surprises they've suffered up to this point, what will they find when they finally make it to England?!.
24 - You Know Me
25 - It's Not A Big Problem
26 - From There On
Time for this sisters to put aside their fake pasts and deal with the problems of the present, as Carpenter and the British Library look to write a future that's more to their liking...
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 during the show itself (video quality for the trailers on this disc was truly horrendous " they seem to have been encoded at a very low bitrate " but that doesn't affect the main feature).
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. Yomiko 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 Nancy.
Extras this time around are an episode commentary for episode 26, another gallery of artwork from the series, and the original next-ep previews for the three episodes on this disc.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
While Nancy, Drake and Yomiko head for England to try and stop Carpenter's plans, the sisters each find themselves wandering Tokyo wondering what to do next. They each eventually end up back at Nenene's apartment, where they finally get the chance to thrash out what they feel about each other and what's happened " and with that out of the way, they decide to head for London to join the fight against the library.
I always thought that the "fake past" problem was really a non-issue " perhaps from a Neanderthal male viewpoint, what's done was done but it never really changed who the sisters were, or destroyed the experiences they'd had since Dokusensha's manipulations brought them together. If anything, they should have been grateful that they'd been brought together at all. While their working out of their issues never quite gets to that point, the matter is dealt with more quickly than I had been expecting, thankfully, allowing the story to move on to the main event: Carpenter's plans to revive Mr Gentlemen, and in the process rob humanity of its free will by leaving Mr Gentlemen with the ability to "reformat" and rewrite peoples' minds. It's all in the name of world peace, you understand " exercise that level of control over the planet, and there'll be no more wars, no more people acting against the common good, the birth of a true utopia. You listen to Carpenter explain why he's doing what he's doing, and there'll be a certain part of you that sees the logic of it and maybe even agrees with the plan, up to a point " but realise that after the plan was complete you would no longer really be yourself, and it's easy to see Yomiko and friends as the good guys once more.
And so it is that where the Americans have already failed (after the last-ditch attack on London is beaten back by a variety of machines and creatures brought to life from famous pieces of literature), Yomiko and the others must succeed. Episode 25 covers the group's attempts to find a way into the Library's stronghold, and with London having become a Victorian image of itself that bears little resemblance to the modern maps they have, that's a problem in itself. This is quite a strange episode, as it's very slowly-paced for this late in a series " especially when much is made of them only having a limited amount of time before the Library's ready to put their plan into action. While her friends look for a way in, Nenene spends much of the disc sitting in a cell, with Junior similarly confined next door, with little to do but write and wait for the rescue they know is coming. It all feels a bit lethargic compared to the action-based episodes from the first half of the series.
Events finally kick into gear for the final episode, though, which takes a few cues from the OVA series in the way it's presented and is definitely edge-of-the-seat stuff as the clock ticks down to Mr Gentlemen's revival, although there are still some moments when everything grinds to a halt for a few moments while a plot point is explained or for a dramatic pause in the action. That does give the story a bit of a stop-start feeling, but not in a way that's likely to spoil the enjoyment of the episode, where actions by a small group of people, each with cast-iron belief that what they're doing is right, will have a profound effect on the rest of the world. That gives events here a suitably epic feel, and there's certainly no problem with keeping the interest in what goes on.
The series winds up with a short where-are-they-now sequence, which gives each of the main characters " on both sides of the story " a few more minutes of screen time to show what happened after the main story was finally resolved, along with a hint or two that the battle may not really be over. It's a nice touch, even if just to show that life goes on. For one or two people you see what they've ended up doing and wonder what they were thinking, but overall the series ends on a positive note.
With all 26 episodes now under my belt, I have to agree with those who say ROD the TV loses its way somewhat during the second half of the series. Any lack of focus is corrected for this final disc, though, as the show gets the epic finale that it deserves and the story is properly resolved in a way that will keep you glued to the screen. It's not a perfect ending " there are very few series that can really lay claim to that " but it's certainly very enjoyable. Highly recommended.
Japanese Language 5.1 & 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Japanese Previews 24-26,Episode 26 Commentary
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: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Read Or Die / R.O.D.