Read Or Die TV Vol. #2 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • 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
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • 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.

Read Or Die TV Vol. #2

By Bryan Morton     July 25, 2005
Release Date: July 18, 2005

Read Or Die TV Vol. #2
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
After years of writer's block, Nenene finally begins to write. Perhaps the Paper Sisters are more than just an annoyance. Meanwhile, Anita makes great friends at school, including the enigmatic Junior as the Paper Sisters continue to hunt down rare books on behalf of Dokusensha.

Episodes Comprise
5 - They Shout
6 - The Right Stuff
7 - In a Grove
8 - Seduced by the Night

The Review!
Mission-based adventure series, or 'Tales of Anita' high school slice-of-life show? You would be forgiven for being a little confused about which direction Read or Die TV is heading in after watching these episodes, but either way, it's all good.

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, dipping into the other tracks from time to time. 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. The rear channels don't get as much use as they could have, though. There were no obvious audio glitches.

Presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame format, ROD TV's video quality continues to impress. From detailed gothic castles to nighttime scenes, 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 menus are similar in style to those used on volume one - while the opening theme plays, an open book flies out of the background to take centre-screen, with the various options arranged down the right-hand page. A picture of Michelle (the same as that used on the front cover) is on the left. As before, the menus are responsive and easy to use.

Extras include the next-episode previews for episodes 6-9, an art gallery and a commentary track for episode 5 with ADR Director Taliesin Jaffe and the English VA's for the 3 Paper Sisters. While everyone seems to be having fun doing the commentary, the audio level for this is very low and sometimes hard to make much out - the R1 release also suffered from this, so it appears to be a problem with the source material. The next-episode previews are kind of unique in tone, with the VAs simply chatting over a series of clips from the episode. While it's strange to see them relegated to the Extras section like this, I can see why it's been done. The Gallery is small but has some decent pieces of art in it, including the original sketches for this volume's cover art. A reasonable selection of extras overall.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
This volume starts with the girls in Romania, doing an undercover job for the Dokusensha publishing company. This time, it's to recover a valuable book - the Book of the Pulsing Flesh - that had been stolen from the British Library following a fire a few years earlier. Its location has been tracked to an impressive castle deep in the Romanian countryside which initially looks like it should be simple enough to break into, but no sooner have the girls started on their mission than things begin to go wrong. The girls' powers just won't work inside the castle, and something about the place causes them to begin to act strangely. Meanwhile, the castle's owner is aware of their arrival, and has been quite looking forward to a visit by a Paper Master to give him someone to pit his own mastery of sound against.

With their mission out of the way, the girls return to Japan where Anita faces the dual horror of the approaching Parent's Day, and having to present a book report in front of the class - no small task given her hatred of books. Add in the embarrassment of Hisa-chan meeting Michelle and the others, and it's turning into a bad few days for poor Anita. She finds something of a kindred spirit when she meets Junior again - still searching the school for a particular book, he's enrolled as a student to give him the cover he needs to go digging around the school library and soon finds himself becoming friendly with Anita.

Another mission from Dokusensha takes the girls to England in search of another book from the British Library, this one apparently in the hands on one Jon Smith, a character actor so adept at adopting the identity of the characters that he portrays that he can blend in to almost any situation - after all, he acted on the West End stage for over twenty years without people being able to draw a connection between the actor and his roles. Who better to give a valuable book to if you want to make sure it's never found? He's prepared for the three sisters' arrival, and draws them into an elaborate plot that ends in Michelle's disappearance and Maggie being framed for her murder, but somehow the story they find themselves in just doesn't seem like reality.

The final episode takes us back to Anita's school again, where the students are beginning to believe there's a ghost in the library after it's trashed again. It's no ghost, just Junior continuing to look for his book, but Hisami's been given the job of staying in the library over night to try and catch the 'ghost'. When the rest of the class find out they're keen to join in and the event soon takes on a life of its own. Away from the business of ghost hunting, Hisami has to deal with a confession from a classmate while Anita gets a little bit closer to Junior.

There's a definite two-track approach to events here, with the two mission episodes having a very different feel from the school episodes, although it's fairly clear how the two tracks are linked and I'm looking forward to seeing how the two threads are brought together.

The way things are structured does mean that Anita gets a huge amount of screen time at the expense of her sisters, while poor Nenene is almost forgotten about - she only gets a few scenes, and used as comic relief when she does appear. Michelle gives a few scene-stealing performances with her usual over-reacting to Anita's school life, particularly when Hisami comes to visit, but the real interest away from the books is the love triangle of sorts that's being built up around Hisami, Anita and Junior - the way the three kids play off each other and build up their relationships is one of the highlights of the show, and given Junior's mission you know it's all going to come to a sticky end.

The mission episodes draw more from the OVA series in terms of style and presentation, and make for great entertainment even if they don't have a whole lot of depth. You get more of an immediate 'buzz' from these episodes, thanks to their action scenes, but I'd say that the school episodes are the more satisfying to watch overall.

In Summary:
The two track approach taken by these episodes work surprisingly well, with the missions the girls undertake being more than enough to keep the adrenaline junkie in me happy, while the school episodes focusing on Anita bring a more slice-of-life feel to proceedings. The one downside is the lack of screen time given to some characters, especially Nenene, but there's plenty of the series still to come. You can now see roughly where the story is heading, and I can 't wait to see how it gets there.

Japanese Language 5.1,Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,Episode 5 Commentary with Taliesin Jaffe (ADR Director); Rachel Hirschfield (Anita); Sara Lahti (Maggie) and Hunter Mackenzie Austin (Michelle),Art Gallery,Episode previews for episodes 6-9

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.


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